Homeschooling families make their home the center of their life — their base, from which everything is planned, and where they often spend a large part of the day. Educating kids at home changes more than the way we run our households. It affects every area of our lives. In my family, homeschooling goes hand in hand with working from home, for instance. Simply said, that means that we create a terrible mess every day, and that we have a lot of different things to plan to keep everything running smoothly. How?
Everyone notes that small children thrive on routines, but that doesn't sound very spontaneous, does it? I thought random adventures, starting school after enjoying a lazy breakfast together, and fitting my work-at-home job in there somewhere sounded much nicer. My children did great with a learning-centered but largely unscheduled home, but my work suffered and the house was in a terrible state. After a few months, I rediscovered the wheel and accepted that time management helps immensely.
Try scheduling school for all children and working hours for the parents, as well as shopping, outings, and household duties in advance. Write them all in a diary together (either on the computer or on "old-fashioned" paper), and also give each family member their own planner. Get your kids involved in managing the home as much as possible if you want to free up time. Yes, this is possible! Admittedly, I feel guilty for making my kids clean up after themselves, but I do feel a little better when I think they won't be slobs like me when they grow up :). I find that tidying up after each and every school subject or other project saves time.
Accept you are not superwoman
If you decided to homeschool, you obviously placed your children's education at the top of your priority list. It's fine to move doing laundry and keeping the house immaculately clean to the lower half of that list. One person' can't do everything, and trying to be perfect will just burn you out. Accept that you are doing the best you can, and get a cleaning professional to help with the house if you can afford it. Are you pregnant or homeschooling with a newborn? In that case, cut yourself some additional slack in the household department, and be very content that you can accomplish homeschooling. During pregnancy, you may want to look into some less teacher-intensive curricula (to pull out at least on those days that you feel extremely tired).
Where do you school?
Experiment with doing school in different places in and out of the house for a while. Homeschooling at the kitchen table fits in with the cliche, but does it work best for you? IS it possible to have a dedicated school room, fitted out just the way you need it? Ours has a table where both kids and a parent can sit, a computer desk, and lots of storage space. The biggest advantage of having a school room is that you can limit the school-related mess to one room. In the summer, you may also like to school outdoors. In the winter, try taking one child to a cafe for a hot coco and some math!
Look after yourself, too
Children learn much better with a motivated, energetic teacher. Make sure to claim some time for yourself, to relax and unwind. Whether it's reading a book by yourself, jogging in the park and working on weight loss after pregnancy, or grabbing lunch with a friend and no kids, you definitely deserve to make space for your own needs. In fact, your household probably floats your your sanity, so it is well worth investing in that!
Olivia is a homeschooling mom of two. She blogs about fertility, pregnancy, and beyond at Trying To Conceive.