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Homeschool Burnout: Self-Care Strategies for Parent-Educators

by David Engle | Dec 05, 2023 | 6 min read

Whether you’ve been homeschooling for six months or six years, you’ve likely experienced…homeschool burnout. It’s often one of the biggest hurdles homeschooling parents face. Being a parent-educator is tough, and even the most dedicated individuals can sometimes feel discouraged, uncertain, and unenthusiastic about their circumstances. Fortunately, these feelings will pass. We’ll help you recognize signs of homeschool burnout and give you self-care strategies to overcome it and feel motivated and supported.

What does homeschool burnout feel like?

If you’ve ever experienced being overwhelmed, exhausted, and even depressed at a job or in school, you have experienced burnout. A difference between feeling burnt out at work or school is that you can take a day off or skip a class and step away from that environment. When you’re a parent-educator, your kids count on you to maintain your household and be their teacher. But there are some days you’re just not up to it because you’re feeling:

  • Emotionally exhausted and empty from all the responsibilities
  • Impending dread before the start of each school day or even the night before
  • Lethargic and without any energy
  • Like you’re only giving minimal effort
  • Short-tempered and less tolerant with your children

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, that’s okay! It happens to almost every homeschooling parent at some point, sometimes more than once. The key is knowing how to deal with homeschool burnout.

Dealing with homeschool burnout

Here are some tips to help with homeschool burnout and reduce pressure on your homeschooling.

  • Be realistic: There will be days when you won’t be able to cover everything you may have planned. Life happens, and sometimes homeschooling needs to be put on the back burner. And that’s fine! One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can work at your own pace. You can make up the missed lesson or material another day.
  • Say no: Along with your homeschooling lesson plans, you may have extracurricular activities, family and friend commitments, errands, chores, and other activities. Sometimes, you must say, “No, I can’t do it today.” Doing so lets you take back some control of your schedule…and your sanity.
  • Set daily limits: As a general guideline, the typical teaching portion of your homeschool day should be three or four hours. That’s not including lesson prep, grading, organizing, etc. If you know your limit for all things school-related is four hours, keep your teaching time under three hours. You’d be surprised how much learning can happen in two or three hours.
  • Take breaks: This is especially important if you have younger children. Dedicate some time for a nap (for them…and you, too!), quiet play, and reading throughout the day. This provides everyone with a much-needed break.
  • Change how you homeschool: If you’ve tried seemingly everything and you’re still experiencing burnout, consider changing your homeschool routine. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can flex to accommodate what works best for you. If that means an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, and an hour in the evening, go for it! If it means a day off during the week and a couple of hours over the weekend, do it! No rules force you to confine homeschooling to a set number of hours each weekday.
  • Ask for help: One of the best things about the homeschooling community is that it is tight-knit. Homeschoolers look after each other, and that’s important when you’re going through a burnout period. If you’re not part of a co-op or a homeschool support group, search for one in your area. Not only are these groups a great source of information, but they’re also there to support fellow homeschoolers by lending a hand or an ear.

Self-care strategies for homeschool parents

Self-care can be broken down into physical, mental, and emotional subcategories. Let’s look at each aspect of self-care.

  • Physical self-care. People often turn to a few common strategies: exercising, eating healthier, and getting more sleep. And there’s a reason…they work!
    • You don’t have to change your entire diet. Small changes such as skipping a late-night snack and committing to eating more fruits and vegetables can help.
    • Each night, an extra hour of restful sleep leaves you feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the day.
    • Similarly, exercise doesn’t require you to sign up for a gym membership and spend every waking hour there. Adding 30 minutes of exercise to your day can improve your fitness and give you time to relax. You can choose activities like walking or biking for this exercise. Anything is better than nothing, and it will help you feel better.
  • Mental self-care. As a parent-educator, your mental health is as important, if not more, than your physical health. A few things you can do for mental self-care include journaling, taking some quiet time to read, or doing yoga or meditation exercises.
    • By writing in a journal, you can have a self-therapy session. You can write about your thoughts, what went well or wrong, how you feel, and what you want for tomorrow. Journaling is like talking to someone close to you, like a friend or family member. It helps you unload your thoughts and feelings, just like you would with a therapist. You only need a few minutes each day.
    • Reading can be a peaceful break from a busy day. Find a cozy spot to enjoy your book.
    • Yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help your body cleanse and relax after a long day.
  • Emotional self-care. Emotional self-care is important for your well-being. It may involve doing things that make you uncomfortable, but it can lead to a better place mentally. We mentioned them earlier, but they’re worth repeating. This includes knowing when to say no, ask for help, and tune out external noise.
    • As a homeschooling parent, you’re already a superhero. You don’t have to be a super-superhero by joining all groups, honoring all requests, and going on all trips. Scheduling too much only adds more stress to an already full day.
    • If homeschooling is difficult for you, it’s okay to ask for help with time, schedules, curriculum, and more. That’s why so many homeschool groups exist…to support fellow homeschoolers. Veteran homeschoolers know how tough it can be, so they’re there to support you with whatever you might be having trouble with.
    • Finally, as social media continues to consume lives, it’s a good idea to occasionally step away from your socials. Many people live and share their lives through Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat. And most of the time, what they share looks perfectly perfect. Keep in mind it’s their highlight reel, and it’s probably not as picture-perfect as portrayed. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing. Your emotional well-being will thank you for it.

You’ve already done a selfless thing by taking your child’s education into your hands. While homeschooling can often be exhausting and time-consuming. Caring for your body, mind, and emotions helps you handle the ups and downs of homeschooling and enjoy the good times.

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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