“How do I homeschool and manage the home?”
This is definitely one of the most-asked questions by homeschool moms. We homeschool moms know that our list of responsibilities is potentially endless, and we need a way to not get swallowed, stressed out, and completely overwhelmed by it all.
All homeschool moms need their own strategic, no-stress approach that allows them to homeschool and keep the home in a way that will greatly reduce stress, get everything done without overburdening, and eliminate wasted time.
Here are ten strategic, stress-free, and personally tested tips for homeschooling and home managing:
Tip #1: Get everyone involved
You already know that it’s impossible for you to do everything, but do you still find yourself putting more on yourself that others could help with? If so, I encourage you think in terms of “whole family participation” vs. “mom does everything. “
Your kids need to clearly understand what’s expected of them in your home. Do you want them to help clean up after every meal? Do they all need to help in the grocery store? If so, you need to make it and expected way of life for them.
You may say, “But Kelani, my kids refuse to listen and help without an exhausting power struggle!”
Trust me, I understand…
With a decade of homeschooling under my belt, I’ve had to learn that my authority as a mom has been given to me by God, and that I needed to learn to kindly and firmly stand my ground with resistance I may experience from my kids.
It’s important that from as young as possible, kids are made to understand that everybody helps and contributes in a family. But if you feel like you’re in a place where it’s a battle with your kids for doing chores, here are some suggestions:
- Give kids the opportunity to earn money doing extra chores. In our home, our kids have unpaid chores (their regular responsibilites like cleaning their room, their bathroom, doing their laundry, unloading the dishwasher, etc) and paid chores (wiping baseboards, cleaning the vent, washing windows, etc). They’re required to do unpaid chores before the paid ones. This also allows me to teach them how to handle money responsibly.
- Restrict/forbid media usage until there is cooperation with the right attitude. Whatever we allow will be what happens, and if we allow our kids to throw a fit every time they have to help, they will do so. If you’re firm with your boundaries, your kids might whine, complain, and get mad at you, but that’s just part of leading people. We can’t be afraid to set boundaries and consequences!
- Notice them doing the right thing. If you see your kids helping with something, even as small as taking their own plate to the sink, saying a small word of encouragement like “good job” is like dropping a seed into their hearts that warms them up to continuing to do good. Be careful of overly flattering though-even kids know when we’re not being real.
- Examine your approach. Have you been tricked into making things a power struggle with your kids? If so, I would encourage you to take a step back and look at what you can do differently. This is no power struggle-you are the authority figure. If there is no cooperation from them, there are no privileges.
- Examine your follow-through. Do you instruct your children to do something and then never check to see if they did it? Kids can get easily distracted and forget things quickly. They need follow-through. Lack of accountability can make way for laziness (for any of us, really!).
- Continually make your kids aware of the benefits of taking care of things around the house. For example, you can say, “we want to make sure we keep our room clean so we don’t accidentally break toys and have lots of space to have fun!
- Keep in mind that you’re training them for success. I’ve encountered some parents who don’t agree with their kids helping around the house. However, when we teach our kids to take care of things and cooperate in a bigger picture, we’re not only teaching them responsibility, but selflessness and being helpful as well.
Need some printables for your kids to help them get excited about helping out? You’ll want to check out my Responsible Kids Binders.
Tip #2: Create a Home Management Strategy
A little cleaning here, a little organizing there…but without a clear, workable home management strategy that works for your situation, it’s easy for all the little home management tasks to take up more time than they need to.
As homeschool moms, we need more than just a few home management tips-we need an entire household management strategy for how to keep our house clean and organized while we homeschool. And without any added, unrealistic systems or excessive cleaning. But how?
Here are a few ways:
- Define the areas of home management. Without this the clarity of knowing the different components of managing a home, you simply can’t have a good strategy.
- Stock lists. Keep track of all products your family uses regularly (from toothpaste to laundry detergent to pull ups!) and take a quick inventory before you head to the store. This helps eliminate wasted time from extra grocery trips!
- A good meal planning strategy and system. Personally, I play meals Saturday evening, create a shopping list, write our week’s meals on the weekly menu on the pantry door, and shop/stock on Sundays.
For a easy, breezy strategy on how to do this in a way that easily works for your home, check out my Quick SPIN™ Home Management System!
Tip #3: Clarify What You’ll Do and What You Won’t
We homeschooling moms can’t do ALL the things (although we certainly try!). That’s why it’s important to clarify to yourself what you’re going to do and what you’re not.
As a home manager, you don’t actually have to do all the tasks required to manage the home-you just need to make sure they get done. You can delegate certain things to your children, tackle certain things on certain days, and even hire outside help if you need to.
As a homeschool mom, you don’t have to do all the things other moms choose to do in their homeschool. One mom may love to do crafts and paintings with her kids, while another mom may like to take walks with her children to the local park every day.
You don’t have to do something you see other moms doing unless it fits in your vision with your family and you have the mental and emotional bandwidth for it.
Figure out where you need to set boundaries for yourself by identifying what you absolutely must do, what you can delegate to someone else, and the expectations you may just need to let go of!
Tip #4: Choose a Non-Burdensome Homeschool Curriculum
If you’re like me and you like to research, you know that there are multiple approaches to homeschooling and hundreds of curriculum choices.
While all curricula will require some involvement from you, there are definitely some that will require far more prep work than you have the energy to give, especially if you have multiple children.
While I’ve tried a few over the years, and currently am incorporating much of Charlotte Mason’s approach, I still really like ACE. It’s easy for the kids, they learn and retain a lot because they enjoy it, and it’s very low-maintenance for mom.
For more on this topic, check out my post called 7 Easy Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Children at the Same Time.
Tip #5: Require Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
Easier said than done, right?
I promise you, if you’ll dedicate the time (even setting aside other activities for a time, if you have to) for a few weeks to train your kids to pick up after themselves, you’ll see that your kids will start to do it on their own. You may have to do lots of gentle reminding, but this will soon become a habit that will greatly benefit the whole family.
In our home, we call this the Reset Rule. After every meal, before we get out of the car, and before Dad gets home, we reset everything the way it was before. Dishes get put in the dishwasher, counters get wiped, the car gets emptied out, and everything goes back to where it belongs.
This is part of home training. Cleaning and organizing are not at the mercy of academics; they are a part of the training that will help your kids learn how to care for things and build character.
Tip #6: Schedule in Mental Rest Throughout the Day
Since we homeschool moms have the privilege of setting our own schedule, we need to implement key time management strategies that will greatly reduce stress and enable us to mentally clock out when we need to. Namely, creating space in the day for us to rest our constantly moving minds.
We can’t go from one thing to the next without giving ourselves a break from making our brains work so hard. A mental rest will allow us more capability to handle the things we need to get done.
I recommend finding a couple times in the day to just sit, close your eyes, and don’t think about anything. No scrolling social media, so watching YouTube videos, no planning! Just some good quality brain rest-it’s so much fun!
Tip #7: Early to Bed, Early to Rise
I know that some of you may prefer to be late to bed and late to rise -and that’s totally fine!
However, I will say that there is a big difference when you’re up before the whole house and it’s still dark outside. You can get your whole thought process together and get some key things done before your clan wakes up.
For more in-depth info, check out these posts:
Tip #8: Craft a Meal Planning Strategy
Raise your hand if you like making several trips a week to the grocery store with all your kids! Anyone?
Having a meal planning system will save you time, money, and the hassle of not knowing what you’re cooking everyday. To create your own streamlined system, check out Meal Planning Made Simple.
Tip #9: Cultivate a Grace-Filled Home
Cultivating a grace-filled home will allow for a more peaceful atmosphere where you don’t have to use as much of your precious energy putting out sibling squabbles.
Grace is about how you treat and respond to your kids, especially when they do wrong. If they see that their mess-ups are not a cause of anger and rejection from you, and that you have the ability to patiently guide them into what’s right (even if you have to administer consequences), they’ll learn to mirror that dynamic with their siblings.
To easily create this kind of atmosphere in your home, check out Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. It’s truly a must-read, breath of fresh air for every parent, and it’s sure to create a difference in your home!
Tip # 10: Create a Prioritized Daily Schedule
Finally, you can conquer home managing and homeschooling by creating prioritized daily schedules and routines.
You have 1,440 minutes to spend every day, and you can’t do everything. On a daily basis, you want to make sure that you are nailing down the things that are most important to you, and creating a daily schedule rooted in these priorities.
For step by step help on how to do this, check out The Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Schedules & Routines.
What about you? What tips do you have to help navigate homeschooling and home management?