Home School Burnout Part 2: “Mom Fail”

by Elizabeth

hsb part 2a

Our January discussion helped a lot, but then I just charged ahead into spring and overcommitted myself to the blogging world. It feels awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I severely underestimated my time and energy commitments — though in my defense, I didn’t realize I was overcommitting myself at the time.

I had wanted to write about the Parsonage Heresies for about a year, and in January I finally decided to do it on A Life Overseas. I didn’t realize that series was going to be such an emotional, intellectual, and time drain. Committing myself to a specific subject and needing to write an in-depth post about it every month really wore me out. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad I wrote this series! It was just draining.

I also committed to write two Velvet Ashes posts for the spring. These weren’t ordinary posts though. They were related to the heavy themes in the book Expectations and Burnout and were also an emotional and time drain. Again, I’m so glad I wrote these! Especially Jesus Loves Me This I Sometimes Know — that story simply burned in my heart to be told.

By the time I got to early May, however, I was exhausted. I had spent myself in writing. In order to meet all the deadlines, I had directed attention away from my children. Somewhere in the process of writing and reaching out to the women who connected with my stories, I had inadvertently turned my heart away from my children, and now I didn’t particularly feel like turning back. Noise was still a stressor during school days, and I had a hard time fitting everyone’s lessons around my grueling blogging schedule, so I felt really behind again. I know six articles in four months doesn’t seem like it warrants the description “grueling,” but these posts took a lot from me.

I was poured out and empty. I took time off from blogging at other sites and condensed a couple weeks of school into one week in order to finish the school year a bit earlier. I thought I was going to lose my mind, and I needed a break. I was so tired. I told my husband I wanted to go away for a year; he told me that was an unreasonable solution. I knew he was right. I also knew I needed some way to refresh and refuel, and I didn’t know how long would be enough.

So when the first Monday of summer break came around, I took a break from parenting — almost literally. I let myself be a “bad” mom: I locked myself in my bedroom and let my children watch movies. All.day.long. I didn’t talk to them, I didn’t read to them, I didn’t play with them. It was a total “mom fail.”

I knew I only had four weeks of summer break because of our upcoming stateside service, and I wanted squeeze every last second out of it. I watched movies. I played Freecell. I read books. I wasted time on Facebook. I didn’t blog. I wasn’t productive. I was in a very fragile state and needed to be alone.

By the end of that first week I discovered, to my surprise, that perhaps I didn’t need an entire year away. Perhaps these few weeks would be enough of a break. Already I felt like coming out of my bedroom and interacting with my family again. Not all the time, mind you, just some of the time. I still hung out in my bedroom a lot.

During the third week God did something in my heart. It began with a prayer session at church where I started asking the question, “Why don’t I want to give my children my time?” That week as I started seeking answers to that question, another home school mom asked how she could pray for me. I didn’t share all the details, but I confided that I needed help balancing teaching and writing. (This was true, but rather general.)

It felt good to know someone was praying about this issue for me, because up to that point I hadn’t done much of that. Her prayers must have been working because the very next day I tuned in to a Sonlight webinar, and it reminded me why I love teaching my children and why I decided to do it in the first place. Those three events were pivotal in renewing my desire to home school.

So as summer drew to a close, I started recovering my heart for homeschooling. I started recovering my heart for my children. I started reorienting my heart toward my children, turning toward them instead of away. And by the time school started four weeks ago, I was ready to teach again. I was ready to spend time together again. I was ready to love again.

I still had to figure out the practicalities of fitting four students’ lessons into each day. (Eek! My long-time fears actually started materializing this school year!) I still had to figure out how to get all my writing and editing jobs done on time. But God had addressed my heart problem. He had given me the rest and recuperation I needed. He had supernaturally given me the ability to look at my summer “mom fails” not as a failure but as a necessity. In short, He had allowed my non-productive summer to be really productive.

Part 1: Unrealistic Expectations

Part 3: The Mean Mommy

Part 4: Resources for the New & the Weary

2 thoughts on “Home School Burnout Part 2: “Mom Fail”

  1. Elizabeth, I’m so glad you shared this (even though I already heard it in person) because it sums up SO EXACTLY what I’m experiencing – and now I can just tell Ryan, “Read this, please!” Thanks for your honesty. Pray that I make it through in one piece, too?

    • Yes of course I will pray you make it through in one piece!! Love you girl! I’m glad my words could explain it for you, and I pray you get the rest and Sabbath you need to make it through. ~Elizabeth

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