Homeschool Burnout: What You Need to Know About Rest
Why do so many homeschool mom's experience burnout? Often it's because we don't take care of ourselves... we don't rest. Find out what your need to know about rest and how to incorporate more of it into your life.
Dear mom, are you tired?
Tired of the noise, of being asked a million questions, of playing referee? Are you weary of having a child constantly following you everywhere? Tired of doing tasks you have to turn around and do again—making meals, washing and drying and folding those never-ending loads of laundry? Cleaning a house that immediately gets messy again?
Yes, we love our husbands and children and home, but sometimes we just want a break from it all. We feel pressured to live up to so many expectations, many of the self-imposed in this world where everyone lives their best life online.
Our hearts cry out, “What about me?" This just isn’t what I thought being a wife or mom would look like.” We don’t want to voice our real thoughts and questions, though, fearing others will think we are selfish, that somehow we love our kids less. But that just isn’t true.
Let me encourage you sweet mom. You aren’t the only one who has felt this way. We all feel discouraged, disheartened, and disillusioned sometimes. And those feelings can get quite intense. We simply get tired. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired.
You need to rest.
We Need to Rest
I know you are busy, but making time to rest can actually be a gift to you and your family. You will never be as patient or loving as you desire when you walk in a constant state of exhaustion. And every problem will feel monumental. Fatigue tends to distort reality in our minds. it leads to burnout... to losing our motivation to do anything.
Why do we need rest?
God Created Us and Knows Us
Years ago when we bought a new car, the owner’s manual instructed us to not use the cruise control for a certain number of miles. Instead it said to vary our speed a bit while driving so that we would get the best gas milage later on.
That made no sense to me.
But, guess what? I don’t design cars. And I obviously didn’t make the one we were driving. So I decided to trust the owner’s manual. Why? Because it was written by the maker of the car—the ones who designed it, the ones who knew how to get the best performance from it.
No one knows you better than the one who created you, the one who designed you.
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:26-27
Psalm 139 reveals the wonderful, intimate knowledge God has of us. He searches and knows us—when we sit and rise. He knows our very thoughts. Our words before we speak them. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Our Father Set an Example
In Genesis 2:1-3, we see our Father lead by example,
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Do you really think God needed rest? I don’t think so, but He knew we did. And so He set the example, and instructed us to rest, too. Jesus even states,
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.Mark 2:27
Just as our heavenly Father is our example, we will model for our children what is good for them, too. Do you want to set the example of one who is always tired, overwhelmed, and irritable? Or do you want your children to learn how to live this life in a healthy and intentional way? Choosing what is best over what is popular or even good?
He Commands Us to Rest
Don’t miss the fact that Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. It is for us, Dear Moms.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.Exodus 20:8-11
Though we are not under the letter of the law (in other words, all the specific commands) of the Older Testament, we are still to obey the heart of the law. That has never changed. Why? Because our basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs didn’t change when we believed in Jesus. Like we give our children instructions for their good even when they don’t understand why, God gives us commandments for our good.
The evidence of the importance of rest in our lives makes it pretty clear. Just consider the benefits of being well rested.
When we are rested, we…
- Are more productive, patient, and calm
- Handle stress better
- Think more clearly and rationally
- Feel more at peace
- Have the energy to do all the things God calls us to do
8 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Burnout (by getting more rest!)
You may be thinking, “Rest sounds great, but it isn’t possible in my life.” Please know, though, our loving Father created rest for us. It is for our good, and because of that, He commanded us to do it. And if he commands something, he provides the way.
Sometimes, though, we may have to be a bit creative. It's definitely better than experiencing homeschool burnout, though! Here are some ways to incorporate rest into your life (without taking a nap!)
1. Be Thankful
Exhaustion isn’t always caused by a lack of sleep. Trials, pain, and even busyness can leave us feeling emotionally and spiritually drained as well. Thankfulness takes the focus off of what is wrong in our lives and reminds us of our blessings. Though we may still be physically tired, thankfulness renews and refreshes our hearts and minds.
2. Trust God to Provide What You Need
After the church at Philippi sent gifts to care for Paul’s needs, Paul thanks them and reminds them,
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19
Yes, Paul is probably speaking specifically of financial needs. But the principle remains the same. God provides for our needs.
As a mom you are constantly providing for the needs of others. Your Father does the same for you—He provides. Consider 2 Peter 1:3:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.
Will you choose to believe this?
3. Change Your Mindset
Cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning and organizing are all acts of worship when done in service to God and our family. Each task a work of love. When we see the importance in the mundane it doesn’t feel as exhausting.
So turn on some praise music. Pray as you work. Meditate on Scripture.
When we do these things, we
bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is spiritual worship”
Instead of being conformed to this world—a world that says serving your family is a waste of your time and talents—you can be transformed by renewing your mind in the midst of your daily tasks (see Romans 12:2).
4. Accept Less Than Perfect
I recently read a question from a new homeschooler to some veteran ones on a Facebook group. She asked, “How did you do it all well? The cooking and cleaning, spending time with your husband, and teaching your children?” My simple answer: I didn’t. Not all of it, at the same time, anyway.
Maybe moms should be trained in the art of juggling, because that is what life really is about. I once heard it described like this: You have to pay attention to the ball that is in the air at that particular time—giving it your full attention. And perhaps that is the key. Being fully where you are in that particular moment in time.
Because of this we have to be alright with imperfection. Sometimes the kids will eat cereal for supper (or even that unnaturally fluorescent orange mac & cheese we all secretly love). Other times the house will be messy or the laundry will sit on the couch instead of neatly folded and stored away.
But sometimes we must choose the best—like building relationship with our children—over the things that can wait. The house will still be messy tomorrow, and someday you may kind of miss the mess.
5. Go to Bed
I know sometimes you just want some time to relax after the kids go to bed. But be careful that “just a little” downtime doesn’t turn into such a late night that you start your next day deprived of much needed sleep.
How often do you go to bed late, then feel tired the next morning and get a later start than you hoped? How many times do you end up feeling behind the rest of the day?
If you want to get enough rest, you have to make it a priority. Establishing an evening routine can help.
6. Simplify Your Life
Choose the best over the good. Meaning your best, not someone else’s. Prayerfully consider service, educational, and ministry opportunities before saying yes. Remember that every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another. Sometimes that no is to rest.
You have to know yourself and your children—to understand your limits and your preferences. Does being around other people energize you? Or do you need time alone? If you haven’t ever taken a personality tests, you can take this one for free at 16Personalities.
Meals don’t have to be elaborate to be healthy and good. Your kids don’t have to be involved in every activity offered. You don’t have to do everything you are asked to do. And your house doesn’t have to look like a magazine photo shoot.
You get to choose.
7. Take a Personal Day
Try to get away at least once a year for a personal day, or hopefully a whole weekend. Give yourself time to be refreshed and renewed. Leave the television off and stay away from Social Media so you can truly rest.
During the time you may want to do one or two of the following:
- Pray, meditate on Scripture, and study His word.
- Set goals with actionable steps to achieve them—spiritual, personal, educational, and relational goals.
- Evaluate: How can I incorporate more things into my life that bring me joy? How can I nurture an atmosphere of rest and joy in our home?
- What do I want my kids to learn apart from academics? Does the enviroment of our home foster or hinder these things?
- Do we have enough margin in our lives, or are constantly living at the edge? Do we have time as a family to enjoy one another and build relationships or are we constantly on the go?
8. Ask for Help
If you don’t communicate your needs, how can anyone help you? Talk to your husband, support system, family, or close friends. Swap babysitting if you can’t afford a sitter. Hire someone to help with cleaning or whatever else you need if that is an option. But don’t feel like a failure because you need some help! We were made to live in community. So lean into it.
And don’t neglect going to the One who gives true rest. Make spending time with God a priority—let Him be the very air you breathe. Abide in Him. Connect with Him. Jesus says,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
Dear Mom, You Need to Rest
Yes, being a mom can be exhausting at times, but there is a difference between falling into bed at night because you were busy doing what God has called you to do and living in a state of overwhelming exhaustion because you didn’t obey Him. Because you chose to “do-life” your way. You can find rest even when you are physically tired.
It is possible.