Anyone who says homeschooling is easy is stretching the truth. I know, a lot of you are shouting out, "But I've heard you say it's easy many times!"
I have. The teaching part is easy, at least, I think so and that's what I tell people. Homeschooling is a job though, and you have to treat it like a job, and that's the challenging part.
You're already juggling a few positions: wife, mother, cook, housecleaner—we could go on; the list of hats a mother wears is pretty long, and homeschooling is adding yet another enormous task to your already busy day.
I do love homeschooling, but it is challenging.
It'll be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do because of the obvious benefits. I've yet to meet someone who regretted homeschooling. On the contrary, people are amazed at what a great lifestyle it offers.
But just how do you do it all? How are you supposed to homeschool and not abandon your mind in the process!
I'm going to give you ten strategies you can use as weapons in your "staying sane" arsenal. If you're already a highly organized person, you may already be using them. If you're anything like me, you need to do a little work to turn them into good habits.
Mastering even a few will make a big difference for you. Start with one and make a habit out of it, then move on to the next. Small consistent steps.
#1 Start your day off on the right foot
Decide what you need to do in the morning to get yourself ready for the day. Build a plan around it. If it means getting up at 6:00 am so you can exercise, read half an hour, meditate/pray, and get dressed before the little guys wake up, then that's what you do. Make the necessary changes you need to make to get your routine in place so you aren't already dragging when your kids wake up.
#2 Have a morning routine for your children
To stay focused and be consistent with your kids, establish a morning routine for them too. It might look something like this: wake up, preferably around the same time every day, wash faces, brush teeth, make beds, get dressed, tidy rooms, eat breakfast, and do breakfast dishes.
When children know what you expect of them, they'll get into the habit of doing it when they're young and this alone will make your life much easier.
#3 Determine your homeschooling priorities for the day
Whether it's language arts, math, or history; a unit study or a project the children are working on, do what you think is most important to accomplish each day before anything else. If you get that which your most concerned about done first, you can relax (mentally, at least) for the rest of the day and your chances of drowning later are considerably reduced.
#4 Unless someone is dying, you are at work, "full stop," as the English say
Nine to fivers do not answer personal calls or run out of the office to help a friend or hang out on social media for long hours. And neither should you. There will be exceptions, but the general rule is that you need to limit the times you break your homeschooling schedule for the occasions when someone really needs you.
Remember, homeschooling is a job. You have taken on the noble calling of not only raising your children but of educating them too. Be your own demanding boss! By the way, you are allowed to call in sick now and then, as I mentioned in a previous post, but it has to be the rare exception and nothing more.
#5 Keep your phone and all connections to the outside world off
This is an extension of #4 because a strange phenomenon when you work from home is that everyone else seems to think you have nothing to do. I want to drill the point in that friends and family will call and if you fool yourself into thinking you can talk for five minutes, you lose.
Five minutes is never just five minutes.
If you want to succeed, and I know you do, you are obligated to train family and friends to understand that during business hours, like them, you're at work. #4 and #5 are arguably the place homeschoolers lose more time than any other.
#6. Reduce your task load
And build your children's character at the same time by teaching your kids, as early as age three, to do chores. John Rosemond recommends giving each child a permanent chore to reduce the "But I did that last time!" scenario where the kids go back and forth bickering about who's not going to do what.
School-age children can do just about anything around the house you teach them to do except cooking, which comes later.
#7 Plan your meals in advance and keep them simple
Let's face it, time is not your best friend right now, and you've got to conserve it whenever you can. Meals are one of the first to take a hit for the disorganized. Shop on the weekends, and try to cook meals that will last more than one night. Casseroles like lasagne or Shepherd's pie are great for weeknight meals.
#8 Make sure your children do some form of active play or sports every day
It could be in their backyard, the local park, or an activity you organized with other families, but make sure they get outdoors. If you're a parent, you know this, but it serves here as a reminder that letting your kids burn off energy and have some fun after studying is guaranteed to put them in more peaceful and relaxed moods later which helps you too.
#9 Have an evening routine to wrap up the day and wind down the kids
Whether it's reading together or playing board games or playing music together—whatever your family enjoys, do something that involves the whole family and puts the kids in a more relaxed state.
When it comes time for bed, you can put lavender or wild orange essential oils on the soles of the children's feet and the back of their necks to help them fall asleep quicker, and then read them one last book as they doze off.
#10 Lastly, but most importantly, take care of yourself
You are the engine that is driving this train, and you have got to stay in good shape physically and emotionally. Have at least one thing you do once or twice a week without your children.
It may be going out to dinner with your husband, having a coffee with friends, taking a yoga class; you decide, but make it something that reinvigorates you.
If not, you'll do what my 1980 green MG sports car did when I was younger. I was driving from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs to visit my father one year during the height of the summer. When I arrived, as soon as I turned my car off, this loud blast jolted me and clouds of white smoke poured out from the front of the car.
I was afraid to open the hood to see what had happened. I envisioned engine pieces scattered everywhere. Later, I learned that my car had only overheated, and thankfully, it turned out to be nothing more than the car needing to blow off some steam.
As moms, we can do the same thing when we don't take care of ourselves!
Know what you have to do to keep yourself from growing overwhelmed, and hold fast to it like a rider holds tight to his horse's reins when he gallops down a hill.
What do you do to stay sane when homeschooling? Please share in the section below.
If you enjoyed this, you might like my free download Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.
If you need help with homeschooling, you can schedule a one-hour consultation with me (that's usually all you'll need) http://bit.ly/2GJAZEr