If you have homeschooled for any length of time, you are all too familiar with that feeling of being overwhelmed. Not only do I homeschool my own 3 kids, but I have been a support teacher for 10 years now. Through that time, I have noticed some things about us homeschool moms…we tend to get frazzled. Today, I want to share with you some of my most helpful tips for the overwhelmed homeschool mom.
Begin the day with worship. The kids and I pretty much always sing 2 worship songs to start our school day. This helps prepare us mentally and spiritually for the day ahead. And really, can you think of a better way to start the school day than with a wonderful worship session for our amazing God? Except for maybe prayer…but I teach my kids that worship is a form of prayer – we sing the words as a prayer to our God. If the only thing you get done today is worshiping God, I think we can consider it a successful day:)
2. Personal Bible Study
Be sure to have your own personal time in God’s word. As I write this, I remember I haven’t yet today. This is one that is so easy to miss. I get caught up in helping the kids with their own study…or I begin writing a blog post. So, I’ll be back after I study God’s Word;)
And…I’m back! Did you miss me? So, I was in between Bible studies – and I used that as an excuse to postpone my personal study. Silly, isn’t it? Especially since I love finding special nuggets of truth in His Word.
But I am being real here.
I know there is so much pressing for our precious time. And I know that you know how important it is to spend our own time with God. We all know this. But I want you to know that most of us, if not all of us, have struggled in this area. It’s not because we don’t enjoy spending time with God. We do. But we also get distracted easily.
I just started a study of Philippians 2 through Doorposts. I love these studies. They are written for us busy, busy mommas in mind. But I always learn something; God always teaches me something through these particular studies. If you want to join me, click here. Pam has several other studies if you want to try something else – just look on the right-hand side of the site – her child-training boot camp was AWESOME.
I also love this method of study my friend, Arabah, has written about. I want to go this route before the year is out, too.
Pinterest has a wealth of studies as well – check it out. Don’t use any of my excuses for not jumping into God’s word!
3. Mommy’s Alone Time
Have some ‘mommy time’. If there is one area where I have seen so many homeschool moms ‘fail’, it’s carving out some time for themselves. We get so busy with all of our kids, house cleaning, cooking, errands…the list is endless. There might be a few minutes for a quick shower, but certainly no opportunity for ‘down time’.
Well, ladies, this is where we need to be more purposeful. I’m not talking about an hour each day for your own personal time. I’m talking about taking making the time for taking care of yourself. Yes, massages and pedicures are lovely – and if that’s your thing, go for it. But, I’m thinking more along the lines of things you enjoy doing – things that bring a sense of purposefulness.
What about going to the gym or going regular walks? *Reminder for myself – get to a gym. UPDATE: January 2016, I joined a ladies gym!!! It feels great to start to feel strong again.
One thing I did for “myself” was make grape jelly. I know this might sound silly to some…BUT…I was left ALONE for several hours as I washed, mashed, boiled grapes and then made grape jelly from the juice. I had some very good thinking time. I was doing something productive for my family and I had my ‘alone time’.
I am at one of the busiest times for my work – getting Student Learning Plans done for 33 students plus my textiles students, home visits if I can, planning for the co-op type of group I will be teaching…and I am still trying to unpack from our move! It is busy around here. But, I need to ensure I have that time for myself every once in a while so that my own sanity remains intact. And I never feel guilty about taking the time for me (if you feel guilty, get over it already! There is now NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus – even when we take a time out).
Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often went to a quiet place to pray. While I am sure He spent much of this ‘alone’ time in prayer, I don’t think it would be far-fetched to say that He probably had some ‘thinking time’, too. And, besides, how often do you catch yourself thinking to God? Thinking your thoughts like in a conversation to God. That is prayer, dear sisters.
Whatever works for you to help you feel refreshed and like you had at least 10 uninterrupted thoughts in a row, is ‘your time’. Don’t make excuses. Just do it.
4. Make Time For Your Honey
Time with hubby. This is another area that I have found to be very lacking in the homeschool mom’s life. And this is one thing that if avoided for too long, will cause problems in a marriage. Our children are with us for only a short time and then it will be just mom and dad. We need to make sure we nurture our marriages to keep them healthy. This means making time for each other. Do you go out on dates? My friend, Beth from Messy Marriage, sent me this book called 52 Uncommon Dates. I am looking forward to getting into it. I have flipped through it and saw some wonderful ideas. I think the culinary date idea will be our first one!! I will write a little something on it afterward!! Stay tuned!
Another date option is staying home. Many times Marcus and I will make the kids dinner at around 5 and then give them a movie to watch on our little portable DVD player (or Netflix on the laptop) in one of their bedrooms. They understand that they are to stay in their room for the remainder of the evening. Then Marcus and I enjoy a quiet meal together. He does the cooking. He LOVES to cook. He is an amazing cook. And it is usually one of my favorites like steak. MMMMM…
Most evenings, we stay at home and just watch a show together. Our kids have understood from a very early age that because they stay home and I am with them all day, every day, then Marcus and I need this time to be together…without them. I trained them early on that in order for me to do my job well as a mommy, then I needed them to go to bed on time and stay there. I also established one of the basic foundations of a healthy marriage – time alone together. They know the importance of mommy and daddy having special times together in order to keep their marriage healthy.
Let’s keep this in perspective, sisters. We won’t be home educating our children forever. There will come a day when every single one of them is out of our peaceful homes and on their own. What’s left is what you are investing in right now. Your marriage. Don’t neglect your man and then wonder why you don’t know each other when the nest becomes empty. Keep the fires burning now. Stoke it, Sister!
5. The Too-Full Schedule
I just started taking Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evenings course. One thing she says is that we are so busy with so much ‘stuff’ that we find it difficult to figure out what we are supposed to be doing. Does that make you think about everything you’ve got going on? I’d love for you to join me in this course! Click the link above for more details and to watch a promo video – I am loving it so far! She also has a Make Over Your Mornings course which I plan to start when I am finished this one.
In other words, the gist of the lesson I just finished is this: Purge your schedule. Life is busy enough. Weed out any activities that are just not necessary or things that are sucking the life out of you.
Homeschool curricula also grows burdensome if you struggle to get your kids to do it. Get rid of curricula that your kids HATE – I’m not meaning that if they dislike math, then they don’t have to do math. I’ll give you an example. My eldest was complaining about her essay program. She asked if she could read the Maze Runner series for English and do essays on that instead. I know she is very strong in her writing skills. So, I told her that if she completed the Maze Runner assignments that I gave to her and she did them well, then I would consider skipping the essay curriculum. She agreed…and she is happily doing her work.
I also do not do any type of spelling or grammar workbooks with my kids. They are strong in that area, so we don’t bother. That eliminates some of the busy work. Yeah, busywork…just stop it. A great writing program is WriteShop – I love it. Read my review here.
I also allow my kids to answer some comprehension questions orally instead of writing every single response down on paper.
I don’t mark every single piece of work they do. I know how they are progressing. I know where they are at. Let’s keep it simple.
I don’t make my kids complete every single page in their workbooks (I just skipped a few pages on independent clauses for Emily);) And, I have been letting my son complete the first few quizzes in Teaching Textbooks (math) because he was growing bored of the review. If he gets 95% or better, he may just continue on with the next lesson. If he has mastered the material, why continue forcing him to complete the lessons? It’s time to move on.
If doing any of these things means that my kids don’t end up finishing that workbook or they miss out on one or two of their learning goals (or government learning outcomes), then so be it. I need to keep my main goal of home education in focus.
What creates stress in your life? What would you change? What things can you give up right now so that you feel less overwhelmed? My prayer is that you will feel encouraged by this post and that you will start doing things to help you homeschool well. And that means taking care of yourself.