How do you do it all? I think it’s one of the top questions I get asked when people figure out that I am a working homeschool mom. I guess looking at it from the outside it does look like quite a juggling act. I mean I have two kiddos I homeschool, one who is reasonably independent and one with dyslexia. Then I recently decided to add in my own business, which takes up between 25 to 30 hours of my already busy week. Not to mention my girls are active (okay, EXTREMELY active) kids.
Add in the house, the laundry, the meals, and I guess it probably seems like madness. (And I won’t lie, on some days it is!) However, I have come across some tricks that save my sanity on those busy days. So here are my five tips for keeping your sanity as a working homeschool mom.
Working Homeschool Mom Tip #1 – Outsource
This first one is a biggie because I sometimes think as homeschool moms we feel like we have to do it ALL. This isn’t the case though! Is math causing you undue stress? Outsource it. Struggling to keep up with your house? Outsource it. Find your weak spot and let someone else handle it.
So what do I outsource? Quite a bit actually. Both of my girls use Teaching Textbooks for elementary math, mainly because it was one subject I couldn’t wrap my head around. We also take advantage of the many fantastic courses available from True North Homeschool Academy. My oldest is in LOVE with her writing club and has even made some really good friends from across the country. (See what I just did there? I even outsourced socialization, lol.)
My youngest sees a tutor for her dyslexia and a speech therapist. They are both involved in Scouts, an activity that my mom volunteered to handle for me, so guess what, I let her! So even if it’s hiring someone to walk the dog, outsource what you need to. You don’t have to do it all!
This one has always been a biggie for me. To stay running at top speed, I have to take care of myself. Yes, there are days when it would be easier to eat a frozen pizza for lunch or skip the workout. I KNOW you are busy, but trust me, make time for it. In the end, it makes me more productive, and I get more accomplished in the day. If I’m dragging it shows in every area of my life.
So set that alarm 20 minutes early, meal prep on the weekends, freezer cook, whatever it takes for you to take care of yourself! While you’re at it, you have my permission for twenty minutes of free time every evening. Take it; the world will survive without you while you regain your sanity.
One of my best secrets to success is planning. Since I’m a work a home mom it’s VERY easy for my productivity to be zapped by refereeing fights, cleaning the kitchen, or deciding that the spices need rearranging instead of working. As I write this, I’m wrestling with the urge to clean out the pantry, but I digress. The best tool in my entire arsenal is my planner, no lie.
At some point every Sunday I plan my weekly to-dos. I check our schedule and mark off times for sports, appointments, church and any other thing we have for the upcoming week. It doesn’t matter how big or small, it all goes in the schedule. From there I add in my work schedule and any other things I need to address during the week, as well as my meal plan.
Do I always accomplish everything on the list? Nope. There are days when we don’t finish math and nights when we eat take out for dinner, but I’m a lot more likely to succeed with a plan in place.
Working Homeschool Mom Tip #4 – Know When To Ask For Help
I have been sooooo guilty of overlooking this one in the past, but I’m getting better as time goes on. The truth is, I can’t do it all (refer back to number 1) and I will kill myself if I try. So I’ve learned to ask for help. My kids and husband help with the house (hey, they live here too) and my daughters both have a pretty good chore schedule. I mean, they have to learn anyway right? Might as well make it work to my advantage now. My hubs is also great to jump in and help. Now before you say yours won’t help, have you nicely asked? Theyaren’t mind readers ya know 😉
Working Homeschool Mom Tip #5 – Time Management & Saying No
This one is probably the HARDEST for me. As a busy working homeschool mom, you have to know when to say no. There are thousands of opportunities out there, and a lot of them are great things. Volunteering at church….a great idea, working at an animal shelter….awesome, the Robotics Club that meets twice a week…..that sounds amazing. Guess what though; they are also all things that I don’t have time for right now.
I’ve spent YEARS feeling guilty over those things. Trust me, let it go. Maybe someday the time will open for those activities, and I will tackle them with all the tenacity I have the other things in my life, but not today. Today I am a working homeschool mom. This is the season of life that I am. I am embracing it, and I would rather be good at a few things than mediocre at many.
(I have been blessed to participate in the Homeschooling through the Holidays series over on LifeofaHomeschoolMom.com, be sure to visit the entire series!)
The holiday season is just around the corner! Gift giving is an important part of our Holiday tradition, along with stringing miles of lights and decorating multiple trees, filling our large 4 x 4 farmhouse with holiday cheer! If you are in a rut with gift-giving or feel like its materially oriented and has lost the joy of giving and gratitude, consider giving gifts that will contribute to experiences and that you can share together.
What hobbies, skills or crafts grab your kids’ interest that you could encourage? Is there a local guild or artisan around who could mentor/ help them? What about YouTube links in a card as part of the present?
For the past four years, I’ve worked as we’ve homeschooled and I have also had high schoolers who have been going through fairly rigorous academic programs. Throw in a few extra-curriculars, like music and karate and Latin National Exam, and a play mid-year, possibly TeenPact, and you have a lot going on.
We’ve managed all of this by using planners for everyone.
Because all of us are so different, we all have a different planner. For example, I like Bullet Journals- it allows me to keep a detailed calendar, take copious notes, brainstorm, brain-flow, and Venn diagram without leaving a zillion papers around the house. My son likes a very structured planner, with room for notes; he color coordinates his day and refers to it all day long. My daughter has a very girly planner where she keeps notes, doodles, writes comedy sketches. My husband is a Franklin Covey man from way back.
First, find a planner that works for each individual.
If it’s too structured, doesn’t leave enough room for doodles, notes or creative thinking or not structured enough when you need it, it’s a recipe for not getting used. Study your kids’ personalities and get them a planner that fits what they need.
Then, teach them to use it!
I sit down with my kids weekly throughout high school and talk them through planning their week. We put in daily details, overall big picture planning, on-going projects, monthly re-occurring things, church, music, school, sports and volunteer activities. They often forget to plan on driving time when they might need to get to church early to help with tech. These things take time and are all part of teaching young adults how to manage and balance everything.
We try to schedule a weekly morning basket, and some years we’ve had better success at this than others. This year has thrown us for a loop because I am either teaching first thing in the morning or my daughter is online in class first thing. So, our morning basket is going to be an after-lunch basket. The point is that we touch base for an intentional time throughout each day.
In the past, our week has revolved around our academic class day, making things somewhat easier in that projects, papers and presentations were all due on that one particular day. This year, we are no longer involved in that program and my daughter is taking several online academic classes, throughout the week. This has provided some stress for her as due dates are on-going (more like how public school is or college will be). That has provided a great learning opportunity as well, as we’ve had to discuss how to manage the various class and due dates.
We regularly have weekly planning meetings, as we have several drivers and multiple cars, live out of town and often have engagements in the evening.
Because scheduling is one of those skills that lead to time and self-management skills that I want my kids to have before they leave home. So tell me, do your kids have planners of their own? What are your top tips for teaching planning skills?
“Humor is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because you see, humor is truth.” ~ Victor Borge
I like to think that I have a killer sense of humor.
My kids are very funny too (I’ve trained them well).
My husband still makes me laugh after 33 years of marriage by singing 70’s songs at appropriately funny times, verbatim and on-tune. We laugh a lot. And that is by design.
Life is hard, it’s difficult, it’s full of tragedy. When we run after God we get to share in His glory and His Majesty, and we also draw closer to the things that grieve Him and break His heart.
We do our fair share of crying around here, too. Life and intentionally raising our kids is serious business and sometimes cry worthy.
And while laughter and humor is not exactly joy, it is the cousin of joy and refreshes our spirits and perspective.
With that in mind, we have been very intentional about laughter, sharing jokes and funnies and cuteness that causes us to smile. We look for humor and share it as often as possible!
Why is humor important in your homeschool?
(I have been blessed with a guest posting opportunity over at With The Huddlestons. To finish reading humor and homeschooling please visit the full post here.)
and check out my podcast over at Cultivating Grace on Wholesome Humor and Homeschool
Do you use writing prompts in your homeschool? Writing prompts are a quick and easy way to get your student’s creative juices flowing. They can add an element of fun for struggling writers or give experienced writers ideas to expand their writing topics and style.
Here at True North Homeschool Academy, we love writing prompts. We use them extensively in our writing club and our homeschools. Today we thought we would make your life easier by sharing six different types of writing prompts, as well as samples of each.
Be sure to read all the way to the end to also grab some free student journal pages!
Humorous sketches to get your creative juices flowing!
Describe the beach and the ocean to a blind person.
Pretend you are Beauty, meeting Beast for the first time.
Interview the person who invented fire.
Introduce your Mother to George Washington and record the conversation.
You are a world-famous chef, cooking dinner for on a yacht for billionaires. What will you serve and how will you present your meal?
You have won a trip on the first commercial space flight. Tell us about your flight and your crewmates.
You have won a million dollars. You must spend all of it. Describe what you did with the money.
“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research!” -Einstein
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” -Bruce Lee
“Wax on, wax off” -Karate Kid
“Thank you for making me a part of this!” -Muppet movie Xmas
“Our assets are frozen!” – Muppet Movie Xmas
“Who cares if you’re not the chosen one! You’ll do!” (NaNoWriMo)
“Elevators are awkward” Tim Hawkins
“It’s between two and three times greater than a normal week” Tim Hawkins
So now your students are all ready to write. What do they need next? Paper of course! No worries, because we also have that covered. Check out our FREE printable student journal that’s designed just with you in mind. This printable comes with a wide variety of themes and can be customized to your needs. Print all the pages that you need. You can find it here.
We at True North Homeschool Academy love to make your life easier, so please let us know how we can help you! You can contact us anytime. We are here to help you succeed on your homeschool journey.
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