I don’t know about you, but I struggle striking a balance between our homeschool life and managing my house. I can never find enough time in the day to keep up with dishes, laundry, cleaning, reading, and schooling while trying to stay sane and still finding time for fun. In trying to conquer to do lists, have clean clothes to wear, feed my children, and focus on academics, I have found balance for our family. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
I don’t do it all. First let’s be clear: There are some things that do not get done. Some things are simply not a priority when examined alongside other tasks. I’ve learned to let go of the things that aren’t important. This means there are lots of things that I’m not able to accomplish in this stage of my life, and that’s ok. It also means I have to sometimes say no to certain commitments. In the end, I have to align my priorities and stay focused on what I can realistically get done.
There are lots of things that I cannot do on my own. But I have a husband who is willing to help and I have 5 children who can do various chores and tackle some of the responsibility. I have to lower my standards sometimes, but I delegate certain tasks to others in order to find balance and focus on my priorities. It’s nice to know that my kids can start a load of laundry or unload the dishes while I’m talking to a tantruming toddler. It’s important to learn what can be handed off to others to make your to do list more manageable.
Running To Do List
I keep a running to do list on my computer. This means I can add or delete items easily. It is organized by family member so that I have a list for each person. However, my list is always the longest….
I gave up trying to schedule these items daily because the unexpected usually happened and my list was often undone for that day. Instead, I keep this running list of items that are not time sensitive on my computer. When I find that I have some extra time, I work to cross items of my list.
Monthly and Weekly Goals
Instead of making myself daily checklists, I write out some monthly goals in several categories. I have goals for myself, my husband (for those honey-do items), our homeschool, and for my blog. I write the monthly goals in the notes section on my monthly calendar while the weekly goals are written on the Saturday and Sunday sections of my weekly calendar pages. I do these items at any time during the month or week and then cross them off.
We’ve worked to train our kids to do certain chores around our house. Some of these include wiping bathroom counters, cleaning the kitchen table, loading the dishwasher, and sorting laundry. During chore time each child has a job and they are able to complete their job without my help. This allows me to do some more difficult chores at the same time.
To make sure that our house receives a regular cleaning we scheduled cleanings for each room on certain days. This is our schedule:
- Monday – the office and master bedroom
- Tuesday – the little girl’s room
- Wednesday- my son’s room
- Thursday – my oldest daughter’s room and the baby’s room
- Friday – the homeschool room
- Saturday – the bathrooms and living room
- Sunday – the kitchen
Monthly Meal Calendar
I printed off a blank monthly grid and laminated it. I use this for our meal calendar. I use wet erase markers and write in the dates. Then I plan our meals for the entire month. I have a system to help me choose what meals should be planned for each day so that we don’t end up eating a similar meal several nights in a row.
- Monday – crockpot meal
- Tuesday – breakfast for dinner
- Wednesday – chicken
- Thursday -pasta
- Friday – beef
- Saturday – homemade pizza
- Sunday – leftovers
Once I have my meals planned for the week, I do all of my cooking and prep work on one day. On Sunday afternoon, I demolish the kitchen as my hubby and I prep and cook all the meals for the week. I put chopped veggies in the fridge and store complete meals in the freezer for later in the week. I wash and dice fruit to have ready-made snacks for the kids. I make a batch of muffins for snacks and bake several loaves of bread to freeze. After several hours of cooking I have a stocked freezer and fridge for the week.
Alternating Nightly Schedule
My husband teaches college classes online in the evening and I blog, lesson plan, and grade in the evening. Sometimes we both have quite a few things that need our attention and very little time to get them done. We decided to alternate our nightly routine with the kids to give the other person an earlier start time. Three alternating nights each week I bathe, read to the kids, and then tuck them in. This allows one of us to get an early start on our work. And the parent on duty with the kids knows that the next night it will be his or her turn to get some work time in without sacrificing time with the kids.
One of the goals in our homeschool is to train our kids to be independent learners. I have worked to help them learn responsibility and time management. When they are old enough, I provide them with their own student planner and help them record the work they need to do for the week. Then I check in with them daily to help them manage their time. This way, they can begin working on assignments even if I’m busy helping someone else.
The most crucial lesson I’ve discovered in searching for balance is the importance of simplicity. I have chosen curricula that has plans already written for me or is easy for me to use without much preparation and planning. I plan meals that are simple to prepare and that freeze well. I focus on just the basic chores and keep extracurricular activities to a minimum.
What I’ve learned is that this time of raising my little people is precious and I want to give them my best time and attention. I can only do this when I’ve made peace with my to do list and have found balance in keeping up with homeschool and household management.
Lexi is a Texas homeschool mom of 5 little people who are ages 8 and
under. She is a lover of books, connoisseur of curriculum, and
allergy-free mama to several children with food allergies. She blogs
about her homeschool adventures and growing curriculum collection at Lextin Ecelectic.