14 January, 2010

Avoiding burnout.............

Short Circuiting the February Blues

This is a topic up for discussion on the 4real board today.
I haven't suffered from crippling burnout for a number of years now, due in part I think to the fact that I am no longer juggling school with infants, toddlers, and martial arts training.  My youngest is now five.
However, my parents have moved in with us recently, and I am going through a major change in my home overall.  Having them here, while wonderful, presents some brand new challenges.  So, I am working to make it all 'gel' for all the family members. 

February blues usally force me to shake up our learning time, and start to add in more learning activities; nature walks (living in Florida makes this fabulous, who can be cranky at the beach?), crafts(sewing and making handicrafts for us after months of finishing gifts for Christmas is always fun and rewarding), drama, and much more.  This is the time of year we feel free to veer off on whatever tangent (or rabbit trail if you prefer) we feel compulsive over.
I have learned to maintain limiting my outside committments and activities.  That alone took years.  I still struggle with thinking "well, it is only one day/weekend/whatever per month, I can do that".  Fortunately, my sweet hubby actually spoke up with a "no more, you have enough now" this year after I was asked to teach CCD.  My personal mantra is this:  "If you are going to homeschool, you have to stay home - and do school."  I see too many ladies struggling with dozens of outside commitments and good academics.  Balance can be elusive and hard to find.  My husband and friends are an excellent source of reason when I can't locate my own.
The biggest mistake I make is comparing my insides to other peoples outsides.  Comparing at all is toxic enough, but when I start to compare what I think another family does, accomplishes, and is - we never come out on top. 

I must always keep my eyes on my long term goal for my children and family, heaven.
To do this I have to:
*keep a realistic grasp on our schedule and what kind of time we can reasonably spend doing outside activities,
*choose activities according to what is truely valuable, not just what is good, or fun or available.
*know what my abilities, and limitations are as well as those of my children -
and with this knowledge fit our school to our family and it's ever changing circumstances....
Then, I will be able to avoid the doldrums that come along.

Last year I organized a series of monthly mom's meetings at my home.
I showed DVD workshops from Elizabeth Foss's Convention, and Simply Charlotte Mason.
It was a great time, us mom's watched the tapes, talked and supported one another.
I organzied centers around my house so that the kids had different things to do and play.  The teenagers really stepped up to help with crowd control, everyone brought yummy food and we really had a terrific time.  As an added bonus, my house was really clean and well decorated (liturgically speaking) once a month.  It was super.

This year, I really don't feel it is an option.  My mother is easily "nervous".  I don't think 50 extra kids in the house would be very pleasant for her. 
So, I am mulling over a book study (via email) option instead. But, I haven't really seen much interest.  So, perhaps I will just wait for another opportunity in the future for something else along the same line as last years Mom's Meetings. 

Raymond & Dorothy Moore's book "How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout" remains one of my favorite books.  I frequently break out my old favorites on homeschooling during this time of the year.
Here are some of my top picks when I need some sunshine in my homeschooling wife/mom life.

1.  How to Homeschool, by Gayle Graham
2.  Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet Spirit, by Terry Maxwell
3.  Educating the Wholehearted Child, by Sally Clarkson
4.  A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola
5.  Real Learning, by Elizabeth Foss

I usually run across new books I had not heard of when I do this, but in checking out and reading some of the newer ones the past number of years - I have never found any I preferred to the six I named above.

Here are a whole slew articles I like to dig through - How to Avoid Burnout
This is when I start learning of newer books :0) 

And of course, I like to talk with other homeschooling mom's.  Noone better understands our unique struggles and challenges than the other ladies standing in the trenches with me.


Leila said...

I am such a fan of the Moores. Their practical common sense and ability to portray the "big picture" inspire me!

Thanks for this post!

LLMom said...

staying home does lead to a more peaceful atmosphere, doesn't it? I too, try hard not to compare, but I struggle. Thanks for the ideas.

Gae said...

One of my favourite books for an uplifting read is Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreaola.
I finished it today and I find I read it every summer. I always feel relaxed and confident after reading this.
Perhaps if you can find a copy you might like to try it.
God Bless