It is early days yet in this homeschool year. Many of us are still tweaking our schedules and figuring out new curriculums. These days can be difficult with the extra work for mom and extra time and effort required to ‘finish’ our school, making it difficult to get into a groove. You know, a groove – when you accomplish a reasonable amount of school, in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of trouble.
As our family enters their 18th year of homeschooling, we are finding our groove more quickly than in years past. Experience has taught me to keep my expectations reasonable and to understand that, in the end, if we are putting God first in our lives, He is faithful to work all of our homeschool days together for the good.
God works all things together for the good, for those who love him and are the called according to his purposes. Romans 8:28
If we believe this verse, we don’t need to be the most organized, most studious, most intelligent homeschoolers – we just need to be faithful.
I take a lot of comfort in that. I have plenty of ‘bad’ days that need just that kind of a miracle!
That being said, there are still some practical things that I try to do each week that have helped us to find our groove.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7
- Fill out the planner! It is a somewhat shocking realization that, in the past, I have rarely used student planners. You know the ones where you write down the assignments that your kids are supposed to do. The idea is that they actually do them without being reminded. This year all of our older kids have planners and are surprisingly motivated to check off those boxes.
- Start your day in the Word. For over a year now, I have been setting my alarm and getting up about an hour before my kids. I take this time to consume at least one cup of coffee and to dive into the Word, prayer and sometimes some journaling. I also use some of this time to check my calendars for any activities or appointments we have. By the time the kids get up, I have a prayer and a plan in place to face my day.
- Get some help. A few years ago, I was able to hire a house cleaner to come twice a month to give our home a deep clean. The load that that eases is tremendous. That means that two weekends per month I don’t have to spend most of my time cleaning toilets and scrubbing the floors. Believe me, with 8 kids, we have plenty of daily messes and everyone pitches in, but twice a month, our house is very clean and that makes this mama happy. Other ideas for finding help are, swapping kids for an afternoon. Offer to watch a friends kids once in a while in exchange for your friend watching your kids from time to time. Know any teenage girls that might like to babysit or be paid to clean or fold laundry? Finding a way to get some help, will ease the load that you bear as a homeschool mom.
- Give yourself the freedom to say ‘no’ or cut things from your schedule. Every once in a while we have ‘one of those weeks’. There are weeks when our family schedule is just extra busy. Although we try to keep our kids commitments to a carefully and prayerfully selected few – multiply those few activities by 8 kids and the schedule fills up pretty quickly. Something has to give at these times. Pray and ask God if the things that your kids are involved in are in line with His will and don’t be afraid the cut things that don’t make the list!
- Stop comparing your homeschool to other homeschools. Forget that old middle school mentality of trying to keep up with everyone else. God gave you control over your homeschool. He has promised to give you everything you need for abundant life. The whole idea of homeschooling is radical and revolutionary. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and set out on a path different than your peers.
Ironically, everytime I attempt to encourage other homeschool mamas about having perspective and finding balance, my days go crazy with disorder. So I will leave you with this. There will be days. It is okay. We all have them. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and give yourself a break. Tomorrow is another day!