Several weeks back, I mentioned that food preparation and housework were major reasons why many of us homeschoolers feel that we just can’t get everything in a day done — and school, too!
So what’s to be done about it? I’ve been scratching my head about what to say, because I hope you don’t think that my house is perfect, that my food is perfect, or that our homeschooling is perfect. (My mother, who is reading this, is laughing — because she knows the truth!)
So I’m going to start with some generic help, the places I turn to when I myself need help and inspiration, such as:
- How to Homeschool: A Practical Approach, by Gayle Graham (especially Chapter 2 and Appendix C). This author’s strength is in making a home management notebook and planning sheets for your homeschooling. Planning ahead is vital!
- A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling, by Luanne Shackelford and Susan White (especially Chapters 3, 5, 9, and 10). This author’s strength is her honesty and realism.
- The Busy Mom’s Guide to Simple Living, by Jackie Wellwood (especially Chapters 7, 8, and Appendix A). This lady has a very thorough system for homeschooling with a large family.
- Survival for Busy Women, by Emilie Barnes (especially Chapters 2-9). This author gives all the nitty gritty needed to keep your home and cooking organized.
- Or almost any book listed at my Amazon shop, since these are books that are really on my own shelf. If a book isn’t available (cuz it’s old… maybe I found mine at Goodwill), or if you don’t want to spend money, try Paperback Swap.
Okay, but you didn’t start reading this post to be told to read a book, right? I made a list of my top ideas:
Make a Plan
- At least have a basic routine or schedule for your time. No, you will not be able to follow it consistently. Yes, it will at least give you a track to run on. If nothing else, include meal times, bed times, and a basic time frame for school work.
- Make a menu and a grocery list. These will free up a lot of “disk space” in your mental “hard drive,” I promise!
- Know who is supposed to do what in the kitchen each day. Who is responsible for making coffee, rinsing dishes, putting clean dishes away, putting out fresh towels, wiping counters, sweeping the floor, making ice cubes, and taking food out of the freezer for tomorrow? In my opinion, it’s simpler to have everyone keep the same jobs for awhile. It takes less brain work.
- Have a basic system for chores, including your own chores. Keep it simple. What are your minimum standards, the things that must be done in your home for Mom to keep her sanity?
- Be sure you have at least a basic plan for your homeschooling. Do you know when school is done each day or what each child should be working toward weekly, monthly, yearly?
Check Your Plan Daily
- Check your kitchen after every meal and before bed.
- Check on chores in the morning and one other time during the day. (Set an alarm clock to go off if you’ll forget.)
- Wipe down the bathroom, at least the sink and toilet, once each day. (I do this before my shower, super fast, not perfectly).
- If you do laundry daily, check on it faithfully, every day.
- Check any of your children’s independent school work every day. Make yourself a list of what you’re supposed to check and what supplies you’ll need for this, and have it in a handy spot.
- Check your menu daily, so you can remember what you intended to make tomorrow and the following day.
Check Your Plan Weekly
- Can some jobs just be done once a week? For instance, do you really need to do laundry daily, or can you get away with doing it once or twice a week (probably with help from your children)? I have a cleaning “day” (Fridays), so I don’t have to think about it day after day after day after day… I just don’t like laundry and cleaning very much!
- On “Cleaning Day,” what other tasks can be lightened up? Can you have a lighter school day? Can you eliminate any out-of-the-home activities on that day?
- Don’t think that a schedule, made once, will never need to be tweaked. There’s nothing wrong with you! You’re just normal! I like to sit down with my notebook and a pen on Saturday nights, after the kids are in bed, and plan out the following week. How will the schedule need to be modified for the days ahead? If it needs a total overhaul (usually every 2-3 months, to be honest), then can I schedule a couple hours before Monday or Tuesday to get away in relative quiet to think and pray and plan — before I lose my sanity?
- If you can manage it, set aside an hour or so each week to look over your homeschooling plans. I’ll be honest — I’m not very good at this one! That’s why I tend to make my plans in an intense planning session each summer, and then I try very hard to stick to these plans over the year. It doesn’t always work this well, but it has worked well enough for me to continue doing this for several years in a row now. But regardless, you’ll at least need to file away papers, put books back on their shelves, tell your kids to pick up the crayon bits on the floor, and figure out what to do with their science experiments from the week. Friday afternoons work well for me.
Some Closing Thoughts:
- Be realistic. I do believe that order is important, but only God is perfect. It’s a balance.
- Get your rest. Work is never done, but God never intended for you to work all the time. Work for six days, and rest for one day. Work in the daytime, and go to bed at night!
- Do things together as a family. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Work at mutual family goals, then mutual family rest, fun, and relaxation.
- Consider schooling year round, with extended breaks more often, for more time to do things you love during those seasons. There is no law that says you must have school 5 days a week, for instance. Be flexible, and look outside the box for solutions.
I’m sure I’ve missed some profound piece of advice. 🙂 That’s okay! Your family is unique. I’ve been doing this awhile, and my kids are getting older (and soooo helpful… I’m so thankful for them — and my sweet husband, too!).
Hang in there… you’re getting better at juggling it all with every passing day!
P.S. I’ve written a lot on these topics! Check out
Homemaking Posts and Homeschooling Posts
LOL, when I read the title of this post I assumed your advice would be to lower expectations–not give a 12 step plan for how to do it all and then some! Why bake homemade bread? It’s a silly homeschool cultural thing that seriously does NOT need to be on our to-do lists!
Anne Elliott says
LOL! You’re right, it’s a little ambitious to try to do it all. I’m a total fan of homemade bread (have you seen my other website, http://anneshealthplace.com ), but truthfully, I can in no way get all these things done all the time. And I hope my readers understand that my kids are becoming teenagers and HELP me so much! I haven’t always had time for homemade bread, and this last week, I bought bread at a store like normal people, LOL, because there were just too many other things to do. I’m totally human. But it IS pretty high on my to-do list. 🙂 I am SOOOO not doing it because it’s a cultural thing, though. I seriously love bread. You should try it… it’s addicting… I recommend it over housework ANY day! Now THAT’s something I’d love to take off my to-do list.
Thanks for writing,
Kat Patrick says
I second the suggestion about a menu. I have a basic weekly menu that doesn’t change, and it has really streamlined my grocery list and my preparation time. I’m never without my ingredients! (When I say the menu doesn’t change, it isn’t as restrictive as it sounds: Monday is pizza, Tuesday is Mexican, Wednesday is fish & chips, Thursday is stir-fry or cook’s choice, Friday is pasta … you see what I mean.) It has also helped my children who have had issues about food in the past — now they always know what’s coming and argue less about it.
Another observation I would make is that schedules/routines aren’t always daily or weekly. For example, now that we’ve stopped our morning school time for Christmas holidays, we are seriously de-cluttering and tidying up since this is more difficult when we’re in full-swing with our studies.
We do still make time every day to read aloud, though. Right now, it’s Dickens’ Christmas Carol and an excellent non-fiction book about WWII called “Deadly Hunt” about sinking the Bismarck.