Whether you’re a family new to homeschooling due to COVID or you’ve been homeschooling for a bit, you’ve likely already figured out that creating your own homeschooling schedule can be a process of trial and error.
You’re trying to configure out when you should do academics, how you should do them (indoor? outdoor?), which curricula to use, how to plan meals, how to get laundry done, and all the other things that come between. It can be a bit of a management nightmare, to be frank.
If you haven’t already, you’ll likely experiment with dozens of different homeschool schedules until you settle into the one that works for your unique life situation.
Maybe you’re a weary homeschool mom or maybe you’ve been in this for a few years-either way, today, I thought it’d be helpful to expose seven unrealistic expectations in creating a daily homeschool schedule, as well as provide some realistic tips on how to make one that works for your family.
Unrealistic Expectation #1: Homeschooling will just look like a home-version of public or private school.
There are many of us moms who’ve tried to do that, but…yeah. #bigtimefail
Public, private, and charter schools are made possible by entire teams of people. Some cook, some clean, some teach art, some teach Spanish, and some coach.
This is how schooled kids are able to flow smoothly from one thing to the next for eight hours a day.
But you, my friend, are all of those roles in one person. To make your homeschool be a mirror image of a public school is not only unrealistic, it’s a recipe for burnout for you.
You cannot “school” your kids for eight hours a day, and you don’t have to. Again, you’re not a public school with a team of teachers and staff helping you run things. You’re a mom, and you’re likely running this show all by yourself.
The reality is that most of the time, depending on the curricula you choose, how old your kids are, and how many kids you have, schooling doesn’t have to take any longer than a few hours. For littles, it may not take longer than 20 minutes.
Unrealistic Expectation #2: Everyday is going to run smoothly with no glitches.
The cool thing about homeschooling is that you have freedom. Freedom to alter and adjust your schedule based on what’s needed and to take it slow if life is demanding that from you.
To be honest, the day wouldn’t even run without glitches if your children were in a school-you just may or may not be aware of it. In our house, we have a pretty solid daily routine, but that doesn’t always run according to plan 100% of the time. Other life events and situations can often get in the way, and that’s just the reality of raising children!
Perfectionism is not what we’re after anyway-we want steady, consistent development. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits. Aside from the Bible, it’s a must-read for every human on planet earth.
Tip: Create a realistic daily routine that balances out academics, play, rest, and home care (chores/homes management) times.
Unrealistic Expectation #3: You’ll always be on top of everything.
If homeschooling is all you do (and that’s already a lot!), this is a definitely a little more possible.
However, many homeschool moms desire to do a little more than just homeschool and home manage-they want to start a small business, work from home part-time, or work toward getting a degree. As well, you may have commitments you’re also balancing-church involvement, co-ops, and other things.
The reality is that sometimes you’ll be on top of things and other times you won’t. This is just how life with kids works! If you know that you’re not dealing with laziness (just maybe too many things on your plate), then just give yourself grace, let go of the things you weren’t able to get done, and start again tomorrow!
However, I want to note that it is possible to easily nail down a strategy that will enable you to constantly get the important things done. Check out The Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Schedules and Routines to get inspired!
Unrealistic Expectation #4: Your kids should be involved in everything, just like other homeschool kids.
I’m aware that people have different views on this, but in my opinion, if burnout is what you’re after, then involving your kids in lots of things outside the home is the way to go.
But I’ve realized from experience that sometimes, we moms just need permission to not feel like we have to do what everyone else is doing.
There’s only one of you, and running around managing drop offs, pick ups, purchasing last-minute things, and inevitably, forgetting things is not sustainable.
What’s a better alternative? If you’re concerned about socialization, then maybe one extra curricular per kid (budget and time permitting) can be a good option if it works for your family (even better if multiple children can be involved in the same thing at the same time!) You can involve them in the things you can afford to and have time to involve them in (without stretching yourself too thin).
Also, consider coordinating some play dates a few times a month with some trusted friends/family, or encourage them to meet new kids if you take them to a local park.
Just to be clear…I’m totally not against homeschool kids being involved in outside activities (mine are!). What I am against is homeschool moms feeling pressured to do more than what they have the capacity to do, and then over-committing and ending up stressed.
Unrealistic Expectation #5: You need to be the one to teach them everything.
While I love to teach, it’s not realistic for me to teach everything. And while I’m not a fan of my kids being in front of screens for a majority of their day, I do utilize the great online space to educate my children.
It would greatly help you to outsource some things. I recommend being clear about what you want to teach your kids and what you’d like them to learn but not necessarily from you.
Thankfully, we live in the YouTube era and Tubers everywhere are trying to grow their channels, which means more content choices for us (yay!). If you can, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a YouTube premium subscription (because why is there a gory video game ad in the middle of a kids Bible show?? sigh).
You can also consider investing in private lessons (time and finances permitting) for special skills that would either really benefit your kids (such as a language or music lessons) or to hone a certain skill in a certain child (like ballet or basketball lessons).
In our home, I teach the core subjects (math, English, writing, spelling, reading), I teach them Scripture (and memorization) and what it means, and I spend time focusing on proper character training (I like How to Build Character as a Family).
All other things, typing, art, music, etc. I pretty much outsource to YouTube/online sites (like typing.com), and occasionally to others.
Unrealistic Expectation #6: You need to be present for your kids at all times.
If there’s anything I’ve learned the hard way, it’s this!
While we may want to be present at all times for our kids (or even feel guilty for not wanting to), this is not realistic. Because your calling as a homeschool mom is not a clock in/clock out vocation, you need some time in your day where you can disconnect for a bit, gather your thoughts, refocus yourself on truth, give your mind a rest, and do a few other tasks.
In our homeschool day, I’ve incorporated what I call independent play time. This happens right after lunch, and the timer on our microwave gets set to 90 minutes. My kids know that I’m not accessible during this time (this is one of the times of the day that I blog), and they are required to play on their own, with each other, or read/rest.
Unrealistic Expectation #7: You’re the one who does all the home managing
One of the main things moms struggle with is how to manage the home while homeschooling. It’s a challenge for sure, and is deserving of a unique strategy suited to your situation.
You’ll want to create the habit of cleanliness and tidiness, do a manageable amount of tasks daily, and make sure to include your kids in everything. In our home, I like to use the phrase “everyone helps in a family” (I even made a jingle out of it!). You can also delegate or hire out what you cannot do.
I wrote an entire post on this topic that’s worth the read, if I do say so myself! Check out Homeschooling + Home Management: 10 Stress-Free Tips for Managing Everything.
If you need help getting on top of home management, I highly recommend the Quick SPIN™ Home Management System. This is a resource that walks you through creating systems and strategies for the different areas of your home so you can be clear about when and how things will get done.