The Homeschool Burnout Tea with Julie series continues.
Tea with Julie

Welcome to "Tea with Julie," a weekly missive by me, Julie Bogart. My wish is to give you food for thought over a cup of tea to enhance your life as an educator, parent, and awesome adult. Glad you're here. Pinkies up!
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Cincinnati, May 1, 2021

Hi Friend,

As home educators, we all whine and complain from time to time. But when we begin to think, “We could be better homeschooling parents if our kids were just in school,” we know we're in trouble.

What's needed? A fresh perspective and a healthy dose of practical change.

Here are 10 ideas. Let’s go!

1) Do one thing right now.

Sort through the eternal mail pile. Clean out the fridge. Order the new math book. Jog. Read to your toddler. Look at an art print. Cut your hair. Plan one day of school in advance. Shop for the ingredients to the next science experiment. Just one.

Don’t plan to do it. Don’t call your best friend about it. Don’t read a book on the subject.

I wanted saffron yellow walls for my kitchen for months. But which yellow paint? How much should I buy? How would I know if I got the best price in town? And worst of all, how could I paint my walls yellow with five kids under foot?

Then one day, I had had it. I marched all of us into Home Depot, covered my eyes and picked the color card. I got the paint mixed, paid for it and went home. I painted the wall that afternoon while the toddler was awake! (Nuts, I know, but she wasn’t even the one to spill the bright yellow paint all over the apartment rug—ahem—we don’t really need to know who did that, do we?)

Every morning for the next year, I’d come bounding down the stairs and smiled first thing. That wall brightened my dreary little apartment immeasurably and it reminded me of the power of follow-through.

One thing! You can do it.

2) Don’t do something else.

Don’t text your girlfriend because you’re bored. Don’t leave the house with lunch plates on the table. Don’t sleep in… again. Don’t get online before breakfast and stay there… until noon.

Pick an annoying or embarrassing habit and stop it today, just for today. You don’t have to promise for eternity. If you pick one habit to stop each day, you’ll be amazed at how many changes you can make. When I stayed off the phone in the morning, it was amazing how much better homeschooling went. 

3) Give up.

That’s right—wave the white flag. You will never be like her. Don’t compare yourself to Miss Perfect.

Here’s the solution: Do what you can and enjoy what you do.

Quit comparing and start enjoying your kids. They’re the reason we all chose to stay home, remember?

4) Pick three.

Instead of thinking generally about what isn’t working, start noticing what is. Pick at least three reasons it is good to be alive and homeschooling. Then go tell someone.

Recite these every time the dishes are stacked too high in the sink.

  • Not having to schlep my five kids to school by 8:00 a.m.
  • Reading all those great books in our pajamas.
  • Seeing the firsts up close (first step, first letters, first word read, first expository essay)
  • Poetry Teatimes!
  • Giving my daughter time to write stories about her bunny.
  • Listening to my seven-year-old read words that I haven’t taught him.

Those are some of my favorites. I’m sure that you can think of more.

5) Break a rule.

Give yourself a break. Paper plates for lunch. Disposable diapers for a week (how about a month—want to be radical, a whole year!) Listen to old tunes from high school. Dance through the living room. Put on a little make-up.

In other words, splurge. By definition, a splurge only happens once in a while. But unlike gluttony or indulgence, there’s no guilt. So go to an art museum alone (without the co-op). Read a book you want to read. Shut the teacher’s manual and take a nature hike.

Nourish your mind, spirit, and body and your homeschool will benefit too.

6) Strip your homeschool to the bare essentials.

Now is not the time to beat yourself up about your lack of creativity. Rely on the routines that you can maintain with the least amount of preparation.

In our house, that meant we continued with math, reading, and poetry teatimes. We also kept up with our writing. I tended to rely on interest-driven writing, I skipped big projects that required revision and focused instead of personal writing:

  • journaling, 
  • freewriting,
  • silly writing prompts.

We always kept teatimes going because they felt special, included yummy food, and made the day seem nicer than it actually was.

7) Get help.

You can join a co-op, hire tutors, swap subjects with a friend (I did that one year – I taught English to the my friend’s daughter while she taught math to my son).

8) Be good to you.

This may not be your best season for home education. Accept that. Instead, take time each day to do something nice for yourself.

You might enforce a quiet half hour (light a candle and tell your kids they can talk when you blow it out). Read a book during that half hour. Unplug computer and phone.

Or give yourself permission to bone up on a subject to be taught later. Perhaps you have always wanted to do crafts with your kids, but it’s too much to prepare, plan, and execute right now. Use this down time to read a little, clip a few ideas and file them. Don’t tackle the whole thing. Just tuck away a little bit of input for the future. It will help you remember that a more energetic time is on its way.

9) Use television and movies sometimes.

You have my permission (in case you need it) to use the TV to help you cope. I swear, your children will turn out just fine.

Choose some programs that make you feel like a better mother. Watch Discovery channel, the cooking channel, nature documentaries. Watch people realize their dreams and ambitions or learn about history or science or run through as many Broadway musicals as you can. Watch Shakespeare movies or all the Disney films in chronological order. Turn the TV into a secret ally.

10) Take the long view.

You’re a good parent. How do I know? You homeschool. Only devoted parents take on this awesome task. Trust that what you’ve poured in will sustain your kids through this period of chaos, the depression, the pressure, or the distraction. Remember that anything missed now can be easily caught up in a more alive, less blues-y time.

In the end, we must be home educators who love what we do. When we don’t, we risk the vitality and joy of our children’s schooling experience. Their memories of school will be inextricably bound to us. Who do we want them to remember?

We started in on this weird and wonderful lifestyle for good reasons. Instead of complaining, let’s remind each other of the truly heroic job we're doing—spending twenty-four hours a day with our kids because we love them more than anyone else will.

And be proud of you. I am.





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Julie Bogart
© 2021 Brave Writer LLC™

Brave Writer




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