How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout (Part 1)

Like any activity that requires a certain level of commitment, homeschool students and teachers are not immune to “burnout.”

What is “burnout” or being “burned out”?

It is simply the stress response you experience with what you are committed to has been perceived as more hard work than fun for an extended period of time. If it is not corrected and/or reversed before it escalates, it can result in mood disturbances, ill health, and poor decision making. Burnout is common, and can happen to almost anyone, especially if you are not aware of what is happening to you.

Homeschooling involves spending a lot more time with your children than you would if they attended school externally. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the blessings side, you are developing a stronger family bond and taking an interest in your child’s welfare and future. The rewards for this are practically limitless.

On the curse side, although it need not be a curse, you are the party almost solely responsible for your child’s education and access to socialization. This responsibility puts you in the awesome position of providing your child with opportunities that would not be afforded them through a conventional schooling system. On the flip side, if you are unwell or stressed (and, lets face it, some of us may become stressed over the magnitude of that responsibility alone!), you are still the responsible party, and this may compound your stress.

And, although our children are much loved, they can also take it out of you. Their enthusiasm and energy can be difficult to keep up with and, maintaining a balance of allowing them to be kids, and ensuring that they are learning the things you deem necessary, can be a tiring juggling act. It is because we love our kids that we feel such a vested interest in their outcomes, and want to do the best for them possible. And this may encourage us to put undue pressure on them and ourselves to try to achieve the best ‘for them.’

How can you tell if you are getting burned out?

Unfortunately, I am often slow to pick up on my own signs and symptoms of being burned out. They can include such vague behaviors and emotions including loss of patience, crying more easily than normal for you, irrational decision-making, loss or increase in appetite, over-reacting to minor events, and a skewed sense of priorities.

What causes burnout?

Although it will invariably seem like outside factors, over which you feel a loss of control, ‘cause’ your burnout, it is, in fact, caused by your attitude to these factors. The only real way to avoid burnout is to look after yourself and be mindful of your attitudes to events as they occur. If things seem overwhelming, at times we need to take a step back from them to realize that problems are rarely as big as they seem.

While no one disputes that outside events can impact on the running of your family and home, your first responsibility is to yourself and your well-being. I am not suggesting that you neglect your family at all. I am suggesting that you need to look after yourself so that you can effectively look after and educate your family. They need you to be fit, well and rational.Like any activity that requires a certain level of commitment, homeschool students and teachers are not immune to “burnout.”

What is “burnout” or being “burned out”?

It is simply the stress response you experience with what you are committed to has been perceived as more hard work than fun for an extended period of time. If it is not corrected and/or reversed before it escalates, it can result in mood disturbances, ill health, and poor decision making. Burnout is common, and can happen to almost anyone, especially if you are not aware of what is happening to you.

Homeschooling involves spending a lot more time with your children than you would if they attended school externally. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the blessings side, you are developing a stronger family bond and taking an interest in your child’s welfare and future. The rewards for this are practically limitless.

On the curse side, although it need not be a curse, you are the party almost solely responsible for your child’s education and access to socialization. This responsibility puts you in the awesome position of providing your child with opportunities that would not be afforded them through a conventional schooling system. On the flip side, if you are unwell or stressed (and, lets face it, some of us may become stressed over the magnitude of that responsibility alone!), you are still the responsible party, and this may compound your stress.

And, although our children are much loved, they can also take it out of you. Their enthusiasm and energy can be difficult to keep up with and, maintaining a balance of allowing them to be kids, and ensuring that they are learning the things you deem necessary, can be a tiring juggling act. It is because we love our kids that we feel such a vested interest in their outcomes, and want to do the best for them possible. And this may encourage us to put undue pressure on them and ourselves to try to achieve the best ‘for them.’

How can you tell if you are getting burned out?

Unfortunately, I am often slow to pick up on my own signs and symptoms of being burned out. They can include such vague behaviors and emotions including loss of patience, crying more easily than normal for you, irrational decision-making, loss or increase in appetite, over-reacting to minor events, and a skewed sense of priorities.

What causes burnout?

Although it will invariably seem like outside factors, over which you feel a loss of control, ‘cause’ your burnout, it is, in fact, caused by your attitude to these factors. The only real way to avoid burnout is to look after yourself and be mindful of your attitudes to events as they occur. If things seem overwhelming, at times we need to take a step back from them to realize that problems are rarely as big as they seem.

While no one disputes that outside events can impact on the running of your family and home, your first responsibility is to yourself and your well-being. I am not suggesting that you neglect your family at all. I am suggesting that you need to look after yourself so that you can effectively look after and educate your family. They need you to be fit, well and rational.


Melissa Murdoch has a passion for life span development and education, and believes wholeheartedly that a healthy society begins at home. For further information on how to get started in homeschooling, please visit YourHomeschoolCommunity.com.

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3 Responses to “How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout (Part 1)”

  1. This is a great article. I struggled with burn out, Having 8 children over 16 years, breastfeeding for 2 years or more, running businesses, dealing with special needs kids… wow. It can be very very challenging. But just knowing you are not alone can make all the difference. The resources on the web would have been invaluable for me.

    Mimi Rothschild

  2. I liked what you wrote here, Melissa.

    Flexibility in what and how you homeschool can lead to burnout – what’s important is that you use that flexibility to your advantage to minimize these moments.

    Give yourself a break, recharge, and come back ready to deliver those fun times again through homeschooling. I know I know – easier said than done.

    But to me, the most important thing to realize is, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. And so, you must make sure you have that energy to get you to the finish.

  3. shelleynash says:

    I always appreciate knowing that I’m not the only one that gets burned out! I’m actually thinking of trying something different this next year. Year round school. We’ll school in Sept Oct Nov, skip Dec and Jan, School in Feb Mar Apr May, skip June, School in July, skip August.

    This lets us work around our dad’s work schedule (he’s a teacher, ironically) and lets me take off the busy month of Dec and the lousy month of January when for some reason I can never get back into school!
    .-= shelleynash´s last blog ..Shared Reading =-.