You fret about if you're doing enough. Or maybe wonder if you're smart enough? And you question if you'll ever be patient enough!
Anxiety is one of the most common struggles for home educators. Homeschoolers have a tremendous amount of responsibility wrapped up in their homeschool blessings. These responsibilities (and the thoughts surrounding them) can lead to feelings of anxiety.
**Please note: I am not a medical professional. If you're experiencing anxiety (or any other mental health issue) that significantly interferes with your daily functioning, seek medical advice immediately. Also, this series on homeschool anxiety is directed toward the adult homeschooler. If your child is experiencing a significant degree of anxiety, consult a medical professional who specializes in treating children.
What Is Anxiety?
To get a better sense of why you may experience anxiety as a homeschooler, it can help to have a better understanding of why it exists in the first place. First, like most things in life, anxiety can serve a dual purpose.
Anxiety can be positive in the sense that a fear can trigger an individual to react to a sign of danger. It drifts into the negative side when it no longer serves a survival purpose and interferes with functioning and well-being.
Anxiety stems from an innate response for self-protection. Unfortunately, for some individuals, past experiences and personality types can develop an intense fear or worry response that produces some form of discomfort.
All humans experience some form of anxiety. Occasional anxiety, even mild anxiety on a regular basis, is typically manageable. Concern arises when the level of discomfort increases while everyday functioning decreases to the point of struggle.
What makes homeschoolers so different from the regular crowd? Each homeschool family has its unique challenges, with the addition of educating their children. A few of these unique challenges might include:
- family size--for anywhere from 1 to 10+ kids
- age gaps-large or small
- special needs
- different learning styles
- home management tasks--complicated by having a full house every day and/or busy schedule
- financial --if one income or both must work but balance schedules
- academic--curriculum choice, subjects of study
- schedule--what time of day, how many hours
Of course, there are many other factors that could contribute to homeschool anxiety. And all homeschoolers typically experience a degree of worry about how to best teach their kids at home. A struggle, however, results when one or more of these factors (and the thoughts about them ) create an unhealthy response.
What You Can Do About Homeschool Anxiety
Anxiety has a tricky way about it. It may creep subtly in, even when you least expect it.
Maybe you're having a mediocre homeschool year. You may start to wonder if you're doing enough read-alouds and science experiments. Are their gaps in your children's educations? Are your kids getting enough socialization? You break down into sobs and feel like giving up.
Or perhaps you're having a grand homeschool day and cheerily open a magazine to read an article about the latest and greatest in homeschool curricula. In an instant, you start to question your math or science choice. Your thoughts start running at such a fast clip that in a matter of seconds you've decided that you're ruining your children's future for not having that Holy Grail of curricula. You start pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what to do.
I could go on and on with examples of homeschool anxiety. The important takeaway here is that your concern or worry makes you stop in your homeschool tracks and question everything. It starts to ooze its way into all the tiny pores of your homeschool, resulting in discontent and frustration.
The good news: You have the power to overcome homeschool anxiety! You are in control. You are at the steering wheel and capable of veering off into the land of peace and calm.
Before I get to the juicy tips and tricks, I want to share the real-life experiences of a homeschool friend who battles with anxiety. My friend has shared with me about her almost constant state of anxiety. This battle has been lifelong but intensified after having children and starting their homeschooling experience.
She states that she becomes, "extremely irritable and tend to overcomplicate or overschedule things and then crash because I have overworked myself." My friend loses sleep due to her anxiety, making her either constantly tired or sleep late. She has taken both natural supplements and medications but felt their effects wore off or never worked at all.
In an effort to overcome anxiety, my friend finds it helpful to simplify as much as possible. Also, having her family help with chores and regularly using a crockpot for make-ahead meals helps to decrease her anxiety level.
Her approach to overcoming homeschool anxiety is on the right track. I would add:
- Determine who or what is setting off the anxious response--if possible, find a way to remove (like a magazine article) or handle (list of responses to homeschool doubter)
- Plan Ahead--Take time to closely look at situations that induce worry. Brainstorm various ways that you could respond in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Use of self-help books, quotes, scripture or websites for encouragement and direction. Create a personal list of encouraging resources and refer to as needed.
- Relaxation techniques--Here are a few that I personally use in How To Practice Self-Care With Faith-Filled Relaxation and How To Use Self-Guided Relaxation To Boost Your Homeschool Life.
- Downtime--I know how very busy homeschool life can get. Find a hobby or interest that you truly enjoy and set aside time each day for it.
- Support!-- Talk with family and friends who understand and accept homeschooling. If you are looking for a wonderfully supportive group of homeschoolers, check out Rock Your Homeschool! Facebook group.
Do you struggle with worry & overwhelm as a homeschool mom?
What's the one thing holding you back from overcoming it?