I realised last week that I've lost my way a little - the passion had gone, I was no longer dancing on the table and pulling amazing lessons out of my hat - in fact lessons had become so boring it prompted Lilly to ask 'why can't we do lessons like we used to?'
In fact this is not the first time I've experienced burn out, it's a common occurrence in homeschool journeys and has various causes; tiredness, moving house, new baby, work, family stress, lack of sleep, illness, physical exhaustion, exam studies, mental exhaustion, tiredness, financial pressures and did I mention tiredness?
It made me sit and think of how I've kicked myself out of those slumps and what I need to do to get things back on track - I've put my ideas and tips below but if you have any more I would love to hear them,
1) Simplify. Too often when I'm exhausted and hitting that burn out, the thought of a field trip/activity day/class etc is just too much. I find as a Homeschooler I'm prone to over schedule as I want them to see friends and have those extra curricular activities. It's OK to stop and spend a week at home in your pj's.
2) Rest. Tiredness is a real problem for me, when I don't get enough sleep I struggle to do anything. Getting an early night or having a lie in (who am I kidding, a lie in is a pipe dream in this house) is essential if I need to recover energy.
3) Take care of me. Once rest is sorted, the next step for me has to be getting myself in order (without feeling guilty about it) so make sure my diet is in order (I have a tendency to eat junk food and way too much chocolate when stressed which just leads to sugar cravings, short temper and being even more tired) and take some time out for a walk (exercise always helps) and some time to meditate and clear my head space (again without feeling guilty that I'm not working on lessons)
4) Go back to basics. Take lessons back to simple reading aloud time followed by math games for a week or two - this gives you time to get your mojo back and reduces the pressure you feel under. Slowly start to incorporate more lessons into your day till you get to a schedule you are happy with and can maintain.
I often find the pressure increases if I fall behind my self imposed schedule in their lessons so I've learnt my lesson and just have a loose schedule of what I'd like to achieve that month.
5) Take a break. If you can take a holiday do so. Spend a week in your garden or visiting local parks. Call a pyjama week (Schools have teacher training/snow days/strike days so why shouldn't homeschoolers have stress days?), a craft week or a movie week - just do something different to revitalise you all.
6) Avoid feeling guilty. Too often we compare ourselves to what we see as the 'perfect homeschoolers' - stop.
Don't put undue pressure on your family to be like the highlights of others, don't feel guilty that your kids aren't winning (or even entered in) the science fair or Latin masters. Don't punish yourself, realise what you do, what you have achieved and see how individual and happy your kids actually are.
7) Read Inspiring stories/blogs/books. Take tips from survivors of the burn out, hijack others ideas, remember what inspired you and what you first loved about homeschooling and above all else find what makes you enthusiastic and passionate about homeschool because with that anything is possible.
8) No man/woman is an island. Seek help from others (and because I'm religious I like to pray for help as well) talk to fellow homeschoolers, family and don't forget the kids. I still remember the first burn out I suffered, in discussing it with the kids they suggested that they help more with the chores (they used to just do the dishes and tidy their rooms) they volunteered to do more to help around the house so that mummy could have the energy to do more fun things with them (their idea, not mine - but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth).
9) Have Fun. The best lessons and the most memorable are where we all have fun. My excitement leads to their excitement and their excitement leads to a willingness to learn more about that topic.
A fun lesson will inspire them to do some more reading/researching on their own so find out what they like and use it.
I hope my ramblings help and please feel free to share any other ideas.