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How to Balance Homemaking and Homeschooling

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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.

homeschooling

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.

homeschooling

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.

homeschooling

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.

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for addressing my question! I’ve been homeschooling for 3 years now and all 5 of my kids are 8 and under. I love getting advice from moms who’ve been in my shoes and successfully made it through ? I need to work on being ok with the mess while I’m teaching…that’s the hardest thing for me because messes make me a bit crazy?. We do morning chores and my kids are great helpers, I just need to “chill” and let messes happen and know it will get done later.

  2. as a homeschool mom for 17 yrs I still struggle at this. We have tried the homeschooling yr round and after three yrs in a row I was ready for my summer break. One thing that we do that help my mind stay at bay is I have the kids do a quick pick up after they eat their lunch. And at 3pm if they are done or not we stop and do chores. When they are done with their chores they can go back and finish up their homework. But there are time I just have to take a day off and tackle the place with the help of my family. Which means that day, school is put on the back burner. This doesn’t happen too often, just when I feel overwhelmed with the house. We have 5 teenage girls, and 2 pre-teens girls, and a toddler son. Our oldest is in college now, and the toddler is doing preschool. We use a school curriculum, and we send in our children’s tests and grades. With doing this we have to have these items into the school we use certain times a yr depending on when we start our school year. Do you have any suggestions with how to keep this at a balance and trying to homeschool yr round? With needing to take 6 weeks off due to our youth group. They have camp for the first week of June, then two weeks later they work at a fundraiser that pays for their camp the next year for two weeks straight. Also, any suggestions on how to deal with a child who is smart but just a procrastinator? We always seem to be trying to drag her along for the ride to get her work done on time to send in. If school is not sent in on time we have to pay extra for them to do the report cards. (She was ahead for her age, but now is a yr behind.) she still has two yrs of school left and she’s planning on going to the same college as her older sister.
    I’ve enjoyed this article and plan on reading a few of the other ones you have written.

    1. We love homeschooling year round. I have a post here called Why We Prefer Year Round Homeschooling. Check that one out. I totally think that when you are feeling burned out and overwhelmed, a day off is in order. How much quality teaching are you going to be doing, anyway? When you have things that take you off the map for a time, just add in days as needed. For instance, this year we are having a baby in May. I know that in order to have time off after the baby is born, I will have to structure the summer to do school for three days instead of only two. Or, sometimes we will school on Saturday during the regular school year to make up for those days off. I find a well planned incentive for procrastinators often works will, but the key is that is has to be something they WANT in order to stay on task. Our kids don’t go to sports activities unless their school is completed either. That generally makes even the procrastinators stay on task!

    1. it’s so easy. I always say, you have to do the best you can to keep your head above water and let go of the rest. I always remember that one day, my house will be clean, but it will also be empty…

  3. I say this without a hint of sarcasm or bitterness because I know it will sound the wrong way in type as opposed to coming from my mouth: If my house were as new and nice as yours, I wouldn’t mind the clutter.

    We live in a very poor area and are making it on one income. Our house is very old, very small, very dated, and quite honestly – ugly. When it gets cluttered, we begin looking like the Clampitts. (Not sure if that is spelled right! Lol!)

    Oh, how I dream of new, white bedroom doors and wood floors as opposed to yellow linoleum!

    I am always worried that we will have people show up at our house because we do have home school clutter on top of a simply ulgy, dingy home. I try to keep the grossness at bay, but no matter how clean and sparkling our home is, we still have shag carpet and blue sinks and there isn’t a thing we can do about it until someone gets a raise or we stop prioritizing having an emergency fund over not looking like hobos!

    So, while I am not at all bitter that your house looks so nice with new doors and carpet and lovely paint, I am a teeny bit jealous… okay, a lot jealous. Haha. Just know it could be way worse! You could be stuck in the 70s with no escape in sight AND have a mess!! ☺

    I console myself by reminding myself that we chose this lifestyle and that we are living within the budget WE have. Other people have different budgets and that’s okay. We chose this one income lifestyle because we thought it was best for our particular kids. Yet, I really, really hope we can afford a newer house at some point because, man, living on one small income is not particularly fun. And clutter in an ugly house only makes the house seem that much uglier and dirtier!

    1. Oh, girl. I feel your pain! We have only been in this house for 9 years, and I know all about living on one income, and a low income at that. We only had $1,600 a month to live on for several months, and there were several years that we lived on less than $25k for all of us (we have 8 kids). But, you are SO smart to be living within your means, most people don’t these days. You are leaps and bounds ahead of the way most people live, and you are amazing for doing that! I have a membership program where I teach others all the things I’ve learned about living on next to nothing, and we talk about all these kinds of things – living on less than you make no matter what it is, an emergency fund etc. Have you tried my crap basket method? It really helps save your sanity because clutter does only make the things that we hate about our homes an even bigger deal. You can read that here: https://www.theintentionalmom.com/mess-be-gone/ Some day the not fun choices will be worth it. We live debt free these days because of all those sacrifices. The reward for the sacrifices you are making might be different from ours, but they will not be made in vain. If you’re interested in learning more about my money saving community, just email me: [email protected] – you can even try the first month free and learn a ton there!

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