Eliminating Burnout

by Hal and Melanie Young

I’ve heard more than one old evangelist or itinerant preacher say of his busy work schedule, “I’d rather burn out than rust out!” That sounds noble, but we’d say, “Better neither than either!” 

Homeschooling is a journey, not a sprint. It has its ups and downs like any long-term undertaking. Occasionally, though, we find ourselves bogged down. We may ask ourselves, “Why are my homeschooling friends streaming by on the high road, and we just seem to be spinning our wheels deeper into the mud?” 

 Are you there in that ditch? Or do you just feel a slide starting, and you want to fix it? How can you avoid getting so fatigued, so overwhelmed, so over-committed, or simply so bored with it all? 

  • Be realistic. The Bible doesn’t call us to everything all the time as fast as we can. In fact, Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” That’s pretty simple. Don’t try to be Homeschool Supermom and use up a year’s worth of energy and enthusiasm before Valentine’s Day! 
  • Schedule time off. Jesus took time off to disengage from teaching and healing the multitudes, and withdrew to a quiet place to pray. (Luke 5:15-16, for just one example!) Sometimes He also took His disciples, so they could rest and recover, too (Mark 6:30-32). Was there a shortage of work to catch up on? No, but Jesus gave us an example that even the good work needs periods of downtime. 
  • Call in reinforcements. Often we feel frustration when a project or subject has dragged on longer than our attention span. Maybe you need a new perspective, another set of eyes, or more ideas. Call a friend out for coffee and brainstorm together! 
  • Change can be a good thing. Do you ever get burned out the first week of a new project or a new school term? No, that happens after time, repetition, and boredom undermine us. You don’t want to be constantly hopping from one thing to another so that you never finish a book or form a useful habit … but an occasional change of schedule, location, or even curriculum, can perk up jaded interest. 
  • Embrace the holidays! We all love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but secretly we may think “They disrupt our schoolwork!” Well, yes, they do. But what if you don’t fight the holidays, but make the season a part of your schoolwork? You know you’re going to do the cooking, decorating, and celebrating, either way–stop feeling guilty for a season of rejoicing! 

God warned Adam and Eve that their lives–and ours–would experience frustration, especially in the things most important to us (see Genesis 3:16-19). It comes with the territory! But there are things we can do to make our daily duties less of a burden, and with God’s grace, even a joy. 

Hal and Melanie Young, authors of the Christian Small Publishers Association 2011 Book of the Year, Raising Real Men, are parents of six real boys and two real girls. They have homeschooled through eight high-risk pregnancies, three re-locations, two decades, and 181 degrees of longitude. Hal and Melanie have served on the Board of Directors of North Carolinians for Home Education for over 14 years, including three terms as President for Hal. They have published articles with The Foundation for Economic Education, Homeschooling Today, the John Locke Foundation, Homeschool Digest, TEACH Magazine, Homeschool Enrichment, the N.C. Family Policy Council, the Heartland Institute and more. Hal and Melanie have made more than 50 media appearances in venues as wide ranging as The Jesse Lee Peterson Show and the Bob Dutko Show to Mancow’s Morning Madhouse and CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. 

Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared November 11, 2015, in The Homeschool Minute™, an E-Newsletter published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Read this family education magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices. For free homeschool information visitConsideringHomeschooling.info.

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