Once again, it is spring break! Every year at about this time, I find myself needing the break. But I also get worried that taking one may put us behind (or further behind than I already feel). I count the weeks left until my arbitrary “school’s out” date and worry that we won’t get everything done that I had planned to get done. In the end, I find myself telling my children, “OK, we will have spring break, but before you can go play with your friends every day, you must do these two things…” This year, it is Rocket Math and reading.
However, I think my children probably need the free time as much as I do. By this time, I swing between feelings of homeschool burnout — so ready for the school year to be over — and anxiety that we won’t get finished. Then there is also all the time I begin to spend planning how much better next year is going to be. I am always planning ahead and dreaming about how much smoother things will go and how much more fun it will be if I make changes.
Silly thing is, I know that although our school days may end after the first week of May, learning goes on all summer. We take part in the library reading program, Bible camp, golf camp, swim lessons, zoo trips, and we visit family. I also make sure we do some math practice throughout the summer. There isn’t a formal lesson plan, and it seems like so much more fun.
So why can’t I just enjoy the learning that is taking place right now?
This year I have been thinking about why we experience homeschool burnout more than ever. Because this year, I have really enjoyed helping Joel reach his goals. Maybe it’s because I started homeschooling him from the beginning (kindergarten) that I don’t feel like I am behind, because I always felt that way with my older girls, who were preparing for high school graduation. Yet I still feel some pressure now — especially with Joel’s Story of the World History — to get finished on time so that we don’t have to continue it through the summer. Even though I know that it is less important to simply finish the book and more important that my son connects with the stories we do complete, it’s easy to feel like I’m behind.
What I’ve learned is that end-of-year burnout is the result of three things: over-thinking the current situation, being anxious and stressing out about “keeping up,” and trying to plan three steps down the road when I should just be enjoying the learning taking place right now, everyday.
I can say this now because this year, I realized that I haven’t really experienced the level of homeschool burnout that I have felt in the past. This year I know I am not behind. In fact, I am enjoying the learning taking place with my son (on most days), and I know the learning never stops — and it can be fun, even if it’s not summer vacation.
This is my advice about burnout: This homeschool lifestyle is all about endurance. It’s about finishing the race. So don’t set arbitrary deadlines. Make learning as fun as possible — all year round if you can. Then pray and know that if you are following God’s plan, you are right where you need to be, and He will lead you to completion. Delight in the work God has given you and enjoy the journey.
Are you experiencing any “end-of-year” burnout? Did you take a Spring Break this year, and if so, did it help you (and your children) regroup? What helps you revive your homeschooling energy at this time of year? Let us know in the comments below.