It’s back to school time. Buckle up and get ready cause another school year is on its way!
I mean we love what we do, right? Why else would we do it? But it is work, hard work. Maybe you took a break for the summer or maybe you just kept on going. Either way we are heading into busier times as fall approaches.
Last year was challenging and I wanted to throw in the towel.
No reason really. I’m just, well, I’m tired. That’s the honest truth. I’m just tired. There are a lot of reasons for this tiredness, some are physical and I’m working on them but it’s still taking a long time to heal. 13 years of sleep deprivation may have a little to do with it (wink wink).
We have had a lazy and fun summer and as I searched my heart going into this school year, and obviously spent copious amounts of time praying about it, I realized we were in for another year at home. I personally feel the call from God to do it. That’s the bottom line.
There is so much I have loved about schooling my children at home. So much!
I have some kids that are working grade levels ahead of where they “should” be and some that are free to take the pace a little slower and never feel bad about themselves because of it. As far as I can tell at least 80% of my kids love learning, most of the time. So… that’s a win, I think.
We have visited cool places and had daytime adventures and hours upon hours of bonding time. That could either be good or bad, time will only tell since we are still in the middle of it. I guess I’ll have to update in 10 years and then we will really know. And HELLO! I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert (I’m half and half really) so all the togetherness is draining sometimes.
The thing that was doing me in last year was the stress. The daily stress. As I was evaluating my day and my stress and trying to come up with solutions, I realized that the schooling part is not the most stressful part of the day, at least for me.
It’s all the other little things.
It’s the making of meals and cleaning up of said meals, keeping up with the laundry and mopping and dusting and cleaning and then cleaning again because the toddler undid everything, breaking up the fights between siblings and finding myself loudly and passionately declaring (okay, yelling) “let’s be kind!!!” 45,000 times a day. It’s the potty training and child training, and pulling the baby off the table and my personal growth training in general WHILE doing school that was/is stressing me out.
I love being with my kids and I love watching them learn and grow. I have felt from the time my firstborn was 3 that I was to homeschool, I just KNOW it in my heart.
All the way through? I don’t know. I’m not making any promises or vows. A year at a time is how we have always looked at it.
My point is something needed to change for this year to be successful and me to stay sane. Sanity is something I’m pretty fond of and I’m sure my family is as well. I’ve changed a few things about the structure of our homeschool day and I’m hoping these ideas will help things run smoother.
*Continuing with Make Ahead Breakfasts
Last year I started making this simple granola on Sunday to last through the week. Some mornings the kids had the choice of yogurt and fresh fruit with their granola, some mornings it was just a milk of some kind, usually a dairy free option.
It worked well for the most part except we needed more variety. This year my adoring husband bought this amazing appliance for me.
We went with the Cuisinart Griddler because we need professional strength kitchen appliances with the amount of use we put them through, and it makes 4 waffles at once and 6-8 pancakes at once. When you are tripling recipes you really need an appliance that shaves off your time in the kitchen. I’ve been very happy with it so far.
I will also use Hannah Keeley’s fun idea of Muffin Mondays. Quickly throw the batter together the night before and keep it in the fridge. Put the muffins in the oven in the morning and everyone has 20 minutes to finish their chores before breakfast is served. The kids love her basic muffin recipe and I’m using my ultra-fine spelt flour as a lower gluten option.
My kids diet is really important to me so making their food ahead of time is a priority. We don’t often do cereal, especially on school days. It doesn’t help my children have the best kind of day, if you know what I mean.
Also, since it only takes me about 30 minutes to make the waffles and freeze them, I opt for this option instead of the freezer waffles from the store. The amount we would need to buy, both cereal and waffles, would easily blow my grocery budget. My kids eat a lot of food… A lot. We are committed to sticking to our budget and have been following Mark&LaurenG’s plan. Their budgeting tool is my favorite.
* Handing off Responsibilities to the Kids
We have always had our kids do chores on a daily basis and they really do help a lot. I work alongside them and train them in the daily tasks of running a home. This is our life skills class.
One thing I’m changing this year is having the oldest four, ages 7-14, do their own laundry. They each have a specific day and their own hamper. They know that they need to wash, dry, and put away their clothes on their laundry day, before the day is up. It took a couple of weeks this summer to get them in the rhythm and now I only need to have one day for my husband and my clothes and the little boys clothes and one day for sheets and towels.
So instead of doing laundry every day, I’m doing it two days a week or a random load here and there if needed.
This has been life altering.
* 6 weeks on, 1 week off
I have planned out our year so that every 5-6 weeks we all take a full 1 week break. Those break weeks will be relaxed but also involve field trips and doing house projects that always fall by the wayside during the school year.
This will be a good time to wrap up each section of the school year and encourage the kids with their improvements and growth.
* Outsourcing and Getting Help
My high school student has 4 courses that are taught via video instruction which means very little prep or involvement on my part. I’m just there for grading and help if needed but the instruction part is off of my plate. All of his other subjects are easy for him to do on his own. Can I get an amen for self-guided learning?
I also have my mom coming over one day a week to let the younger kids read to her. This gives them the practice they need, bonding time with Nana and also allows me to take that task off my plate for one day. I am very blessed that my mom spends so much time sowing into the education of my children. She has also taught the 4 oldest how to bake sourdough bread, something I don’t even know how to do.
I know everyone doesn’t have a Grandma nearby who will come and help with school, and I didn’t for many, many years either. But maybe there is someone in your church or community who could do something similar. When I was in first grade my mom came up to the school to listen to kids read as a way to help and serve our class. There are people out there who are willing to do this.
I have come clean with those closest to me about my need for more help and more involvement. It was hard but necessary, and luckily all the people in my life are willing to jump in and assist.
*BONUS and THE most important!!!!
Making Sure I Spend Time With God
Before my day starts I am purposing to make sure I spend time in the Word and in prayer. There is no way on earth I could do this without God’s help and this time seems to be the one that always falls by the wayside in the business of life. I realize whenever I’m stressed out in my life it’s always a relational issue, a vertical relational issue. Meaning I’m not spending the time I need to with the One who knows me best and knows how to guide me. That is a recipe for burnout. The homeschooling mom needs time to herself, time doing things that revive her and strengthen her, it is SO important.
I will also plan my grocery trips so that I am alone, take time every week to myself, and read those books on my nightstand that I’ve been wanting to read.
This is my plan so far. Of course it’s just a theory until put into practice. Do you think it will help? How do you make your school day easier, whether you homeschool or not? I’d love to hear. Please comment below and help us all out with your wisdom.