Shortcuts for homeschool moms that will change everything? Really?! Pretty bold statement, I know. But I genuinely believe it. We homeschool mamas do a lot. More than the average person, I am utterly convinced.
After having my mom spend the week with me recently, I realized just how busy both of us were the entire time she was here. Sure, we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs. But she helps me out a lot when she’s here.
While I was busy with things like paying the late cell phone bill, teaching fractions, reading aloud, and fielding all sorts of questions from my preschooler, my mom was also busy. She was prepping dinner, making lunch, switching the laundry, and emptying the dishwasher.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this life. I love the messy, busy, full life we have. Homeschooling is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My point is, we do a whole lot in the span of 24 hours. I’ve got some ideas for ways we can take a shortcut here and there to make our lives a whole lot easier.
Still with me? Ready to simplify?
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Few Shortcuts
Before I can get to the place where I’m ready to take some shortcuts, I have to get really honest with myself. HOW did I get so overwhelmed? WHY are there so many roadblocks lately?
A lot of the time, it’s because of my own pride.
If I ask for help, that means I CAN’T handle it all, and the naysayers will know I can’t handle this homeschool thing. Or maybe it means I’m not as organized as I thought I was. Or maybe simplifying and asking for help hurts because there have been times when I COULD handle more, but it’s just not working as smoothly anymore.
Any of these ring any bells with you?
Yes, we homeschool mamas handle a whole lot. We’re used to being the taxi drivers, chefs, cleaners, our kids’ personal Google, and so much more. But day after day and season after season, this can weigh on us tremendously!
We need to cut ourselves some slack and take a few shortcuts.
Shortcuts for Homeschool Moms
1. Ask for help.
Yep. I’m going for the hardest thing first! I have the HARDEST time ever asking for help. But when I muster up the gumption to do it, it’s an instant weight that’s relieved. Maybe it’s because in the action of asking for help, we have to share our shortcomings with the person we’re asking. Even though it’s hard, there’s so much freedom in the asking.
Ways you can ask for help:
- ask your husband to share some of the driving or errand-running
- hire a tutor
- trade with another parent (example: give their child piano lessons in exchange for their help with math)
- ask a family member or a homeschooled teen to watch the littlest ones once a week so you can have some time alone or work with the older kids
2. Use grocery services.
If you are lucky enough to have a grocery store in your community with pick-up or delivery services – do it! Our nearest Target recently started offering curbside pick-up and it has changed everything!
I’m actually saving money because there are so many things I will throw in my cart just because I see them in Target! No dragging kids through the store while we both get sidetracked and waste time. No throwing extra junk into my cart.
It’s so fast and easy!
Use those services to help you.
3. Teach your kids to pitch in.
This is one of my biggest shortcut tips. My kids help out around the house so much, as they should! There are four of them and only one of me. Set up a simple chore system that works for you. It might take a few tries to find something that works.
Kids can do more than we give them credit for. Teach them to switch the laundry, empty the dishwasher, and wipe down the toilets. They can do it! And when that system is set in place, your life will be so much easier.
4. Don’t do every school subject every day.
Each day before school, I write out a list for each child for the schoolwork they need to finish that day. I have to be really careful not to pack in too much. Leaving more white space, I have realized that we are so much more successful in getting it all done. Everyone is happier because we feel so much more accomplished that day!
We start with our main subjects: reading (current read aloud), writing (we are normally doing a project from our Brave Writer curriculum, a few pages in our grammar books, and sometimes spelling), and arithmetic (we always feel like we “did school” as soon as the math lesson is finished).
5. Simplify your meals.
Mealtime is always one of those things that I continue to struggle with, mostly because I over-complicate it! (But for real, WHY are they always hungry!?)
Decision fatigue has bitten me so many times, so I like to set things on autopilot in my brain.
I love setting up mealtime into an easy rotation and these are a couple of options that have worked really well for me:
- A theme rotation:
- Mondays = Mexican
- Tuesdays = Italian
- Wednesdays = Slow Cooker
- Thursdays = Meatless
- Fridays = Order Pizza for Family Fun Night!
- Saturdays= Soup + Salad + Sandwiches
- Sundays = Leftovers
- Choose 12 or so dinners and just keep looping them through the month
Another thing I’ve done with lunchtime is to assign a child to make lunch for the week. They love it! I just have easy things they can prepare without help. (Note: my big kids are 16, 12, and 10)
Soup, sandwiches, and frozen pizza are all easy for kids to prepare. They each like to put their own flare on lunchtime and I love that! That extra time gives me the opportunity to check in with all the kids on their schoolwork, play with my preschooler one-on-one for a bit, or just catch my breath from the busy homeschool morning.
6. Keep like items together.
This shortcut seems so simple, but there are so many times I’ve overlooked it. Keeping like items together saves SO much time searching for things or just walking around from cabinet to cupboard.
Examples that have saved time for me:
- coffee pot/ filters/ faucet/ cups/ coffee
- art supplies/ paper/ table cover
- kids’ daily work corralled into a magazine holder
- my lesson planner/ daily teacher books
- vitamins/ breakfast foods
- cups at kid-level for easy, self-service access
- glass spray/ paper towels under each bathroom sink
7. Clean a tiny bit each day.
Keeping our homes clean can be a huge source of stress for homeschool mamas. The biggest shortcut here: don’t do it. Hahaha! Just kidding.
We can’t just not clean, but we can lower our standards a bit. When there are kids in our home 100% of the time, it’s going to be a bit of a mess. So, we either lower our standards or turn into CRAZY MAMA trying to keep it all perfect.
It’s like shoveling while it snows, my friend.
The shortcut? Do a tiny bit each day.
- Wipe down your bathroom sink as you brush your teeth.
- Train kids to make their beds and put away their clean laundry.
- Tidy up the school area at the end of each school day (Kids help!!)
- Clear counters after each meal.
- Do a smaller load of laundry each day rather than a laundry marathon once a week (It’s much less overwhelming!)
Go forth, and take the shortcut
Listen mama, even if you take every single shortcut on this list, ask for help every day, and call in a team of cleaners, you are still doing SO much more than the average bear. Don’t forget that. You do so much. And you’re doing better than you think you are.
Take some shortcuts this week, mama. And use that extra time to do something nice for YOU!
What are some shortcuts that you’ve found to take a little stress out of managing home and school?