Teacher Burnout

It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote. I could feel my creative energy building up so I put a movie on for the boys and grabbed the laptop. Screens – my favorite tool, am I right? Use it wisely people. Nothing like a little ‘Frozen’ in the background as I sit and update everyone on how it’s been going

Homeschool life has been… interesting. We are finishing up week 13 and I will admit that it truly has taken this long for me to finally find my groove – hence the lack of writing. Can we get a few more hours in the day please? But for real, it is HARD to find time to just breath, let alone do something for myself. But I’m here now, so let’s jump in.

Teacher burnout is real. It was real when I taught in a school, and it is REAL while I am teaching at home. Can anyone else relate? Whether you are teaching your kids on your own, helping teach them with their virtual schooling, or some combination of both, I see you. This is hard stuff we are doing. If you are exhausted, burnt out, overwhelmed, happy, sad, delusional, excited, over worked - I see you – because I am you. So. Many. Emotions. But you know what, there is so much joy in it too. Let me explain.

October - November felt like the longest stretch of time ever. We even took a weeklong break BOTH months. It just felt right, and definitely needed. I kept trying to fit myself into this picture perfect version of what I envisioned homeschool life to look like. My kid needs to learn x by this time, and we need to be doing x amount of hours a day, and we need to love every minute of it, and we need to have fun, and we need to be creative… the list goes on! It took me 12 whole weeks to discover something HUGE – you ready? All that perfect crap you see online is just a TINY GLIMPSE of the reality in the life of homeschooling. That picture perfect vision I had engraved in my mind was not making anyone happy, including the most important people, my kids.

So I took time off in October. I re-grouped. I tried new things. I of course rearranged. Anyone who knows me well will know that when I get stuck or bored or overwhelmed, my go-to stress relief is organizing. It might work for a little bit, but ultimately it is not solving the main problem. Things still weren’t working. Kids were complaining, activities weren’t that fun for anyone involved, I was exhausted all the time, I was angry and resentful.

November came and I was inspired by my recent visit with my cousin (a veteran school teacher and mom to three). I realized that I needed to take some time (again) and figure out what I wanted. What do I want my kids to take away from this homeschool experience? I took another week off and just let it all go. (obviously my writing is being influenced by the movie my kids are watching… let it go!). So I did. I let it all go.

We decorated for Christmas early, we played, we watched a bunch of movies. I rested. I caught up with family and friends with phone calls and video messages. I read. I researched. I rolled out my yoga mat. And then, I rearranged again. It was good. It was needed.

I officially feel like my teacher burnout has subsided. I feel the fire inside me. I feel the joy. I let go of my absurd vision of what I “should” be doing right now, and realized that I need to find what makes all of us the happiest. When we are rested, happy, and calm – the learning comes naturally. And what is most important to me anyways? It is a good question to ask and start a little self-reflection. For me, it was the vibe in our home. A top priority for me wasn’t actually all the learning checklists and state standards, but it was creating a happy and loving vibe in our space.

If you are feeling burnout here are some tips to help you find your way out:

1. Think about YOUR child. Where are they right now with their learning? Try to not compare them to what you see online. Evaluate them as they are, accept where they are, and make a plan for the next 4 weeks for what to work on. This plan should not consist of things you need to cross off, but more of a guide to get your started in the right direction.

2. Think about YOUR happiness. What brings you calm? What gives you joy? Is it getting up earlier than your child to drink your coffee? Is it exercising or getting outside everyday? Is it taking a nap? Whatever it is, find a way to prioritize yourself in your planning. Literally schedule time to show up for you. A happy parent is one of the best places to start in finding your groove again.

3. Look at your space. You have a better idea of what your kid needs and you know what you need, so now you can create a space in your home that works for those purposes. For me it meant changing up where our arts and craft supplies were, de-cluttering and donating toys, and re-organizing our school supplies for easy access. For you it might mean something entirely different.

4. Make a daily rhythm rather than a strict schedule. This one was big for me. I have always been a schedule person. But I found out that this was one of the largest triggers for me. I kept thinking learning needed to take place here, or there, or at this time. When in reality we can learn all day, all over – a simple reminder to myself that we are all lifelong learners. Note down some times that are probably not changing (when you eat and sleep for example) and then fill in larger chunks with a GUIDE for your day. Be willing to change it up for that days needs.

5. And most importantly – rest. If you need a break, listen to yourself. The rest I gave myself was probably the biggest gift I could have given. I am living proof that a week of movies and free play is not going to make your kids fall behind in your homeschool journey. But what it will do is give you time to re-group and find that spark that’s inside you.

Week 13 has been my favorite week of all. I am so grateful to have learned so much over the past 3 months – tears and all. Sending everyone positive vibes as you navigate your way through this season of parenthood.

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