Some of the smartest and most committed people in the world, in my opinion, are homeschooling moms. And I’m not just saying that cuz I am one.
But really. We’ve tasked ourselves with the great responsibility of being in charge of our kid’s education, which calls for us to become researchers, theory examiners, and teachers, in some cases, of multiple grade levels.
Which is a lot, no matter how smart you are.
Because of this, we homeschooling mamas are arguably some of the world’s top planning experts (no really).
But even so, do you find yourself wishing there were more hours in a day?
There always seems to be a never-ending list of things to be cleaned, researched, cooked, folded, organized, tidied, and added to your Prime wishlist (ok maybe that’s just me!).
That’s why it’s important that we understand areas where we’re potentially wasting time so we can be more productive. Because let’s face it: despite our best efforts, there are a lot of potential time suckers and we want nothing to do with them.
Here are eight ways I’ve found to help us homeschool moms stop wasting time:
Choose a realistic homeschooling curriculum
My first tip to having a more productive homeschool day would be to choose a realistic homeschool curriculum.
When you embark on your homeschooling journey and start examining the abundance of curricula out there, it can be nothing short of overwhelming. Add to that an extensive study of approaches to learning and you have yourself a lot of information to make decisions on…
I’ve looked through quite a few curricula, and there are a lot out there that I find both visually appealing and well laid-out. However, as a homeschooling mom of four children and part-time blogger, many of them are not realistically implementable for me. They require far too much prep/planning time, an extensive list of materials, and more work from me than I’m able to churn out.
But Kelani, don’t you want to make sure that your kids are getting a complete education experience? Don’t you feel like you need the whole shebang, or else you’re cheating them?
To be quite honest, I used to. But after dabbling in quite a few different approaches to find the right one, I realized some really important things:
- The most important thing I can teach my kids is truth and how to have a relationship with God, which I make time for daily
- My reactions and responses to my kids are a curriculum in itself
- A patient and invested teacher can make any curriculum come to life
Because I really like the Living Books approach as well, I’m currently piecing together some age-appropriate history, science, and literature books so that we can have some good conversations about them.
If you’ve ever read any of the Relaxed Homeschool, Unschooling, or Delayed Academics approaches, it would open your eyes to just how differently people teach their children, and how the public school system’s way isn’t the only approach out there.
So my tip would be to dip your toes into different academics approaches to see what’s out there, and if you feel that you need to stick to a curriculum, then choose one that works for your season of life (and especially if you’re a work at home mom).
But by no means feel like you need to by the biggest, most expensive, and most rigorous curriculum out there (unless you want to).
Create an easy homeschool schedule
Several years ago, I created a homeschool schedule that basically engulfed the entire day from 9 am-2 pm with academic subjects.
I had done my Pinterest research to see what other homeschooling moms were doing and suggesting.
Pen in hand, I took to my schedule paper like a homeschooling schedule master. Reading from 8-9 am, followed by math and then science, complete with projects. Sensory play, a trip to the park, lunch, nap, and social studies.
A practically perfect schedule on paper.
How long did this amazing schedule last, you ask?
Approximately one day.
What I failed to take into consideration when I created it was that I was also going to have to run a home in the midst of homeschooling.
I was going to need to wash and fold laundry, schedule and cancel appointments, prepare food, and make time for the inevitable inconveniences that accompany child raising.
Plus…I didn’t take into consideration that my daughter’s attention span at that time would never allow for a schedule like that…and that sometimes, she’d much rather me just sit on the floor and snuggle her and play with dolls.
I learned over the years not to have a day that revolves around academics. Many may disagree with me, but this is where I stand. As a homeschooler + home manager, not only is it not possible, but I’ve actually found that it’s not necessary.
Learning is everywhere. My kids can learn as they play outside, learn as they work alongside me to cook dinner, learn as I teach them how to give/save/spend their money, learn through listening to podcasts, and of course, learn general academics through workbooks.
So I’ve learned how to make an easy homeschool schedule. For us, since we use ACE, we generally do our academics between breakfast and lunch, and since my kids are all elementary age and younger, they play outside a lot, spend time working on skills, and watch about an hour of educational/Bible shows every day.
And since ACE is not strenuous, we can easily move the academics portion of our day to after lunch time if the day allows. That’s why, going back to point one, it’s important to choose a curriculum that doesn’t require extensive work from you.
Go to bed at a decent time
This one is more of a personal preference, but another way you can stop wasting time as a homeschool mom is to go to bed at a decent time.
I get it, it’s super tempting once the small humans are asleep to pour an extra cup of coffee and come alive…and stay awake ’til (almost) the next day.
But from a recovering night owl, I have to admit that the benefits of waking up early far outweigh the benefits of going to bed late.
For one, it’s healthier. After all, wasn’t it Ben Franklin who said “Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise”?
Secondly, I personally love being up while it’s still dark and quiet. I can pray, get my thoughts straight, do some hygiene, take my vitamins, grab a cup of coffee, and sometimes even work out before my kids wake up.
Lastly, when I don’t get up early, I feel like I spend the whole day trying to catch up. It’s sometimes difficult for me to feel fully awake until sometime in the early afternoon or evening, so the temptation to depend on coffee to function becomes a real problem.
If you want to get to bed earlier, I would suggest taking some time to think about and internalize the benefits of waking up before your littles. Would that help your day run better? Would that put you ahead of the game, and be a benefit to your day?
Some mamas prefer to be night owls, and it works for them. If this is you, that’s awesome! Keep doing what’s optimal for you!
Regardless of whether you go to bed at a decent time or not, though, I highly recommend having a personal morning routine.
Develop a personal morning routine
Some of the most successful people in the world start their day with morning routines, and no wonder.
There’s nothing like starting the day feeling like you’re already ahead of the game. You take care of some personal needs upfront, and you can have a good mindset to handle the rest of the day.
My “ideal” morning routine is about two hours long, but this is only when I’m up way before my kids (at 5 am). It includes:
- drinking a tall glass of water, taking vitamins, eating a fruit
- spending a good amount of time in prayer/reading the Bible
- strength training
Obviously, though, I don’t get a two hour morning routine everyday. On days that I do, it’s wonderful, but there are many days where I don’t get more than 10-15 mins.
On these days, I still have some things I like to get done before I start taking on the day. I change, do some hygiene, drink a tall glass of water, and focus my mind on the Lord.
I wrote a whole post on how to create morning routines that you can stick to-check it out!
Define personal restrictions for your phone
Anyone in our modern-day world who wants to stop wasting time inevitably has to confront any unhealthy relationship with technology, homeschooling moms included.
This may not be you, but YouTube, social media, and apps are a time sucker for many mamas. Whether it’s looking up recipes, reading other mom blogs, or doing homeschool research, we mamas can have our eyes (and minds) glued like the best of them.
If this is something you struggle with, try this: define a set time where you can check voicemails/respond to texts/check emails (I call this my “personal admin time”). That way, you don’t feel like you “have to” respond to every message at the moment, unless you need to or unless it’s urgent.
Also, if you’re into social media, set aside a time solely dedicated to browsing and posting. Set a timer to help keep you accountable if you need to!
Lastly, if you’re a researcher, carve out time for yourself everyday to do just that. I’ve found that it’s difficult to do that when I’m with my kids, because either I can’t finish what I’m reading or I get too wrapped up in it (#confession).
But I still enjoy it, so to prevent myself from wasting time that should be going to my kids, I set aside an hour every night just for reading/researching.
Maybe your phone is not an issue for you, but if it is troubleshoot your problem by thinking about what it is you spend time on your phone doing and systemize a more optimal time (including boundaries) to attend to those things.
Invest in yourself
This, my friends, is my #1 secret to stop wasting time as a homeschooling mom.
Many parents think they have to give their kids all the bells and whistles the most expensive curricula offer, involve them in all the activities, and spend countless hours doing crafts that are inevitably going to to in the trash (let’s be honest).
In reality, you are your child’s best teacher in every way. Spiritually, they watch your relationship with God, see how you respond to other people, and learn what you teach them about God.
Academically, as I previously stated, you can make any curriculum come to life and have the capacity to ignite cognitive flames of curiosity just by asking questions and having conversations.
Physically, the way you keep your body, what you choose to eat, and how much you teach them about what’s healthy and what’s not is better than a health textbook…especially if the things they teach in the textbook are not a part of your everyday habits (#realtalk).
And when it comes to unique skills, like drawing and crochet and other things I don’t know how to do…well, that’s what YouTube and hiring other people is for!
Mama, how much you invest in yourself to be a better you is the key to your child’s homeschooling success, and if you connect with your kids and teach them what you know, you won’t feel the need to spend countless hours giving your kids more curriculum.
Have lots of interactions
Having lots of loving interaction with your kids is another way to help you be more productive as a homeschool mama.
I’ve found that when I spend too much time in my head thinking or doing administrative things, I can forget what’s most important: loving and connecting with my kids.
Interacting with my kids is a fabulous way for me to teach them all kinds of things, like conflict management, the knowledge of God, how to do certain skills, how to be creative, etc etc. It’s basically a way for me to take all that I’ve invested in myself or has been invested in me and share that with them.
It also helps me “stay young” in my perspective and remember to approach life with the mentality of a child, trusting in my loving heavenly father and remembering that life is really all about relationships.
Create a simple home management system
Lastly, a good home management system will help you keep things organized and keep you from wasting time with brain clutter.
There’s a lot more work than we can often get around to doing, and it doesn’t help that these things are often floating around in our brain and keeping us from being focused.
What I eventually started doing is categorizing the different areas of home management and creating simple, detailed systems around each one of them. This helped me greatly, as I know what things are to be done at what times and on what days.
For instance, I set aside an hour every Sunday afternoon to plan our meals for the upcoming week. I make a segmented list, put the meals on the fridge, and go shopping that evening. When I come back, my older girls help me clean out the fridge and pantry and stock and organize the groceries.
In The Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Home Management, I teach you how to do the same thing for each area of the home, creating a customizable and realistic home management plan that helps you stay on top of things. Because let’s face it…even though we’re homeschooling moms, all of our lives are different and what works for one mom won’t necessarily work for another.
To learn more, check it out here.
What about you? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Comment below!