About to embark on your first year as a homeschooling parent? Maybe you’ve been at it for a while or it’s just something you’re considering. Either way, you may be wondering how to simultaneously get the household chores done and your regular to-do list checked while homeschooling. Homeschooling adds a level of complexity to the day-to-day, but your home and life don’t have to be sacrificed.
The key to maintaining progress and harmony among all of your priorities while homeschooling is to have some simple habits and systems in place. Here are a few ideas that will support the important work you’re doing.
Push that alarm back a bit earlier so as to afford yourself some alone time in the morning to prepare for the day ahead. Whether that means that you sip coffee while jotting down the most important tasks of the day, giving yourself time to think and wake up, or you get the laundry going before anyone else has risen, buffer time in the morning each day can feel like pure gold to the homeschooling parent and allows time to develop a mindset that will carry you through the day.
Daily Quick Takes
When it comes to household chores, we can choose to make them mountains or molehills. I recommend the latter. Instead of seeing the upkeep of your home as a series of giant projects, think of them as quick takes you sprinkle throughout the day.
For example, instead of needing a weekend afternoon to work your way through piles of laundry, do one load each day. Get it started first thing in the morning, move items to the dryer at some point in the day, and get everything hung, folded, and put away before bed. These tasks will take mere minutes and prevent Mount Laundry from ever forming.
Similar approaches can be taken with the dishes—load the dishwasher at night, unload first thing in the morning; making the bed—it takes two minutes and leaves the room looking tidier; processing the mail daily as soon as it arrives; and running the vacuum or dusting for a quick 5 or 10 minutes a day. Regular attention to the main tasks that keep your home in good shape will go a long way in helping you feel on top of things.
Put the Kids to Work
Part of what you can instill in your children is a sense of responsibility for all sorts of things around the house and in your family’s life. This is part of their character education and will benefit them for a lifetime.
As part of your daily routine, incorporate chores your children are solely responsible for. Managing household garbage, tidying up the couch, cleaning bathrooms, feeding pets, and more can all be handled by even young children. As they get older, they get to take on more responsibility. Homeschooling is a team effort. Allow everyone in the family the opportunity to contribute.
Recognizing that homeschooling is going to demand more of you and your home is a realistic approach to take. There may be times when you go to bed with the makings of a giant diorama on your dining room table or ingredients for a complex chemistry experiment strewn about your kitchen.
Do your best to maintain cleanliness and order while keeping a sense of humor and appreciation for the wonderful creativity and ingenuity messes like this represent. Keep a healthy balance between order and chaos, as they say, and find the beauty in it all.
Start Time/End Time
Homeschooling provides your family with unlimited freedom and possibility. While this is truly wonderful, it can also be overwhelming. For example, when you can learn any time, you may be tempted to learn all the time. Sometimes allowing your school day to spill over into the evening will make sense. If the kids are loving a new project or can’t tear themselves away from a new book, by all means allow inspiration to light them up.
However, most days would probably benefit from a general sense of what time school begins and when it should wrap up. This staves off procrastination and allows for other activities, including rest, to have a place in your day.
Homeschooling can easily mean more materials. Regular decluttering will help ensure you’re holding onto the things you need and letting go of the things you don’t.
To make it easy, place a receptacle in a designated area of your home to catch anything you’re ready to donate. Every time it fills up, deliver it and replace it with a new receptacle.
Meal prep is the best friend of the busy homeschooling parent. When you can, batch process foods that can make their way into different meals like grilled chicken or chopped vegetables. If you’ve got a slow cooker, put it to good use. Set your kitchen up in a way that snacks and drinks can be grabbed easily. On a day where you’ve been busy learning all day followed up by extra-curricular activities, you need to have healthy meals at hand that can be quickly and easily served. All it takes is a little forethought and you’ll be good to go.
Take Care of You
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take care of yourself. You are the linchpin to this whole operation. If you need a break, take one. Eat nutritious foods. Sleep adequately every night. Take time to move your body. Drink water. Schedule quiet time. Do everything you need to take the best care of yourself. No need to feel guilty about this. After all, don’t you think it’s important to take care of your child’s teacher and parent? It’s important. Prioritize your wellness and adjust whatever needs adjusting along the way.