6 Tips to Manage a Crazy-Busy Homeschool Life
This has been a hard homeschooling year—not just because of everything life has been throwing at me but because of my own anxiety and being overwhelmed.
I wouldn’t trade homeschooling for anything; the freedom to educate our daughter according to the way God leads us, including the ability to choose our own curriculum and the time of day we homeschool, are all incredible incentives to home educate. Still, homeschooling, managing household duties, and working from home all at the same time can be overwhelming.
Here are 6 tips to help you manage a crazy-busy homeschool life so you can minimize overwhelming situations.
Start each day in prayer and reading the Bible. Some say to get up extra early to do this by oneself, but I believe children need to see and hear parents worshiping, praying, and reading the Scriptures. It encourages them in their own budding faith if they experience their parents’ “working out their salvation,” as Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12. If we align our plans with God’s will, instead of trying to align God’s will with our plans, they have a much better chance at success, and we have a better chance at not getting overwhelmed.
Plan – But in Pencil
Planning for the homeschool year is all well and good, but realize things come up that throw even the most carefully-made plans for a roller-coaster-type loop. If you plan your curriculum for the year, make sure you do so in pencil or simply follow the books’ table of contents as lesson plans. If you homeschool using a computer-based curriculum, the program will do most of the planning.
More importantly, plan ahead for each day. Write a list of what you want to accomplish each day, with any appointments on it, and work the list. If you do anything extra that’s not on the list, add it and immediately check it off with a grand sense of accomplishment.
Developing processes for household duties helps everyone in the household know what to do, when to do it, and how to do the things that make a household run effectively. Having a system for laundry, even so far as assigning individual family members a laundry day, can help minimize laundry that you have to do (unless, of course, you need to help little ones). But, even little ones such as three- and four-year-olds can practice their colors and clothing identification by separating whites, darks, and colors—or underwear/socks from pants, shirts, and dresses.
Adding life skills into your homeschool does many major things. In addition to teaching your children valuable skills that they will need throughout their lives, life skills cut your work load as the chief home manager. Teach cooking and assign preparing dinner one night a week for the family. Teach proper cleaning techniques and assign each child an area to keep clean. If need be, and if you keep grades, grade them on their assigned rooms’ cleanliness. Go beyond chores and make life skills part and parcel of your homeschool curriculum.
Exercise can help you de-stress and get in better shape. If you send your kids out to play an impromptu game of basketball, why not join them? Or start the day with a family walk around the neighborhood or property? Just walking thirty minutes a day can help you get healthy, have good conversations with your children, and clear the cobwebs out. If you add physical education (P.E.) to your homeschool, join in. My daughter takes tennis lessons at a community center twice a week so I make sure I reserve a court and a ball launcher so I can get some racquet time in while she’s doing her lessons.
Cultivate an environment of peace in your home. Turn the television off in the evenings and dim the lights to prepare everyone psychologically for bedtime. Use an essential oil diffuser with lavender or other relaxing essential oils in it. Play soft instrumental or Christian music during homeschool, dinner, or during times of relaxation. If you must read the news, limit your news time to online sources and don’t play it all the time on television. It has a tendency to cause stress instead of limiting it.
One thing that has helped me greatly is intentional, peaceful breathing. Far from meditation or yoga, it’s as simple as sitting in a comfortable chair, closing my eyes for a few minutes when I feel stressed, and inhaling deep through my nose. As I exhale out of my mouth, I silently lift praises up to God as prayers of gratitude. I do this several times, more so if I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed.
Though my husband is in a wheelchair, paralyzed, he is my partner, and we divide up household duties according to ability. He does the laundry, and our daughter and I handle the kitchen duties as well as mowing of the yard. I vacuum and dust, and Laura is in charge of her room and the hallway bathroom. We partner with each other to get things done. If I try to handle everything by myself, I have severe anxiety attacks and get overwhelmed—quickly. Regarding members of your family as partners in the running of your home gives each one ownership of certain areas, therefore taking the whole weight off your shoulders.
Being overwhelmed doesn’t have to be a chronic thing. It’s definitely not a healthy way to be if you tend to bathe in overwhelming stress and drama all the time. Trying to eliminate stressors and creating a simpler life makes for a more enjoyable homeschooling and life experience—something we should all strive for.
Terrie McKee, homeschooling mom, author, and speaker, enjoys encouraging and inspiring families who are homeschooling, particularly families homeschooling either one child or those with special needs. She is the author of Overwhelmed: Biblical and Practical Ways to Manage a Crazy-Busy Homeschool Life, Gospel Grammar: A Bible Study About Grammar, a Grammar Study about the Bible, and I’ve Been Shot! Encountering Christ in Trauma. You can find her books and the grammar workbook in her online store at Homeschooling1Child.com. Her podcast, Homeschooling One Child Podcast, is found on all major podcasting distributors.