Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Normal is so boring - combating homeschooling burnout

Leader Boy Warrior
I am lying in bed typing this on my laptop. It is 9.30am and I can hear the boy warriors downstairs playing with the puppies. Leader Boy Warrior helps me out in the morning by getting breakfast for Fearless Boy Warrior, so at least I know they are fed. Courageous Boy Warrior has just started getting his own breakfast in the mornings too, so  I feel like I have turned a corner. After 8 and a half years of constantly meeting the demands of my children as soon as my feet touch the floor in the morning, I can finally indulge in lying in bed a little longer. Today I am staying in bed a little longer than usual. I am exhausted. My body refuses to co-operate and I don't feel guilty one little bit.

Lately I have been fantasising about a life without homeschooling. A life where I drop the boys off to school in the morning, wave them goodbye and maybe meet a girlfriend for a coffee before returning home to my quiet house. I have been dreaming of being able to keep a room that I have just tidied clean for more than an hour. I have been dreaming of hours to focus on my writing and maybe write a book. I have been dreaming of a normal life.

Ever since I was a little girl I have always felt that I would do something special. I felt that I would stand out from others, anything but normal. Normal was boring. When my husband and I first decided to start our journey of homeschooling, I was filled with excitement and enthusiasm. I was filled with purpose and loved learning daily about what lay ahead for me. I knew that to get through this I would have to rely on Him, and I did. I loved the fact that our family would not be normal and that we were going against the flow. Such was the rebel in me.

Courageous Boy Warrior

3 years ago when I embarked on my homeschooling journey, I wasn't concerned about academics as I was so much character. Somewhere along the journey, my focus shifted. I became concerned with how well the boys were doing compared to their at school peers. Instead of the laid-back approach I began with, my homeschooling style had morphed into school at home - not homeschooling. Instead of 3 days a week, we began schooling 5 days a week. I became concerned that they weren't having enough social opportunities. I became concerned about many things that in the big scheme of things, didn't really matter. The honeymoon was over, and I had lost my joy in homeschooling.

It isn't homeschooling that is exhausting me, it is the way I was doing homeschool that is the problem. Last night I had a mini-meltdown and cried to my husband, saying, 'I'm just not coping. I can't do this!' And then I had a pity party about how other people have family support and how I had none, zip, nada,.  After our discussion we decided that sending the boys to school wasn't the solution and we we tossed around some ideas to make homeschooling work for us. My husband is an amazing support person to me. I couldn't do this without his help.

I googled, "encouragement for tired homeschool mum" and I came across these two articles which really spoke to me.
Keeping the home in homeschool
Beating the homeschool blues (instead of singing them)

Here's me thinking aloud now - but this is what I plan to do. Instead of quitting and throwing my hands up the air, (which is my usual reaction to things that are too hard), I am going to change what I'm doing. Profound I know! I need to get back to basics. I am going to cut back to 3 days a week of school work, relax more, laugh more and enjoy our homeschooling journey more. I am going to cut out those things in my life that may be taking energy away and adding to my stress. I am going to stay home more and not feel pressured to race around from here to there as is the culture of our society. I am going to be anything but normal.

Fearless Boy Warrior

Instead of saying 'I can't do this', I will change my speech to 'how can we make this work'. I am going to remind myself why I started homeschooling and beat this rough patch that I am going through. I am going to rest more and worry less about what other people expect of me. I will only concern myself with what He expects from me in this season.

The season of motherhood really is short in the whole scheme of my lifespan. It is only around 20 years and then they leave the nest. Just like that, their childhood will be over, and they will gone for good (well that's the plan anyway!)  The things like writing a book that I dream of doing can always wait. There is no urgency. But those moments that I may miss by being a frazzled, stressed mother will not wait. Once they are gone I can never get them back again. It is counter culture in our society to put your children first. It is the culture to put yourself first. But who wants to be normal? Normal is so boring.

Homeschooling is a marathon journey. It is a journey of endurance.  I was reminded of this today when I read Em's blog post 'Swim'. I would do well to take Stacey's advice in her post on Stress Free Homeschooling. Maybe it's just the time of the year when we are all a little bit weary. I don't know. There are a lot of people in my world right now (not just homeschoolers) that are tired and have had enough and feel like throwing in the towel.

"And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap [a harvest of blessing], if we do not loosen and relax our courage and give up." {Galatians 6:9} --------------->  [Thanks Em!]

I love that Paul's words remind me that the things that I am doing now will reap a harvest in the appointed season. In this instant gratification society that we live in, we need to be be reminded of delayed gratification.

Here's to not being normal.

Still taking lessons from the King,


  1. Great post, Jo. Beautiful photos of your young men as well.

    You can do this you know!!!!

  2. understand those feelings and going thorugh a similar journey myself, glad you are not throwing in the towel and are rethinking things to make it work :-)

  3. Good on you for pushing through one step at a time, holding on firmly to the hand of Jesus. May God provide many opportunities for you to enjoy this path He has called you to. And I do so love you new blog banner :D! xx

  4. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the situation of the day. I've caught myself many times dreaming ahead of days without rushing. But in doing so, I often miss the 'now'.

    God has called you on this path, and He will give you the strength to see it through. He will also give you rest when you need it and endurance to keep on going.x

  5. Love you my friend! Standing by you 100% of the way. It's a journey, and it's never quite through xxx

  6. Aah, how refreshing!
    I'm so glad we can be encouraged on our journeys!
    Just keep swimming... xxx

  7. I'm glad I read this. I'm not at that stage of homeschooling yet, but I have really been feeling the weary, burnt out feeling lately. I know it's just a passing thing, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one. ♥

  8. Totally hear you. Learning to rest right along with you.
    Bek xx

  9. I am here too... standing with you, my friend. I understand your words. I've felt them many, many times through the years of home schooling.

    I found myself off the path as well and truly had to find my place again. It's easy to see all that's going on around us and put that yoke on us.. Oh I've done it SO many times. It makes me think of how when David went out to fight Goliath, King Saul tried to put his armor on him. David recognized it didn't fit, it was too big. I wish I had realized that during the years quickly... unfortunately I didn't... It took me feeling the weight of the yoke's heaviness to realize that somewhere I had moved out away from the path the Spirit of God had laid for me. For His yoke is easy and His burden light.... His grace sufficient for the day.... It's so, so easy to go there....

    Makes me think of the first post I wrote for an online home schooling magazine. You can read it here if on my old blog you want...

    You are finding your way, dear friend... and it's truly stunning to watch!!!

    Love you much!!!


  10. I guess we all fantasise about a different life to the one we live, especially when things are tough or humdrum. I have spent most of the last 4 weeks off work (since I found out my mum passed, first with grief and shock, then with illness) and have longingly thought of being able to be home fulltime (even though my kids are nearly finished high school!) ... roll on retirement LOL. But I also know that if my lovely hubby wasn't home with me (which he has been this past few weeks) it would not be much fun at all. Luckily I enjoy my job most of the time anyways!

  11. Breathe in some fresh air... and enjoy the season.
    Change is as good as holiday.. well I hope it is anyway.
    love you

  12. Hi Jo, thanks for your email. I will answer soon. I've been out of action for a week with a migraine that is still not letting up. Missing you on Twitter!

    I've just mentioned you on my blog as one of my favourite discovered blogs. Please pass on the Versatile Blogger award. God bless you, Cate

  13. Fabulous post! This is one of my secret fears in homeschooling, but I think we're still going to give it a go! Right now, we're homeschooling preschool and many in my extended family are skeptical about the benefits of homeschooling. I haven't even told them all that that's what we're doing! How long do you think I can keep that a secret, lol! Good for you for pushing through the stress...homeschooling is certainly not a very good way!

    Carla @ Jansen Family Adventures

  14. Aww girl, I've missed you!!!

    Loved reading this post and LOVED that you were still in bed at 9.30! :)

    Having just turned 40, I too have had moments of evaluating this marathon called homeschooling! Good on you for making some changes! Love ya, Mel x

  15. We are in our 8th month of home schooling. We pulled the chldren out of school because we felt they were being brought up in an ungodly environment..and we were losing them. Especially my daughter. The media is a brainwashing tool...and even though we dont watch was still effecting her! School is not about academics...its about what goes on in the playground!
    Last week our car broke down, our heater stopped working (we live in tassie) and we are just about to keep a very holy festival (The Feast of Tabernacles) which requites us to travel interstate.
    As my husband and I sat on the lounge..thinking and worrying... I asked the questionn
    "IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS HARD?" We talked of all the things we would need to chage in order to make the physical parts of life alot more pleasant.
    Id need to go to work, the children would go back to school and alot of our faith would need to change.
    We both laughed and said
    "But then we wouldnt be the people we are..the people God wants us to be!"
    We know we must trust God...and KNOW that He WILL Provide!

    Overcoming and learning is never means we are loved :)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jo Princess Warrior xo