Food preparation and housework are 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 family 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:
- 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.
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! Homeschooling Torah members can get menus here and a basic shopping list here.
- 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? Need to get started? Homeschooling Torah members can access a plan for chores here.
- 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? Homeschooling Torah members can access the student checklists we use in our own home..
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. Mine is set for 4:00 p.m.)
- Wipe down the bathroom, at least the sink and toilet, once each day. (I use a baby wipe to 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 rule 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. Don’t forget that Homeschooling Torah members can read a free copy of my book, The Organized Homeschool.