How is your school year going so far? Is overwhelm haunting you? There are a few things you can do to re-assess your plans and find smoother days. Let’s dig up the root of your overwhelm.
The first step is the hardest. Why are you overwhelmed? Is it because you are trying to do too much? Or do you need a more efficient system? It can be hard to tell. One sign that you need more efficient systems is kids who are waiting on mom to tell them what to do.
Even an 8-year-old can have a few school tasks they can get started on without mom. They should also have a clear idea of what it is they need to get done each day.
There are also more subtle reasons that can cause you to feel overwhelmed. Even when you are not having problems with efficiency. And are not trying to do too much in a day. Keep reading for tips on dealing with all these different causes of overwhelm.
Efficiency Problems? Pick a System or Rhythm, And Stick To It
Your kids need to know what to do and when to do it. That is the first detail you should focus on fixing, and it may be the only detail you need to fix. Without this detail in place, chaos will always be the norm.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter much what system you use to communicate this information. What matters is that you use it consistently. You can have assignment notebooks, workboxes, or lists on the whiteboard. But if you aren’t using the system you have chosen, then it will fail.
Honestly, I think they are all great systems and have utilized them in the past, but don’t use any of them currently. My current system is that the kids who are 10+ have a schedule on the wall of what subjects they work on and when they do them. They then have a basket with everything in it they need. They know when to do history. There are history books in their basket. I don’t care which one they pick, or what order they do them in.
Sometimes you need to tweak which system you are using. And sometimes you need to put on your grown-up pants and follow through.
For tips on the strengths and weaknesses of different systems check this post. Four Ways to Get More Flow in Your Homeschool Day.
If I had to sum up why my kids know what to do when in one word it would be “rhythm”. Things in our day flow because I have made sure every child has an assigned rhythm. Of course, I have a rhythm too, and it is important for me to keep my rhythm. Doing what I set out to do shows my kids how to respect their own schedules. It also keeps the younger kids on track, since they still need help with at least half of their school day
Too Much Content? Sort Out Your Priorities
What if everyone is getting up and working through their tasks? Your kids know what to do when and are doing it. But the school day is dragging on into the evening. Your kids have no free time. If this describes your days, you need to take a serious look at how much you are trying to do each day.
Curriculum developers often underestimate the amount of time it will take a child to complete an assignment. In fact, they cannot know how long it will take your child. Kids learn at their own pace and when we try to either rush or slow down that pace, we make learning dull. It is okay to take the time needed. It is okay if a program takes you more (or less) than a year to complete. The curriculum is a guide, a carefully curated path for you to walk down with your child. But it is up to you, as the parent and teacher, to know whether this should be a stroll or a sprint. That depends on your child’s needs. The speed at which they can learn the subject.
Often times we are dedicating hours and hours to content when we don’t need too. It may be fun, but if it isn’t, our kids are not going to remember much of that content anyways.
Make a list of all your school day includes, in order of priority. Start with stories, a school day without stories is an incomplete day. What else is important to you?
The things that end up on the bottom of the list are where you can decide to switch things up and get creative. Can you drop something and do it next year. Can do take things off the daily list and do them once a week. Can you come up with a more creative way to study them? A way that won’t feel like part of the ‘school day’. Can you use engaging read-alouds, videos, games, or field trips?
Crushing It, But Feeling Overwhelmed Anyways?
Sometimes that feeling of overwhelm doesn’t come from doing too much or even from not getting it all done. You may be rocking your days and yet still feel overwhelmed and frazzled.
If this is the case, you may have needs that you are ignoring. We need to feed our whole persons.
- Are you eating good, nourishing food every day?
- Are you getting in some healthy doses of movement every week?
- Are you feeding your heart with stories, songs, dance, poems, and art?
It can also be that you need to carve out a bit of time to do something you love beyond your homeschool.
Keep in mind your kids need all those things too. Academics is not the beginning, or the end, of learning. It is only a small slice of life.
And last, but not least, it could be as simple as not enough downtime.
Everyone needs downtime. Empty spaces of unstructured time. This allows time for reflection. Sometimes, all we need is this time for reflection. Every day and every week seems better when you take a few minutes to just be. When we sit in this space of reflection the feeling of overwhelm often dissipates. We needed to give ourselves a little break to feel refreshed and ready to do it all over again next week.
Sometimes, solving overwhelm is as simple as taking that little break. But remembering to take that break can be hard. Saying no to the feeling that we must always be accomplishing something is difficult. This is why we can’t wait for these moments to come to us but must take them with force.
Need more in-depth strategies to avoid overwhelm in your homeschool? You can read or listen to this post. Avoiding Overwhelm from the Inside Out