Once upon a time, I was a young stay at home mom with a toddler and a baby. I found that at-home life gave me a lot of decision-making freedom, but quickly realized that in order to be sucked into the vortex of laziness and time-wasting, I would need a clear and realistic daily schedule and some good mom-friendly time management strategies.
But what could I do to put endless Facebook scrolling in its place and ensure that things like showers, workouts, and meal planning would be a consistent part of my life?
Routines, my friend. Routines.
Making clear, strategic routines is one of the best time management tips I can give to any new stay at home or homeschooling mom I meet, and it’s the top productivity hack I wished my younger self would have grasped and implemented more quickly.
Making routines goes far beyond having pretty daily to-do lists. Routines can take you from having a few productive days every now and then to running your homeschool schedule smoothly because you’ve created a strategy for what needs to be done.
Here are my five top notch routines homeschooling moms I think every mom needs to create to save time:
A Morning and Night Routine
You’ve probably heard a lot about the need for morning and night routines, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Morning and night routines can help start and finish your day with some key tasks that will ensure that everyday is as productive as possible. Here are a couple reasons why they’re so important:
- Night hours tend to be the most wasted hours of the day. We’ve been parenting all day, and we’re ready to take a mental, physical, and emotional break. However, this is where endless scrolling or tv watching can eat up precious golden minutes that can be spent doing things like tidying up, checking emails, or prepping for the next day.
Pro Tip: Instead of allowing yourself to waste evening hours on unfruitful and unproductive things, you can do a couple things: set a mental shut down time for the evening and/or carve out a time or two during the day to take a mental break.
During a mental shut down/mental break, I would encourage you to literally not do anything except let your mind rest-no planning, no scrolling social media, no watching YouTube videos or checking emails. Simply allow your hard-working mind to rest.
I’m working toward incorporating this as part of my day 30 minutes before I go to bed to allow my body to transition into sleep mode.
2. Getting some key things done in the morning will make you feel accomplished and ahead of the game. You can stick in a quick workout, check and answer emails, do some reading, work on a side biz, or prep for the day-and by the time your kiddos wake up, you’ve already freed up your brain a bit.
Pro Tip: It’s hard to wake up early when you go to bed late. I highly recommend setting a bed timer, and have a mental shut down at least 30 minutes before. I also recommend Super Coffee for your morning routine-it’s the only coffee I can drink without negative side effects!
For more in-depth tips on morning and night routines, check out these popular posts:
An Academics Routine
Every homeschooling schedule has academics, but the planning behind the scenes either makes this a joyful or burdening responsibility for you as a mama.
Whether you plan your kids’ academics once a week, a month, a semester, or a year, I highly recommend establishing a routine that will allow your academics time to not only flow, but be a fun and non-stressful experience for you and your children.
You’ll want to consider including the following in your academics routine:
- Curriculum planning-what are your children going to study? What materials do you need/what curriculum will you use?
- Checking their work-when will you review what they’ve done to give positive feedback or have them correct their work?
- Keeping track of areas that need more focus-your child may have an area that he/she is struggling with-will you need to purchase some flashcards, games, etc. to help him/her? Where will you keep track of this?
- Planners-do your children use planners? Do you write in them?
- Materials-what do you need to keep your academics time flowing smoothly and be able to do all you want to do? Do you have a designated place for their work, and other homeschool supplies (pencils, erasers, sharpeners, etc)?
Pro Tip: there are a lot of approaches to homeschooling and homeschooling curricula, and they’re all unique and have their pros and cons. Regardless of what you decide to do, I highly recommend choosing a curriculum that’s not going to exhaust you and require tons of prep time.
For an in-depth look at what I do personally, check out this post:
A Meal Planning Routine
The last thing you need as a busy homeschool mom is to make random trips to the store to spend money you could be saving and waste time you could be allocating to something else.
My personal meal planning routine consists of planning our family’s meals for the week (Saturday evening), creating an organized shopping list, making a grocery trip or ordering groceries online (Sunday), cleaning out the fridge/pantry and restocking, and posting our meals for the week on the pantry door so we can all see what’s on the menu.
The entire process takes about three total hours per week, which I consider to be a decent investment considering how easy it is for meal prepping flows during the week.
If you need some meal planning printables to help you stay on top of this area, check out the ones I’ve personally created in my store!
Pro Tip: If you’re new to meal planning or you’d like to make the process super easy, consider using templates for every week (crockpot meals on Monday/Tuesday, pasta Wednesday, leftovers Thursday, etc).
Staying at home with your children requires you to be strong and healthy, and you want to do whatever you can do be at that place.
After my fourth child, I was very overweight, tired all the time, struggling with diastisis recti. I knew that there was no way I was ever going to get on top of things in our homeschool schedule if I didn’t make some changes.
I started by defining some goals for the following areas, and then creating processes for me to get there:
- Weight-I learned what a healthy weight for my height/age is, and I started incorporating the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle to get there.
- Fitness-I joined a local gym (for accountability’s sake). I lift 2x/week and do HIIT 3x/week. ALSO! I started using this Sweet Sweat stomach wrap during workouts and y’all, I can see the shrinkage!
- Nutrition (food/supplements)-Aside from the Trim Healthy Mama approach, I take this Morning Complete drink mix from Activated You (AMAZING results) and this hormonal balance supplement from Alani Nu.
- Hydration- I try to make sure I drink plenty of water (with lemon or apple cider vinegar)-here’s a cool water bottle that will help you stay on track!
- Fasting-I started studying the benefits of fasting, as well as how to do it wisely/safely, and I’ve incorporated that into my week. (I highly recommend Dr. Mindy Pelz’s YouTube channel for more information on this)
- Hygiene/appearance-I needed to regrow some hair that I’d lost due to childbirth/stress, I wanted more in-depth personal hygiene routines, and I wanted to switch to natural products as much as I could.
Here are some personal routines I recommend moms making:
- Exercise-what are you going to do, how often will you do it, where, and what materials do you need (if you need to purchase any)
- Nutrition/supplements-do you have different nutritional needs than the rest of their family? What kind of diet do you need to eat, and how often will you eat? What kind of supplements does your body need, and when will you take them?
- Personal hygiene-do you have routines you want to incorporate, or add to what you already do? Face care, ladies parts, hair, etc?
- Appearance-is there anything you want to maintain, and set aside money for? Nails, hair, a morning/evening face regimen, certain makeup, clothing, etc.
- Personal admin-checking, responding to, and deleting emails, texts, voicemails
Clearly Defined Kids Routines
Last but certainly not least, you want some clearly defined kids routines.
It’s known that kids function well with routines. But aside from academic routines, what else can you put into a daily homeschool schedule? Feel free to choose from the following list:
- Independent play time-this is a time where you require them to play or do something by themselves, for a set amount of time (in our home, it’s 90 minutes). You can set rules for this time, like everyone needs to stay in their rooms, etc.
- Quiet time-another version of independent play time, except everyone is required to be quiet.
- Skills time-typing, sign language, piano, singing, calligraphy, crocheting, cooking/baking-the list is really endless for the amount of skills your kids can build, especially with YouTube tutorials galore!
- Outdoor play time (weather permitting)
- Sibling play time-just what it sounds like. Encourage your older kids to do some research on a few games they can play with the littles!
- Chores time-I have some fabulous printables for boys and girls in my shop!
You can shift these routines around every week, every season, or keep them the same-but if you’ll teach your kids to follow a daily schedule that includes some of these things and is consistent, you’ll find your daily at-home routine to flow smoothly and allow you to accomplish what you need to.
I also want to throw in that if you will include your children in family work (keeping the home, caring for others) and give them individual jobs (if they’re older)/let them work alongside of you (if they’re younger), there will be less sibling squabbling in general.
Well, there you have it! Creating these routines is a key time management strategy for any homeschooling mom. Comment below and let me know what you do!