A friend emailed my local homeschooling list and asked what people's strategies are for handling burnout. Here are my biggies.
1. Do less. During burnout, I have to pull back and ask if I'm worrying too much
about field trips, what the kids are doing, etc. I remember I can trust them to be
doing interesting things. I'm still wading through all the books, art, media, etc.
they have produced while I had to attend to other things.
2. Go away—have an R&R weekend with a friend or family member, go to a conference or colony or institute of some kind. It helps to have a supportive partner who works at home, but family and friends may be willing to help.
3. Attend to your own creative life. I can't let that slide too much, or on top of burnout, I'll have rage. This one is hardest because I have trouble not comparing myself to others in various fields that I feel have 'accomplished more' during the period I
was homeschooling. Also, I now have to work for extra money so where's the
time for creative stuff? But I do what I can work in, knowing that I go through cycles when I have more time for myself.
4. Remember that hs'ing is "a front-loaded proposition." A woman my husband and I met with early on to explore hs'ing called it that, and the phrase returns to me often.
All the time we put in during the early years helping our children develop into self-directed explorers of their interests makes it easier, year by year.
5. Find families that fit for childcare trades. We've done a bit of this, I'd like to have done more. The kids love it.
6. If you're feeling burnout, do something about it right away. Have an arrangement
with your partner and/or closest friends where you can say "Emergency! I need a day
off right now!" I could be better at this. Right now it seems like all my friends are equally overloaded, and there's no one to appeal to. That makes it trickiest of all.
7. Keep the Teenage Liberation Handbook or some other ridiculously inspiring book
nearby to dip in when you need fresh inspiration. Even a phrase to call on in times of need is helpful (like the above-mentioned 'front-loaded proposition.' Another one I like is from the Tao Te Ching: "Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.") You need a mantra to remind you that it's not all on your shoulders. You're only one mineral in the soil.