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Homeschool Overwhelm – Survival Guide for New Homeschool Parents

by Tina von Hatten

When homeschool overwhelm sets in

You won’t believe me when I say that homeschooling can be fun and rewarding. You probably never gave homeschooling your children a serious thought before you suddenly had to.

Homeschooling because you have to and homeschooling, because you choose to, are two totally different things. How in the world do you navigate this uncharted territory with all that is going on around you?

You might be wondering if it is even possible to homeschool in an easy and stress-free way that doesn’t end in complete homeschool overwhelm?

Record amounts of families are being forced to keep their children at home and suddenly home-educate, while at the same time are facing a reality that no one thought imaginable, homeschool overwhelm is bound to happen.

Self-isolation, empty grocery store shelves, states of emergencies being declared, and parents trying to figure out how they will afford to pay bills are dominating the news and social media right now.

On top of all of this, you have a well-meaning homeschool community that has opened its arms wide to all of the ‘new’ homeschool families and is continually bombarding these families with ideas on how to fill their days.

It is no wonder that many parents are feeling overwhelmed, and posting selfies on social media of themselves crying. It’s too much. 

Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I should write this blog post. This pandemic alone is so overwhelming. BUT, I really truly care and want to help you ease into this new normal.

School at home isn’t homeschooling

I know that your first instinct might be to do school at home. After all, you want your kids to have some kind of new normal. You also don’t want chaos, and that schedule you saw someone on Facebook post looked pretty reasonable. 

I think I know what veteran homeschool moms everywhere are thinking and some have already said. I’ve seen it. I am sorry if we come off as jerks when we tell you that your attempt to follow a strict schedule is not a great idea. 

You will also hate us for telling you that school at home doesn’t work like school at school. But, before you push that little X at the top of your screen because you think I am being a snarky know-it-all, please hear me out. 

I did exactly the same thing when I started homeschooling my kids over 13 years ago. Yup! I made an hourly timetable and tried to follow it and when it never worked, I secretly hated myself for it.

I would ask myself, “How come I can’t do this? There must be something wrong with me. All of these other people seem to have it figured out.”

WRONG! School at home isn’t homeschooling. It can be done, but in my experience, it just makes everyone hate school, including mom.


1. Spend time in prayer

Starting your day in prayer is a powerful tool that will not only give you strength, but it can serve as a guide. 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Churches are closed in many dioceses for the unforeseeable future. It is imperative that we deepen our prayer-life and pray for those afflicted with COVID-19, for the frontline medical staff, for our government leaders, for those trying to make ends meet, for the clergy, for those who are most vulnerable, and for each other.

I truly believe in God’s divine providence and His willingness to walk with each and every one of us, especially in difficult times like these. 

In this uncertain time, God’s love is unwavering, His mercy is great and His grace will pour out. All you need to do is ask and He will come to your aid.

If you let God take the reins, your homeschool will bear great fruits. I understand that it is hard to trust God and to let go. This is something I struggle with, as well.

Don’t hesitate to ask for prayers.

2. Deschool

This is a popular term among homeschoolers. Deschooling is a time of adjustment between attending school and homeschooling. 

During this time, you do very little formal schoolwork. Instead, you focus on building a relationship with your child or children and working together.

This period can last days, weeks, or months depending on how long your child attended school. 

If your school is requiring your child to do schoolwork or is going online, by all means continue to “do school” at home. But, in most cases, schoolwork will be completed in a shorter time period and it won’t fill a whole school day. So please don’t expect it to.

If you have already started trying to “school at home” and are feeling frustrated, I want you to know that this is completely normal. Everyone goes through this and that is why so many people suggest that you spend a period deschooling first.

3. Establish a routine

Homeschool overwhelm can easily happen when you don’t have a routine. A strict schedule that schools run on and a homeschool routine are two totally different things.

Schools run on schedules, marked by bell ringing and established times for lunch and recess breaks. 

If you try to run your home in the same manner as a school, you will burn out, or end up like the mom in this meme I saw circulating on Facebook. 

Set routines that make sense for your family. Have meals and snack times at approximately the same time each day.

Establish a morning routine and a bedtime routine. Decide as a family how chores will be handled. Now is a great time to incorporate the children into helping around the house.

Plan to spend time outdoors every day if possible. Self-isolation can happen outdoors using social distancing if it is allowed in your jurisdiction. 

Let the kids play in the backyard or take them to the woods or go on a walk in your neighborhood. The fresh air helps burn off some of that energy your kids will undoubtedly have in abundance.

Establishing some sort of rhythm is key to transitioning from school to homeschool. 

4. Learning time

In the early days, integrate a window of “learning time” into your routine, but instead of using school books, play board games, do art or science projects or play with play dough. Keep it simple, fun, and not too parent-directed, if you know what I mean.

Spend time binge-watching shows on Netflix or reading aloud to your kids. Reading aloud to my big kids was something I never thought I would do. 

At first, I was surprised that my teens actually liked it when I read to them. Just don’t expect your kids to sit still while you read, let them draw, play Lego or do something else quietly. 

The idea behind establishing a learning time isn’t meant to be something rigid or done out of obligation. It is meant to help establish a bond and trust between the parent and child. It is a time for setting boundaries and rules in case you end up out of school for more than a few weeks.

How do you want your children to look back on this time? If your children have to go back to school after only a few weeks, that is great! In our region, it is possible that schools will be closed until September.

Don’t feel like you have to do it all or do it perfectly. Get to really know your children. If you work on relationships first, the learning will happen with fewer meltdowns and power struggles.

5. Give yourself grace

Be gentle with yourself. Homeschool overwhelm happens to the best of us. There is a lot going on around you and no one is judging you.

Many of us are worrying about our immunocompromised children and elderly family members. Some of us are worrying about bills that need to be paid and how we are going to pay them. 

Some of us wonder what impact a worldwide recession will have on our family, and some of us worry about finding food at the grocery store, or what happens if we ourselves or our children become ill.

These circumstances are not anything like we’ve ever experienced before. This isn’t even normal for homeschoolers. We have had to give up our co-ops, planned field trips, outings with friends and our lives have been turned upside down, too.

Some of us wonder if our senior high students will graduate this year and if colleges will accept them. Everyone is in this together.

Our children can’t play with other children, and they miss their friends and going out. Moms everywhere aren’t getting any real breaks. I think everyone is looking forward to a normal mom’s night out.

We stand in solidarity. We believe in you and trust that you are doing the best that you can each and every day.

Confident Woman

Homeschool moms everywhere are reaching out and trying to share with you all of the best resources and want you to know that you can do this. We know this because we all started at ground zero and despite having some experience, we still have days that are complete write-offs. 

BUT, there are days that are amazing, too. We hope that you get to experience lots of those. We hope that you have plenty of days when you get to see your child work hard and succeed and realize that you are there to witness their success firsthand. 

All of the tears, frustration, and struggles will be replaced with joy. This is my hope for every mom out there doing their part to teach their child at home right now. 

Reach out and let me know what I can help you with. Leave a comment below or send me an email. 

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