how to avoid homeschool burnout

10 Habits of Successful Homeschool Moms to Avoid Burnout

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Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin

Successful homeschool moms aren’t really what you think. They aren’t defined by academics or finances or some other parameter. More than anything, successful homeschool moms are defined by their mindset…the peaceful confidence in the process. That might be difficult when you first begin, because you don’t know what to do…or how to do it. But I want to shorten the learning curve. Below are 10 Habits of Successful Homeschool Moms. No one does them all perfectly. Perfect isn’t the goal!

Know Your Homeschool Philosophy & Goals

Every homeschool is different. Homeschool parents don’t all have the same philosophy or goals. Some parents want a strict Classical experience for their kids and others want a very relaxed Unschooling experience. And in between, there is a wide variety of other philosophies. But first, you have to know yours. Your philosophy will be part of what drives your success and narrows down your approach to opportunities and resources that come across your path. It will simplify your homeschool journey.

Need Help? Here are 7 Homeschool Philosophies

On top of your philosophy, you need to know your goals. This can be individualized to each child. This year, one of my goals for my 12-year-old is to study beekeeping and use that to drive his need to improve his reading and writing skills. That means, if there is a chance to take an astronomy or physical science class, we will probably pass. But if there is a chance to do a field trip to visit a local beekeeper, we are definitely going.

This kind of focus will prevent us from too many distracting rabbit trails. And as a parent, it helps me focus on which opportunities we decide to try. Now next year, we might do that Physical Science class…and shift gears entirely. But I’m talking about looking at just this one year…and making some tangible goals.

Here is an Educational Mind Map to help you map YOUR GOALS this school year.

My Favorite Homeschool Books!

Speak Your Homeschool Goals Regularly

Even when we map out our goals, it can be easy to forget them if we don’t remind ourselves of them often. That is why you should actually print out your YOUR GOALS and put them in a place where you can see them regularly. Now it’s time to “speak” to your goals. In our house with the bees, that is going to look like me saying to my son often, “What is the next thing we need to learn about bees before we can get them.” or “Next time we go to Amish country, let’s visit the guy who sells bee boxes.”

Bees will be part of his schoolwork (reading, watching documentaries) but it will also be an intentional part of our conversation. That will be true for the others being homeschooled. We will talk about the big goals often as if we are accomplishing them. We will talk about them whether it looks like we are being successful or not. We are going to speak confidently about our success. And you should too. When you create goals, talk about them often and expect that you will reach them…even on bad days when that looks doubtful!

Eliminate Distractions

If an activity…or a subject…or a class…or whatever, doesn’t help you meet one of your big goals, give yourself permission to say, “NO.” Even if your friends are doing something and it looks awesome, you have permission to say, “NO.” Of course, you can say,”Yes” to anything you want. However, something successful homeschool moms learn is that to accomplish their goals, you have to learn to say NO to things that don’t relate to your specific goals.

Encourage Independence

Ultimately, you want your children to be able to learn without you. That may not be possible at first, but even non-reading children can do some things without their mom hovering over their shoulder. Seek out learning experiences that also foster independence. Here are ideas on how you can do that:

  • Pick curriculum that is student-driven rather than requires a teacher’s manual (I generally don’t use a curriculum if it has a teacher’s manual)
  • After students learn about something, encourage them to write about what they learned…or for young children to draw what they learned
  • Allow them to pick topics to learn about that are interesting to them
  • Use documentaries to learn about subjects (it gives them some independence…and it gives mom a break)
  • Enroll them in classes where mom is not the teacher/helper so they learn to navigate some homework themselves

Use Organization Tools

That’s right..use a planner (a.k.a. second brain). This can be a regular planner, a calendar, a daily printable…whatever works for you. But write down what you plan to do…monthly, weekly or daily…so you have a roadmap to follow. It doesn’t matter if everything gets completely done. You will accomplish more if you write things down.

On top of that, it will help you immensely if you keep your homeschool books and supplies in one area. I actually keep mine in a locked room that doubles as my office. My adventurous younger children like to drag out all the art supplies and I need a place I can lock to stem the flow of ink, paint and paper at times!

My Favorite Motivation and Productivity Books

Reframe Negative Learning Experiences

Let’s face it, you can try new things and fail miserably at them. It is a terrible feeling to invest time and money only to “fail.” But what if you didn’t fail? What if you couldn’t fail? When you have something negative happen, what if you stop…step back…and learn something new. Maybe you teach your children how to treat other people…when they are hurt by a friend. Maybe you say, “Well that didn’t work. We just learned another way something doesn’t work. Edision “failed” 1000 times at the light bulb before he succeeded.”

Successful Homeschool Moms Teach From Rest

In our hyper-success-driven culture, it’s easy to overschedule and over plan. But in reality, you will feel more successful if you schedule downtime. In my experience, homeschool moms often put themselves last. They don’t make time for their own hobbies, interests, or relaxation because there are too many other things to do.

That leads to burnout!

Successful homeschool moms have time to do things just for them. I love gardening. It’s so relaxing…it;s also productive so I can rationalize it that way! I enjoy writing, and I also enjoy scrapbooking and spending time with friends. I prioritize my own “rest” much more highly than I did at the beginning of my homeschool journey. When you do anything for the long haul, you MUST shift over to a different mindset that is balanced or you will burn out!

successful homeschool moms

Find Your Team

Years ago, I fell into a season of thinking I didn’t need people. I wanted to be strong and independent. All I really got was fatigue and burnout. People are the most valuable piece of your homeschool journey. Finding a community of people who share your values and interests will enrich your life more than any curriculum ever could. Your community can be all homeschoolers…or none at all…but find people to do life with!

A great place to find community is in homeschool co-ops, churches, 4-H groups, scouting organizations, clubs, and more. It will likely take trial and error to find your people, but it’s worth making an effort, awkwardly navigating new social situations, and challenging yourself in this area to find a community that supports you.

Let Go of Perfectionism

Many of us who homeschool have these Pinterest-perfect images in our heads of how school at home will go. We envision our children being happy and wanting to sit down at the table to read history or science together. In our minds, we have these cute school supplies arranged on beautiful shelves and amazing school projects and models that demonstrate what we have learned.

Yeah…get that picture out of your head. If you think that is required for your children to learn a ton…you will feel like a failure.

The reality is that at least part of the time, kids don’t want to learn, someone is unhappy, the dining room table is a mess…for days and many projects are only ever half done. The house can be a disaster….and your kids can learn.

I’m not saying I prefer that. I like a clean house…but everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. And when you let go of perfectionism, you learn something else that successful homeschool moms already know!

Enjoy Watching Your Kids Grow

And this last one is really the most important. You have this amazing opportunity to see your kids grow and change when you homeschool. Your kids learn new things all the time, and they will be so excited to tell you about it. Successful homeschool moms have learned that this school journey is less about textbook learning and more about just enjoying your kids You will learn together and grow together as a family as you learn those ABC’s…as your kids learn about animals and plants…and as your try to build a solar system model. It’s all learning…and it’s all relationship building…and it’s all about lifelong connections that you will look back on when your kids are grown.

Successful Homeschool Moms Focus on the End Game and Don’t Stress Over the Daily Highs and Lows

Let’s face it, parenting is for the long haul. And 24 hours provide the opportunity to feel awesome and terrible…multiple times. Success and failure can be minute-by-minute emotions. But to be a successful homeschool parent and avoid burnout, it is essential to take a long view of parenting and education in general. When you focus on your overall big goals for your children, it is so much easier to enjoy each day, to focus on what matters and to find joy in the little moments.

If you are struggling with homeschooling or education overwhelm, I invite you to join our Facebook Group: Schooling Year by Year. It’s free and encouraging. You are not alone and you are such a blessing to your family!

2 thoughts on “10 Habits of Successful Homeschool Moms to Avoid Burnout”

  1. Sarah, this was so helpful <3 You are so wise and I always come to your site first, for homeschooling know-how or lessons. Thank you so much!!

    1. I’m glad it was helpful! I appreciate the input. If you have other topics you’d like to hear about, just let me know!

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