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Five Days of Homemaking: Five Tips for New Homeschoolers

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This post is part of a series of five homemaking posts. You can find links to the other posts here. Homeschooling isn't exactly a part of homemaking, but if you homeschool, you'll know that the two have often compete for attention in the lives of homeschool moms. So today's post has a few homemaking tips for new (and verteran) homeschoolers.

Homemaking and homeschooling often seem unable to coexist. Either I'm keeping my house or I'm cooking a meal or I'm educating my children. But I can't do them all at once. I've heard the analogy of spinning plates. I can only keep so many spinning at once until they all fall and break. But you can homeschool and keep your home well and not lose your mind. I promise. Although I often feel like I'm going to, I've lived for 10 years homeschooling now- and 4 before that if you consider that you are really always homeschooling from birth.

So how is it done?



1. You can't do it all. "Wait!" you may be saying, "I thought you said that you had been doing it all." The answer is, I've adjusted just what "all" means. And "all" might be different for you than for me. In my world, I don't make homemade bread. I don't grind my own wheat. I don't grow a garden. I do like to keep my house relatively clean and I do work to feed my family fairly nutritious food by cooking at home most of the time and meal planning and shopping carefully. I use packaged curricula because I don't have time to put it all together myself anymore. So my "all" means that every day I spend several hours focusing on my kids and school work. And every day I do some amount of cleaning- at least covering laundry, kitchen cleaning, bathroom cleaning, and sweeping by my door (which is always very dirty because we have a dog that sheds and tracks in dirt). How do you know what to count as your "all"? Read number two.

2. Decide with your spouse what things should be priorities. A very wise woman from a web board I was a part of in my early homeschooling days had a chart that she used to post. This chart listed all kinds of things including homemaking chores, things to do with the kids, personal appearance items, and more. The idea was to sit down with your husband and have him note what was really important to him and how important each thing was- using some sort of scale. Doing this was extremely eye opening to me. There were things I felt like I needed to do that Jason didn't even care about. And there were some things he really wanted to see that I hadn't been caring about.
This list can help you determine what your "all" should look like. Because the fact is if your spouse doesn't care and it's not really something vital- like feeding your toddler lunch every day- it's probably okay to skip over when you don't have time.
This prioritizing also helps you to know what to do if you only have a few minutes. My husband likes there to be tea in the fridge when he comes home. He's not a tyrant about it and usually won't even comment if it isn't there. But I know he likes it. If I've been out with the kids all day and we are rushing home late in the afternoon I know he won't care if the clothes have been folded for the day. But I know he would like tea. So in the time I have, I make the tea.

3. Use a schedule. Don't tell me that you don't like a schedule. I know some people don't. But the fact is that when you don't account for your time in some way you are more likely to waste it. Your schedule doesn't have to be extremely detailed. For a while I used the rigid, thirty minute blocks of Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell- an excellent resource by the way- but the schedule was too rigid for me. Now I use routines more than schedules. I could probably write a whole post about routines and how they can help your homeschool, but for now I can say that we function well with routines. We know that there is a set time to start devotions in the morning. We know that after lunch people need to do chores. We know that in the evening mom is going to clean the kitchen so put away your things in the kitchen. Knowing when you are going to do each thing helps to hold you accountable for doing it. Speaking of accountability, see number four.

4. Have a friend hold you accountable. If you are really struggling with using your time wisely, ask a friend to hold you accountable. A homeschool co-op is a good place to find these friends. When I was a young mom, I was really bad about getting on the phone with a friend for hours in the mornings. I only had two very young children at the time. They weren't very good company for chatting. So I would get on the phone and other than basic watching of my kids I would accomplish nothing. While talking to my friend wasn't a bad thing, it was not a wise use of my time. I attended a Titus 2 group from my church at the time where I met with older ladies for lunch and a Bible study once a month. We had a conversation one month about some of those things that could really steal away time. I related the experience I had with my friend and the phone and we talked about the danger that could come. I committed to working on this time stealer, and each month I would give the ladies an update. Knowing I was being held accountable really did make me more aware.

5. Share the load. This is my last tip but not the least. I mentioned chores in my cleaning and organizing post, and I'll mention it again because it is so important. Teaching kids to do chores and holding them accountable is so important. It is good for them because they learn vital skills and they feel important when they contribute. And it's important for you because you can get more done when you have help. I could write another whole post on chores- or maybe I should read one because it's an area where I've always struggled! But the bottom line is, you need to have a family plan that assigns chores to each child and holds them accountable for doing them. Sharing the load can help you get the "all" you need to get done, done.


So what do you think? How do you juggle homemaking and homeschooling?






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