Saturday, July 03, 2010

"How do you do it all?"

I get this question alllllll the time. Really, I DON'T do it all.

I think what the questioner is really asking is how do I get school done with the normal tasks of running a home. I firmly believe that homeschooling is not more difficult than being a good parent. Homeschooling is an extension of being a good parent and the same life-skills apply.

A friend of mine told me that although I insist I'm not a routine/scheduled person by nature, that with a houseful of kids....a girl has to develop survival techniques. That's what these are--survival techniques. I don't survive gracefully or silently -- I'm barely making it through some days. I am, however, surviving with JOY!

How do I do it all? I go to sleep each night asking forgiveness for my sins and strength for my weak areas and wake up in the morning and WITH GOD'S GRACE do it all over again.

Jenn's Routines (or suvival strategies) We do it together as much as possible. I oversee to make sure things get done and they are the worker bees.

In addition to the kids doing a reasonable amount of the cleaning (since they're doing the majority of the messing up), I have some systems in place for running the house. I do meal planning and here and here especially through the school year. I have a master shopping list and keep lists everywhere (and loose them, too.)

I cut myself slack. Mom's Night Outs are essential, life-giving evenings for me. I make sure that my prayer life and emotional well-being are being attended to. This is a fine line. I've seen moms neglecting the needs of their children to attend to their own needs and this is what our culture encourages. That isn't what I'm saying. I'm also not a door mat. Balance is difficult, but essential. We have breaks through the year that work for our family.

I keep a running list of curriculum items I want to explore when I have 10 minutes or an evening. I find this helps tremendously. I organize the list by subject, but you could just as easily organize it by age. Even if the book is something that's far far in the future, I still put it down to explore later. This is one less item to worry about forgetting. I can forget it guilt-free because once a year I go back to my running list and see if anything will apply to the upcomming year and toss it in the hopper of items to consider (and mostly reject.)

I keep a list of our schedule for the year. I did mine in a spreadsheet (it's just the way I think- I started on paper) and this way I can print a schedule for each child or set of children. Our schedule is done in a Manager's of their Homes method with the heart of A Mother's Rule of Life. I found both of these (seeming opposing) methods of scheduling to reside nicely in the dichotomy that is my mind. We only do "book work" 4 days a week and the 5th day we run errands, do many of our "extra curriculuar" activities and have fun.

I combine children in subject areas as much as possible. This serves 2 purposes -- I have less to teach and the kids can bounce off each other when we have crafts/discussions/activities. I also keep us on the same topic even if they're in different books. So, Dd#1 is reading the Odyssey while the younger kids are learning about the Ancient Greeks. The same purposes apply as above. I also have the kids teach each other where appropriate. I taught preschool ONCE. My 1st grader/3rd grader/5th grader / 9th grader are all happy for a little sandbox play to teach preschool. I make sure they have time in their schedule so they're not getting overwhelmed with work, but so far, they all count it joy. No one has offered to take over teaching the kindergardener to read, so I'll do that 5 times (lucky me.)

Toddlers are a force to be reckoned with -- prepare to meet them head on or be bowled over by them. I have a list of Things To Do With Your Toddler While You Homeschool and here. The list works for 3 year olds as well as, if not better than, it did when they were 2 years old. I'm also a fan of school in the bathroom. All my kids love baths and a rowdy 2 year old is contained in the bath. I take 1 other kid and while I sit in the bathroom (trying to stay dry from all the splashing) I work with the older child.

So those are most of my survival tricks.

1 comment:

  1. I find it helps to recognize we can't do it all, and focusing on doing the things that are really important.

    I love Paul Graham's essay on Good and Bad Procrastination.