Guest Post: Burn-Out in Waldorf Homeschooling And A Special Offer For Parenting Passageway Readers!

My guest poster today is a wonderful homeschooling mentor many of you are familiar with:  Melissa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials (A Little Garden Flower)! You can see her website here:

Melissa is talking today about the topic of burn-out, blame and what to do!  Melissa writes:

I want to thank Carrie for this opportunity to guest post as this topic is close to both of our hearts and it is so funny how it comes up again and again this time of year.  We both felt like it would be a good blog topic.


Burn- Out. As a Waldorf homeschooling consultant, I am seeing more and more of this.  More and more moms that I know love Waldorf but some how have decided that it is too hard so they opt for “Waldorf-lite”, falsely believing that is all they can do.   I have taken some heat before for saying that I don’t believe in burn- out. I suppose I should qualify that and say that I don’t believe that Waldorf homeschooling is the cause of the burn -out.

Let me back up. This job is hard. It is dang hard. I think it could be harder than giant monsters fighting giant robots like in my sweet husband’s new favorite flick. It is hard. This job takes work.  I have been mothering for just over 16 years now. Children don’t come with manuals. They don’t know how to turn off on our bad days. They don’t understand menstrual cramps or a fight with our mother. They are just generally happy to be in their bodies and they don’t have a clue why we want them to stop jumping on the sofa or hitting their brother!   In my parenting career, I have been through a bunch – sometimes I stepped in the hole willingly and other times someone dragged me into it.  Each time I climbed out, I got up, made breakfast and we walked on.  I am their rock.  Without me time might just stand still for them.

I knew I wanted to homeschool before I had children. I discovered Waldorf education early on and like most moms that are new to it, I feel in love with the beauty of it.  Waldorf is a delight for the senses for certain! Like many of you, I had no support system.  I had an husband (now former) who was battling wars I couldn’t join him in.  I was alone. I made friends with Waldorf teachers that could direct me.  They gave me all kinds of advice on the curriculum, but none of them had really done this at home and certainly not with this many children. I had to figure it out on my own.

A bunch of children. No manual. All alone.

I learned that Waldorf, while it wasn’t easy, it was SIMPLE.  I learned that simple didn’t have to be easy.  I made goals for each child, goals for myself and then I learned to plan.  I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter how many children you have, you can do this. You just have to want it.  You have to be ready to wrestle some things to the ground – those things have NOTHING to do with Waldorf and everything to do with you.  I found that Waldorf could be this tremendous mirror for me. I learned to take care of myself for the first time in my mothering.  I learned to connect with Spirit in new ways.  I learned that I was a dynamic person, I just had to find her and let her out. We are ALL talented.  We just have to find those talents.   As long as I kept my temperament balanced and my inner work in check, then I had the time to do what I wanted and what I needed.  Sure there were years when it was not so easy, but those times are short.

Be a family with a purpose.

If you read Carrie’s blog regularly, then you know she promotes living ON purpose. Living on purpose takes effort.  It takes a plan.  It takes knowing what you want from life for you and your family. Do you have these conversations with your partner regularly? Are you on the same page? Why not write a family mission statement?  This can be the same as your schooling mission or it can be totally different.  Once you write it, you should say it together often.  Tweak it where needed. Keep it current. It helps you to remember your goal of living on purpose.

What else is burning you out?

When I hear “I am so burned out on Waldorf homeschooling” it really confuses me. LOL.  Like I said before, I don’t think burn out has ANYTHING to do with Waldorf.  It has to to do our habits, with decisions we have made and sometimes it just has to do with the CRAP (yes, crap!) that comes with living on this planet and sharing it with other people or being in these bodies.

I talked to a mom recently that is sending two of her four children back to school. She has two children at home and one of the children suffers from some circumstances that are extreme. However, what I really appreciated about this mom is that she didn’t blame Waldorf homeschooling!  She noted that this is something that her family was working through.  She was making the right decision for her family at this time.  She looked at what was ahead of her and she made a plan.  The plan doesn’t mean she won’t struggle.  She has big hurdles ahead. She knows it.  She is strong.

We are all strong. Remember, we all took on this job knowing there is no owner’s manual.  Steiner said the children were the text.  We are to learn from them. 

So now maybe you are on the other end of the screen frustrated at me.  I am sorry.  I do think we have the tendency to get in our own way.  I know that I am VERY guilty of this in so many instances.  There have been years when I stood back and looked at the whole and wondered how in the heck I would get it done.  Then I sit down, I get out my big sheet of paper and I break it all down.  Guess what?! Some of it doesn’t get done! For many years we did things like the recorder sporadically and we used our voices because I just plain couldn’t get to it.  When I  was single, I couldn’t afford all the supplies I wanted so we didn’t paint for MANY months, we modeled with cheap play dough and did a lot of drawing.  We adapted.  I adjusted myself.

On the journey – the one where I was learning to live ON purpose – I think the biggest lesson has been to just be ME. I may be the loving Waldorf consultant… but you see that because that is who I am.  I am also bossy and busy.  I yell when I should listen. I love to play. Some days I irritate more people than I please. In the end, I love my kids, I love my husband and I love Waldorf.

If you are struggling, there is help.  Carrie’s blog here is a GREAT place to start.  She is wonderful at coming alongside and being your cheerleader.  If you are struggling and want some one- on- one consultation, check out our Thinking Feeling Willing program.  We have a special coupon for Carrie’s readers, the code is CARRIE.  20% off anything you need in our store 🙂 Code is good through the 22nd.

Wise words, Melissa…and look for Part Two of this series from me next!

Many blessings,

9 thoughts on “Guest Post: Burn-Out in Waldorf Homeschooling And A Special Offer For Parenting Passageway Readers!

  1. First of all I want to say a big, heartfelt ‘thank you’ to both of you. You were both instrumental in my beginnings with Waldorf and now I am so lucky to call you both friends.

    Melisa, I couldn’t agree more. My mother always says, “Wherever you go, there you are.” And I think this applies to Waldorf homeschooling in spades. The metaphor of a mirror is so apt, bc I think this method reflects and perhaps magnifies so much of what we struggle with. And that is so hard to look at. But honestly, if I don’t look at it here and now, all that crap is going to follow me to the next place.

    Except for struggling to breastfeed Vincent (which took 3 long months to get the hang of!!), nothing has been as hard (physically, mentally and emotionally) as homeschooling with Waldorf. And just like breastfeeding both my boys, Waldorf has brought me the most joy.

    Sending you both love. Today and always.

  2. This past year, our fifth year homeschooling and my first teaching two children grades I began in my head calling it Steiner rather than Waldorf. We don’t go to school and are guided by Steiners principles. It has taken the pressure off of me. Great post and thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Hello Carrie and Melissa!

    I was one of those moms on your chat group Melissa who said that I suffered from burn out, but I never have blamed Waldorf for it. Sorry if it was a misunderstanding on my part. I love Waldorf homeschooling and there is no other or better option for us!
    My burn out at the time was definitely concerning all the things going on in my life at the time, which included homeschooling, but was not the cause of it.

    After the sudden death of my father in the beginning of the year and other unforeseen events, one which we are still struggling with, and a head strong preschooler, it was all just getting too much for me.
    I had to take a couple of weeks off from everything, home management, outside activities and homeschooling, after this break I felt refreshed and much better.

    I have learned an important lesson from this concerning my future planning in my home, including schooling, which I know will help me a lot and give me/ us more breathing room throughout the year.
    Again, thank you for this post Melissa and clarifying that you do believe in burn out,….just not Waldorf homeschooling burn out. 🙂


    • Sweet Maggie,
      This is so not directed at any one person, it is just a general trend that both of us noticed around the blogging world…No worries, and take what resonates for you!
      You have been one of my readers for a long, long time and I am sending you lots of love. 🙂

    • Dear Carrie,

      I know! 🙂 I did not take this post personal, …even if it does sound a bit like it in the beginning, now that I re-read my reply.
      I know that there were quite a few moms that felt the same way as I did around the same time, or still feel the same way.
      I just wanted to man up, so to speak, as I did leave a reply on the board in regards to this subject and I wanted to clarify (so not the right place to do this here, I know and I am sorry that I did) and why so many of us do feel overwhelmed at times.
      I am sorry, I did not mean to sidetrack this post!

      Blessings to both of you and thank you for enriching our lives!

  4. Hi Maggie 🙂 I agree with Carrie, this was not aimed to one person. What I have meant by not believing in burn out is two fold. Of course the first part is that I don’t believe Waldorf is ever the cause. The second part is that perhaps when we are struggling, we should reframe some things. Burn out. Just the words sound so final, so much like we are giving up. Reframing it changes it. Sometimes we need renewal. We need regrouping. We need a break. A break is GOOD. Renewal is GOOD. Regrouping is NEEDED! None of those things have the same energy as burn out. The year I divorced and lived hours away from any supportive family with three children all alone… that year, I regrouped. I decided to cast off what wasn’t working, etc. When we have trauma in our lives, we can regroup, reframe, repurpose and we can in turn REJUVENATE! So Maggie, you did exactly what I would have recommended. It can be SO healing to step back and take stock.

    Love and blessings to you 🙂

  5. Thank you.
    I am grateful that I can read your blog to be inspired and reassured. This job is so hard, it means so much to be reminded that I am not alone, that others feel as I do and still find a way to do what is important. “Live life on purpose.” I have to remember this.

  6. Great post, and perfect timing. As I begin to prepare for our year, it is a good reminder to make a bigger plan, and then break it down into little pieces I can deal with. I look forward to your post on this too Carrie!

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