My close friends would agree that the majority of our conversations are about time, whether it’s talking about our to-do lists, projects we’re working on, relationships with children and/or spouse, meal planning, etc. The list is never-ending, as you know. There is always so much to do, and always so little time, or so it seems. The Balancing Act, as I like to call it, is something that I’ve struggled with for years. However, I’ve just recently found some peace amid the chaos by changing the way I look at things and being a better manager of my various budgets.
As a Homeschooling Family
- Learn to say no to various opportunities that may arise. Develop a family mission statement. Test each opportunity against it. If it coincides with your families core values and goals, then do it! If it doesn’t, pass on it.
- Several studies I’ve read show that homeschooling is actually less expensive than public school. I rarely pay full price for anything. When it comes to curriculum, I may buy at full price, just because I know three boys will get the benefit of it throughout the years.
Overall, Redeemed Music and Books is a great resource or the SACHL Library, Springfield’s local homeschool lending library. You can find a Resource Center and Homeschool Curriculum Explorer under the Homeschool tab at Mardel.com. This is a great tool to determine what type of program would best suit your family. Once you have determined what curriculum you like, then head to the SACHL Library or Redeemed to save.
- My teaching style is a mixture of traditional and classical. The finished part of my basement is my classroom. I like that the kids can transition from “play time” into a more structured classroom like environment. I like to get their energy out by playing outside and getting inside and outdoor chores done first before we start our school time.
It’s helpful to plan fun activities after their assignments are finished so they have something to work toward, whether it’s craft time, video game time or a trip to the park. Providing breaks is necessary to keep kids focused. When my kids are 3-years-old to 5-years-old, I do shorter sessions, maybe 20 to 30 minutes in length, a couple of times a day.
And remember: Don’t stress yourself out–homeschooling is flexible! The work will get done.
- Seize any opportunity as a homeschool lesson. Whether it’s categorizing the laundry, having your child measure out recipe items needed for a meal, discussing the plant life cycle as you’re watering your vegetable garden, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Plan ahead and spend within your family’s budget. With all the academic, sports, field trips and arts co-ops, it can get overwhelming and costly—but it doesn’t have to.
- We allow our boys each two sports a year to participate in. We will also begin attending a Classical Conversation group weekly this fall. With this being known, we are able to set aside money in advance so we aren’t overwhelmed with unexpected expenses that we weren’t prepared for.
The YMCA is a great place to be a member, as well. They offer homeschool programs, sports, art classes, etc. for a discounted rate for being a member.
As a Mom
Personally, I thrive on planning out a weekly schedule. It helps me to stay focused and get a lot accomplished.
Even on a daily basis, I break down time into increments and plan certain activities within those time slots.
For instance, after breakfast each morning we spend time putting laundry away, watering the plants, tidying up and feeding the dog. Then instead of trying to check more things off my to-do-list, I grab my cup of coffee and follow the boys outside to watch them play, and play with them.
In the past, I found that it seemed like all I did was clean and never really “played” with my kids. I didn’t want them to think back about their childhood and remember Mom always cleaning or managing remedial tasks that came with running a home. I had to realize that I’m creating the legacy I want to leave my kids.
Having fun, playing and building deep relationships with my boys will always be more important than making sure the dishes have all been done. In the past, I struggled with even relaxing until my entire house was clean. Now, I can go to bed with dishes in the sink knowing there were more important things to do.
My tip for keeping a clean house with three boys is to clean as you go so that things don’t pile up.
Giving my boys age appropriate chores is also important and helps with the workload. They help out a lot and are capable of more than we think! We stress that our family is a team, and for things to run smoothly, we all need to pitch in and help one another.
Designating certain days for certain activities has also helped, such as breaking school subjects up by days, designating Saturday as your “deep” cleaning day or making a day for running errands.
Most Important Relationship
My most important relationship is with my spouse. If I want to have a great home life and well-adjusted kids, I need to cultivate my marriage by investing time into it. You can’t expect to yield a crop if you never water it. Marriage is the same. It takes a lot of work and dedication. I believe firmly in date nights and kissing in front of your kids. Displaying your commitment and love is the best thing you can do for them.
If you don’t do date nights, start. If money is an issue, think of creative “free” ways to connect.
My family is my first ministry. My personal growth has been most affected by the selfless acts it takes being a mom and wife. Serving them brings me so much joy.
Let’s face it, though: Everyone needs some time to themselves. I enjoy reading after my boys are in bed and after I’ve spent time with my husband, Chris. Learning new ideas from the Bible and Christian marriage and parenting books of how to be a better teacher, friend, wife, and/or mom is invaluable to me.
Girl time with my friends is also so important. We all need encouragement and support, and sometimes girlfriends are the best for the job! Most of the time we create playdates, but every so often, we leave the kids behind for coffee and kid-free discussion.
The most important thing I’ve learned is to stop being so hard on myself and to get off Facebook and Pinterest! I will never have those perfect days or that perfect décor, so why take that precious time away from my family? Treasure the moments now, let the dishes go, and go play outside with the kids.