Ecc 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Balance – A state of which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.

Homeschooling is hard.  It requires us to be even more than a wife and mother, which is hard enough.  It makes demands on our time, our energy, our focus, our social life, our me time and our money.  When we decide to homeschool our children it is like signing a job contract for at least a year, if not the next twelve years.  It is a job, make no mistake about it.  If our children went to a traditional school, they would have teachers whose job is to educate our children.  We would expect them to have our children as their main focus, that our children’s education is that teacher’s main priority.  Those teachers are expected to be on time and ready to work when their students arrive.  We expect them to be prepared, have lessons planned that are interesting, fun and above all, meet the educational goals that we have for our children.  We don’t want them to answer the phone, check their e-mail, post on Facebook or pay attention to anything other than educating our children because that’s their job.  When we decide to homeschool, it is our job, not our only job, but for a certain time of the day, our main one.  We should be able to schedule at least 20 hours a week toward that job.   To do homeschooling successfully, we must have this as our mindset.  However, we also have many other priorities that press in on our time and attention and that’s where it gets tricky.

As homeschooling Moms we have to find balance.   We have to be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a Sunday School Teacher, a laundress, a maid, a gardener, chauffeur, a chef and if that’s not enough, we also have to be a teacher, a curriculum designer, and a school nurse.  We  pressure ourselves to do all these things well and feel like failures when one of these things fall to the wayside.

Whew, what a load, no wonder we get stressed and feel over worked and meet our husband at the door and tell him that he’s in charge and that we’ll be back when we find our sanity.  I remember in our early years of homeschooling telling  my husband that I was going to go join the circus because it would be less crazy.

My husband has always liked to go to conventions with me and one of his favorite things to do is to pick workshops for me to attend. One particular year ,he picked a session that talked about scheduling.. There was a reason my lovely husband wanted me to go to that particular seminar.  One of my failings is that I consistently think I can do everything and I want to do them all well.  I am a little bit crazy that way. So, I over commit and then I  do everything in my power to make sure I get it all done, often times sacrificing sleep, rest, health, sanity and quality time with my husband.   It had also started negatively affecting my health and it was becoming a real problem. When he saw a session on scheduling, he was determined that this was the session for me.
I am not the most naturally organized person in the world.  I want things to be organized and well planned but I would much rather have someone else do the organizing. I have a tendency to forget things that might not be on my priority list.  You know the unimportant things like fixing dinner  or having the laundry all done before we run out of underwear or his personal pet peeve, not putting lids back on  properly or at all. Details, details.  This is also why my husband or my best friends never give me the movie,or play or museum tickets. I am thinking important things and can not be bothered by where I put the tickets.  Combined with the over-commitment issue, my dear husband had enough so I went to the seminar.

Through the stress I was placing on my family, my  feeling l like I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing and the seminar, I took away several things.  Firstly, I needed a schedule. Secondly, I needed to start treating homeschooling as my job and I needed to dedicate uninterrupted time to my kids but then when that time was up, I needed to move one to my other tasks.  Thirdly, I needed accountability.  I needed people in my life who weren’t afraid to say, “Are you sure you have time for that?”

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan. ” Margaret Thatcher
Make a Schedule
Before you make a schedule, I want to talk briefly about the value of “ish”.  Don’t let the schedule become a tyrant, it is a tool for you to use to meet your goals and only that.  There is no schedule bouncer who is coming for you if you don’t do it exactly.  Give yourself that freedom.  This is a guideline not a mandate.  Depending on your personality, some may have more flexibility than others and there is nothing wrong with that.  Make a plan that you can actually do – not just something that you think you should do.  A plan that you can and will do, not one that if you were your sister’s best friend who always has it together, does.  God made us unique and our schedules will be unique too.  I always think of my schedule having the value of “ish”.  “ At 12 ish I will do this or that. “  My value of ish is 10 – 15 min plus or minus, except hard schedule items like piano lessons or Dr.  appt.  The value of ish applies to my internal, house schedule, not my external house schedule.   I have to do that to out smart my self,  I don’t like anyone telling me what to do, even my schedule so I made it work for me.  You need to make your schedule work for you.  If you are highly unscheduled then start slowly and just have a week where you get up at the same time, the next week add meal times and then add homeschooling.  You can do baby steps if you need to, don’t get hung up on starting everything right away.  If you were planning on running a marathon, you wouldn’t start by running the 26 miles the very first day.  You would maybe run a mile or two and slowly add additional miles as your body became accustomed to it.  (This example is only hypothetical, I would never run a marathon.  That would be crazy talk)  The same thing with a schedule, to make it successful make small goals and as you make them a part of your day and week and new items.

Isaiah 32:8, “But the noble make plans, and by noble deeds they stand.”

The Weekly Schedule-

The first thing to do when making a schedule is to write down all the things you do in a week.  You might write them all down on stickies so you could move them around if you needed while making your schedule.  I just wrote it all down on a piece of paper and then added them to my schedule with a pencil and a really big eraser.

Things to plan Weekly:
School, Lesson Planning, Meal Planning, Laundry, Weekly Cleaning, Daily Cleaning, Date Night, Library Visits, Kid Activities, Church Activities, Grocery Shopping, Yard Work, Cooking, Quiet Time, Exercise, Time for Appts., Bedtime,

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  – Stephen Covey

The school schedule – 

This is the schedule that is posted on the frig and my  kids have had input on this schedule.  It seems like it changes several times during the first couple months of school.  For instance, my oldest came to me and asked if he could start his school day with piano practice.  He felt that the could put more attention to it and do a better job if he did it first.  The twins wanted to do history, science and bible back to back at the beginning of the day because then they could work on their independent work at their own pace and not be waiting on me to finish school.  So I moved my shower time to later in the morning.  If you come to my house before 11, you will find me in my pajamas or work out  clothes with my hair in a pony tail and I may or may not have brushed my teeth.  Be warned.

Daily lessons plans-

I make individual lists for my kids for what they are to do daily or weekly for independent work.  If I have done my lesson planning on Sunday then I have this in a lovely chart by day for the twins because that is all the info they can handle and a weekly chart for my oldest because he likes to do his work in larger chunks.  I like my kids to have a checklist and then we both know what they are supposed to do.  I have them show me their chart and pages done before they are able to have free time. If I haven’t done my lesson planning, which happens more often at the end of the year, then I use sticky notes.  I also know of some who have white board lists everyday and this seems to work.

Adding Activities-
Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
1. Count the Cost in Time and Money
2. When moving or adding activities have a plan for when you will get the original job done.
3. If you struggle with this, have an accountability partner to help you count the cost.

Flexibility-
“A system doesn’t necessarily mean rigid structure, but it means setting up organization that works for you.” Sue Shipman
1. Remember to leave room in the schedule for the unknown.
2. Give yourself the freedom to occasionally depart from the schedule
3. Keep the “ish” factor in mind. This schedule is guideline, a tool to be used but not meant to be a dominant tyrant.

Down Time-
Have a time for down time, date time, quiet time and play time.
Down time – make time to sit and be, to go play with the kids to sleep in, to go shopping with a friend.
Date time – this is vitally important to the health of your marriage, your family and your homeschool.  Make a deal with a friend, trade off kids, take a walk, make a quiet dinner for the two of you.   Your marriage must be a priority.
Quiet Time with God – this needs to be in schedule if you are anything like me.  I am more likely to do it if I have planned time for it.

In the end we need to find balance in our lives and schedules.  Yes, homeschooling is important and should be a priority but we cannot let it take over all of our other responsibilities. We must find balance.

Ecc 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Categories: homeschool, preschool, elementary, middle and high school

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