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JoyKM

Burnout Busters—What’s a treat or thing you do to make sure you keep up stamina during the school year?

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What’s a little (or big) something you do for yourself to keep your spirits up and protect yourself from feeling burned out during your homeschool year?  It could be for anything—health, hobby, sense of self, whatever.  I’d like to hear the different things that keep everybody going!  I learned a couple of years ago while recovering from a “motherhood burn out” that taking care of me is a way of taking care of my family because I am better at being a wife/mom.  I’m still figuring it all out but now make it a priority (along with everything else going on. 🤪)

 

Edited by JoyKM
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A preplanned school calendar with start date, vacation days, end date.  (We do move things around if we need to, but our calendar exists and are days are not just winging it as to whether or not it is a school day or a vacation day.)  I plan entire weeks off every 6 to 8 weeks.  We work hard during our school weeks and our weeks off are times to rejuvenate and catch up on life so I don't feel overwhelmed. 

B/c of covid and all of our normal summer plans canceled, this yrs calendar is looking quite different.  I have already started planning and our calendar is created tenatively through January.  Starting Jun 30 through July 30, we are going to do 3 day weeks (currently planned for TWH so we can have 4 day weekends, but we can shift the days around very easily to give bigger breaks some weeks). School the 1st 2 weeks of Aug, 3rd week off.  5 weeks on, 1 week off,  7 weeks on, 1 off (Thanksgiving week), 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off (Christmas vacation).  That has us completing 100 days of school before we start back Jan 11.

Knowing what we need to accomplish within any given group of weeks keeps me focused and motivated to stay on task until our next break.  I have tried just doing school and taking off days when we wanted but ultimately that approach does not allow me to thoroughly relax and enjoy the down time as much as having a calendar.  My kids are more productive as well knowing they have scheduled breaks coming.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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My schedule and planning method is different from 8's but I agree - having a plan is what helps keep us focused and prevents me from slacking off when we're tired.  I look at the material for the year and figure out how many days each week we need to do it to stay on schedule.  We can be flexible - if we do 2 days this week and 4 the next, it's OK, but if the plan is for 3 days a week then usually we do it.  Also, although we do several time-consuming extracurriculars, I try to build down time into every day in the afternoon or evening.  I need it and so do the kids.  It took a while, and sometimes work still expands to fill the time available, but in general we are all happier if there is a bit of time to decompress, even in our busiest seasons.  We also rarely take single days off.  We start in August and go straight to Thanksgiving week, which we take completely off.  We take 3-4 weeks around Christmas.  Single days disrupt our schedule but don't give enough time for us to decompress.  

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Send husband away with the kids. This could be as simple as a walk.

Wine. (for me, not the kids)

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My dh's work recently sent out a little email about being "bored out" as opposed to "burnt out".  When we were talking about it, I realized that I am personally much more susceptible to "bored out" than "burnt out".  I can work hard- really hard- as long as I'm not bored.  I homeschool best when I change things up pretty frequently in our content subjects, and even in our methods of learning.  

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9 hours ago, /'/'/' said:

We hs'ed year round and took breaks whenever I felt like I needed them.  And we did whatever we felt like we wanted to do.  I usually decided, but when dh was home on vacation he often came up with ideas.  Otherwise, it was just me and the kids and we decided.

We did things like the following:

- my favorite, and most common break ... tell dc they have the day/week free once all chores were done, while I read books about hs'ing, did some planning, or just sat and thought, etc.  They always had the option to do any school they wanted to do if they felt like it.  As they got older, they sometimes would do a little school and then do other things.  This also worked because we lived on 125 acres in the woods and dc had access to all kinds of things in their free time.   

- my next favorite ... declutter and make trips to the dump and Goodwill.  This also included cleaning up the fixer-upper houses we usually bought or rented.  Ex:  we spent about 8 years just cleaning up the 125 acres of property when we lived there.    

- drive the 30 miles into town and run errands, often stopping by playgrounds or soccer fields on the way home to let dc play as long as they wanted to and burn off energy.

- go ice skating with the hs group once or twice a month and other things like that that were low key and not time consuming

- load all dc up into the car and go exploring the areas where we lived, often stopping near streams in the woods so dc could play in the water and mud and explore

- go to Wal Mart and out to eat at K&W cafeteria afterwards.  Believe it or not, this was a real treat for us back when we were hs'ing.  lol

- go walking in the woods, with or without dc

- on weekends we often did longer trips when dh was there to do the driving (5 kids). 

- beach vacations when we had the money.  But that didn't last too many years.

This is just a sampling.  Mostly, I figured out what I wanted to do and what I thought the kids might like to do to burn off energy, and we did that.

Another thing that kept me sane was having a set routine.  I had all 5 dc in bed by 7pm every night, leaving me with a couple hours alone (dh usually at work or asleep by then) to do what I wanted to do.  I also took a nap with them every day.  I slept with the toddlers to keep them in bed.  And I got up around 5 or 5:30am every day before dc got up.  I switched the clothes, made breakfast, and got set up for the day.  

I also had an evening routine that helped me start every day without feeling like I was behind.  After I got the kids in bed, or while they were in the tub, I would clean the kitchen and start the dishwasher, start a load of clothes, pick up around the house, sweep, and take my shower.  I was usually asleep by 9pm because I function best with 8 hours sleep every night. 

So sticking to my morning and evening routines, and taking breaks whenever I felt like I needed them, and keeping my surroundings in some kind of order (ie. decluttering and cleaning and ) all worked together to keep me from getting burned out.  

We moved a lot, too, so dc and I always seemed to have somewhere new to explore when we got tired of staying home.

Another thing I did for myself was constantly reduce the stressors.  Ex:  screens.  I decided early on that that was not a battle I had the energy or time to fight.  So I got rid of them.

 

Oh, and I stopped all outside things and we stayed home and did school.  I got fed up with 'living' in the car, running dc all over creation so I just quit.  ALL of it.

This all sounds so nice! I have a question. I worry that if I took breaks when I felt like I needed them -- as opposed to on a schedule-- the kids would never know when the next break was coming, and they'd be more resistant to working day to day. But also I don't like feeling like I'm locked in to a schedule, so I like the approach you've described!

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37 minutes ago, /'/'/' said:

 

You have to know your own kids and yourself.  This worked for me and my kids because of how we worked and where we lived and various other circumstances, including my own personality.  Another reason it worked was that I ditched the traditional timelines of when kids should do what (ie. graduate from high school at 18yo, start college right after that, etc.).

I think this is the important part.  I actually loved the idea of homeschooling for flexibility.  It turns out that, with my kids, I can do lots of academic flexibility but not a lot of schedule flexibility.  One kid really likes a routine.  Kiddo would roll with whatever I said that we were doing, but given the choice this kid likes a plan and goals.  They want their unstructured time to be unstructured and knowing that a week off is coming would be nice, but mentally planning to do an assignment only to find that there is not school would not be a treat.  If I tell them on Monday that we're rearranging our usual schedule to take a field trip on Tuesday, all is well.  🙂    I had thought that I'd be able to be more flexible with younger, but it turns out that if you do anything nice as a treat, then kid sees it as something negotiable in the future.  As a silly example, if I let us have ice cream before dinner because we're driving past an ice cream shop, then kid will spend several days arguing that we can have dessert first because I let them do it once.  As younger hits middle school it's getting much better, but at this point our habits are pretty well established because of years of history.  It was actually disconcerting to me when the kids were younger because I had to become more structured to deal with  my younger and my 'let's just read some history and talk about it' plan didn't work at all.  

In this thread we're probably equally likely to see people who do better with lots of schedule and plans and people who are less stressed when they are more flexible.  Some is probably dependent on the parent, but a lot may have to do with the kids and how they interact.  

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  • Plan for and take a big vacation in February (what a friend does) or even late January to beat or delay the onset of the February doldrums.
  • Make day 100 of your school year be the last school day of December.  This happened by accident one year, but I found it to be oddly satisfying.
  • Create a J-term (January term) where you do something different, academically.  unit study or problem based learning or all-the-topics-that-got-pushed-aside.
  • 6/1 scheduling - six weeks of full-strength school and then 1 week off from school, excepting for the first term which I prefer to ramp up, adding a few subjects each week.
  • advice from someone else that I've yet to implement - do something creative (preferably lasting, like scrapbooking or knitting) for 15 minutes each day. 
  • Give up on keeping a house clean. (eye roll)
  • When DH committed to cooking dinner 1 day/week, it was a big help, but of course that's not something 100% within our control.  Also, as kids age and take on the responsibility of cooking a dinner or at least helping make lunches for the littles is a big help.
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It seems like a schedule (of some sort—variety of styles) is a big part of keeping everyone sane. Thanks for sharing!  I’m big on schedules/routine/structure. Having something to stay accountable to helps me on days when I get the case of the blues—seems like it remains important in homeschooling. Since I’m a schedule nerd: 🤓 

Right now I’m planning to start July 27th and go six weeks on, one week off (for fun and to plan the next six weeks). We are doing a M-T-H-F school week with W being a field trip/big activity/project/catch up day. I thought breaking our formal days into groups of two would help—we’ll see if the kids do better with a larger structured block. Originally I had hoped to start 7/13 so we could have a bigger break in December, but I doubt we will have as many parties or activities as usual being new to town and not joining any groups (along with shutdowns).  We may need school in December to keep us from being too bored.  Plus we need more time to settle in and unpack. 

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I agree with 6 weeks on and 1 week off.  I preplanned everything and I also learned not to be tempted to just keep going.  That week off is important.  

On the week off we can catch up on sick days/missed work if necessary, get the house looking really good, watch movies and go to some fun places like th zoo etc.., or if it's the time of year we take a vacation.  

Up through about middle school we do a very light summer schedule and then take 2-3 weeks in August completly off.

 

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1 hour ago, Mbelle said:

I agree with 6 weeks on and 1 week off.  I preplanned everything and I also learned not to be tempted to just keep going.  That week off is important.  

On the week off we can catch up on sick days/missed work if necessary, get the house looking really good, watch movies and go to some fun places like th zoo etc.., or if it's the time of year we take a vacation.  

Up through about middle school we do a very light summer schedule and then take 2-3 weeks in August completly off.

 

I've tried to do this (6 on, 1 off) for the past two years but then things always came up and screwed with my schedule. For example, my parents offered to take two of my kids to DC for a week and it was during a planned school week, or we found really really cheap tickets for the family to go to the Netherlands but it busted the schedule. I thought I was failing. But then I realized that I had scheduled flexibility into my schedule and was just using it differently than planned.

Choosing a different subject to work on doing better each year helps me. Last year it was foreign language. I've learned so much about teaching foreign language and my kids have learned so much. DD11 remarked this morning, "Sometimes dd13 and I play a game where we try to only speak in Spanish to each other." What a win! I'm not sure what next year's focus on improvement will be...

Emily

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I can't believe I forgot ..... chocolate!!!

Forcing myself to go on a nature walk with the kids is always a good reset.  I say 'forcing' because if I'm nearing burnout then I've either got my nose to the grindstone of school .... or my nose in my phone avoiding work.

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I wanted to expand on my comment above to list a couple things that we've done that have worked well:

- Shakespeare February.  Last year, we dedicated all of February to Midsummer Night's Dream.  We did math and a bit low LA, but everything else was Shakespeare.  It was a great way to break up the long winter doldrums.  This year, we did the same thing but with Molière.  

- This year I'm going to try a Literary Friday routine.  Fridays will be our day for writing instruction and assignments, discussing books, poetry tea, and reading journal discussions.  I've got a lot of ideas floating around about this that I need to make more concrete, but I'm looking forward to it!  

 

 

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We do "regular" school 4 days a week and "light" school the 5th day. This helps me keep my focus just as much as it does the kids! I can anything for 4 days 😊 

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We don't keep a schedule. I do switch up some of what we're doing about every three weeks. I just take a school break whenever. No worries.

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I don't have a schedule. We blew off school today because I wasn't feeling it.  Some days, kiddo isn't feeling it. We school year round, so it all works out in the end. 

If the school work is boring, then maybe it's time for different books and resources. Put the workbooks away and watch some interesting documentaries for a few days. Change it up! 

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