Burnout: Relighting the Fire!
November 8, 2017
Mercy Every Minute  
Some homeschool days are awesome, and some are so difficult we just want to quit. For good. Really. And sometimes it is not just a day but a whole season of burnout. 

Here is what gets me back into the fight. And yes, it’s a fight. We are going against the flow of society—against family and friends and church, against everything that seems normal for everyone else—in order to follow what we believe God has called us to do in educating God’s children for God’s glory. It is never easy going against the flow, and you will feel the opposite pressure sometimes. So, here’s the deal; I want to be able to say this about my walk of obedience and faith with Christ here on earth: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

When you don’t feel like continuing on is exactly when faith has to come in. When you feel so far behind at the very minute you step foot out of bed and feel burnout creeping up into your foggy brain, keep your faith strong in the LORD. We walk by faith and not by sight or any other senses that try to overtake us.

Jesus also showed us how to beat burnout. Let’s look at Jesus’ lifestyle of rest in between the overwhelming demands of meeting needs all day: Jesus got away to pray (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 would know how to proceed with life here on earth. We must do the same.  

Jesus said to His disciples after a demanding day, “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” (Mark 6:30-32).

Jesus invited them to go to a quiet place and rest. Day or night, He invites us there. It is where we will find the strength to make it through the demands of another day. 

Pour it all out before your Father, and cast your cares on Him. You can do this one more day ! I am right there hanging onto faith with you, faith that God has a future and a hope for all of us, faith that God performs all things for us, faith that His strength is available when mine is weak. He’s got this. He’s got you ! Fight the good fight; finish the course; keep the faith!

~Deborah

Ten Years of Burnout , Deborah Wuehler 
Stirring the Ashes , by Sheila Campbell
Saving the Shrinking Flame , by Naomi Musch
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Tracy Klicka
Home School Foundation,   www.homeschoolfoundation.org
-Tracy Klicka,  Home School Foundation

Tracy Klicka , the widow of former HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka, is a homeschooling mom of seven, now adult children. As a seasoned homeschooler and gifted writer and speaker for over 20 years, Tracy has addressed thousands of parents at homeschooling conventions and women’s events, has contributed to  Christianity Today , regularly writes for national homeschool publications, and has contributed to her late husband’s books on homeschooling. She currently serves as Director of Development for the  Home School Foundation , the charitable arm of HSLDA, which helps families homeschooling through hard times. She also blogs at www.TracyKlicka.com  and for HSLDA’s  Everyday Homeschooling   blog column.

She can be reached at   tracy@homeschoolfoundation.org .
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Beth Mora
Montauk Lighthouse stands on the outer edge of New York’s Long Island. The place has meaning for me. I grew up fascinated by the stories of long ago when my aunt, who recently passed away at age 104, told tales of when she got to sleep at her friend’s lighthouse before it became a treasured NY icon.

During the homeschool convention season, I visited once again this island lantern. As I climbed the spiral staircase to the top, I couldn’t help but hear the giggles of my eight-year-old aunt and her friend frolicking from top to bottom and then to the top again. At the peak, the massive mirrored light, angled in every direction, guided ships away from disaster for generations. It was a clear day, and the view was spectacular! “This had to be the best place for a sleepover party!” I thought.

Standing in the lantern room at the top, I couldn’t help my homeschool mama’s mind. It drifted to one of my favorite children’s books, Keep the Light Burning, Abbie . This homeschool classic is about a young girl, who despite her insecurities, kept the light burning through the storm while her father was away getting medicine for her sickly mother. The reader can’t help but ponder, “Would I be able to keep the light burning through frosted windows and despite gusty gales that made the sky-high spire sway?”

I would like to say I would, but I hesitate to say I could.

Three o’clock in the afternoon was always when homeschool storms seemed to mount and steer my emotions dangerously close to jagged cliffs. My house was a wreck from hours of children learning. It was two hours before my husband was to arrive home from a hard day's work, and I looked like a ghostly shipwreck of a wife. My frosted view prevented me from reaching my next goals: dinner on the table and setting the tone for an evening of family time together. My waves of insecurities eroded the happy giggling kids in my lighthouse.

It’s a helpless feeling. My “take-me-now-Jesus-I’m-done” season lasted for quite some time.

I needed more. Much more. My light faintly flickered. God reminded me about ten ladies who had light burning issues like me, the Parable of the Ten Virgins . The parable is all about waiting for the bridegroom, Jesus. Five failed to keep the light burning; five had enough oil for their lamps. Five bridesmaids were ill-prepared. Five bridesmaids relied on God’s sufficient grace.

I thought about the power of grace, the kind of grace that carried Noah over a drowning earth. It’s the same grace that broke through my hardened heart that had believed the lie that I didn’t have enough grace for the journey.

For a very long time, at 3:00 pm, I reminded myself of this truth by lighting a candle in my kitchen window. No one knew what it meant to me. Each day as I lit the candle, I prayed and thanked God for His grace, the grace that will sustain me until the end of my life on this earth, or until Jesus returns, and definitely, past 3:00 pm on a homeschool day. I always closed my whispered prayer by saying, “Keep the light burning, Mama. God's grace is sufficient.”

**

You can find  Beth Mora  jogging while  singing off-key  near her home in Washington. She is the creator and teacher-on-camera for  Here to Help Learning ’s homeschool writing program for grades 1-6. She is a welcomed  speaker  at homeschool conferences and women’s events. She loves blogging at  Home to Home , and  Peak Performance , HTHL’s blogs for moms and homeschool businesses. Every week, she serves up HTHL's  Writing Tip of the Week  for those who are serious about teaching their kiddos how to write. Everything she does, whether laughable or heart gripping, is done to honor One, without apology. God’s grace is the salve that has healed her own life, and God’s grace is what she offers liberally to others.
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Marcy Crabtree
It will soon be winter. This is the time of year I begin to feel the overshadowing of homeschool burn out. I notice it when I realize we aren't getting as much done because I'm not as prepared. Or just the opposite—when the cold weather seems to keep us home more so that all we do is homeschool. My motivation to make things interesting and fun begins to wane. I am ready for the school year to end, but there are more pages of math to do!

It doesn’t have to be this way. But how do you avoid this thing called "homeschool burn out?" I've come up with a list of 10 things I think will help. 

Get outdoors.
I know it may be cold, but the sun is still shining; so bundle up, and take a hike (or just a walk in the neighborhood). And it’s really okay if you do this alone. Quiet time is refreshing time.
 
Change things up.
Put your current curriculum on hold, and do a winter nature unit study. This will get you outside every day, exploring God's glorious creation. There are many things to discover in the winter! If nature is not your thing, then follow your child's interests, and plan a delight-directed unit study.
 
Take a field trip.
Visit a museum, state park, or historical site. Or go to the zoo or aquarium. 
 
Spend some time just playing with your kids.
Not every moment has to be about the curriculum. Grab some games out of the closet or enjoy a time of drawing, creating with modeling clay, or making collages with pictures out of old magazines. Play something, or create something. Everyone will be in a better mood. 

Make other things easier for yourself.
Cook simpler meals. Use your crock pot more. Make cereal for breakfast. Make breakfast for dinner. Make sure your kids are helping with household chores. 
 
Spend some time decluttering or rearranging your homeschool space.
I don't know about you, but for me, all the neatness and organization that we began with at the start of the homeschool year has become one big pile of clutter. Clean out a closet. Organize school supplies. Sometimes, you just need to feel accomplished with something. 

Slow down!
Sometimes I realize that burn-out is self-imposed from spending too much time in outside activities. Take a break from sports or scouts or music lessons. Even just a few weeks of not being a slave to the outside activity schedule can make a huge difference.
 
Have some down time.
If you don't already do this, institute quiet time every afternoon. Your kids can spend some time in their rooms, playing quietly or reading. You can read, too. Or nap.
 
Begin your day with music.
Put on your favorite praise and worship CD and dance! Get out your favorite classical CDs. Just turn on the radio to your favorite station. Music is calming and soothing and great for the mind.
 
Don't be too hard on yourself.
You've been diligently teaching your students all semester. It's not easy. While homeschooling can be very rewarding, it can also be all-consuming, frustrating, overwhelming, and exhausting. Be kind to yourself. Take a hot bath. Make time with your husband a priority. Spend more time doing family activities.
 
The school year will be over before you know it (unless you keep on going all year—and if you do, please do yourself and your children a favor and at least have a time where one year ends—Celebrate it! And the next one begins—Celebrate it, too! And have a break in between). 

Another year of successfully educating your students, being their mom, loving their dad, reaching out to your community, staying involved with your church, and probably a lot more than that will come to an end. Count the successes of the year, learn from the mistakes, and then strap on your armor to get ready for another great year!

Marcy Crabtree is a Christian homeschooling mom to one teen son. An encourager at heart, she is passionate about cultivating relationships with other moms and spends much of her time doing so, both on her blog,  Ben and Me , and in social media.
Caryn Hommel
It’s that time of year again. You are several weeks, even months, into the new school year, and already your initial excitement has ebbed away. Everything was set to go so swimmingly… in theory. Reality has a way of relieving us of any such notion, doesn’t it? Ha, ha! Well, take heart! Homeschooling affords you an incredible degree of freedom and flexibility, and now is the perfect time to step back, reassess, and revive. Here are a few tips to help with this process:

1. Engage in targeted prayer . Speak truth to the overwhelmed. You are not alone, either in your feeling (we all get it!) or in actual reality (as in, you’re really not alone). The Lord Jesus who promised “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” is near. Go to Him about your to-do list, your challenges, and your setbacks. Ask which tasks you might eliminate so that nothing burdensome and unfruitful clutters your schedule. Ask for resources and guidance. Start a faithfulness journal to track the ways He answers!

2.  Hold a family meeting . This is a truly practical way to get in touch with everyone’s feelings about how their homeschool experience is going. Select a time and day for the meeting, and ask that everyone bring two praises and two complaints. (Anyone who has more may reserve the “extras” for the next meeting). During your meeting, family members take turns expressing their praises and complaints. One person acts as a “scribe” to jot these down for future reference and as a prayer list. 

Rules: No interrupting and no correcting during the meeting . Why? A universal complaint of teenagers is that nobody listens to them. Since you are seeking to understand, avoid making comments that shut down the communication (e.g., “That’s not true,” “That’s a bad attitude,” etc). Instead, say “Tell me more about that.” The family meeting is a time to listen and to learn; correction can take place later—after prayer and reflection. 

As you conclude the meeting, have the scribe or another volunteer read back the “minutes” of the meeting. This is a wonderful practice for helping everyone to feel heard and to be assured that their concerns are duly noted! Then pray and invite God to preside over each situation you and your loved ones presented.

Don’t be discouraged if the first meeting feels awkward or unproductive. You may be very surprised later at the difference this practice makes in your relationship with your children (especially the teenagers). Your willingness to really listen is both a gift to them and an investment in them.

3. Take a breather . When was the last time you took a field trip, went on a hike, visited an ice cream shop, or spent the afternoon at a park? Get out; enjoy, and take your camera!

4.  Recharge . Before our family started homeschooling, I was a foreign language teacher in public school. October and November always felt difficult then, too. The exhilaration of planning the school year, gathering resources, and decorating the classroom was easily offset by weeks of hard work and real problems with real students. Thankfully, the foreign language teachers’ conference was always held in October. What a blessing it was! Interesting workshops, new resources, and fun fellowship helped to revive my spirit. The creativity of my colleagues stimulated the flow of my own creative juices.

So what can you do to recharge? A few ideas: 
  • Schedule a mom’s night out with fellow homeschool moms. 
  • Listen to audiobooks or podcasts that offer encouragement or new ideas for your homeschool. Join a homeschool support group or co-op. 
  • Visit your local homeschool store. 
  • Plan a park day or a board game day with other homeschool families, just for the fellowship of it. 

5. Revamp. After spending time in prayer, holding your family meeting(s), and getting your recharge on, you may determine that certain activities and curricula aren’t meeting your needs as you had hoped. It can be difficult to let go when you have invested time and money, but with so much of the school year remaining, would it be better to cut some of your losses? 

One year when my daughter was struggling with algebra, we decided to visit the homeschool store together to peruse the other choices. A change in curriculum resulted in a dramatic improvement in her confidence and her performance. That same curriculum did not suit her brother at all, which was fine! With more resources available to us than ever, individualizing each child’s education is a realistic goal.

Questions to ask as you revamp: How can you incorporate more beauty into your homeschool day? Can you include poetry, hymns, scripture memory? Can you make time to read aloud? Reading aloud from great books feeds spirits (both young and old!), inspires, and instills worthwhile principles and ideas. What topics or pursuits energize you and/or your students? What are your passions? Theirs? 

After all, “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats. 

Besides, being chief enforcer is a lot less fun than acting as chief facilitator! 

6. Laugh . When the inevitable misunderstandings, conflicts, and messes occur, look for humor in them. Put on some praise music. Get outside for a few minutes. Breathe a prayer of thanks for each butterfly, bird, flower, or thing of beauty that you see. Cuddle those babies (of all ages). 

The days are long, but the years are short. Seize the day! And happy homeschooling!
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Contest Corner  
For the month of November



As a classical homeschooling family who leans to the Charlotte Mason side and uses quite a bit of Memoria Press curriculum in our yearly studies, Memoria Press is one of the homeschooling companies that I drool over on their website and print magazine. We are quite familiar with Memoria Press and the whole array of products they offer. (. . .) We were blessed to receive The Book of Trees Set (Reader, Student Book, and Teacher’s Guide) to enhance our nature studies . (. . .)

The course contains 21 lessons broken up over five units of work cover the following topics: The Root & Stem, Leaves, Flowers & Fruits, Observing Trees, and Advanced work with Photosynthesis & Respiration. Completing any of the 21 lessons is easy to do with the help of the model lesson plan given in the front of the Student Book. The model lesson plan gives you review, reading questions, diagrams, and labeling, along with activities to complete.

For our family, we used this set during the morning with our girls. We took our time and worked through the lessons with a nice and slow pace by completing one lesson a week. There is plenty of material available to stretch the learning out to one lesson per week and still get a full course load. My girls enjoyed going for walks and keeping a nature journal, all the while discovering the nature in our neighborhood right around us including the trees in the forest down the street. Learning to identify the different types of leaves and trees of the forest was new and exciting for us. I especially enjoyed that the program is so thorough and draws different disciplines including comprehension and Latin into the program. (Read the rest of The Book of Trees review.)
My kids are all animal lovers. My oldest son determined recently that he will become a veterinarian when he is older. As he gets older, I strive to encourage him to learn those things that matter most to him. So, Nature's Beautiful Order - An Introduction to the Study of Animals Taught by the Classical Naturalists , from Memoria Press, was a wonderful addition to his studies!

Nature's Beautiful Order is a wonderful way to introduce students to the study of animals, or even just further encourage your animal lover! We received the textbook as well as a student and teacher guide. This is recommended for students in grades 6-8 but can also be used to supplement a higher-level biology course. There are eighteen lessons in all that teach what an animal is and then lead students in study on the various classes of animals in the animal kingdom.

I have to say, before this, I was not very familiar with the concept of the study of natural history. However, being that we all love history and science in this house, we certainly enjoyed every minute of this course. What better way to grow in our children a love for the beauty and wisdom within the animal kingdom. With simple readings, we are led to better understand what exactly an animal is. And it turns out they have an answer that goes beyond what many of us would answer. The reader is full of the works of classical naturalists like John James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St. George J. Mivart.

YOU can WIN both full sets of physical science books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER : Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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