“I’m so busy!”
“How will I ever be able to get it all done?”
Have you ever felt this way? Are you dealing with homeschool overwhelm? You’re not alone. It happens to us all.
What can you do to remedy this feeling of being overwhelmed? Let’s talk strategy.
1. Know Your WHY
On the hard days (and we all have them!), you have to remind yourself WHY you decided to homeschool.
Yes, I know that on the days when everything just feels “off” and the kids aren’t getting along, you wonder if the sibling bonding you were hoping to encourage is a realistic goal.
It’s easy to look at others and compare. But don’t!
Your WHY may be different from the other moms in your homeschool group, and that’s okay.
Are you embracing homeschooling this year because your son needs that one-one-one attention and help with math? Embrace it.
Is your family homeschooling this year because the flexibility it provides allows you to take days off when dad is home? Perfect.
Did you decide to homeschool for another year because you want to teach your children a certain worldview, and the private school is just too expensive? No worries.
Know your family’s priorities in educating the kids at home and be content. Make a family priority list and put it in a prominent location. Help your kids understand why this choice was the best fit right now. This will help those feelings of overwhelm to decrease.
But you can’t stop there! Let’s move from the theoretical to the practical.
2. Simplify Your Schedule
Most of us have too much on our calendars. Our 21st century culture loves to be busy. It’s like a badge of honor. Except it’s not.
If everything is important, than nothing is important.
Saying no to crazy busy is essential if you are to say yes to the best things.
Remember strategy 1: Know Your WHY
Let’s start there. Treat your calendar as you would a zero-based budget.
With a zero-based budget, you take everything off the expenses list and analyze each line item that you want to include. You are not starting with a baseline of what you’ve always spent. Each item has to be reevaluated thoroughly and approved. Increased spending in one area has to be compensated by decreased spending in another area, because the amount of money is always finite.
Similarly, take everything off your family calendar. Start with a blank slate.
Then slowly put things back on based on your WHY and your family’s priorities in this season.
What is essential? Add that in first.
Do you have babies or toddlers? Your current season will dictate your capabilities and priorities. Your schedule should reflect that. Don’t compare your season of life to a homeschool mom with all teenagers in the house. It will not be the same!
Are you dealing with health issues or are you a caregiver for someone? Adjust your schedule accordingly. Don’t assume that you will be able to handle everything you’ve always done.
Okay, once the essentials are in, decide how much mental, emotional, and physical room is left for additional commitments.
Control your schedule. Don’t let it control you.
Once the schedule and calendar are under control, you have to evaluate your daily and weekly routines.
3. Establish Routine & Workflow
Routine doesn’t equal rigid schedules with school bells on the hour! Routines are great for all schooling types, including unschooling.
Another way to say it is, what do you want the normal flow of your day to look like? If you can figure out what kind of flow will work well in your family, then communicate it to the kids and it will take the overwhelm out of your day.
There are multiple ways to create a flow that allows you to communicate expectations to your kids while at the same time taking the pressure off of mom to manage all the people in the house.
Here are a dozen ideas for using a routine to stave off that feeling of overwhelm:
- Visual lists :: the littlest ones will benefit from a routine with pictures
- workboxes :: an organization system using ordered bins that include the school work for the children to progress through on a daily basis
- charts :: good old-fashioned lists
- loop schedules :: first A, then B, then C, then back to A… (afternoon time today is history, but tomorrow will be science, then art, then back to history)
- morning basket :: morning routine to unify your whole family for the day; can include read-alouds, memory work, art, Bible time
- timers :: kids use simple timers to know when to move on to the next responsibility (30 minutes of reading, 15 minutes of handwriting)
- time block schedules :: block off certain hours of the day to make sure you cover everything on your daily list
- checklists :: kids love to check things off as much as adults do! Use a simple spiral notebook to make a daily list each day, or laminate your child’s list and have them check off with a dry-erase marker
- trello :: the high-tech workflow checklist app that my teens love!
- assignment notebook :: some kids need the accountability of a paper assignment book. Check your dollar store for options that are easy on the budget.
- flow chart :: instead of assigning times to each subject (math at 10, science at 11), write a flow for your day (morning time, math, reading, lunch, finish independent work, play)
- dry erase board :: your kids will have a hard time ignoring a great checklist, loop schedule, or flow chart written on a dry erase board!
You might know your WHY, have a simplified schedule, and even have great routines in place, but if you’re always tripping over clutter or can’t find your supplies, then you will still feel overwhelmed! This next step is for you:
4. Clutter Control
Most of us just have too much stuff.
And because we school at home, we are always around our stuff. We can’t escape it.
Even if you have to take a day off of school to start decluttering, do it! It will be worth it in the long-run.
Go ahead and do it tomorrow. Or today. It will get worse before it gets better.
Get your kids to help. Have a friend come over to help with decision fatigue.
You know the drill. Have four areas or bins: Sell, Donate, Trash, Relocate.
Even your children will get the declutter bug if they realize they can sell some of those extra toys for money on eBay! Give it a try, you’ll be surprised what all your stuff is worth.
Too much trouble to sell stuff? Then take a big van-load over to your local thrift store and donate it to a good cause.
Did you just find that history curriculum you thought you had loaned out? There you go, stick it in the relocate pile and make sure it gets put away where it belongs.
Too many happy meal toys? Old art projects that are crumpled in a pile? Random pieces from a game you got rid of? Trash it all. There, that was simple!
Your homeschool will feel 30 pounds lighter after a good decluttering.
Now that the calendar and the house feel lighter, it’s time to set things on auto-pilot. This will help your days to run smoother and curb that overwhelm.
5. Automate Household Chores
Yes, when you’re homeschooling, the kids are home. A lot. We live here too. We make messes. We learn. We play.
But we also have the unique opportunity to include our children in the running of the household.
Make it part of your daily routine for the kids to vacuum the floor every other day. Another child can be in charge of making lunch. Someone else can clean the sink.
Everyone over the age of four can definitely learn to do their own laundry! Sure, they might not fold like you would prefer, but who cares?
Automate as much as you can into your routine and expect the kids to contribute.
Now it’s your turn! Get to work with these strategies and let us know how it goes.
If you’re fighting overwhelm, try these strategies. I know that when I have these five areas under control, my homeschool days are much smoother.
What would you add to this list? Comment below. We will all benefit to hear what YOU do to conquer homeschool overwhelm.