Tag Archives: home organization

Ask a NextGen Homeschooler: How do you handle household chores while homeschooling?

8 Oct

Welcome to “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler…” It’s your turn to ask the authors of NextGen Homeschool — four formerly homeschooled moms who are now homeschooling our children — to weigh in on your homeschooling questions. From the practical to the personal, all questions are welcome — whether you’re a current homeschooler or just homeschooling curious!

This week’s question is: How do you juggle, balance, and even integrate household chores while homeschooling? Good question! The short answer is, it’s possible to manage your home and stay afloat with the household chores while homeschooling. The long answer is… well, here’s how we each have chosen to tackle it:

NextGen Editor Renée Gotcher
Was homeschooled in 11-12th grade
Began homeschooling in 2010: Three daughters ages 11 1/2, 10 and 5

Household chores and home management have never been an area of “expertise” for me. This is no secret for anyone who knows me well and has popped over to my house unexpectedly.

I grew up as the eldest in a family of eight children, and keeping the house clean was literally a matter of survival. However, our strategy was pretty much “clean up as you go” — and just doing that required nearly constant cleaning. Once we started homeschooling when I was in high school, my mom had more hands on deck to help keep up the house, but we also made a much bigger mess being home together and eating three meals (plus many snacks) at home. All nine of us under one roof all day, and at one point, in one three-bedroom trailer on an under-construction property.

During this time, one of my teen pet peeves was the concept that chores were somehow part of the homeschooling experience: “Learning” to be a homemaker seemed like a fancy label for giving me more work to do because the chores were spinning out of control. If I ever homeschooled my children, I secretly vowed to myself, I would NOT make chores part of our homeschool schedule. School is enrichment time and learning valuable skills, and chores are a necessary drudgery — not an educational experience, my teenage logic told me.

Fast forward more than 25 years, and now I’m the mom homeschooling three daughters with a husband who also works at home. Five of us working and eating all of our meals in the house practically every day. Funny enough, I was still determined to keep my secret vow to myself. My first two years, I tried really hard to save “chores” for the end of the day — after a full day of schoolwork and rushing out to extracurricular or co-op schooling activities outside our home. Trouble is, the last thing anyone wanted to do at the end of a busy day (myself included) is start cleaning up all that was left behind after a day’s download of activity.

So this year I came up with a strategy to keep up with the housework while homeschooling. And yes, we now clean up during the school day! It’s not a perfect plan by any means, but things are much more organized and relatively clean at the end of the day without too much fuss or pulling teeth.

The first idea I decided to implement was chore cards. This is not my genius idea, but I honestly can’t remember where I read/heard about it. Chore cards detail exactly what is expected in each task. For example, the card for “lunch dishes” includes details like, “additional dishes and/or pans handwashed” and “rinse out sink, use scrub brush to remove food, etc. from sink.” I laminated them (which is pretty crafty for me) so they can be checked off daily with erasable markers and reused.

I’ve also assigned each of my girls with a mealtime chore after lunch, a chore in the afternoon (post schoolwork, before free time or neighborhood play, something like cleaning off the school table and sweeping that area), a mealtime chore after dinner, and an evening chore (like straightening up the living room before bed). Then there are once-a-week chores that are done on Saturdays, ideally before free playtime for the day, that include tasks such as “deep” cleaning their bathroom (as deep as 10/11-year-olds can do), and dusting/mopping/wiping down in the living room. Each girl only has two of these chores to accomplish on Saturday, and they should take less than an hour easily. In the end no one should feel like they got stuck cleaning up “all day” — and I’m not left doing all the heavy cleaning myself.

Overall, the chore cards and “divide & conquer” approach has been extremely helpful: It has cut back a lot on the disappointment of discovering a task wasn’t actually done properly once the girls are already outside playing with their friends, and it has kept the chores at a manageable daily/weekly level. I try to be diligent about “signing off” on the chores by going over the checklist with them each time, but sometimes it’s too busy and I don’t have time. Although the follow-through hasn’t been perfect, the chore cards system has still made a huge difference in keeping daily duties under control.

The second step to my plan is using a free online tool called HighScore House so my girls can track their chore completion in an engaging way — and they love using the computer or iPhone to play along. This tool tracks their daily and weekly chores, along with other daily responsibilities (like brushing their teeth twice a day, drinking a full bottle of water, taking their vitamins and making their beds). It’s cute, visual and easy-to-use — even my 5-year-old Elise has mastered it.

The best part is that it also tracks their achievements by converting them into accumulated “stars” that they “bank” and can later cash in for rewards that you predetermine. The rewards I set up include everything from computer time, TV time, and having a friend spend the night, to cash and tangible prizes. I set the values for the rewards, and I made sure there was a balance of things they might want to “cash in” on daily (such as playing on my iPhone or reading on the hammock alone for an hour) as well as save up for (such as cash or a new toy/book).

Both the chore cards and HighScore House have made chores more manageable, easier to delegate, and even fun at times! I remember the first day we used HighScore House, Elise woke me up and started rattling off all she’d already accomplished before I was even out of bed. Now that’s progress!

One thing I am still trying to do is instill a sense of personal pride in keeping their own rooms clean. Although the public side of our house is relatively tidy these days, the bedrooms have been a challenge to maintain. Truthfully, one bedroom in particular — belonging to my two youngest, one who is a collector of many, many things — continues to be a tornado disaster zone. I’ve tried several systems for organizing for them and have personally cleaned rooms from top to bottom myself every few months, hoping that “this time” they would stay clean. My eldest is getting there and can now be counted on to keep up with her room on her own. For my younger girls, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Ideas, anyone?

NextGen Author Rosanna Ward
Was homeschooled since 8th grade
Began homeschooling in 2005: Two homeschool graduate daughters & two sons (7, 2)

This question is hard to answer because it seems that in my home things are constantly changing. And I like to tell people that we are a family that truly lives in our home! We are home most of the time, and we eat most of our meals in. Every room gets used and used well!

When we first started homeschooling almost eight years ago, the girls were 10 and 11 — perfect ages for doing chores. I think we spent the first year of “school” learning how to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. Both girls enjoyed cooking and were competent at laundry but dreaded cleaning.

The second year we were living in a two-bedroom apartment with five (sometimes six) people. There wasn’t much to clean, but it always looked messy. After we moved into our new home, the girls were once again assigned chores, and I think I tried everything — from assigning daily and then weekly chores to just randomly handing out chores, from paying a small allowance to not paying, etc. Keeping their rooms and bathrooms clean was beyond my frustration level.

Now both girls have graduated but still live at home. They both work at least 20 hours per week at our donut shop, and Hannah goes to college. Trying to catch them and make them accountable for cleaning is just too much for me. But they have gotten better at keeping their rooms and bathrooms and laundry done. And I think I have found a way to get them to help out that they actually like. They each plan and cook dinner two nights a week, which frees me up to do other things. And honestly, I would rather clean than cook. I would like to get them to clean up the kitchen after they cook because one of them in particular is a messy chef.

As far as my son Joel goes, well that is an issue I have just begun to deal with. He is seven and fully capable of helping out. He has been trash “taker outer” for a while now, and he takes care of our dog, Daisy. But trying to get him to do any actual housework causes a meltdown. In fact, he has claimed several times that he is a boy and therefore shouldn’t have to do these things. Which is funny because when he was younger, he loved to help out — especially with the laundry.

One thing that has helped this year is the little chore/school card that comes in “The Well Planned Day” planner.  I wrote his chores on one side and his school subjects on the other and then laminated it and every day as he finishes something he marks it. If he marks everything on any given day, he gets 5 points, and if he marks everything all week, he gets 50.

The task we are working on now is cleaning his room and doing his own laundry. Then we will focus on his bathroom. The points he is earning are added to his other school points to be used on toys and treats from the prize bucket.

NextGen Author Elizabeth Thomas
Was homeschooled from K-12
Began homeschooling in 2009: Four daughters ages 13, 12, 10 & 4

Well being pregnant, homeschooling four girls and trying to keep the house clean… Ha ha!

One thing I have done is make a chore chart for each day of the week for each child. The chart includes everything, even the laundry, and at the end of the day, my husband Tony checks that chart to see who did or didn’t do what and handles any necessary discipline. This helps me out a bunch. It’s not a really pretty chart, but it works for now.

Sunday I do the chores (a little more detailed than the girls do), and I have the girls do stuff like wash the dogs, clean the fridge, clean the car, etc. I think now that I’m nesting (I am due with daughter No. 5 in November), chores have been more like bleach water in a bucket and having the girls wash floor boards and ceiling fans, etc.

You would think this means I have a clean house, but most people who come to my house would probably say different. From day to day, it’s a shuffling game with books and piles of laundry on the couch and here and there around the house. Also, the girls’ bathroom is never what I would call clean, but I pick my battles.

My biggest issue is keeping my front yard from looking like a “redneck mess” — LOL! That’s not easy considering my husband was rebuilding his transmission on the front porch last month. And you would be surprised how fast four girls can junk up the front yard with their toys, random tree branches, etc.

We also have two cats and two large dogs, a castle-size dog house in our backyard (the girls painted it lime green), and, to my dismay, a guinea pig who attracts flies when his cage is ignored for longer than one day. So yes, I have full hands. However, I would really like my girls to not only learn to read, write, and do math, but to understand the value of life skills as well. So keeping them involved in the household responsibilities is very important to me.

And really, at the end of the day, if my pillowcase and sheets are clean, that’s all that really matters to me!

NextGen Author Cristina Eklund
Was homeschooled since the 6th grade
Began homeschooling in 2010: Son (6) and daughter (4)

Housework and homeschooling? Is it seriously possible to juggle both? Yes and no.

If you are expecting to have the same house you had or imagined you would have when your kids left the house for six hours a day, you may be striving for the unattainable. However, keeping a home picked up, basically organized and hygienically clean is a more realistic goal when you’re homeschooling.

Before I became a mom — and at homeschooling mom at that — my forte was creating merchandising plans for a large international retailer. So basically, my job was telling the stores where to put stuff and make it all look pretty. I haven’t lost that love, so if you came to my house, you might see shadows of what my vision was under the piles of books, dish-filled sink and dust-caked walls (no, it’s not that bad — but close). However, today I am challenged with a small space (two bedrooms, one bath) and a lot going on in that space every day as I homeschool my young son and daughter.

I’d say on average I get the kitchen floor swept three times a day, other rooms swept once maybe (we have hardwood floors everywhere), “piles” moved from one place to another, trash off the counters, table wiped down for schoolwork, dishes loaded and unloaded, and maybe a pathway cleared from the door to the couch on a daily basis. Then about once a week when my kids are in a good groove of playing outside, I clean the bathroom from top to bottom. And on another day while watching an educational video with the kids, I’ll actually fold clothes. Then in the evening, we all put those piles of clothes away before bedtime. Once a week (or every two weeks), I take a whole morning with the kids just to clean their room and pull it back together. This includes tasks such as dusting, floor mopping, vacuuming couches and even working through their piles of paper to file or throw out.

I save weekends for when my husband and I together can tag team. Then if things really get out of hand around the house, I might ditch our weeknight bible study to stay home alone and just pull the living room back together. You get the idea… Housecleaning tasks are never completed all at once (unless we are preparing for a party, and even then, there a lot of doors that are kept closed).

I’m a list maker, and I’ve made and tried to follow a dozen routines. But just like with homeschooling, housework falls into the moment-by-moment category, asking for God’s help to decide what are the more important tasks to accomplish for the day, versus just being driven by the urgent.

A few tips that have worked for me, as in they help me feel like I’m moving forward in homemaking and not falling behind, are:

  • Less toys — less things in general. Keep only the most precious or educational ones. If it’s not used weekly, store it.
  • Find a place for everything. If it doesn’t have one, give it away or sell it.
  • Use time-saving cleaning supplies such as disinfectant wipes for the bathroom and a Swiffer mop, Swiffer toilet bowl scrubber and Swiffer duster. Yes, making your own cleaners is a beautiful idea, and one day may come to fruition once you have your routine down or the kids move out. But in the meantime, saving time can save your sanity.
  • Talk to your husband about what chores he can help with if he’s willing to.
  • Baskets, baskets, baskets. I think you can never have enough. IKEA is my best friend — I even spend my birthday money there.
  • Consolidate all those piles into one place, that way when you are looking for something before you’ve had time to file it in the RIGHT place, you only have to look in one location — not all over the house.
  • Think small. When you are in a room, try and take at least one, if not more, items with you to drop off in the next room where it belongs. Or clear off one counter-top space of clutter in the 10 minutes you have. Try doing a little in little increments every day, instead of taking on a lot with the non-existent time you will never have while homeschooling.

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How do you handle household chores while homeschooling? Have you developed any helpful or time-saving systems that really work in your home that you would like to share with us? Or are you frustrated and need some encouragement? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic!

We are also taking NEW questions for upcoming “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler” features. Send your questions to nextgenhomeschool@gmail.com or post them as comments to this article (and let us know if it’s OK to quote you if we use your question). We look forward to responding to your homeschooling questions!

Gearing up for back-to-school: Gotcher family

20 Aug

By Renée Gotcher

This past week — per my three girls’ eager request — we started school a few weeks earlier than I had planned. I’m sure the fact that their neighborhood friends had already started back to the local public school had something to do with it. But whatever the reason, I was glad to see they were so excited to start — even if I wasn’t.

Truth be told, I’m still in the process of purchasing curriculum, gathering books and lining up homeschool co-ops and extracurricular activities for us to participate in. However, I thought this could be a good opportunity to do some core skills review and test out the new systems I have set up to keep us running more smoothly this year — and hopefully, keep the school area from becoming a dysfunctional chaotic mess as well.

The first “iteration” of the cubby shelving idea, which got messy but just needed some tweaking to fix.

In the past, I have organized and reorganized several times throughout the school year. So far nothing has stuck with us: Not a single curriculum package, filing system or “cubby” shelving strategy, daily planner or homeschool tracking system. We live and we learn, especially in a homeschool environment. Although I’ve pinned many colorful, quaint schoolroom photos and snappy organizational tools and tips to my Pinterest dreamboard, I had yet to come up with something both beautiful and functional for our family.

This summer, my goal was to take what was actually working for us and improve upon it in a more organized way. Not a radical revamp, but a refinement — and beautification — of our homeschooling area and systems. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to the past two months to “gear up” for back-to-school time…

Shopping for deals

One of the most important factors I believe most homeschoolers face when planning for the new school year is a budget: We’ve all got one, and for some (myself included), it can be pretty tight. Over the past two years, I’ve learned to dismiss past memories of the long and “necessary” school supplies lists provided by classroom teachers and create a list of the tools we do actually use throughout the school year. This step in and of itself saves you money, as well as the fact you’re not limited to certain brands when you are the teacher making that judgement call.

Personally, I’m not brand loyal when it comes to consumable school items like pens, pencils, crayons, paper, notebooks, folders, glue, etc. I know my girls, and I don’t expect things like a subject binder to last more than one school year: Whether the favorite color changes, the scribbles on the front cover are no longer cool, or they’re no longer into Hello Kitty, they will probably need and/or want some new things. So I stay alert to the weekly deals at each local store and gradually compile the new year’s supplies when things are super cheap — and by super cheap, I mean 50 cents, a penny and even free at times!

Only $2.15 net expense at OfficeMax after rebate on the printer paper – all 10 file folders were free with $5 purchase!

The consumables I mentioned above always go on sale somewhere at some point for as little as a penny or free. This year, I have purchased all of the above for 10 cents or less. I’ve even filled up a box of items we can use for our Operation Christmas Child boxes this fall. OfficeMax has consistently offered free items every week since July when you spend $5 or more on “non-Max-value” items. To make the most of this, I have purchased a $5 item that also qualifies for a full in-store rebate, so that eventually I’ll get that $5 back too.

For anything more expensive, like a new backpack, lunchbox, or advanced art supplies, I wait for clearance and/or steep discount coupons. With this strategy, I’ve been able to assemble a great art toolbox that includes acrylic paints, pastels, charcoals, canvases, glue guns, fabric glue, etc., as well as update the backpacks and lunchboxes every couple of years.

I believe you can stock up your homeschool area with all the supplies you’ll need for a productive year very inexpensively. Curriculum, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to come by for free or at a discount unless you’re willing to spend some time researching your options — and be patient. For more advice on curriculum savings, see our recent “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler” column on this topic.

Refining an almost-functional system

While I was filling the top shelf of the pantry with boxes of this year’s school supplies, I did my best to keep the girls from impulsively putting new items into the existing school area. I knew that we would continue to use the “formal” dining area for school (fully visible from our front door), and that new furniture to reorganize (or just hide) the overflowing cubby bins and teetering stacks of books and folders was not in the budget. So refining — and hopefully beautifying — our existing space was my best option. Until that was accomplished, I wanted nothing new to be buried in the existing clutter.

I figured out one thing that was working for the girls and had the potential of keeping our school area pretty clean and pristine: The cubby bins. However, the fabric bins I purchased last year got stretched out by the weight of heavy workbooks, and the handles became shabby and weak from constant use. That was an easy fix: I purchased new, more sturdy, fabric bins with leather handles. They fit our existing shelves perfectly and look great.

This was my one “splurge” in the prep process (about $9 per bin). I debated repurposing baskets I already had in use elsewhere or purchasing less expensive options, but the bottom line was that they had to be the right size for the shelves (so they didn’t stick out) and sturdy enough for daily use. Since this shelf can literally be seen from our front door, I also wanted them to match and fit into the color scheme of the rest of the decor for that room — something that didn’t scream “kid zone” as loudly as before.

Within each cubby are conveniently camouflaged workbooks, 3×5 card file boxes, library books, journals, spiral notebooks, and anything else that would not easily stack on a visible shelf. Next to each girl’s cubby is an exposed shelf that holds her curriculum books (which usually stack quite neatly), her bible, and her new personal school supplies box (more on that later). The girls love it, and it’s easier on the eye than last year’s stacks and stacks of books and folders falling from the shelves.

Next step was keeping tools like pens, crayons, highlighters, and such in an easily accessible place that could also be easily cleaned up at the end of the day. For this, I purchased two types of clear bins: One per child with tools that are specific to them (and that they can take with them to other areas of the house or outside to work with), and another that is “all purpose” and divided by tool type (crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, markers, etc.) This — hopefully — solves two previous problems: They now have both a portable solution where their personal tools are self-contained, as well as school “area” tools that are easy to clean up and don’t belong to anyone (preventing constant “that’s mine!” arguments).

To complete this task, I enlisted the girls to help me sort through boxes and Ziploc bags full of crayons, markers, etc. We tossed out every dried-up marker, chewed-up crayon, and nub of a pencil, and aggregated all the “worth using” implements into their specific boxes. When we were done, the girls were thrilled. “I am so glad we did this Mom,” one shared. “Now when I want to work on something, I won’t waste any time with junk that doesn’t work!”

Mission accomplished.

So far, this new system of splitting up the school supplies is working as planned. When someone is in the mood to color or work on a school project at the dining/school table, they can pull down whatever supplies are necessary  — share with whomever has decided to join them — and put the supplies back quickly when finished. On the other hand, someone who wishes to work alone outside on the patio table or in their bedrooms can take their personal toolbox and do so easily, as long as they return the toolbox to the school area shelf. We’ll see how this holds up, but so far it seems to be efficient and keeping our school area clean.

The last area that needed work was the student/teacher “in-out” box. This year, I took a leveled file folder stand from my personal desk and gave each girl a “to do” folder: In the evening, I put print-outs and any independent work for the next day in their folders, and when they’ve completed them and I am done checking them, I’ll put them back in the folder so they can be added to their individual binders later.

My goal with this system is to have independent work ready so the girls can start whenever they are ready in the morning and go back to it during times of the day when I am not working with them directly. Plus I can find their finished work easily when it’s time for me to review it.

This has been one of the easiest fixes to make a big impact: This Saturday, my 5-year-old (Kindergartener) Elise noticed that she already had sheets in her “to do” folder for Monday, and asked if she could just work on them right now. Why not? She ended up completing Monday’s work in about 30 minutes and starting on a new creative art project, which is also almost done. Now instead of catching up next week because we had friends in town visiting for two days, she is actually ahead of the lesson plan. I love this new system!

One other previously troublesome issue was the easy accessibility of extra “supplies” that the girls or I might need during the school day — everything from refill staples and tape to scratch paper and ink for the printer. To meet this need, I brought down a nice set of portable drawers from my home office to use for everything extra that I wanted tucked away neatly.

This has also turned out to make a huge difference right off the bat. The girls know exactly where the extras can be found and aren’t wandering up to my office for tape or paper clips, and there are no longer stacks of extra everything sitting on the dining room table waiting to be put away at some later time. Everyone was able to get their school work done without having to wander around for supplies, and the area was returned to a relatively clean state at the end of each work period. Victory, as far as I’m concerned!

Although I wasn’t expecting to get “started” with school in mid-August, I am thankful that this week of review and test-run of our refined school area has been both successful and fun — re-energizing my daughters and giving me some peace of mind that this year we might be able to maintain an active — and attractive — school area. I am really looking forward to implementing our new curriculum and other exciting plans for this new year in September (more on that later). Until then, I hope you’re off to an inspired start as well — and if not, that you’ve received some helpful info from my sisters and I to get yourself and your family ready for a great start very soon!

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Col. 3:23

— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She and her family currently reside in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Schedules, Routines and Time Management

16 Nov

By Rosanna Ward

It’s challenging to shift gears when everything feels out of sync.

MUST. GET. BACK. ON. TRACK.

Somehow my life has gotten totally off track this year. I realized long ago that as a stay at home, homeschooling mother married to a small business owner who works nights, that I needed to stay flexible. Whatever “schedule” I may have, it has to be able to bend and flex around my husband’s day and my children’s moods.

But I am a person that does better with structure. I like to know that things get done in a certain order every day or every week. Without this structure, my life just seems to fall apart — and it is very hard to get all the different gears of my life in sync again once they seem to be off track.

Several years ago, I started following Flylady.net, an online organizational coach, and I have learned a lot from Flylady and her tips online. I still can’t seem to get totally in sync, but she has taught me about the importance of routines.

Instead of trying to live by a schedule that is constantly disrupted and needs to be changed, I try to live by a routine. The difference is that a schedule is nailed down to a clock, whereas a routine is more flexible.

Routines aren’t tied to time slots, so they’re easier to keep up.

We all have routines. We get up, brush our teeth, get dressed, etc. — pretty much in the same order every day, out of habit. We do certain things every day or every week. Those are routines. So I try to make a good daily routine that keeps all the areas of my life working together.

However, sometimes my routines get out of whack. And I find that the longer I let them slip, the harder it is for me to get things back on track.

Right now I feel like I have really slipped off the track. I spend most of my days trying to keep up with my 13-month old son Leif, and just the thought of trying to get a routine going again wears me out — so I have put it off day after day. Actually, having my youngest son, our fourth child, is what threw my routine off in the first place, and I haven’t been able to get it back together since.

At first, I was just too busy enjoying having a baby in the house again — and I still do, don’t get me wrong. But now that “baby” is walking and climbing and pulling stuff out of drawers. On top of that, I received a Beagle puppy for my birthday. What was I thinking? Toddler + Puppy = CHAOS. Leif drags stuff out, then the puppy rips it to shreds or chews it up.

As a result, it has been difficult this school year to focus on teaching my first grader, Joel, while Leif and the puppy are having a heyday nearby. But I have finally decided to stop and figure this out. I can either continue to follow behind and repair the damage, or I can be proactive.

So this week, I went out and bought a baby/puppy gate and a couple of baby locks. I can now contain Leif in a room nearby with his toys while I teach Joel — without the puppy nearby. That was the first step.

I must confess another slip in the routine I have made recently: In the mornings when the boys (and puppy) wake up, I bring them all in bed with me and we lay around until 8:30 or 9:00am. My reason for doing this was basically me putting off the inevitable mess to come as long as possible. But it also made me feel lazy the rest of the day.

Routines are like agenda items, so when they take place is more flexible.

Here is the routine I want to establish for my weekdays:

  • I need to get up before the boys, get myself ready (otherwise it is hard to find time to shower), and have a quiet devotion before my day gets going.
  • Then I need to get the boys up and ready — no playing around all morning — dressed, teeth brushed, and breakfast eaten.
  • School needs to start directly after breakfast. This is important, because many times things happen later in the day that distract our focus from schoolwork. Leif will play upstairs while I work with Joel.
  • Then we will have a snack and play time together.
  • After that will be reading time and then lunch.
  • After lunch, Leif takes a nap and Joel does something quiet, with an educational purpose. During this naptime is also when I need to get to the gym (since my husband is home by then).
  • Snack and play time follow Leif’s nap.

At night, I also need to establish a better bedtime routine for the boys. Snack, jammies, teeth brushed, reading, prayers, and lights out. This one is especially hard for me, as I tend to get focused on my own thing in the evening and lose track of time. But I know from previous experience that when I live by a routine, I actually seem to have more time to do the things I want to do than when I do not stick to it.

What kind of routines or schedules do you have for your homeschooling day? Have you found any time management tips to be particularly helpful while homeschooling with toddlers in the house? How are your routines or schedules working? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

— Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 19 years and mother of four children, two of which are currently homeschooled. Her oldest daughter is a homeschool graduate, and her youngest son is a toddler. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling for six years. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy, and currently resides in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

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