In every home education journey you find pockets of the year where the echoes of your non-homeschooling friends run over and over in your head. "Kids home, all day, every day? And teach them? Are you crazy?" "When do you get a break?" "We basically can never go to lunch again." "How are you going to teach high school science?" "Your kids are going to be so weird" "Do you only grocery shop in chaos because everyone is always with you?" "I would lose my mind." Suddenly, we find ourselves fantasizing about the big yellow school bus chugging down the road to whisk the insanity out of our home, for just a little break.
The yellow school bus fantasy most often happens in the month of February, which many of us home educators have declared "National Homeschool Burnout Month." But what do you do when you're fantasizing about the yellow school bus in July?
You're panicking. Everyone else seems so ahead of the game. You get onto curriculum sites, buy the latest version of The Well Trained Mind, you read through Facebook group after Facebook group to find moms with perfectly laid out plans, an organized homeschool closet, and their kids are supposedly happily reading through every summer reading program they have found. You on the other hand, are consumed with thoughts of the yellow school bus. Instead of the excitement you once felt about planning for school, you now feel overwhelmed, tired, irritable, and overthinking every part of your child's educational journey.
Before you know it, you've convinced yourself you are not equipped to teach your children, you've lost all confidence in yourself and your kids, you've convinced yourself that every difficulty you can find in your child's character or behavior must be them bucking against being homeschooled, and you are secretly Googling other full-time, away from home, schooling options. All the while you are thinking, "At least I can finally get a break. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to put them in school. My kids love other kids. They could use the exposure to other adult teachers, and I wouldn't have to stress all the time about whether I'm doing the latest and greatest curriculum." You find yourself humming the tune of that old familiar preschool song, "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round."
Then, as life would have it, you wake up the next morning to a different kind of day. The day where having your kids at home is the dream you always wanted it to be. No, it's not perfect, but the pace of the day is unhurried. There's time for academics, and time for reading, time for a hobby, or simply time for kids to run free and wild, the way it should be. Dad comes home after work and instead of the flurry of after school "stuff" that would come home with your kids on the yellow school bus (such as long evenings spent doing homework) you get a less stressed evening. There's time for dinner, and reading aloud, sports, activities, or just being together. Even ushering kids around to activities is less hectic because you don't have kids cramming hours of homework into the van rides to and from soccer practice. You find yourself thankful you're not in the frenzy of the traditional 40-hour school week away from home.
But, if you're like many homeschool moms, you find yourself worn a little too thin, no matter how wonderful your days at home with your children are. You don't want to give up home educating, but you don't want to join the rat race of a traditional school week away from home. You want to enjoy teaching your children without all the behind the scenes stressors that come with teaching your children (curriculum panic, lesson planning, accountability). You want your kids to be involved in some kind of homeschool group or school, but you don't want to waste a school day doing classes that don't fit within your educational model. You also don't want to be in groups that require you to do even more planning and more teaching than you already do in your own homeschool. You don't want to teach those subjects you don't like, or don't feel equipped to teach. You're tired of the constant curriculum choices. You kind of just want some relief. You want some confidence back and some joy in a structured, well thought out plan....one that you don't necessarily have to create. You just want a little bit of both- home and school.
So instead of spending the rest of July and August stressing about your pending school year, why not jump in and try something new? Before calling on the big yellow school bus to come whisk away the insanity, maybe the insanity just needs a different pace, a different model, or even a brand new curriculum you haven't used before. Maybe you would've picked a different Latin program or different literature readings. Maybe you would never do Latin at all! But maybe the change, the camaraderie, and collaboration is just what you need for July burnout. Maybe the collaborative, one and two day a week change in your homeschool is just what you and your kids need to find more balance, beauty, and blessings in your home educating journey.