Did you start homeschooling with a great sense of excitement and positive energy, only to find that gradually dwindling toward stress, tension, or even exhaustion? Perhaps you’re hitting the middle school years where subject matter and attitudes become tougher to manage? Does your child no longer show motivation or interest in homeschool lessons? Are you questioning how much longer you can keep this up?
If you answered yes to one or a few of these questions, this blog is for you. Burnout affects parents emotionally, mentally, and physically, robbing them of the opportunity to achieve goals and experience fulfillment. The demands of homeschooling means moms like you are no strangers to burnout. After all, educating children is hard and holy work!
The key to conquering burnout (for yourself and your child) is recognizing it, taking steps to overcome it, and creating healthy habits to prevent it in the future.
The Stages of Burnout
Burnout does not look the same for everyone; it tends to get worse over time if not addressed. The process is widely recognized as a 12-step slope, originally defined by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North. The stages of burnout are:
- Excessive Ambition – taking on a hefty workload with eagerness and enthusiasm
- Pushing Yourself to Work Harder – striving to meet the high personal expectations you set for yourself at the beginning of this journey
- Neglecting Personal Care and Needs – allowing homeschooling to dictate your schedule in a way that starts to compromise your physical, mental or emotional health
- Displacement of Conflict – consequences of overworking yourself begin to manifest as missed appointments, suffering relationships, etc.
- Changes in Values to Validate Self Worth – neglecting things you once regarded important, such as church events, exercising, or making time for hobbies
- Denial of Problems/Shame – pushing your issues aside to avoid feelings of failure
- Social Withdrawal – avoiding catching up with friends and spending quality time with family because these things now feel like additional burdens
- Obvious Behavior Changes – those around you may notice you are more irritable, bitter, or withdrawn
- Confusion of Identity – seeing yourself as less valuable than you once were, further avoiding your personal needs and self-care
- Inner Emptiness – feeling a deep sense of loneliness or even hopelessness
- Depression – becoming indifferent to the things you once felt passionate about and experiencing daily exhaustion
- Mental or Physical Collapse – reaching an emergent situation where professional/medical intervention is needed
While symptoms will range based on what stage of burnout you are in, the following list will help you know what to look for in your home so that you can take proactive action steps.
Symptoms of burnout for moms:
- Lack of patience
- Crying easily
- Overreacting to small things
- Feeling a lack of motivation or sense of numbness
- Appetite changes/unhealthy habits
- Dreading looking for another new curriculum
- Feeling like a failure and thinking a move to traditional school is the only answer
Symptoms of burnout for kids:
- Lack of engagement
- Struggling to concentrate
- New or worsening behavior issues
- Complaining, negativity and/or increased bickering among siblings
- Anxiety (may manifest as appetite changes, sleep issues, or avoiding situations)
What to do next?
Parents who are experiencing homeschool burnout may feel like there are only two options: push through and hope the situation gets better or call it quits and enroll in a traditional school setting.
But there is a third option; online classes are often a lifeline for parents of middle schoolers.
Whether you supplement your instruction with one or a few teacher-led classes or transition to a full-remote learning environment, online school allows you to remain highly present in your child’s life and involved in their education. It reduces burnout by providing greater structure, support from dedicated teachers, and engaging, pre-planned activities. For many families, it is an answer to prayer that restores their child’s love for learning and allows moms and dads to find the balance they need in life.
More tips for managing burnout-related stress:
Self-care: Moms are famous for getting the kids breakfast (while neglecting their own meal) and having everyone dressed for the day (while still in their pajamas). Taking the time to slow down and care for yourself is essential. Prioritize your own care, which may look like waking up a little earlier to shower and get dressed, or taking that extra five minutes to make yourself an omelet.
Positive sleep habits: You know your kids thrive on a routine, but may not recognize how inconsistent bedtime and wake times affect your own mental state. Try to get at least 7 hours of rest at night. If you find you are staying up late to get chores done, ask your family for more support with daily tasks like unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming after a meal, or putting away laundry.
Healthy eating: Skipping meals for lack of time? Giving the kids well-balanced plates while calling a granola bar a meal for yourself? Over time, these little time savers add up, lowering your immune system and making you feel more run down. Make healthy eating easier throughout the week by meal prepping on Sunday, pre-chopping fruits and veggies, and skipping processed snacks at the grocery store.
Finding community: While homeschooling is a rewarding opportunity, most moms will tell you that being at home day after day and communicating primarily with children can be taxing. Building relationships with other parents and making time for fun outings is essential. Explore the homeschool networks or local mom groups in your area and plan opportunities to connect at least bi-weekly.
Learn more about Lenawee Christian Academy
LCA partners with homeschool families to provide customized learning plans, biblical teaching, and an engaging student experience. Serving students in grades 6-8, we understand that this is a formative season of life — one where students require a high level of academic, spiritual, and emotional support.
We would love to share more about how we meet these needs and support families who are experiencing homeschool burnout. Schedule a meeting today!