When I started homeschooling my kids, I had three kids ages 4,5, and 8. The oldest, my stepdaughter, attended public school a few blocks from our house. In the beginning I had only one K’er and a preschooler who wasn’t quite ready for academics. A couple years later, I had a K’er and a 2nd grader with a baby on the way. Fast forward to today – I have two out of school, a high-schooler, one in upper elementary, a k’er, and an almost 2yo – plus two giant furbabies!
As the years have gone by, we have encountered many changes and challenges as our family has grown and I have learned a LOT along the way. While I still haven’t figured out how to make more hours in my day or how to clone myself to get it all done (oh wouldn’t that just make things so much easier), there are little things that make the load a bit lighter and our days (sometimes) run a bit more smoothly. I would love to share a few of my favorite tips and hacks for homeschool moms with you, wonderful reader, in the hopes something in my little list will be helpful to you, too!
Tip #1 – Meal Planning
I know, I KNOW!! You are probably thinking, “Seriously?! One MORE thing to add to my to-do list? How is that going to help?”. But the truth is, meal planning can be as simple, or as complicated, as you want it to be. There are a million different ways to execute a meal plan, but for me the KISS method (Keep It Simple Sweetie) is what allows me to save time and stress, without demanding too much extra time or thought.
All I usually do is write a short list of 4-5 meals I want to prepare for dinner the coming week. I never know whats days I will feel up to cooking, or what meals will sound good on any given night, so I don’t schedule them ahead of time. My list enables me to plan what groceries I will need to purchase for the week (I have a hack for that too so keep reading), and take away some of the stress of having to decide what to make that morning – before my coffee has hit my brain. That’s it! Easy peasy, right?
Tip #2 – Let someone ELSE do your grocery shopping
Even in my small town, I have certain services available to me that allow me to save time grocery shopping. My local Kroger has a service called ClickList that allows me to put together a grocery order from my phone, pay for it, and select a pick-up window. All I have to do is show up at my selected time and call the phone number listed, and an employee will wheel my order out, load them into my car, and then I’m on my way! Lots of stores offer similar services if you are lucky enough to be in a town or city that offers it. WalMart also offers a similar service, although my local store doesn’t yet have this available,
Another option is to use a delivery service like Instacart to shop your local stores online and have your groceries delivered, usually within a two hour window! In my small town, I can shop at either ALDI or Kroger. This is super helpful for us because we have one vehicle, which my husband usually drives to work (unless the weather is warm and he takes the Harley).
If you don’t have anything like this available where you live, see if a trusted friend or family member would be willing to shop for you once a week, or however often you usually grocery shop. If you have a teen driver in your home or family, this could be a great way for them to earn a little extra cash (if you are willing to pay them to do so)! This hack isn’t for everyone, but for me and my family, the small fee we pay to use services like this are definitely worth the amount of time it saves me, and that’s as close as I will probably ever get to having “more hours in my day”.
Tip #3 – Stay in your PJs
Ok, so call me lazy but this is my FAVORITE hack (and one of those ultimate homeschool bonus perks). If we don’t have to leave the house, why add to our ever-growing mountain of dirty laundry by changing clothes after we get up?! Honestly, for me, this is more about being comfy that it is laziness. I am wearing my robe, lounge clothes, and fluffy warm socks 90% of my life. OK, I realize that sounds bad…. and you’re probably totally judging me right now, and that’s ok. Hey, it’s not for everyone! But for me, and my kids who also have a love for the PJS ALL DAY movement, being in our comfiest clothes just puts us at ease. And no, my husband doesn’t mind that I’m in my robe all the time. In fact, I would dare say it makes him all the more appreciative when I do get dressed up, style my hair and apply makeup. And yes, if we go out, the first thing I usually do upon returning home is crawl back into those comfy lounge clothes and my fluffy warm robe I am so fond of! Besides that, have you ever tried hunting for clothes and making sure a large family is fully dressed every day?? It’s not a walk in the park my friends!
Tip #4 – Let your older kids help your littles
As moms, we can often feel like our entire day is spent running from one kid to another, making food, pouring drinks, changing diapers, kissing owies, finding lost socks… the list goes on! When you’re a homeschool momma, there are even more demands and needs to tend to daily. It can be a huge weight to carry bearing the additional responsibility of making sure our children have an adequate education. But we don’t HAVE to carry all that weight alone!
If you are blessed enough to have children who are older, there are so many ways they can help out. That being said, don’t think that means I am endorsing a pattern of relying on your more mature children TOO much. That being said, being in a large family requires a lot of teamwork. Here are some examples of things I often delegate to my older kiddos…
- pouring a little a drink or helping them with a snack
- helping with basic skills, flash cards, giving a spelling test
- entertaining baby/toddler while I’m working with another child one-on-one
- helping with chores and tasks around the house (younger kids can do chores too)
- preparing lunches for the family
- reading aloud to/with other kids
The great thing about having your older kids help out in these ways is they are getting real-life experience with grown-up skills in a safe, supervised environment. They can learn patience, how to encourage others, life skills (cooking/cleaning), etc. Not only that, but contributing to the welfare of the family helps them to develop identity and strong character! It’s a win-win.
Tip #5 – Prioritize and set realistic expectations
While all the tips and hacks for homeschool moms I’ve shared previously are both practical and helpful, this tip may be the MOST important!! Let me speak seriously to you mama… YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALL! Now I realize that it sometimes feels that way, but do you know what I have realized over the years? WE are the ONLY ones that expect so much from ourselves. I bet if you asked your husband and your kids what they expect from you as a wife or mother, their answers would be VERY different than what you think they are! Go ahead, ask! I’ll wait…
Sometime in the next 24 hours, give yourself a few moments (quiet moments if you can manage it), and write down all the things you think you need to do in a day or in a week. Then rate each of those things in importance from 1 to 5 (1 being super important and 5 being not really that important). Then, and here’s the really key step to this process, give yourself permission to let everything you rated 4 or 5 go!! If you have the time and energy in a day to get to those things – awesome! Go for it. But refuse to beat yourself up if you don’t, because I promise you, your Father in Heaven doesn’t want you feeling less-than what you truly are – an amazing wife and mama! <3
I hope my little list of tips and hacks for homeschool moms has helped you in some way! If it has, please leave me a comment and let me know,
Do YOU have tips or hacks to share? I would LOVE to hear them! Leave me a comment and share what you’ve learned with other readers below.