It’s hard to know how to talk about this, but I’ve got a bad case of burnout. It’s a feeling I know from homeschooling all these years, a March kind of feeling that brings a sense of heaviness, greyness, weariness. But it’s not March. It’s not the end of a long Manitoba winter. And I’ve been living with it for a few months now. I had burnout before we even started homeschooling.

The thing is, this is coming at a time when my kids need me most. Miss a few weeks in grade 3 or grade 7 and you’ve got years to smooth it out. But it’s grade 12 and 10 around here and they need me. They need me to be motivated and motivating. To be witty. To be wise.

I feel like everything, even happiness, is in greyscale.


Sandra is doing fine with it. Not loving it, struggling a bit with her own sense of grey, but moving forward with her tasks and getting things done. Matthias, on the other hand, is not a self-propelled student and lacks confidence. I really feel like I’m failing him, and this shovels a heavy layer of guilt and panic over the greyness.


8 thoughts on “Burnt

  1. Mrs. A. says:

    We, too, have been having an unexpected, not-as-scheduled grey period. I can sympathize! I’m glad you shared and I hope you find a motivating boost in good time. My kids seem to share a lot of similarities with yours – age, learning styles and needs – and I’ve always appreciated your openness. I have no excellent words of advice, just confidence that you will find the best solution soon.

  2. 3kinder says:

    15 yrs homeschooling, high school round 2 & 3 looming. I realized this year that I have been burning myself out by doing all the extras. I teach in our co-op (more hours that the kids attend classes) I lead a Jr high group weekly, I teach at home, running kids to lessons & swimming & & &
    I let it become all too much. I’m beginning the downsizing process. I’ve cut one of the classes at co-op, cutting more next fall. I’ve dropped the kids swimming for now adding hikes, bike trails, dog walks, things we can do together instead of me watching. I’m handing off the group in the spring & I’m trying fervently to add read aloud back into our days. Small steps over several months that I hope will renew me. Idk if any of that will give you some perspective, but I you find your changeable spots too.

  3. Christine says:

    Grateful for your candor, Poppins. I am feeling the same things. I am not sure what tweaks are the right ones for adjusting in our home. I think about school for one of my three…. And am struggling with what is best for our various needs. With homeschooling it (the burnt and the attending to it, noticing it, being patient and yet thoughtful) are all opportunities for life learning for your children. It’s so clear that you are a gift in your home. Wishing you the gentleness and encouragement you need bc you are a real encouragement for many. P.s. Please keep writing on your blog! I missed you this summer and don’t follow you other places since I’m not there. Au Courage!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks, Christine. I will be writing here, I promise. It’s just hard to write lately. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot but saying less even in real life.

  4. Ann says:

    I empathize with your burnout, since I am feeling it too. As a homeschool mom who has graduated one child–now a junior at university and has one still at home (14 years old with learning issues much like your son), I have noticed that hs moms tend to stress FAR more during their children’s high school years. There is so much pressure for academic preparation and performance for college admission. I have come to see that this pressure is false and harmful for kids and moms. Learning is a continuum and learning in high school is no more or less important than learning at any other time. With my older son, our high school goal was for him to become a competent self-learner and all our studies were geared towards that goal. It changed everything because our goal was not fact/knowledge based, but meta-learning based–figuring out how to learn rather than accumulating facts. Of course my son accumulated knowledge along the way–as someone who plans to earn a PhD in Physics, he felt he needed to understand calculus and science methodologies prior to college, but the goal always was developing self-learning skills. He has done very well at a large, highly ranked, science-focused university.

    In an effort to condense this, I hope I am being clear.

    The reason I am trying to explain this is that you seemed so burned out largely because of the pressure you feel from homeschooling your high school aged children. I would encourage you to gently and gradually let go and give your children space and time to become strong self-learners. I understand that your son needs encouragement; so does my younger son. Give him boundaries (limit tv, games, etc) help him set some goals and see what he does. If you are burned out, your teens are old enough to start taking responsibility for their own learning. They have to do it in college and as adults; it is so good to let them learn how to do this while at home where mistakes can happen safely. Sure, you can offer encouragement and even assistance, but weaning them (I used that word deliberately as a former LLLL) gently towards self-reliant learning is a fabulous goal.

  5. Jennifer says:

    As others have said, thank you for your candor. It is important to admit when we are struggling and seek out new perspectives and guidance.

    I have been completely overwhelmed by the pressures I have placed on myself as we start our oldest in high school work this year. It seems as if suddenly this is for real! We now have to keep grades and be accountable to someone outside of our family on her transcript (we have no reporting requirements in our state). I want everything to be perfect and challenging, to prove to the world that my child has had a remarkable education at home. However, I have been so focused on the content of her education that I have forgotten her soul. I have been too much the task master and too little the compassionate mother that she really needs at this time.

    Suffice it to say, at the end of the summer, when this realization struck me, we both had a bit of a meltdown. After the tears and angry words had passed, we spent some time discussing what she needed to do in high school to meet the requirements for the college she would like to attend. It helped her to see that it wasn’t just me telling her what she had to do. We made a plan for what she would study this year and then put that plan on the back-burner for a couple of months. She is currently doing what I would consider a “minimum” of work, but she seems happier and less stressed.

    In a couple of weeks I will be finished with the fall semester at the local community college where I have been teaching part-time for the last two years. (I see now that while this job has had some monetary and career perks for me, it has been part of the brewing problem in our homeschool life.) I will then have time to really sit down and think about my educational philosophy, her plans, and how we can best work together. I am taking the spring semester off from work to rebuild our relationship and revive the spirit of learning with which we started this journey 10 years ago!

    Thank you for continuing this blog over all these years. I enjoy the little snippets of real life you present here. Even the simple thoughts and pictures you post are encouraging. I pray that you will find joy in your homeschooling again soon. (And if you do find it…please share where it is hiding!)

  6. CathyT says:

    I am sorry you are feeling the way you are, but know that many of us have been there during the homeschooling journey and we all have compassion and empathy. I have 4 boys, two of which are done homeschooling – one who decided to start his own business and one who is now a sophomore in university. The high school years were difficult at times, and as others have said, perhaps so partly because of the pressures we place on ourselves as both mom and teacher. I don’t have any answers but I try to take time for me every week for at least half a day if possible. Knitting helps me as well, gives my fingers something to do when I feel the urge to do more in another way. I had to tell myself that it would be ok, too if it took more than four years to complete what I would call done (as in You have now graduated). That alone did wonders for both myself and my kids.

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