Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?





I haven’t home-schooled quite as long as you have, but I am very familiar with burn-out. In fact, burn-out is a well-established part of my personality. I’ve been accused of having two speeds: full speed ahead and burned-out. God knows this about me too, of course, which is why He directed me to Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind when I was first toying with the idea of home-schooling. Somewhere in the pages of this masterpiece, the author said, “If you don’t want to quit at least 3 times per year, you’re not trying hard enough.” It made sense to me so I wasn’t surprised when the feeling came. I expected it. The term “burn-out” has all-too-often become a justification for quitting a difficult task. Don’t let it trick you into giving up on something you shouldn’t. You’re traveling a difficult path. There will be potholes, some of which feel more like craters. So take a breather… refuel your tank, then get back to work.



Dear Embers,

Is 5 years forever? Feels like it:-) I hit burn-out every February. Like clockwork. Boom! It hits, and I need spring break several weeks ahead of schedule! If your burn-out is more than the fleeting, regularly-scheduled kind, my best suggestion to you is to change up your routine if possible. If you work on a two semester schedule, change to a trimester schedule. Switch your daily schedule around. Take a couple days off and read a good book. I’d say take a couple days off, but when I tell my kids we have a day off school, I end up with more work… so that isn’t actually something I regularly practice! If you can remember and grab a hold of the joy you had when you started your journey, maybe you can notice some of the pay-off of this long time investment and feel re-inspired!

Grace & Peace,


Dear Embers,

Sometimes, when I long for a different life (one filled with lunches with friends, pedicures, and shopping trips – ha!), I slap myself around a little bit and project myself into the life of a career woman. Generally, I wouldn’t trade even my burned-out life with the stress of trying to juggle the demands of a career with the pull of motherhood. I don’t know how those career women do it, and they remind me that even though I might feel burned out, I at least have the luxury of focusing entirely on the children God entrusted me with.

Sometimes, though, I still can’t convince myself that homeschooling is the above-mentioned “luxury.” That’s when I start playing the faith card with myself :) . I remind myself that this call to homeschool is not just another one of my optional ideas, but a serious call from God, not to be ignored. When that doesn’t work, and I’m really feeling sorry for myself, I play the ultimate trump card and hold my piddly little sacrifice of homeschooling up to the Lord’s sacrifice and say to myself, “Hy, do you think Jesus really wanted to die on that cross? Buck up and suck up!”

Hope this helps, Embers. We have all felt the “glow” of burnout, and it isn’t rosy!

Peace be with you,


Dearest Embers,

Great advice BT! Homeschooling is not a sprint but a marathon. The strategies for each of those races are completely different. I just finished my 15th year of homeschooling, and I can’t believe I am still here! Here are a couple of pointers that have given me stamina and helped me pace myself in this homeschool track:

1. Keep pure motives: Burn out for me comes when I am pursuing selfish ambitions. I know that sounds crazy, but I get bored pretty quickly when it’s only about me and mine. There is nothing like finding some people to help serve to get my heart pumping with life again and renew my energy to homeschool. So make your homeschooling about something bigger than just you and your family.

2. Run unencumbered: I watch for those activities that distract or wear me down. Strive for those things that breathe life and keep guard for those activities that deplete. A walk in the park, a bike ride around the block or breakfast on the patio can do wonders for a soul.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize: What kind of human beings do you want to send into the world? What virtues do I want them to have? With the cultural issues of today, I go back in history and look at the attributes of those who changed the world. It takes work to keep great ideas and thoughts within your sights and in your heart. Remind yourself of what is really important and stay focused on that. Nothing like a good dose of vision to keep my nose pointed in the right direction and wind in my sail.

4. Find like-minded friends: Sometimes I need a soft place to land and other times I need a kick in the “rear-end.” Like-minded, friends make the world go round and are a large reason why I am still here. The road of homeschooling does not need to be lonely. Work to be that friend to others and your friends won’t let you quit.

Embers, don’t give up! One day you’ll find yourself jogging over that finish line. You’ll be so amazed at God’s provision for your race and the prize that awaits you!


Burnout- Bull

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Hyacinth

Burnout – Doodle

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