How do you get it all done? Dishes, laundry, meals (both prepping and planning), vacuuming the incessant dog hair, keeping surfaces clean and dust-free, making the beds, chauffeuring kids to activities, AND homeschooling?
The truth is, it CAN’T all be done. Unfortunately, things that get done are quickly undone by other persons residing with you. For the homeschool parent, your job is continually in a state of flux. If that stresses you out, join the crowd.
Blessedly, there are ways to lighten the load and make most days run smoother. Here is a shortlist of things to help you manage your time:
You are the Chief Home Officer (CHO).
That’s your new title. These people living with you need your kind and gentle direction.
Set “work” hours for yourself.
These can be general or tight. Don’t stress about the hours you set, but use them as a guide to get you through the day.
Turn off notifications on your phone during “work” hours.
Nothing makes us lose time quicker than friends or mere acquaintances trying to connect. Truthfully, there are only a handful of people that you would answer the phone for at work. You wouldn’t expect a firefighter in the middle of a fire to drop the hose because he “needs” to respond to a text.
Get your kids to “work” for you.
Pay them if you have to, whether in money or other forms of bribery. I’m not talking about regular chores. I’m talking about the stuff that needs doing but that you procrastinate for whatever reason. I pay a kid to clean out the refrigerator every few weeks because that is just something I don’t want to do. Every few months, I lay out a list of special chores with money attached to each task. They take the ones they can accomplish and when the tasks are done (done, or done right, is up to the parent in charge) they get the compensation. Boys who vacuum dog hair get to play video games.
Take care of yourself.
Get adequate rest, eat well, stay hydrated, and get outside. Many moms tend to ignore this necessity. But caring for your own physical, mental, and emotional needs is beneficial for everyone involved.
Plan regular meals.
For me, the whole business of meal planning is the worst. My preferred method is to create a list of the easiest, healthiest meals I can make in a short time and repeat them every week during the school year. I only experiment with new meals on long breaks. Yes, it gets boring (first-world problem), but the fewer decisions you must make, the smoother the day.
Daily habits are your friends.
Once established, daily habits save time and bring a sense of fulfillment. It’s the establishing part that is tricky. Habits take time to form and are easy to break. Use long breaks to make time for establishing habits.
Give everyone a heads-up about major changes.
Inform your family of any changes in routine BEFORE you make the change. Occasionally, we have “family meetings” around the dinner table where we discuss these kinds of things. For instance, after a lovely and restful winter break in which my children are glued to screens, we discuss a plan for deprogramming our brains. The kids brainstorm suggestions for implementing the plan. Then we talk about keeping each other accountable for this. Another example is starting school after a long break. I let every kid know their new routines for getting their schoolwork done.
Be there in full.
All the other things are just things. The dishes will be dirty again by tomorrow, but your relationship with your kids will last a lifetime. Our kids are only in our homes for a short time, so plan well in order to give them the undivided attention they need.