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Are you struggling to balance homeschooling and homemaking? If so, I know you are in good company as this is something that weighs heavy on the hearts every homeschooling mom I know.
In response to one of my messy house pictures on Instagram, Hope, a fellow homeschooling mom, asked for tips on how to balance these two things. I love reader questions and was excited to share some of the ways that I do this.
Within these two callings, homeschooling and homemaking, there is a common thread that is woven throughout both of these things. I’m sure you know what it is, but it is integral to recognize this common thread because I feel that it is the constant that never changes in this equation.
This common thread?
It’s being a mom.
I think if we remain focused on being a mom first and foremost, the rest falls more easily into place.
The picture that actually set off this question was a picture of the kitchen that looked like a war zone because we took the night off to watch the eclipse with a huge group of friends. Then, we came home at 12:30 a.m., and some of us were starving so we then ate pizza! It was after 1 that morning before we were all in bed.
I was torn about whether to even worry about the eclipse. I had work to do that night. My house looked like a bomb had gone off. And, I was TIRED!
In the end, I decided that I needed to be a mom first and foremost so we just left to have some fun that night. Then, the last thing I was looking to do at 1 a.m. was to clean any of it up. So, I didn’t.
When I woke up that Monday morning, my kitchen was basically trashed.
Since it was also a school day, we chipped away at that mess a little at a time. Although messes drive me crazy, choosing to be a mom having fun with my kids on Sunday night was the right decision. I am positive of that.
Not wanting to start the homeschooling week behind, the kitchen was simply a work in progress that day. And that had to be ok with me.
This concept of “making it be ok with me” is at the heart of the answer I would give to Hope. Let me show you what I mean.
With so many plates to keep spinning all the time, especially as a homeschooling mom, especially as a mom who is basically on her own with a husband who is out of the house much more than he is ever in the house, I have had to find a sense of homeostasis by assigning different times that I focus on each plate that needs spinning.
The plate that is always spinning in the midst of everything is the “mom plate”
Whether I am homeschooling, making a meal, doing laundry, or paying bills as the homemaker of my home, I am always mom….especially because I have younger kids, too.
To them I am not ever a homeschooling mom or homemaking mom, I am just mom. I am their primary caregiver, their nurturer, and their boo-boo kisser. Even when schooling my kids, I am still mom. For this reason, one hand is always busy. This is an important concept to recognize and accept.
So, I now have one hand left.
I have been homeschooling for more than 10 years, and I much prefer feeling like I am “all there” when I am homeschooling and like I am “all there” when I am taking care of other aspects of home life. This concept brings me to my second point.
When I am homeschooling, I am only minimally focused on homemaking, if at all
In an effort to be “all there” when homeschooling, I have had to make it ok in my mind that my home will look like a war zone at times. There will be a time and a place for taking care of the tidying, the laundry, the meals, and anything else that needs to be done, but for the most part, these things do not happen during school time.
Because we are solely focused on school during school time, we have our school time broken down into blocks of time with homemaking duties scheduled during the breaks. I’ll show you what I mean.
- To begin the day, we have before breakfast chores and after breakfast chores. Then we enter our morning school time with things in relative order.
- Then, after our morning school time, we have another time of tidying up while others are preparing lunch. We then have lunch and after lunchtime chores, which allows us to enter our afternoon school time with a sense of order as well.
- During afternoon school we could again be creating a mess just with the busyness of school and little ones running around, but again we ignore it knowing the time will come to get to that.
- Once afternoon school is done we again have a clean up time while we prepare for dinner.
- At the end of the day, we have more chores that allow us to finish up the homemaking things that fall through the cracks.
If clutter and messes drive you crazy as they do me, this may seem like it could be difficult, and, it might be at first. You might find it challenging to turn a blind eye to the fact that you know your little ones have managed to get out every toy they own while you were teaching school, but it will get easier.
As I mentioned before, I much prefer feeling as though I am focused on homeschooling and on only spinning that second plate without somehow trying to spin three and end up dropping all of them. This is how it felt to me when I tried to tackle homeschooling and homemaking at the same time.
As I watch my house get trashed with school books, papers, pens, pencils, stray snacks, toys, and who knows what else, I know that the time when these things will get cleaned up is never very far away.
For this reason, the first suggestion I would give to Hope and anyone who struggles with how to balance homeschooling and homemaking, is:
Structure your day so that you have times that are devoted to each task. Then, only worry about those tasks at the proper time.
In doing so, I find that I feel as though I have done each job well. When I tried spinning it all at once, I never really felt like I did any of it well. Quite frankly, I felt like I sucked at all three jobs.
Wow, these two main points took me forever to get through, but I didn’t want to rush through them. I am hoping that in giving these two points this much attention, I have explained both the why and the how in a way that makes sense while showing you how it looks in our home and homeschool setting.
This isn’t all of it though, so what started as one blog post has now turned into a mini-series. I hope you don’t mind.
Thursday, I will share how our decision to homeschool year-round has made juggling the demands of homeschooling and homemaking so much easier. I recommend you read Why We Prefer Year-Round Homeschooling to lay the groundwork because on Thursday I will be expanding on that as it pertains to finding this balance.
Then on Friday, I will share a few of the practical things that help balance homeschooling and homemaking. This will include things like systems, some methods of organization, and some ways I “cheat” a bit to keep sanity in my life and in the life of our homeschooling family.
Balancing homeschooling and homemaking does’t have to feel overwhelming, and as you give some thought to how you can structure your day with blocks of time devoted solely to each, you will find that you develop a sense of control, and then a sense of mastery.