I feel like the words “burnout” and “homeschool” usually go hand-in-hand. That’s why I’m so excited to have Meg Faherty from The SAHM Life Coach on the blog today to share some insight on the 3 types of burnout and how to minimize them successfully!
Moms are no strangers to burnout.
It’s important to understand the cause of burnout so we can do our best to avoid it.
Burnout has nothing to do with the amount of work required of us.
Surprisingly, our to-do list is NOT one of the causes of burnout. It’s not caused by the number of laundry piles that need folding and it’s not caused by the number of subjects you have to teach.
Burnout is caused by
● Stressful Thoughts
● Reacting (instead of planning)
● Lack of Space
I’m a bit of a homebody. The idea of having more than one or two activities scheduled in a day makes me uneasy. I think about all the logistics and the possible ways things could go wrong:
- Is this interfering with anyone’s meal time or nap time?
- What if our appointment runs longer than expected and we’ll be late for our music lessons?
- Will I have enough time to prep for dinner?
- What if there’s traffic?
The details aren’t the problem: the stressful thinking is the problem. Have you ever found yourself thinking (or even saying out loud), ‘this is going to be a rough day’ or ‘being this busy makes me grumpy?’
If we start the day with a negative mindset, our brains work hard to look for evidence to prove we are correct. It will find examples to prove that this day is ‘rough.’ Our brain will find examples to prove that I am grumpy.
If I’m running slightly behind schedule… rotten.
If the kids bicker in the store… rotten.
If I raise my voice… grumpy.
We can start to feel burnout after one ‘rotten’ or ‘grumpy’ day, all because of how we thought about it.
And you might be thinking, toting my kids around town to two or three appointments and activities IS a long day. Of course I will feel exhausted by the end of it!
Let’s picture a different scenario:
Every year, I plan a family field trip to an old ranch. It’s a living museum where the kids can play with animals and chat with ‘characters’ who teach about life on the ranch in the 1800’s. I wake up so excited for this day every year. We leave the house early to make the one hour drive. I know my kids are going to skip naps. I know I will sit in rush hour traffic on the way home. I know it will be a scramble to get dinner on the table.
Yet not once, do I complain about all that could go wrong on field trip days. Why? Because I show up to that day with excitement. My positive thoughts FUELS my day. The way I speak about it is as though we are on an adventure to learn, have fun, and make memories! And we do. Do I go to bed exhausted after field trip days? You bet! But I also have a full heart and a smile on my face.
We always have the power to choose positive thoughts. Imagine how much easier some of our days would go if we used a more positive mindset to fuel us?
Our attitude behind our work either fuels us in a healthy way or it’s the thing that causes us to move closer toward burnout.
Reacting (instead of planning)
The second cause of burnout is when we react instead of plan. There are great resources available to homeschool moms about how to best plan your day (ahem! This site!). Planning our activities does make the day go more smoothly.
There’s another way to plan that can help prevent burnout.
And that is planning our behavior in advance.
Say you have a child who pushes back when you try to get him to work on his spelling. You two have been butting heads on and off about this task for a few days now. You haven’t been handling this challenge as well as you would like and it’s causing you stress.
When we react in a negative way, we aren’t using the most rational part of the brain. We are using the part of the brain that runs on autopilot and unfortunately, sometimes autopilot steers us toward yelling, or frowning, or avoiding the problem altogether. Plus, when we react negatively, our bodies experience a spike in cortisol. Reacting and putting out fires like this all
day long is a sure path to burnout.
So how do we plan our behavior in advance? One way is to visualize yourself in a scenario. You know your son hasn’t been cooperating with his spelling. Before you start your school day, visualize the two of you butting heads about the assignment. Close your eyes and put yourself
in the scene. How would you like to handle it? How would you, on your best day, handle this scenario? By doing this activity, you are reminding your brain that you CAN behave in a calm manner. You don’t have to react. There’s no fire to put out because you know what you are going to do by planning in advance.
Lack of space
This may be the most important cause of burnout to understand. We already know that positive thoughts and planning our behavior can help us avoid burnout. But we need space to be able to take a look at our thoughts. And we need space to be able to better plan our behavior in
advance. Both require that we have a little breathing room to reflect on our day. We need some solitude with our thoughts. We need some quiet time to visualize how we want to show up.
How can you add some space into your day so you can show up with a positive attitude and an effective plan?
Meg is a homeschooling mom of six. When she isn’t homeschooling or folding laundry, she can be found coaching other amazing moms to feel more calm, confident and in control of their MINDS and in their HOMES.