All of us have a lot to do and a lot going on–which leads me to the final topic of this Homeschool Scheduling 101 series. Today I would like to share 6 tips to stay sane while homeschooling.
How much do you have on your plate?
The truth is that most of us have much more to do than any one person could possibly accomplish each day or each week! But that doesn’t stop most of us from trying. Hard. And nearly ruining our sanity, our patience, and our health in the process.
I have an adult daughter who is severely autistic and functions like a toddler. She has to have care 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have another adult child who lives on his own now, but I also homeschool my 17-year-old daughter and try to spend as much time with her as I can while she’s still living at home. I also have a husband who (thankfully!) enjoys my company and wants some of my time, a home to take care of, clothes to wash, church responsibilities, groceries to buy, meals to plan and cook, laundry to do, several websites I co-own, and I workout 4 or 5 days a week and try to make a little time for having fun with my family.
I know if you could share your list with me, it would probably be just as long! Or maybe you’re home most of the time with young children. (I spent much more time taking care of my children and much less time doing everything else when my kiddos were little too!) Even if you spend most of your time taking care of babies and toddlers, though, you still have to take care of your home and make sure everyone gets fed and that the laundry gets done. It can be exhausting and overwhelming sometimes!
In other words, all of us have a lot to do and a lot going on–which leads me to the final topic of this Homeschool Scheduling 101 series I’ve been sharing with you.
It all comes down to you.
You can have all the pretty charts, schedules, and systems in place…
But without you, nothing is going to get done.
How to Stay Sane while Homeschooling
Take care of yourself!
Homeschooling is rewarding and wonderful, but it also requires energy, attention, and patience. Taking care of yourself will enable you to be a better parent and teacher for your child.
Some of my friends are runners. They know they need just a little time each day to get their blood pumping. I’m not a runner, but I do make time for at least two HIIT workouts and two weight-lifting workouts each week.
Some feel their best when they are dressed nicely and have their hair and make-up on. Or maybe you’re like me, and you feel better dressed in your worn-out jeans and your favorite t-shirt.
Some start the morning early to pray and read their Bibles. I like to do my Bible reading and prayer time with a hot cup of coffee to sip!
Others need time to read or to knit. Some need people to socialize with. Some enjoy going shopping. Some enjoying cooking. Some need time outside to enjoy the sunshine.
What makes you feel happy and whole? Figure it out, and do it.
Just say no!
Did you see my list of obligations above? Clearly, I stink at this. But it’s too important to not discuss.
My friend told me once that I needed to choose between the good and the great. This is so true. There are tons of wonderful opportunities for my kids to participate in. Classes we want to take, people we want to spend time with, and places we want to go. There are tons of things I want to do.
I’m lucky that there are many opportunities for personal growth and community service where I live. There are tons of things I’d love to do! But I still have to remember my friend’s words and look for the great in a world of really good things.
Look closely at the opportunities you are saying yes to, and don’t be afraid to say no more often. If it doesn’t fit your schedule, if you’re too tired, if it’s not a perfect fit for your family, just say no.
You only have 2 hands and 24 hours in the day. Outsourcing is your friend, and time is valuable.
Give the children chores. Spread the housekeeping responsibilities out among family members.
Younger siblings can be paired up “buddy system” style with older siblings. Older kids can teach younger kids school subjects too. When my kids were younger, my youngest would entertain my oldest by reading to her. (Remember my oldest is severely autistic, so she has always been much more like the youngest child in the family.) This helped my youngest child practice her reading and it kept her older sister entertained and out of trouble! And because the two girls were occupied, I had a few minutes to work one-on-one with my son on whatever subjects we were working on that day. Do this in whatever way works for your family!
And don’t be afraid of investing in “time savers.” If you can afford someone to come over and work as a mother’s helper once a week, do it. Or maybe you can enlist the help of a grandparent or even trade out helping another homeschooling mom.
It’s also important to simplify as much as possible by using a meal plan, taking advantage of online grocery ordering and pick-up (or delivery if they offer it in your area), taking care of errands and activities one or two days a week instead of leaving the house every day for an activity or errand (at least as much as possible), and (honestly) by lowering your standards for keeping the house perfectly clean and in order.
Find a Routine.
Set hours for your homeschool, and stick with them.
When my children were all younger, I knew I had to get up and start school by 8:00 or 8:30. If not, we wouldn’t get it done. We tried our best not to leave the house before noon on school days in order to give us time to get school done since we knew it would’t otherwise get done that day. We didn’t have a strict schedule for doing certain subjects at certain times, but we did have a general routine in which we knew we would do certain things in a certain order.
Find what works for you. You may do your best work with the kids from 12-3 while the little ones have quiet time, or maybe you have a high schooler who works best from 7-10 pm. Either way, find a time that works for you, and try and stick with that routine.
Don’t give up too soon on your curriculum. But do give up if it’s making you miserable!
Someone wise once said that the best curriculum is one that gets done. (Thank The Well-Trained Mind forum for that gem.) There may not be a perfect curriculum for you, but you still have to teach.
If you don’t want to give up on your curriculum right away, try adapting the lessons and assignments. Read lessons aloud, add in hands-on activities, play games to teach concepts, or whatever other adaptations you can make to help your children (and you!) enjoy what you’re teaching and learning together. Don’t be distracted by someone else’s idea of the “perfect curriculum.” If your curriculum is absolutely wrong for your family and is making your family miserable (Maybe it’s the completely wrong learning style.), go ahead and scrap that curriculum and choose something else. Make a note of the lesson you learned and move forward.
Don’t compare yourself to other homeschoolers.
I take it you read homeschool blogs (ha ha). You probably have friends who homeschool too. Remember that no two homeschoolers are going to look the same, and what works for me may not work for you.
This article has been full of advice, but let me tell you, I struggle with these things. We can work on it together this school year, and hopefully finish the year without feeling overworked, under-appreciated, and burned out.