Now I am not your typical home school mom. I did not yearn to have children, or be a stay-at-home mom. It just happened that way. This being said, since I was out of my ‘comfort zone’ I needed a few modifications that are not typical in your average home in order to keep my sanity. They may help you keep yours as well.
1. Set up your bedroom just like a college dorm. That’s right. Mini-fridge, toaster oven/microwave, radio, TV. Anything you need to create a space that you and your husband can call ‘yours.’ With the children being home 24/7 it is nice to occasionally eat a brownie in peace without someone (okay seven someone’s) asking, ‘Can I have one too?’
2. Date Night. Have a night every week that is just for you and your spouse. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it cannot be time to do the chores. Adult conversation and proof that someone loves you for who you are is necessary to maintain sanity.
3. Volunteer Doing Something You Believe In. You can do this with the kids, but it gives you a sense of being useful and connected with the outside world. It also gets you out of the house, so you don’t focus on how messy and chaotic it has gotten lately.
4. Have Friends. I once told my children that, even if they did not like Gym and Swim, they would be going anyways because I liked the group of mothers who took their children there. While the children played, we talked. Thankfully my kids enjoyed it too. Bible studies are also a great place to meet people and they typically have childcare available.
5. Plan. Nothing kills a home school like lack of planning. Know what you need to get through each day to be ‘done’ by the end of the year. Without planning you will always feel like you have not done enough, and you will likely be behind. No child wants to hear that they did not finish history so they will be doing it over summer break.
6. Set boundaries. Home school should have an end time. If you say they should be done by 3 pm, then they are still responsible for the work after 3, but you are not responsible for nagging and/or helping past this time. No TV, video games etc until the work is done and they will slowly learn to do their work when they are supposed to, without dawdling. If they still have work in the morning, then it is added to the next day’s work. Weekends will be busy for them if they keep this up! You don’t have to be on top of them during this time, just close enough to make sure they didn’t sneak off to do something else. (You can have some mercy if they have a legitimate question, but don’t fall into the trap of answering foolishness every two seconds.)
7. Take Breaks When Needed. If you, as an adult, are tired and need a change, then chances are so do your children. Have them do every other math problem, and only read (not answer the questions) in their assignments and then go on a field trip. Local museums are educational and fun, and many things count as ‘gym.’ This is not for every day, but becomes much more necessary sometime around February for some reason… (sick of winter?)
8. Keep things in Perspective. A home schooling house will not be as clean as a home where the people leave for long periods of the day, nor will you have the time to do everything you might like to do. Your children will also not be ‘perfect’ and may struggle in one or more subjects. Kids struggle in school too. Do not blow things out of proportion and get overwhelmed. Four of my children were in the 90 something percentile for everything except spelling. I am sending one of them to college this year. He has a full scholarship, and that’s right, he can’t spell! One of my adopted children, born with cocaine in his system, who struggles with school can spell anything without thinking about it. (So it’s not my teaching. Spelling can be learned in my house!) Every child has their gifts, and their weak points. Learn to be okay with it.
9. Get help when necessary. Everyone is bad at something. You can have a friend teach science labs, or another tutor math. If you excelled in school, but failed in housework (like me) you can have someone come in and clean. (I did not keep my housekeeper, because it was not worth the criticisms from some of the other mothers and we just messed it up the next day… but I probably should have!) and that leads me to my next point…
10. Edit your friends’ list. People who criticize and put you down are not friends; they are Pharisees. Jesus did not play well with them and neither should you. (I learned this a little late.)
I hope this helps. Our home school is doing well, despite many mishaps and bumps. Hopefully yours is too!