I mentioned last week that this time of year becomes a real struggle for me. The truth is that there are a few times each year when I struggle. The struggle comes from being unbalanced. Either I focus on the house and other areas get left behind. Or, I’m caught up on all of my blogging jobs and I’m behind on grading papers. Or, I’m caught up on my lesson planning and my house is a mess. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Balancing life and homeschool takes some real skill at times. Other times, I just have to learn to let some things slide. Certain seasons in our house are busier than others. Dance competition season is always busier than any other time of year. In addition to extra rehearsals, we travel on the weekends which are usually my “catch-up” days.
So, how does a busy momma balance life and homeschooling? I’m not sure I’m ever truly balanced!
Balancing Life and Homeschool
Let It Go
For real! Sometimes, I just have to let somethings go. I have to say no to outside commitments. I have to lower my expectations. I have to decide that “good enough” is all I have at the moment.
I’m only one person. Because my husband works outside the home, I oversee the day-to-day running of the house. I am the overseer of the family calendar. And, I’m the sole educator.
During a busy rehearsal season or when Em and I have been traveling for dance, I have to let some things go. My house is picked up, but it’s not deep-cleaned. Lessons are completed, but I may not grade them for a week or two. Laundry will be washed, but may be piled on a chair once it’s folded as I rush to wrap up school for the day before we hit the road for rehearsal.
Set Your Priorities
When Emma was rehearsing for Alice in Wonderland with the Cincinnati Ballet earlier this year, she had only a handful of days off from dance over a six-week period. Oftentimes, she would head straight from rehearsal to dance classes at her home studio. To say we were crazy-busy is a total understatement.
I had to set priorities in order to survive those weeks. We did only the basics in school – math, science, history, grammar, Bible, and lit. We put art, Latin, music, and vocabulary away. I made sleep a priority so that she could stay healthy. I let her sleep in. We did some schoolwork in the car, and we tried hard not to fall too far behind schedule.
I also made dinners a priority. We were rarely home for a family meal during those weeks, but when we were, we cherished the special family time we were spending together. When we get more time to spend as a family, I’m thinking of getting something like an extendable dining table and chairs to make sure that our family meals are always awesome, unlike now where we can hardly ever all get home for dinner. But, I spent Christmas break freezer cooking so that my guys would have a homemade, hot dinner most nights. I would set something out to thaw, and then I’d rely on my teenagers to stick dinner in the oven while I was on the road. I would use leftovers from those meals to pack Emma a dinner to eat in the car on the way from rehearsal to dance class.
Housekeeping was not a priority, and you don’t even want to know how bad that got! Just keepin’ it real, folks!
As I mentioned above, when life gets really busy I have to delegate. In order to focus on the important stuff – whatever that is at the moment – I have to let others help me out. My teenagers can pitch in with dinner and clean up. My driving-age kids can help with errands or driving their sister to dance. Each of the kids has a chore list, and sometimes they have to pitch in and do a little extra.
When all three were homeschooling at the same time, there were times I had my oldest give the youngest a spelling test so I could work with my middle kiddo. Or, I had the middle one play with the youngest so I could help my oldest. That helped to keep things moving along a little better than everyone waiting their turn with me.
Squeeze It In When You Can
Oftentimes, I try to squeeze in a chore or two while Emma is working independently. I can throw dinner in the crockpot while she watches CNN Student News in the morning. Or, I can switch laundry while she watches her math DVD. This helps with the day-to-day picking up. Most of the time, the more time-intensive chores like scrubbing bathrooms and vacuuming has to wait until everyone is home and can pitch in.
What are your tips for balancing life and homeschooling?