Tag Archives: Happiness

Overcoming Homeschool Burnout – The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Overcoming homeschool burnout
Credit: Squirmelia

Homeschool burnout sucks. Perhaps the worst part is feeling so bad about something that once brought so much joy – something you felt passionately called to do.

Many homeschoolers with more experience than me have shared fabulous advice like this for overcoming burnout. But sometimes it’s not as easy as following a few tips. Sometimes we feel so stuck that although the advice sounds very sensible and could probably help “other people”, it couldn’t possibly help us because [insert our unique, insurmountable circumstances here].

What we need is something to help us get unstuck.

In my work as a coach and therapist I used many different tools to help my clients get unstuck.  This process is one of my favourites. It can be used very effectively to help overcome homeschool burnout, by reconnecting you with the energy and passion that first inspired you to take on this blessed role.

How to free your thinking and overcome burnout

All you need is a piece of paper and a pen (or electronic equivalent), and twenty minutes undisturbed time. (Yes I know… Do it in the middle of the night if you have to!)

Step 1 – What do you want?

Write down in your own, positive words what you want. Not what you don’t want, or what you think you can get, but what you really want.

Example – “I want to feel inspired and energised about homeschooling.”

Step 2 – What’s stopping you having what you want?

Now write down all the things that are stopping you having what you want.

When you’ve finished, check there’s nothing else by asking, “What else is stopping me?”

Keep going until until you’ve written down every single thing that stands between you and your goal.


“Homeschooling has got so stressful. I know we ought to take a break but if we do we’ll fall behind with the curriculum. I want my kids to work more independently but they seem to need me for everything. Writing lessons are so frustrating right now, but if he doesn’t learn to write he won’t be able to take exams. I’m sick of the daily grind. I hate our curriculum but we can’t afford to change. I need some time to myself but that’s impossible.”

Step 3 – What are you assuming that is most limiting your thinking?

Look back over everything you’ve written in step 2. What is the single most important thing you’ve written down, the one that really stands in your way?

Example – “(I feel like taking a whole month off but if we take that long off) my kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Write it down again on a line of its own.

Step 4 – Is it true?

This is where I’m going to ask you to make a leap of faith. (It will be worth it, I promise.)

When we’re stuck in problem thinking, everything seems set in stone. But when we shine a little light on them we  begin to find our reasons actually rest on assumptions we didn’t even realise we were making.

In our example – “(I feel like taking a whole month off but if we take that long off) my kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Will your children truly forget everything they know if you take some time off? Will you really never get back on track? (And anyway, don’t you want to find a new groove instead of returning to the same old rut?)

Some reasons might be objectively true, but on closer inspection are found to rest on their own limiting assumptions.

Example: “It’s March now – if we take a month off my daughter won’t be able to take her exams in June.”

Or: “If we take a month off, we’ll lose our place in the co-op.”

Each of those statements may be true, but what are you assuming will happen if your daughter can’t take the exam this June? Is this the only opportunity ever? Will she never get a job if she doesn’t take the exam this year? Of course not. And if you lose your place in the co-op, will the world end? Perhaps other doors will open if that one closes?

Gently examine your limiting assumption until you realise it’s not one hundred percent, provably, “true”.

Step 5 – What is a liberating alternative to the limiting assumption?

This is the cool part. Look at your limiting assumption and ask yourself, “What is the complete opposite of this?” Then close your eyes and tune into your heart.

This is not a semantic exercise. If the words you come up with bear no resemblance to your limiting assumption, that’s a good sign.

Some real examples from my own experience:

Limiting assumption: “I can’t get anything done here because I have no control over how I spend my time.”

Liberating alternative:  “Right here and now, I am freer than anywhere to do all the things I want.”

Limiting assumption: “Because my blog isn’t as successful as others, I’m not good enough and may as well give up”*

Liberating alternative: “Every word I write is the perfect contribution to the world.”

* I wrote that a few years ago 😉

In our imaginary Example:

Limiting assumption: “My kids will forget everything and we’ll never get back on track.”

Liberating alternative: “A long break is exactly what the children need to get excited about learning again.”

Step 6 – The magic question

{Drumroll please}

Take your liberating alternative and insert it into the following question:

“If I knew, without a shadow of doubt, [true alternative], what would I be thinking or feeling or doing differently now?”


“If I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that a long break is exactly what the children need to get excited about learning again, what would I be doing differently now? How would I be feeling different? What would I be thinking?”

Sit quietly and notice what comes to mind. You’ll be amazed at the wisdom and resourcefulness that flows in. (It’s always been there, you just couldn’t reach it from the limited thinking you were stuck inside.)

overcoming homeschool burnout

I’m so excited about sharing this tool that’s helped me get unstuck so many times in the past. If you use it, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Happy homeschooling!

overcoming homeschool burnout

For more views on the subject of overcoming homeschool burnout, visit:

Every Bed of Roses – Homeschool Burnout

One Magnificent Obsession – Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

Barefoot Hippie Girl – What to do when you run out of fuel

Highhill Homeschool – How do I keep homeschooling?

overcoming homeschool burnout
Credit: Gustty


Time to Think – I first came across the process I’ve shared here in this wonderful book

This free pdf Incisive Questions is a short summary of the process (as designed to be used in a coaching session) by the same author.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

The Hip Homeschool Hop

Weekly Wrap-Up

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal


Best Not Back to School Week Ever

Here’s what we were doing while the other children in our town were shuffling, uniform-clad, back to school this week …

not back to school photos

Not Back To School Photos
What better way to celebrate life and freedom when it’s a pleasant 26 C (79 F) and you live near the river?
Not Back To School Photos
Plenty of time to watch the pond skaters
Not  Back To School Photos
Lots of swinging, nature, and water fun (yes, me too!)
Rugby girl
My little girl started back at rugby 😀
Not back to school collage
Art journalling, minecrafting with friends, and settling in the new puppy

Homeschooling just gets better and better.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

Friendship Friday – Living & Learning with our New Normal

Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler

Country Kids at Coombe Mill

Hip Homeschool Hop – 13/09/10

A process to feel better about Christmas (or anything)

This has never been my favourite time of year.  I don’t have especially happy memories of childhood Christmases, and my favourite ones as a grown-up have been the ones I’ve spent abroad.  Like many people, I have a tendency to let deferred-gratification and perfectionism take over, but a bad-feeling journey can never lead to a good-feeling destination! Big J has good memories of childhood Christmases spent with his extended family, though, and I would love for C and J to have a similar experience, so going away every year isn’t an option.

The other day I found myself sounding downright Scrooge-like while talking with Big J about my Christmas present for him (or lack of!) and I decided it was time to make a change! I’d really love to create a tradition of wonderful Christmases for my children.  But for now I’ll settle for feeling good about this one. 🙂

Focus Wheel

Feeling good has to come before action, so I decided to use an Abraham-Hicks process (from the book Ask and It Is Given) to help me get to a better-feeling place about Christmas.

A focus wheel is laid out like a clock.  In the centre you write what you’d like to feel or believe by the end of the process, even though you don’t really feel or believe it at the start when you write it. Around the edges you leave room to write twelve statements which will help guide you gradually towards the centre.

Getting Onto the Wheel

Getting onto the focus wheel  is a bit like getting onto a moving roundabout in a children’s playground – you have to slow it down to get on;  you can’t just jump right onto the middle – there’s too much of a gap between where you currently are and what’s written there.

Instead, look for a statement in the right direction (“downstream”, as Abraham-Hicks say), that you do believe.  Write that down in position 1.

Now you’re on the wheel, and you should be feeling a little better than when you started.  Next, look for a statement to write down in position 2.  Again, be careful it’s not too much of a leap or you’ll be thrown off the wheel.

After you’ve filled in a few positions you’ll be on a roll.  Use this good-feeling momentum to fill in the remaining positions.  By the time you get to 12 you should be able to authentically relate to what you’ve written in the centre!

Focus Wheels on the iPad

In the past I’ve used pen and paper to do focus wheels, but I’ve recently started using the free iPad app Simple Mind to create mind maps, which lends itself perfectly to the focus wheel process.

Did It Work?

As I write this I’m feeling contented and peaceful and – dare I say it? – distinctly Christmassy!  Presents are wrapped under the tree, and I’m actually rather looking forward to a little Christmas party later this afternoon.  There may be more focus wheels over the next few days, but for now the magic is working.  🙂

Further Resources

Since writing this post I came across this great YouTube clip which takes you through the Focus Wheel process.

The Joy Of Home Education # 32

I am SO in love with home educating right now!  Not only are we cruising through maths, English and our other subjects, but we are REALLY making the most of the flexibility our lifestyle brings.

I love being able to take holidays when it’s cheap and uncrowded.

(Still waiting to be tall enough...)

Like last week  at Centerparcs where we swam, biked, climbed, bowled, crazy-golfed, pampered ourselves at the spa (the big ones) and attended wizard training academy (the little ones).

C and J Potter, wizards

I love that Sunday evenings are not over-shadowed by back-to-school pressures.

Last Sunday after C’s rugby and my lovely nephew’s Christening …

C scrubbed up well after rugby!

we were still able to celebrate Big J’s birthday as a family…

by going to see our local ice hockey team play, without having to worry about getting up early for school in the morning 🙂

And … I love that when temperatures hit an unseasonal 27 degrees (80 F) in the last week of September we can close our books for the day and spend the day playing at an open air swimming pool – YAY!

A Change Of Season

Today we leave our summer home to begin a new season of learning, laughing and loving with a different set of friends in a different yet very familiar place.

We will say goodbye for now to daily dips in the sea, and to lazy mornings and evenings, and hello to a new homeschooling “term”.

Goodbye for now to scooter races, and hello to our lovely green garden and fun activities with homeschool and other friends.

Goodbye to sunset drinks on the balcony and beach, and hello to cosy evenings on the sofa.

C has become a ripstik pro (me, not so much - have you seen how many wheels that thing has? Just two!!)

We’ve all expanded in so many ways, making new friends, developing new skills, learning new things.

It’s been a glorious summer and I am filled to overflowing with appreciation for our home here, the magnificent beach, our friends and my lovely family for every single wonderful experience since we started coming down regularly in April.

Today marks the start of rugby season so C and Big J have already gone, and J, kittens Ellie & Fliss and I are packing up to leave soon.   It helps that after a week of hot sun, today it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale! There are still a couple more September weekends here to enjoy, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to jumping back into a new routine.  I’m ready to go home.

Rebooting Mummy (The Joy Of Meditation)

Tonight's Sunset (well it's kind of meditative)

When I think of meditation, a part of my mind conjures up images of kaftan-wearing hippies sitting cross-legged, fingers making little “o”s in the air, chanting “om”.  Another part of my mind says “BORING!!”  Which is odd, given that I’ve been enjoying meditating for many years and been interested in altered states of consciousness my whole life!  I guess my default images are a testament to how the practice of meditation has generally been regarded in our society.

As a child of eleven or so I borrowed library books on hypnosis (which I tried out on my little sister; according to one book, as a sleep-talker she made a good subject).  At fifteen I would sit cross-legged in my bedroom facing the wall, chanting “nam eh oh oh ren geh key oh” (I got the words from an article in teen magazine “Just Seventeen”) – this was maybe the closest I’ve ever come to the stereotype; my mother and siblings still giggle about it.   But object of ridicule or not, it worked for me – I would focus on my latest crush being at the pub that night, and there he would be! 😉

In my twenties I briefly toyed with “watching the breath” as recommended by a Buddhist friend in Spain – that one was NOT for me! – before I discovered the joy of guided meditation, beginning with Shakti Gawain’s classic Creative Visualisation (on cassette!).

It wasn’t until I trained in neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis, in my mid-thirties, that I began to understand the science behind these altered states. When we meditate, our brains are flooded with theta and alpha brainwaves, precipitating a state of profound body and mind relaxation in which the parts of of brain responsible for creativity, clarity, memory, insight and calm are stimulated. (See Resources below for a fuller explanation of the science.)

Meditation is now a key part of my life, all the more so since we’ve been a homeschooling, and my family accept my daily 15 minute mini-retreats as part of who I am.  In fact my children have been known to tactfully suggest “why don’t you go and meditate, mummy” when things are a little fraught  😀   I sometimes think they see meditation as a “Mummy reboot” button.  They’re probably spot on!


At the moment I love Esther and Jerry Hicks’ Abraham meditations CD, which contains four 15 minute meditations focusing on general wellbeing, financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing and relationships respectively. I just pop in my earphones, breathe, and let the soothing words and music wash over me – bliss!

Brainsync produce both guided meditations and music only products, available on CD or as MP3s. Kelly Howell has a deliciously soothing voice, and the music is specially created to induce beneficial brainwave states.  I’ve enjoyed using Brainsync recordings for a long time.

This short article  explains more of the science.

Things That Help Me Have A Better Day

There are some things that, no matter what else is going on in my life, when I do them, I seem to have a better day.

(Kittens Don't Need Lists)

Here are a few of the things on my list:

  1. Meditating for 15 minutes
  2. Exercising – doing something that gets my heart rate up for at least 10 (ideally 20) minutes
  3. Writing a blog post
  4. Decluttering an area of my house
  5. Spending time outside
  6. Connecting with my friend Sarah
No matter what else is going on in my life, I almost always feel better when I do any or all of these things. (And there are more that I can’t think of right now.)

Having them on this list helps remind me to do them, because they’re not necessarily things I “feel like” doing in the moment.  I don’t wake up in the morning gagging to go for a run or sort out the hall cupboard; when the phone rings, my automatic (introvert) reaction is to recoil, even when I see my best friend’s name come up on the display; and in the depths of winter (or autumn, or early spring…oh ok anytime the sun’s not shining) I really do have to generate myself to leave the comfort of home!   I can even find myself putting off meditating, which I LOVE!  Come to think of it, however much I may procrastinate about doing any of the things on my list, something they all have in common is that I almost always enjoy actually doing them (yes, even sorting out the hall cupboard.  Weird, I know).

I’ve done this exercise (which I learned from Michael Neill; I think he writes about it in his great book You Can Have What You Want) with coaching clients and I’ve noticed that everyone’s list is different.  Lists might include going for a walk in the woods, taking 30  minutes to read over a cappuccino in Starbucks, writing in a journal, meeting up with a group of friends, doing an exercise class, or taking special time out to play with a child or cuddle up with a pet.

What’s on your list?

Opportunities To Feel Good

What a great weekend! I often hear Abraham saying (on workshop recordings) that we are here for the thrill of the ride, the joy of expansion, for identifying a desire and riding the wave of bliss as we allow it into our experience.

One of my long-standing desires has been to be able to be keep my good humour even when other people around me have lost theirs.  It seems like I’ve had lots of opportunities to do that lately – and I say that without a trace of resentment, Pollyanna-ism or self-righteousness, I promise!

It is said that every question you bring to an Abraham-Hicks workshop is answered, whether or not you are called to “the hotseat” and have the opportunity to ask your question directly.  This was exactly my experience last year at the Abraham Alaskan cruise workshops, when on the last day a man asked “how do you stay in the Vortex [of wellbeing] when your partner is outside of it?”  I reflect on one part of the answer often: you never need worry about leaving the Vortex when you know how easy it is to get back in.  Over the last few years since I first came across the Abraham work I’ve got better and better at finding my way back to wellbeing.  It’s so true that it’s worth being out  for the thrill of getting back in 🙂

In The Vortex At Legoland

Few things feel better than staying firmly connected to a sense of calm, happy wellbeing even in the face of other people’s grumpiness and circumstances that might, in less mellow moods, be stressful.  That was me, today!  And of course no one stayed grumpy around me for long. 🙂

We spent the day playing in the gorgeous sunshine at Legoland with my mum, sister and nephew S.  It was FULL of people, the queues were HUGE, and C did NOT start out in a fun mood!  But I somehow I felt great throughout it all, and of course the day got better and better.

We left Windsor at 5pm and drove to the coast through summer Friday rush-hour traffic, the journey an extra hour long thanks to vehicles exiting Goodwood’s Festival Of Speed (in my good humour I actually LAUGHED at the irony!) Inspired by our recent visit to see “We Will Rock You”, we listened to loud guitar rock the entire journey, and we laughed.  And I basked. 🙂

Surfing Mondays

This time a year ago as we wistfully left the beach on a Sunday afternoon, the sun still high in the sky, I looked forward to the time when C would be home educated alongside her brother and we would be free to stay and enjoy the beach for as long as we wanted, free of cares about Monday morning school runs.

I love it when a desire comes to fruition!  Yesterday we played with our friends in the sunshine all day, had a leisurely supper on the balcony, and today enjoyed another beautiful day, the beach all to ourselves 🙂

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