Balancing homeschooling and homemaking
Every homeschool mom struggles with trying to figure out how to balance homeschooling and housework.
Homemaking and homeschooling are big responsibilities, each of them on their own. With everything that is involved in each, together they are a lot to carry.
I understand the struggle to juggle it all because this is my 9thyear of homeschooling our children. I have made many mistakes over the years, but one thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s not possible to do homemaking or homeschooling perfectly, but it is possible to do them both and do them well.
The key to doing them both well, is to simplify, be intentional and allow yourself some grace.
As a home-schooling mom, my priorities are my family, schooling the kids, keeping my home and feeding my family. Those are my priorities and if I have a ton of other extra things taking up my time and I start dropping the ball on my priorities, then I have to let something extra go.
There is no perfect way to do anything, but if you find yourself struggling to manage it all, here are some tips that will help you in your homemaking and homeschooling journey.
First, you need to guard your time and prioritize; don’t over commit and never do anything out of guilt. What are the priorities you have for your family and your life? Once you have established those, do you have time for anything else? Ask yourself that question before committing to anything.
The next thing is to watch out for is unrealistic expectations of yourself. There isn’t anything wrong with expecting a lot from yourself, but when it’s unrealistic it ends up being a lot of pressure to achieve, and then discouraging when you can’t or don’t meet those ideals.
Take care of yourself
My friend, you are so important to your family. Our families need us, but we are of no use to them when we are sick, so make sure to take care of yourself.
I’m not talking about extravagant vacations or hours of “mommy time” a week, but there are some simple things we can do to take care of ourselves in the day to day.
· Get enough sleep
· Go to bed at a decent hour
· Get exercise
· Drink your water
· Take your vitamins
· Eat well and limit sugar
· Pay attention to what you’re feeding yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually (your thoughts, books, music, movies, etc.) Somethings can drag us down, distract us or cause us to be unhappy and discontent with our present circumstances.
· Keep good company…we all need friends who are there in the trenches with us and those that are ahead of us encouraging us to keep going.
Get up earlier than the kids
I know, I know. This idea is not so popular, but it can seriously be life changing. You can makeover your days with this simple habit.
My suggestion is to do this only if you are getting enough rest (minimum 7 hours). Get up before everyone else to get a few things out of the way before the day starts. It feels so good to accomplish things before the day starts rolling.
Get rid of clutter
Decluttering in the physical has a big impact on the mental clutter. It’s hard to concentrate when there is so much out of order in our surroundings.
Decluttering our homes and our homeschool supplies/resources enables us to stay better organized.
One of the biggest reasons for lack of organization is too much stuff!! If you need a bit of a nudge to get rid of some clutter, check out this quick declutter checklist.
This does not need to be perfect, but staying organized in the areas that affect you daily can be a huge help to balancing homemaking and home-schooling.
I enjoy being organized, but I have a confession; I have a couple small areas in my home that are disasters. They are not organized at all! For example, my storage room. It’s embarrassing...thankfully no one goes in there. I do organize it 1-2 times a year, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. The reason I can let it go is because I don’t have to deal with it every day. It’s out of sight, out of mind and it doesn’t affect the day to day operations of our home. I get to it when I have time.
The areas that I do keep up with for organization are the areas that we live in/use each day, every day. The kitchen, living room, bathroom, entry. The kid’s bedrooms, they use daily and we do tidy most days, but I only tackle the organization in there every 2 months or so. The rest of the time…? I close the door ;)
Staying organized in the areas that affect your daily life will be a huge help to you.
Have a catch-up day
Use a few hours one day each week to catch up. Whether that’s for school, or projects around the house.
We use Fridays to catch up on co-op homework or any major cleaning or organization projects around the house.
Getting our children to pitch in around the home is beneficial for everyone. It teaches them responsibility and takes some of the load off of an already busy mama.
Schedule big cleaning tasks
Sometimes the only way we get to the big important tasks are to schedule them. Research shows that when things are written down, they’re more likely to get done.
Maybe schedule isn’t the right word, but plan for them. Schedule big cleaning tasks like the bathrooms, washing floors, etc. on certain days of the week. You can do it all in one day if you have a day that works or assign one task per day.
Daily pick up, multiple times a day
Having a daily pick up time where everything gets put back where it belongs can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your home.
There are 6 of us living mostly in 1,100-ish square feet, 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Surfaces can get cluttered and untidy fast if nobody cleans up after themselves.
My solution to this has been to have a quick 10-15 minute pick up a couple times a day.
It’s been perfect. I used to get so frustrated whenever there was any kind of mess or clutter, but it’s just the nature of family life. Eventually I figured out if we tidy a couple times a day, I can let the untidiness go for a little while without feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by it.
Use a planner or planning printables
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
I don’t know how accurate that quote is, but I know it’s been true in my life. Having a planner that helps me keep everything in one place has been a huge lifesaver for me for setting goals, keeping track of appointments, cleaning, meals, bill payments and all the day to day tasks.
Do freezer meals/meal prep and meal planning
Meal planning is key to avoiding take out every night of the week and to keep spending to a budget.
Doing meal prep or freezer meals is working smarter, not harder. I love that I can prep a month’s worth of meals and then dinner is off my list of to-do’s for a while.
For school, we can’t be all things, to all people, at all times. There’s only one of us. So, if you are schooling multiple children, do yourself a favour and teach them independent learning and independent play early on. Once your child starts reading they will be able to work more independently.
Focus on one thing at a time
Moms are pros at multi-tasking, but we need to stop this. Multi-tasking can cause so many frustrations and things don’t always end up getting the attention they need.
When I say don’t multi-task, I mean with the things that require your full concentration. There are some things that are possible to multi-task, like nursing the baby and reading the other children a story. That usually works just fine.
I tried working and schooling at the same time. Oh, was that ever frustrating! I felt like I kept getting interrupted and wasn’t getting anything done, but what I should’ve been focusing on was the schooling and saved the work for later.
Designated homeschool spaces
Having a designated school room does not have to mean having a school room. For the first 6 years of our home-school journey, we schooled at the kitchen table.
We didn’t even have one whole area in our house that was just for school. We did however have a bookshelf, and some cabinets around the house.
To be honest, it wasn’t convenient to have a cupboard in the kitchen and a shelf in the living room dedicated to homeschool curriculum and resources, but it worked. At least everything had a place, and we knew where that was, even if it was spread throughout the house.
Ok so, I love lists and schedules, but the first few years I tried homeschooling, I was so overwhelmed because my homeschool schedule was NOT working. We couldn’t seem to stick to it and I felt like I was failing in the homeschooling department.
I wasn’t failing though. I was trying to stick to a homeschool schedule that wasn’t ours. I wanted each kid to do math at the same time and then language arts the next hour, but it didn’t work.
One kid would be done the lesson within a half hour, while the other would take an hour to get through it.
I tried, math from 9-10, language arts from 10-11, etc. on the schedule, but it didn’t work. However, schooling from 9-10:15 (child chooses subject of choice in the order they want to do them), break and then back at it at 10:30 works great!
The baby didn’t have a messy diaper on schedule, my grade 1 child didn’t necessarily start with the same subject every day. As the kids got older and more of them were schooling, they all preferred to start with a different subject; their more difficult one, but that was different for each of them.
We don’t do a lot of unit studies. I tried a few times, but while some of my kids would be done their other work for the day and excited to work on it, others would only be part way done their other work, and felt like stopping to do a unit lesson together was causing them to take longer to do the rest of their work. They found that extremely frustrating and so did I.
I ended up scrapping the set schedule and we went with a routine instead. I felt so much more relaxed and all of us were much happier with our school routine.
Here’s an idea of what my home school life looks like.
AM Homeschool Schedule
7 Kids up-they start on their schooling
8:30 All-Breakfast clean up, chores and start a load of laundry
9:15 Kids-School (whatever subject they want to work on)
Mom-Dinner prep and housework
10:15 Snack and break
Mom-Do Kindergarten lesson with my youngest
11:30 Lunch prep (usually one of the kids will help)
PM Homeschool & Homemaking Schedule
12 Lunch and break
12:30 All-Lunch clean up
1 Kids-Finish schooling
Mom-Housework (whatever needs to be done that day)
2 Kids-Outside play
4 Kids-Free time and piano practice
5-8 Family time-dinner, dinner clean up, whole house tidy, showers, homeschool co-op homework, etc.
8-9 Kids-Bedtime (varies depending on age)
How to balance it all…in a nutshell
These are some great tips for finding the balance in our roles as homemakers and homeschoolers, but they don’t work unless we do.
· Establish priorities
· Get an early start
· Get Organized
· Enlist help
· Plan for cleaning
· Daily pick up
· Use a planner
· Meal prep
· Establish a routine
· Designate school storage
· Teach independent play and learning
As I said before there really is no such thing as perfectly balancing the housework and homeschooling, but it is possible to do them both well. It takes work on our part, but with implementing these tips and consistency, balancing homemaking and homeschooling is possible.
Which tips would make the biggest difference to you, in your homeschool family life?