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Home > Support > Homeschooling > I'm feeling burned out . . . so where do I go from here?
 
 
Question: Sometimes I feel so discouraged at the success (or lack thereof) of our homeschooling efforts. I know this last year has not been our best. Consistency with expectations and discipline has not been my strong point. I know we need to get our focus back to our faith and establish our prayer time with the children. We have started a weekly adoration hour Monday morning, and I know that will be a big blessing. However, I find myself frustrated with getting all five kids there and since it is 20 min. away, we don't get much more than a couple hours of "schooling" done on Mondays. But I really feel this needs to be our priority right now. I don't want to START my days already feeling discouraged and beaten. I just can't seem to find much joy in all of this and I don't want my kids to have to constantly put up with a frustrated and angry mother. I guess I am just feeling burned out.... so where do I go from here?
Answer:

Dear Mom,

What a fantastic and well put letter. Really. I think you have managed to articulate the general feelings of many homeschooling teacher/moms who have been faithfully living the homeschooling lifestyle for more than one or two years. "Burn Out" is a modern day term that describes an age old problem that humans face when confronted with day to day challenges and a seeming lack of success. This malady is compounded by our own inside stresses and the attack of outside forces.

I think that your desire to sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament is wonderful and medicine of the purest and holiest order. Let me ask you something. How do you feel when you are attending Adoration with the children? Do you feel pushed or hurried during your time with the Lord? Do you worry that you are in some way taking time away from homeschooling and in some way feel "guilty" for the time spent? Do you feel that the Lord requires this dedication of you and that you are letting Him down by not being there?

If you feel called to come before the Lord and sit quietly with Him for an hour then it is important to remember that this time is meant to be a blessing. When we accept a blessing from the Lord we are indeed accepting a gift as it were. Allow this time with the Lord to be the priority and do not worry yourself about that which is not "getting done" or which "awaits you" when you return home. Let that time with the Lord be all that matters. I think that it is very healthy for moms to attend Adoration or just sit before the Tabernacle without their children along. We must remember that we moms are the Lord's little ones as well and the tender Jesus wants us to come to Him so that He can have His time with us without distraction. Perhaps you and another mom could trade off time or your husband could baby-sit while you get away.

Have you considered structuring your homeschool around a 4 day school week? Many homeschool mothers see good sense in this. The 5th day of the week is a type of reward for the work of the other 4 days. This is a perfect time to engage in outside activities (like Adoration), enrichment, household tasks (everyone working together) or catch up with school work that may need finishing.

It is vital that we treat our homeschooling vocation with the same measured effort that a woman who works outside the home treats her job. My daughter is a school teacher, when she leaves the school on Fridays or in the evenings after work she tries very hard to "leave the school behind." During the summer months she takes her vacation. School is on vacation as well. If you have worked for 9 months (September-May) on school then it is only healthy and reasonable to take a break. Your children need the break and you do too in order for you to be "all mom" to them and not always the teacher/mom. The summer months are time for you to refresh and renew your efforts to spiritually fuel up for the work of the upcoming school year. What hasn't been learned in the school year will certainly wait until the start of the next school year. I recommend continuing the habit of reading and journal writing (or coloring or drawing in a journal) daily during the summer.

We as moms sometimes feed ourselves last. While this type of devotion is essential to the well being of our children, it can cross the line into an emotion that is not at all healthy for our own well being. There is an old saying: "Mother the Mother so she can be a better Mother." You are very, very wise when you say that you feel that you are in the early stages of "burn out." This type of wisdom is from the Lord. It is the Lord Who is talking to you. It is the Lord Who is wanting to empower and uplift you at this time. He has heard the sorrows hidden in your heart and He longs to embrace you and heal what needs healing. Listen to the Lord and allow Him to guide you in this effort.

Continue to pray the family rosary each evening with your dear children and husband. This is a time of great grace and therefore an opportunity for the Lord to inspire you with helpful thoughts. It is also a time of resting in the Lord's arms and gaining a perspective on the day's activities. When we come into the Lord's presence our whole life changes. Our breathing is slowed, our minds settle quietly, our spirits are united with the Lord's and all that seemed important suddenly seems pale and of no importance at all. This is good. It is a mini retreat each day at the end of the day.

The school problems that you are having with your children may be directly related to your feelings of burn out. Sometimes I feel like a dog chasing its tail. I seem to go around and around with challenges getting nowhere and feeling frustrated and tired to boot. Many times we search for better methods, better curriculums, better schedules, better children, when all that is really needed is better resolve. We must resolve to do what is right and ask the Lord to give us the strength to stay with the task at hand. Our children need to be held accountable for their school work just as we expect to be held accountable for our efforts as well.

Take the summer off or at least a few weeks and allow time to be refreshed and encouraged by the Lord. Put all the school books and challenges aside and concentrate on yourself and the needs that you may have right now.

I am praying for you every day and will be asking the good Jesus to send His loving Spirit to you during this time and all through your life. I know that He is in your life in a beautiful and powerful way and it is my prayer that you will sense His presence and find a great sense of peace and empowerment.

Jesus, please let our dear sister in Christ feel the full power of Your presence in her life. Give her the quietness of heart and the sweet refreshment of Your embrace. Guide her gently as she explores better approaches to her efforts in the homeschool. Empower her with the wisdom that is of the Holy Spirit so that she will know Your will alone and desire to do this will. We love her, Lord, and trust in Your care for her needs. Bathe her in Your mercy and tenderness. For this we pray. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

   
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