Homeschooling Burnout: It’s OK to Take a Break
November 17, 2021
Mercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
Reevaluate, Reconstruct, Reignite
Whether you call it a mental health day, a break for scheduling, or a teacher professional development day . . . we all need a break every now and then. Don’t feel guilty about this—every professional educator has breaks like these scheduled in—home educators need the same.
There are many benefits of taking a break from teaching:
You are able to reevaluate your progress, reconstruct your schedule, and reignite your passion. These are all worthy reasons for a break. Besides that, your students will be super excited to have a day off while you regroup, and you will avoid homeschooling burnout.
But here’s where the rubber of my day meets the gravely road. Some days I feel so far behind at the very minute I step foot out of bed that I already feel burnout creeping up into my foggy brain. So, in order to find peace for my soul, I must take a break right out of bed. Yes, that’s me—taking a morning break from my morning before my morning even begins. Are you laughing yet? I know, it’s not that funny when it is your reality. But it is the exact relief we desperately need. It’s what Jesus did and what He told His disciples to do. It’s our spiritual and physical and emotional health. We must come away to pray whether that is in the morning or the evening or all day in between.
Let’s look at Jesus’ lifestyle of rest in between the overwhelming demands of meeting needs all day:
Jesus went away to pray, on a mountain to pray, while it was still dark, very early, or late in the day (Luke 11:1-2, Luke 5:16, John 17:1, Hebrews 5:7; Luke 21:37, Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:28, Mark 1:35). He spent time with His Father so He could hear His voice and know how to proceed with life here on earth. Here is one of my favorite responses of Jesus to the disciples after a demanding day:
“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately” (Mark 6:30-32).
Jesus invited them to go to a quiet place and rest. Day or night, we should pull away and pray to our Father and listen to His Word—He invites us there. It is where we will find the strength to make it through the demands of another day. Moms with little ones, you can’t always get away to a quiet place, but your heart can become that quiet place as you focus on God’s Word. He gently leads those with young. This is how you will avoid burnout: pour it all out before your Father and cast your cares on Him. You can do this one more day!
More helpful articles on homeschooling burnout:
Taking Breaks – Eliminating Burnout
Once upon a time, there was a homeschool mom who thought she could homeschool without taking a single break. Within a short time, her kids hated school, she dreaded school, and they all hated each other. The end.
Not a very pleasant little story, but a powerful reminder that you NEED to take breaks. Even the all-knowing “Institutional School” knows that breaks are important. That’s why they have Fall break, Spring break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Parent/teacher breaks, and a half dozen other national holiday breaks. They take those breaks because they all NEED breaks.
So do you. And, even if you love the whole school thing and get all jazzed up by doing school, I’m betting your children need the breaks.
You Deserve a Break Today
The great thing about homeschooling is that you can take breaks when you need them, not just when they hit right on the calendar. In fact, you can and should be taking random breaks often. They don’t have to be long . . . and they may just be starting the school day a little later or finishing it a little earlier, or taking the day off to go outside, go on a field trip, or play games.
I’m telling you Mom, if you don’t take breaks, you’ll kill everything you’re trying to accomplish. You’ll kill the love of learning and tarnish the reputation of homeschooling. Still can’t do it? Then listen to the homeschool expert who is telling you to take the day off, enjoy the fall weather and your children, get some things checked off your endless list, and then start fresh the next day. That’s just what the doctor ordered.
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A Time to Put on the ‘Breaks’
A Season for Everything
Life can be a bit overwhelming for many of us. Have you felt that, too?
Thankfully, Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
There is a time to run, and a time to rest. A time to pursue academic achievement, and a time to contend with the realities of daily life.
Though it’s honorable and virtuous to be diligent in our labor, it’s equally important to rest. (Even our Lord rested after His labor.)
When Your Family Needs a Break
When you, sweet momma, feel exhausted and exasperated—grace.
When your children grow teary-eyed during school and their little minds crave rest—grace. When your family races through life, blazing past beauty in pursuit of impossible perfection—grace.
It’s okay to slow down and take a break.
You Are Not Failing
Your need for rest does not make you a failure, dear momma.
You’re not alone. We’ve all been there (and will be there again). A break provides the opportunity to invest in your mental, emotional, and spiritual health—and that investment can be a blessing to everyone.
Be Intentional with Your Breaks
What you do on your break will depend on why you needed the break in the first place.
Are you overwhelmed with too many “To Dos”?
Does life feel crazy and chaotic?
Perhaps it’s time to invest in learning how to effectively manage time to reduce stress. The liberating time-management strategies taught in Don’t Eat That Frog! can help.
When Life Hurts
Are you homeschooling through a heartache?
Heartache wears many faces and takes many forms. It’s something that must be processed, and processing takes time.
Perhaps it’s time to put down the textbooks and invest more in the Book—God’s Holy Bible.
Not sure where to start? Maybe a step-by-step program to memorize Scripture will begin to bring healing to your broken heart.
For more practical advice on taking a break when life hurts, please read this special post—How Do You Homeschool When Your Heart Is Breaking?
P.S. Combat overwhelm with the liberating time-management strategies you’ll find in Don’t Eat That Frog!
There’s nothing more powerful and replenishing than hiding God’s Word in your heart together as a family.
About the author
Surprised by Jesus, Stacy went from an unmarried, childless, 30-something career woman to a Christ-following wife of more than twenty-eight years with two sons she homeschooled K-12. She battled fear and overwhelm, but survived and thrived. Author of more than ten books—including the award-winning Philosophy Adventure—she loves to equip and encourage homeschool families. Visit her at HomeschoolAdventure.com.
Pillar of Hope
Tracy Klicka – It’s More than OK to Take a Break!
“Where are you, Mommy?”
Tap, tap, tap . . . small hand knocking on the bathroom door. Mom ignores.
“Mommy? I need you.” Silence.
Little, wiggling fingers appear under the door. Mom pretends they aren’t there.
“Can’t I have just five minutes alone?” Mom whispers through gritted teeth.
That mom was me . . . and maybe you, too.
My angry response to those little, wiggling fingers under the door convicted me. I realized my tired soul needed something more if my family was going to do more than survive.
Homeschooling seven young kids and caring for a husband with MS was more than a full-time job. To keep up with all the “must-do’s” each day, I felt I had become a robot, and I lost myself in the process. I desperately needed a break.
Moms, God made us to thrive, and your health—mental, emotional, and physical—is vital to the health of your family. It’s good to remember we’re finite. We can’t do it all. Giving ourselves time to recharge—create, garden, read, journal, talk to friends, or just rest—can be a form of worship as we slow down and wait on Him to recharge us. He will do it, and those little, wiggling fingers under the door will one day thank you that you did.
About the author
Tracy Klicka, widow of former HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka, is a homeschooling mom of seven adult children. Seasoned homeschooler and gifted writer/speaker for over 22 years, Tracy has addressed thousands at homeschooling conventions and women’s events, contributed to Christianity Today, regularly writes for national homeschool publications, and contributed to her late husband’s homeschooling books. She serves as the Director of Development for HSLDA, through which their Compassion Program helps families homeschooling through hard times.
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for the month of November
A Princess in Disguise
April Michelle Davis
A Princess in Disguise is the tale of a young princess who must discover her identity and is compelled to unravel the mysteries surrounding her childhood years before crossing the threshold into the responsibilities of adulthood. Author April Michelle Davis began writing this captivating 141-page paperback book when she was just a young lady herself in middle school.
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