If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you have probably come to the conclusion that you can’t keep up with everything the way you would like. You can’t volunteer for every position at church, you can’t teach every co-op class, you can’t keep your home spotless and your yard neatly mowed and trimmed, etc etc and still have time to properly educate your children. At least you can’t do all of these items at the same time and maintain any semblance of sanity!
Does being a homeschooler mean that everything else needs to fall by the wayside? By no means! Many homeschool moms are excellent at juggling multiple responsibilities. We are either born with this talent naturally or we develop it quickly by necessity. Either way, it is possible to homeschool your children and keep up with at least some other responsibilities as well.
How do you do this? Here are several tips for keeping your sanity:
1. Set Your Priorities – It is extremely important that you and your spouse be on the same page when it comes to what is and is not a priority. You can waste a lot of time working on less important tasks which will use up time you should have used getting something more vital done. Sit down with your spouse and come up with a list of all of your projects and responsibilities. Together, you need to decide what is the most important for your family. Obviously, the education of your children is going to be near the top of your list. Other items which may interfere with their education may need to be reconsidered – or you may need to come up with some clever solutions for getting those tasks completed without cutting into your school day.
If you have the financial means, you could always hire some help. If you don’t, you could enlist the help of other homeschool moms by swapping responsibilities. Maybe having someone else watch your children or teach a specific subject for which they have expertise, or do some other task for which you don’t have the time or ability. If you go this route, you will obviously need to reciprocate for her in some way.
2. Learn to Be Selective – When you decide to homeschool your children, you will no longer be able to be the Go To person for everyone. You will still be able to volunteer in some capacities and to lend a helping hand to your neighbors and friends. You will, however, need to be more selective about what extra responsibilities you will be able to take on during this busy season of life.
I used to feel that if I heard about a need, it was my responsibility to try to fill it. I no longer feel this way. I’m learning that there are other people who are willing to help out and my stepping back gives them the opportunity to be able to learn how to step forward and bless people as well.
There are plenty of opportunities where you will still be able to pitch in and help. Try to find times when your husband and children are already involved in an activity and help during those same times. If your child is part of an Awana group or a co-op or some other such activity, that is the perfect opportunity for you to become involved. You will be driving them to and from the activity anyway. It would be a better use of your time to help out during that same time slot than to volunteer for a completely unrelated task.
3. Take Your Time to Decide – This is related to the previous tip. When you are asked to do something instead of saying “yes” or “no” right away, tell the person you need to think/pray/ask your husband about it before giving an answer. Often, when we are asked to do something we immediately feel on the spot. It’s very hard to say “no” immediately. If we have a chance to really consider the request, it enables us to either decline or to say yes with a much better attitude. Be sure it will fit into your already busy schedule before you accept another responsibility.
4. Chore Lists on the Fly – If you want any chance at keeping some order in your house, you need to get the entire family involved. I have tried making chore lists a week at a time that doesn’t seem to work for us. If I sit down and decide a week in advance what I would like each family member to do, I still find myself doing quite a bit of the unplanned cleaning around the house.
What has worked better for my family is to make a new chore list each morning. I have a master chore list on my computer to which I can refer. I can pull chores from this list each morning. Even better, however, is that I can look around at the house and see what needs to be done right then. I add those tasks to my sons’ lists and THEN print them out. This method has been invaluable for us. Tasks that actually need to get done get done – and I get the help I actually need around the house instead of the same tasks getting completed by my sons whether they need it or not.
By the way, doing chores on a regular basis is a great experience for your child. It helps them to learn life skills that many kids are no longer being taught. When your child grows up and moves out of the house, you’ll have the confidence that they can take care of themselves without having to learn how to cook or do the laundry as an adult.
5. Spend Time Developing Your Child’s Character – Did I just give you another task to add to your already busy day? Not really. Character development is something you should be working on with your children no matter what else you are doing at the time. When I am feeling stressed or overloaded the last thing I want to have happen is to hear my sons fighting or whining or complaining about some task I’ve asked them to complete. When we help our children to develop self control in these areas, it will be even easier for us to maintain our sanity under pressure.
How do we help our children to develop self control? We can lecture them, buy ANOTHER curriculum, discipline them, etc etc The best way to help them, however, is for us to model self control for them. Try not to be in such a hurry. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your children. Build extra time into your schedule so you don’t have to rush. There are many ways to help everyone have a better chance of maintaining their composure, including yourself.
6. Give Yourself Permission to be Silly – I’m sure you know that laughter is the best medicine. One day, when my son said to me, “Mommy, why don’t you ever play with us?” I was shocked. In my mind, I played with my boys all the time. I spent every waking moment with them, educating them, playing board games or educational games with them, feeding them, doing chores like laundry with them… what more did they want?
At first I was extremely confused about what my son meant. Then I watched my husband interact with my boys. He would get on the floor and wrestle with them, make goofy noises and faces with them, run around in the backyard with them, ride bikes with them, etc. I didn’t see how what he was doing with them was very different than what I did with them until I noticed a huge difference. When they were together they were laughing. My husband wasn’t being as serious as I usually was and my sons ENJOYED that. They love joking around and just spending time with their dad!
The kids don’t worry about what is or is not getting checked off of a list. They aren’t concerned if the game they are playing relates to this week’s history theme. They could care less if the field trip has anything to do with a specific science experiment. They just want to laugh, and have fun, and be together.
Since I’ve started giving myself permission to be silly along with them, we’ve been enjoying out time together much more. And amazingly, my stress level has also gone down. So give yourself permission to be goofy with your kids. You’ll be so glad that you did!
Question: How do you keep your sanity? What things have you had to change in order to better enjoy your homeschool experience? Please leave a comment below.