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Q&A: How do you manage homeschooling and homemaking without the house falling apart?

How do you manage to homeschool, take care of your house and have young children without the house looking like a toy store, art store and grocery store blew up? -Jessica

Great question, Jessica!

I think many people have this unrealistic picture that I just sit around in this perfectly clean and organized home and do geography lessons, hands-on science experiments and read for hours on end with my three children with nary an interruption or mess.

Truth be told, we have plenty of messes. There are days when I never make it out of my pajamas and it seems like while I’m cleaning up one mess, the children are in the other room making an even bigger mess.

I love being a mom. I love homeschooling. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Not by a long stretch. There are days when I want to pull my hair out. There are many days when I feel so overwhelmed with the responsibility of training and raising three children. There are days when I just want to give up and give in.

But, I’m slowly learning and growing as a mom. Learning what works and what doesn’t work. Learning to rely upon the Lord more. And, most of all, learning to let go of my expectations and my perfectionism.

There are many moms who are much farther along in their mothering journey who likely have much more wisdom to share, but here are a few things I’ve found to be tremendously helpful:

1) Accept the Fact That It Will Be Never Perfect

One of the quotes from The Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family that I loved was, “Embrace the Chaos”. This has helped me so much.

Children are being raised, trained and nurtured in our home and this means that it’s not going to be perfect — or even close. Messes, spills, sticky peanut butter fingerprints are inevitable. When I let go of perfectionism and accept that this life of mine isn’t going to be all neat and tidy all the time, I’m a much more relaxed and cheerful mom.

2) Ask God for Patience

Many days, I feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing this mothering thing. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it forces me to my knees on a very regular basis to ask the Lord to help me. I try to start each day with time reading God’s Word and praying asking the Lord to please give me patience, love and joy as I teach and care for my children. I need His help and grace every moment of every day!

3) Have a Plan

I’m not a fan of rigid, regimented schedules. They just don’t work for this fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.

A routine, however, is a lifesaver for me. Having on paper set blocks of time for our main priorities in each day has been very beneficial to me. We get more done, life is more organized and instead of having to worry about what we’re going to do next, we just do the next thing on our routine list.

We’re always tweaking our routine (and that’s the beauty of it!), but here’s how our summer schedule currently looks for us:

I wake up sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. I read my Bible, pray, read for 10 minutes from my current book, exercise, blog for a bit, take a shower and get dressed.

Our day “officially” starts at 8 a.m. Sometimes the children wake up before then and, if so, they have free time until 8 a.m. At 8 a.m., we have breakfast, read our Bible devotional together and work on our Bible memory verses.

8:30 all the children take baths, get dressed and get their hair fixed.

9:00 is chore time. This is when I do the bulk of the house cleaning. I have daily chores that I do on a daily basis (clean the kitchen, wipe down the counter tops, clean up my room, etc.) and day-of-the-week chores that I do once a week.

The girls are responsible for their room and bathroom, plus they help out with emptying trashes and vacuuming. Once they get their chores done, they can play until 10:00.

10:00 is homeschooling time. We do My Father’s World, Math, Reading and Penmanship (we’re already finished with History, Art and Science until the fall) around the kitchen table.

Kaitlynn and Silas listen in and work on busy bags, coloring, bean-scooping, etc. I have a big tub with activities that I rotate for them to do. They usually only stick with one activity for 10-15 minutes, so I stop and get them set up with something else as needed.

Kathrynne usually doesn’t finish up all her work during this time so she’ll work on finishing it up after lunch.

11:00 is read-aloud time (during the school year, we bump this time to the afternoon and continue homeschool time here). I read a few picture books and then a few chapters from our current read-aloud book. The children often play with Legos on the living room floor while I read. I’ve found that they seem to listen better when their hands are busy.

11:45 the children can go outside to play in the backyard while I switch the laundry, make lunch and check in on blogging stuff.

12:30 is lunch time. If we’re still in the middle of an exciting part in our read-aloud, I’ll often read again during part of lunch.

1:30 is quiet time. Silas goes down for a nap, Kaitlynn reads books in her room (usually falling asleep) and Kathrynne reads or plays quietly (or finishes up her school work). I do most of my blogging during this time. In the fall, Kathrynne will be working on finishing up her homework during this time, plus reading.

3:00 (or whenever Silas wakes up) is snack time. If the children have all their chores and Kathrynne has all her school done done, they are free to play until dinner. They sometimes play very nicely, other times, it’s complete chaos… we’re still working on that. 🙂 I get dinner made, pick up, fold and put a load of laundry away and finish up any blogging/computer tasks if I have time or need to.

6:00 is dinner time. We usually take our time around the table, talking about the day, getting into rousing discussions, etc. Dinner sometimes lingers until 7:30 or later. After dinner, we quickly clean up, the children get their jammies on and teeth brushed and then we have our family Bible Time. After that, the children go to bed.

8:30 is our time as a couple. Sometimes, we have an “at-home date night” complete with a movie and some sort of treat. Sometimes, we both have projects to work on so we’ll just hang out in the same room with our laptops (the glamorous life of both being self-employed!). Other times, we just talk.

10:30 to 11:00 is typically lights out. Yes, we’re “early birds” like that — and sometimes I konk out soon after the kiddos go to bed! (I’ve always wished I could be one of those people who thrives on 5 1/2 hours of sleep. But alas, I’ve learned need at least 6 1/2 to 7 hours every night — preferably a little more! — to function well.)

4) Focus on One Habit at a Time

It’s so easy to want to change our homes and selves overnight. But that’s entirely unrealistic.

We all have areas we need to grow and improve in. We all have things we want to instill in our children. But none of us can do it all at once.

One thing I’ve found to be very helpful is to make a list of all the areas I want to work on and then just choose one area to focus on for three months. Instead of trying to get up earlier, make healthier meals, exercise, read more and learn how to knit all in the same month, pace yourself and pick the highest priority goal first. Once you feel like you’ve somewhat mastered it, add in something else.

Slow and gradual improvements tend to be much more long-lasting — and much less exhausting!

5) Give Yourself Grace

Superwoman is a myth. No woman does everything and every woman has her areas she struggles with.

Having a plan for our day has helped me tremendously, but nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan. There are always unexpected interruptions, messes, children with bad attitudes and many, many disruptions to each day.

I used to beat myself up that I wasn’t as organized and efficient as I wanted to be. But I started realizing how unproductive this was as it only served to discourage me.

I’m slowly learning to give myself grace. When I’m tired, I’m learning to choose sleep over a spotlessly clean kitchen. When I’m feeling burnt out, I’m learning to let myself not worry about blogging or laundry for a few hours and just go do something fun with the children, with my husband or with a friend.

Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored not run through at breakneck speed. Take time to stop and smell the roses, even if it means fewer things get crossed off the to-do list!

I’d love to hear suggestions from the rest of you on balancing homemaking and toddlers (and homeschooling, if you do that, too!). I’m constantly learning and would love to hear your ideas!

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191 Comments

  • I love seeing the 8:00 am Bible devotions together–this is how my youngest learned to read. She sat beside me with her Bible and pointed at almost every word as she read her chapter saying, “what is that word?” Then she skipped some, then many and eventually she asked only a few words. And today she is our Bible scholar–she even has a bachelor in Biblical Studies from Moody–and she loves to share her knowledge and discuss theology. So many fond memories–thanks for taking me down memory lane today. And having at least a rough schedule does make the day go smoother.

    • MK says:

      What an encouraging post! I’m so grateful you do not limit moneysavingmom to coupon deals and best buys.
      Do press on and know that your more personal posts serve your sisters in Christ out here who pray for you and want to do so specifically. Thank you for putting yourself out there for the glory of God.

  • kristi gough says:

    Thank you for this post. Although I don’t homeschool my five children, I often find myself discouraged and frustrated because I can’t do it all. I am very thankful and humbled that there are others out there that don’t have a spotless house and aren’t beating themselves over it.

  • Melissa Ceccofiglio says:

    I REALLY enjoyed reading this!! I have a 3.5 year old who will start VPK in the fall…I plan once that is done to home-school him for kindergarten (our state requires 1 year of state/government funded school before they can do a virtual school). I constantly struggle with my ADHD, and worry that adding teacher to my daily list of duties will stress me out more…but I like the way you have your schedule laid out and made me realize it’s doable!! Thank you so much for taking the time to type this up!! :O)

  • Jennifer says:

    There were so many good nuggets here, but the one that really struck me was having something for the little guys to do while you’re homeschooling.

    I’m more of a relaxed, unstructured play person for the little guys, but realized this didn’t work well last year when I had a 9 year old special needs child doing virtual learning on the computer, and a 3 year old and 1 year old.

    I would set the 9 year old up, then go do whatever I needed to get done and tell the babies “Okay, go play.” The result was they would wind up at the computer, bugging the 9 year old.

    Last year was a crazy year of changes for us as we faced the fact that we had a special needs child, brought him home to school and scheduled in doctor appointments and group therapy. Much of his schooling (and life!) was “just get it done”. This year I hope to be much more organized and fun with his schoolwork, and I’m also going to incorporate these “busy box” ideas for my little ones.

    Thanks!!

  • Brighid says:

    I’m on the other end of the homeschooling spectrum – I have teenagers! A couple of things that worked over time, knowing that needs change.

    When you have a baby, don’t expect to be on time. Your friends and relatives who have had children already know this.

    When you’re planning on an important-to-you visitor, consider hiring a cleaning lady for that short time. When I was 8 months pregnant and had a two year old, my husband’s grandmother was coming to visit. There was no way that I could get the house ready for this wonderful gracious lady.

    Even if your very active children don’t need a nap, you need the quiet time! As Crystal wrote, quiet time still needs to happen.

    As far as homeschooling goes, I’ve come to accept that in our home, it happens year round. There’s less to do in the summer, and I do planning for the following year during that time.

  • Crystal says:

    What a helpful and encouraging post! I stay at home with my toddler, have a work at home part-time job, and do often get discouraged that I am unable to do everything I would like. I agree that routine is key….and this post reinforced how important that is to continue. We have a second child on the way, so I know it will only get more challenging to get things done. I love your prayer of “patience, love and joy as I teach and care for my children”. I am going to write that one down and stick it to my bathroom mirror so I remember to include this in my prayers every morning! Your blog is such a blessing! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Crystal,
      I have been looking for a wah position myself and am having trouble finding legit businesses. I was wondering what do you do? Thanks so much..

      • Debera Jackson says:

        I have a small business through Premier Designs. A Biblically based company that I average $50 an hour working. I have printed your schedule and going to schedule my 15 minutes a day of work in this. This business is based around a servant’s heart. http://www.premierdesigns.com is their website.

  • Becky says:

    Thanks–I may copy off you 🙂 I’ve been needing to get our routine in shape after our move!
    Two tricks for keeping playtime happy (mine are 2,4&5)–I rotate toys. For example, put all the toy food/dishes away out of reach and pull out the building blocks. I keep a variety out for creativity and options, but keep one or two “groups” to switch in when things are getting “stale.” 2nd, on days when bickering is a problem during that 4-5 dinner fixing time, I bring them in the kitchen and have them sit in one assigned spot with one or two toys or books. I tell them that it is because they were fighting and I need them to be where I can see them so I know what’s going on. They aren’t allowed to physically interact at all–no touching, throwing, etc. Often (not always) after ten or fifteen minutes they are ready to go back to playing more harmoniously. Sometimes they stay there till dinner-but I’m trying to communicate that bickering isn’t an option.

  • Denise says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have 5 kids – 2 school age, 3 toddlers, I homeschool, and we have a small farm. It gets crazy!! Thank you for making my life seem more ‘normal’! For us, art class is for everyone, as is phys ed, cooking, sign language, etc. If we don’t need a text book, everyone gets involved. We read together, Bible time together, plant the garden together, harvest and can together, we cook together. The kids have morning and lunchtime chores, so everyone pitches in. We have a ‘blitz’ everyday around 4:30 to try to get the house looking decent before daddy gets home. We make it fun. When the kids are in bed, it’s time to do the next day’s lesson plan. Its hectic, but I wouldn’t trade it, even on the days when I want to pull my hair out! Thanks again!

    • Amanda says:

      Oh Denise! I have two school age, two toddlers and am expecting my fifth within the next few weeks! I’m so glad to hear that this is doable. LOL This post was so encouraging, but seeing that someone is also doing it in a houseful of toddlers is so heartening!

  • Thanks for sharing this. Our boys are 8, and our daughter is 22 months. That huge difference in age has made me learn toddlerhood all over again. Hence, the post I sent you on Time and Toddler Management. I have to confess, that I do have the image of you sitting at your computer blogging, taking a break to home school your darlins, and then swooshing into the grocery store to wave your magical coupon wand and then share the deals with us.

    One thing that works for me is to do as much as I can the night before to make the next day easier-http://myfavoritefinds.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-can-i-do-today-to-make-tomorrow.html
    That is often my saving grace. That and I need a good schedule. Thanks again for sharing this glimpse into your life. I appreciate everything you share on your site. You’re a true blessing.

    • Sarah says:

      I completely agree, Carrie! I don’t know about others, but, for me, preparation is key! If I don’t prepare beforehand (usually each night for the next day), it likely won’t get done! I notice that as a theme in most areas of my life, as well 🙂

  • Dana says:

    You are a constant source of inspiration! I love visiting your blog to read what you have to say! I feel I struggle with most of these areas and, especially since summer is here without the structure of a school schedule, I have been feeling a little lost. I have found that when I go to bed knowing what I am going to do the next day, I get so much more done. When I wake up and don’t have a clear idea of what I am going to do, very little gets done! I will be using your schedule as a loose example to make one for myself. Thanks again for all you do!

  • Laurie says:

    thank you SO much for this. This has been a topic heavily on my mind as my 3yo is really interested in starting some school work. I know we don’t have to get heavily into anything now, but just knowing that a day is coming when I’ll have big one to school and little ones to entertain, and so often I already feel like I can’t keep up with kids and household! This is very helpful and encouraging to me. Thanks again!

  • AMEN! What an excellent post. I wrote one similar about a year ago because people ask me the same thing all the time. As a homeschool mom who also provides childcare and runs a virtual assistant business from my home and volunteers with numerous organizations, I have to say, I don’t do it “alone”…my family helps tremendously! Of course, having kids who are 16, 14 and 11 is a bit “easier” in that sense than when my kids were younger.
    Have a blessed day and enjoy your calling!

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have four kiddos and I am in the middle of an organization/scheduling overhaul. I am hoping to begin homeschooling my oldest 2 (one kindergarten and one preschool) in the fall and your schedule and tips are so well timed! As if God knew what I needed to read 🙂
    Thanks so much!

  • mariah says:

    This was well said. Our schedule, minus the homeschooling, looks very similar to this. I have 3 kids, 6, 4, and 2. I let my boys (the older ones) play batman legos on the xbox for a little bit after getting their chores done. boys are MUCH harder to motivate to clean up than girls. 🙂

    I’ve started a new system that I incorporate one hour of each day. For us, it works, because we aren’t super busy. It goes such as this:

    Monday- Maintenance Day-i.e. tighten screws under table, fix screen door, etc. and Zone clean (via flylady.net)

    Tuesday- Trim Day- Trim hair (once a month or every other week), trim nails, keep up with appearance day, basically. I also give my daughter and I manicures and pedicures this day.

    Wednesday-Wardrobe Day-re-organize each closet, move out clothes that are too small, ripped or stained, etc…soak stained items, iron clothes, polish shoes, etc

    Thursday- Tackle Day- I tackle all errands. Groceries, Goodwill run, Library, etc. (this is a half day)

    Friday-Filing, Finances, and Fun Day—I do finances, file away mail/flyers from the week, and choose a free or cheap outting for the kids for fun.

    Saturday-Siesta Day- We sleep in this day and take it leisurely, but we also do yard work or clean out garage if we’re in the mood.

    Sunday- Smart Day- We get ready for the week. Make sure all clothes needed through the week are clean, ironed, and hung. I make a menu plan, schedule in events that come up, and make sure our cell phones are charged up.

    This is, of course, is a guideline, some weeks operate this way, others get half the attention.

  • Jan says:

    how do your children go to bed so early and sleep in so late? my daughter goes to bed at 8:30pm (she is 6) and she gets up between 6:30am-7:00am!

    • Crystal says:

      I’m not sure. I guess we just have good sleepers around here. 🙂 If they get up before 6:30 a.m., they are grouchy, so I send them back to bed (or send them to get in our bed) until it’s time to get up.

      • Katie says:

        got blessed us with good sleepers too! If we have a good active day, I find all of them will sleep at least till 7am. They are 5, 3, & 2. We have a later bed time (around 8:30-9pm), but that is because they will all still nap (2hrs) if given lots of physical activity.

    • Angela says:

      My kids generally sleep 10-12 hours at night, which gives us a good strong day. No naps since ~18 months. :/

    • BethB says:

      Ha ha, I thought the same thing! I don’t homeschool and my older son has to be at school by 7:45. It’s not as tough as I thought it would be but it has shifted our wakeup time earlier. Even in the summer and weekends which is kind of a bummer but what are you doing to do?

    • April says:

      For us, early to bed = late to rise. I find that the later I put my kids to bed, the earlier they tend to get up and the crankier they are during the day. Thus, my 5, 4, and 2 year old go to bed no later than 7:30 pm and rise for the day between 7:00 am – 9:00 am. They all still take naps as well, although the older 2 sometimes nap every other day. Lots of sleep makes for happier, calmer kids at my house!

  • Dee Wolters says:

    My days with little ones are over, but as I continue in the home schooling journey your words ring true. I have 2 in college (home school grads) and 2 in high school. So, not too long ago they were all at home- in school. Advice from a great friend was to teach obedience before all else. Great advice! And love to be with your children. I do and miss them when they are away. With obedience learned it was easy to take them with me, everywhere, which I did: Grocery store, library, bank, Dr. appointments, etc. We even have taken them to business meetings: house closings, attorney appointments, etc. I always prepared them for what would happen and what I expected of them. I would also bring appropriate toys, coloring books, etc to occupy them during the boring meetings. I can’t tell you how many times people would complement us on the behaviour of our children. One time we even had an older couple we did not even know pay for our meal at a resturant because they were so impressed with the behavior of the kids- and they were all under 10.
    So in your home school journey, be in it for the long haul. The rewards are incredible and the time really does fly. My oldest 3 have been gone most of the summer: college internship, mission trip, college/ camps. I miss them dearly, but know that they are well prepared.
    Love them, hug them, read to them.

  • Your children sleep in until 8:00? WOW!

    When I had 3 little ones like you do, they were up at 5:20 every day, of their own accord. The longest sleepers slept in until 6:00.

    Something changed last year, and a couple of my earliest risers have started getting up between 6:00 and 6:30.

    I can’t complain; my mother said I would get up and jump out of my crib at 4:00 am every day when I was 1!

    • Crystal says:

      Not every day. It just depends. I have one who I usually have to drag out of bed. The others often get up sometime between 6:45 and 7:30 typically. If they get up earlier than that, they have to go back to bed. I guess they’ve learned they might as well sleep in. 🙂

  • Leighann says:

    I wish I could get my kids to go to bed earlier. Even the 2 year old refuses to go to bed before 10 p.m. If you put her in the bedroom, she’ll stay up until about 10:30 and go to bed on her own. If you wake her up at 6 a.m., she’ll nap at a good time and then stay up until after 10 ON HER OWN. Of course, they also usually sleep until about 9 or 9:30 in the morning, sometimes as late as 11, so it balanaces out (a little bit). However, it would be nice of the 2 yr old would go to bed around 8 because we can’t get anything done while she’s awake (we call her Hurricane Meghan).

    If you’ve got tips to make night-owl children go to bed early, let me know! But, she’s been like this since she was born (she slept through the night at 3 weeks, but “night” was from about 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.) so I’m thinking there’s no hope for it.

    • Crystal says:

      I have one child who loves to stay up late and sleep in late. I found that if I get her up every morning at 8, she’s much more apt to fall asleep earlier than if I let her sleep in. I can’t promise that it will work for you, but if you want your children to go to bed earlier, it might be worth a try.

      I also found the No-Cry Sleep Solution books to have some great ideas.

      • Adrienne says:

        Leighann, I would suggest you try to find the book “The Sleep Easy Solution” in a local book store, but amazon.com currently has it on sale http://www.amazon.com/Sleepeasy-Solution-Exhausted-Parents-Getting/dp/0757305601/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309388222&sr=8-1 My husband and I were at a loss with our son, he was sick from the time he was 8 months-15 months, so his sleep schedule was all messed up (sometimes not going to bed until late, or waking up 3-5 times a night). We found this book (I believe through God’s grace we found it, we were about dead from lack of sleep!) It helped A LOT. We had him in bed, asleep (on his own!) by 8 and sleeping until 6, with a 2 hour afternoon nap. . .in 4 days (I swear!) 🙂 . We’ve even used it recently, when transitioning our son from his crib to a bigger bed. I’ve bought this book for all of my friends/family members for their showers, and the ones who have used it so far, also swear by it! Good Luck!!

    • Kristine says:

      I think some people are just night owls by nature. I’ve always been that way. No matter how early I go to bed, it’s very difficult for me to get up early. I’m always tired and have trouble functioning during the day when I have to get up too early. I can accomplish more when I stay up late and can sleep in a little.

  • Valerie says:

    Do you mean you are still homeschooling? It’s summertime!

    • Crystal says:

      We school year-round, though we do a lighter version in the summer and do more fun activities. The consistency of a routine seems to work well for our family, so that’s why we stick with it year-round.

      • Valerie says:

        We do find it hard to get back into to the routine. Although, in PA we can’t “count” anything or list it on our log until July 1st for the next year so we just take a break.

        • Adrienne says:

          My mom home schooled me, and we did stuff during the summer too. Mostly light stuff, we lived near the beach so we’d do a unit on the ocean for a few weeks (we even “built” with sand a full length Blue Whale one day at the beach!), or there was a turtle pond/refuge on the base we lived on and we’d go there quite a bit to see what they were doing during different times of day and keep a log, we raised monarch butterflies one spring/summer, on road trips we learned algebra (if we’re traveling x miles, at y mph how soon will we get there etc. . .) On rainy days we’d watch educational movies and write a short essay on it, or go to the library. . .I’m still deciding if I want to home school or not, I still have a few years to figure that out, thanks for reminding me how much fun it can be! 🙂

    • Andrea Q says:

      Learning never stops.

  • Christine says:

    Crystal, I have five children and we have a very similar schedule–at least during the summer. My question is, when do you shop and run errands? That is a challenge for me.

    • Michelle Peoples says:

      We have 5 young children as well, and our schedule is very similar during the school year (we take summers off!) I hate having to do errands because of how it interrupts our day. I try lumping it all into one day and take a couple of hours after lunch (when we’re least productive anyway). I try to do a big grocery run only once every two weeks with a small, get the essentials, trip if need be.

  • B.J. says:

    I homeschool, too! One more reason I love your site! 😀 I tend to rely more on yours than other couponing sites I follow on Facebook. 😉

    Something that helps keeping me from going crazy is giving my kids the reigns as far as school work and what their little minds want to take in at that given time. I seriously cannot plan for day because I’m totally jinxing it!

  • MOMOF3 says:

    Your schedule is amazing. I grew up as an only child with basically no structure. I dont think I ever even realized I needed it until the last few years. Now that I am a mom of 3, with #4 on the way, I long for structure. It’s hard to change old habits. Am I lazy? Selfish? Is there something wrong with me? I read your list in awe. I want to be that. Look how much is accomplished when you have a plan. This is one area of my life I really want to change. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Don’t try to do it all at once. I’m a work in progress and have worked really hard the last two years to get things where they are now. I’d suggest starting with a simple morning routine of 3-5 things that you do every single morning. Commit to doing this for a month (make a chart and check it off, if that helps) and then see if you can add in another habit.

      Three children was the number that made me realize I had to get my act together or I was going to lose my mind!

      You can do it — one small step at a time!

  • “Embrace the Chaos” and “Superwoman is a myth”…..YES!!! I may need to write those on my wall…(literally, with a paint pen:) Homeschooling 5 kiddos ages 7 and under, I’m am learning that smiling and finding joy in the chaos is crucial to being a momma….rather than the grinch:) Thank you for this wonderful post!

  • Irene says:

    What are the daily and day of the week chores that you do? I am trying to implement a system like that as well for myself and the kids… any advice?

    • Lana says:

      Make a list of every chore that needs to be done each week. I started with doling out chores to the children first according to what they could do. Sometimes I filled in with very simple chores such as running a dust cloth over the window sills just so that everyone would have a chore everyday. Then the older children and myself had the real work as our chores. I revised the chore list every summer before we started back to homeschool. Once you have the first chore chart done it is easy to revise it as needed. You will most likely need to make adjustments to the first one a few times before you have something that works well. The kids always caught my mistakes like having 2 areas of the house vacuumed on the same day and we only have one vacuum cleaner. I also included a chart of who set and cleared the table and when they were older they rotated cleaning up the kitchen after supper. Now that the children are all grown I have a very detailed rotating 4 week list that covers every chore that needs to be done. Some of the chores are only on my list every 4 weeks, such as baseboard dusting. Our youngest 2 are still coming home for the summer college break but working full time jobs so they would rather pay me to do all of the chores than do them everyday. This may sound like it is not fair but we have always felt that everyone is responsible for helping at home. We still ask tat they help with yard work on Saturdays. Hope this helps!

  • Kassandra Wood says:

    One of the things that has helped me is to compare myself to no one; not the person who has it all together and not the person who makes me look like Super Mom. I do what works for our family. I do what works for me as Mom and I accept that we all come with different strengths and weaknesses for a reason. 🙂

  • I agree with Crystal regarding the night owl child. Get her/him up early for several mornings in a row…really early. She/he will probably fall asleep earlier. At least it works for me! I have always been a night owl. I remember having terrible insomnia as a child, and I still do. If I can make myself get up early, I can go to bed better.
    It looks like your routine is working well for you Crystal. That’s the important thing…find what works for you!! With my older 3, we did things a lot different than we have with the younger 7. But it works for now. We change things up as we need to.
    Great post!!

  • I think God is just trying to teach me to lean into Him! (Not that this is a bad thing 🙂 )

    My almost-3-year old is not a good sleeper (asleep around 9pm, up again about 6am and doesn’t nap.) So, I have little time to do much of anything. Blogging takes about 4-5 hours of my day, my husband works long hours, and I just can’t get into a good chores routine, so my house is never as clean as I would like. My little one is one of those “busy children”, so as we speak I have a bottle’s worth of glitter spilled on the kitchen floor and (luckily washable) paint “beautifully” adorning the back of the kitchen chairs.

    It does get discouraging. No matter what your situation, how many children you have, you’re going to feel discouraged and frustrated if you’re doing it in your own strength. I pray the Lord will allow me to bless someone every day…including my husband and children.

    When I remember that being a mother and a wife is a PRIVILEGE and not a chore, I have a much better attitude.

    • BethB says:

      I completely sympathize. My almost 5 y/o hasn’t napped in more than a year and a half and my 2 year old has always been very inconsistent in terms of nap schedule and length. It’s very frustrating because I can’t plan work time. Honestly, my kids watch a little more TV than they probably should (1-1.5 hours per day) but sometimes I need the work or even nap time. If I have a stretch of evening rehearsals that put me home late being able to lay down for 20 minutes and sleep lightly while they watch TV really helps. I feel guilty about it but I try to remember it’s not an every day thing and it’s just what we have to do during this season of life. Oh well.

      I also agree completely about the attitude. I have trouble keeping that in check when I’m super tired.

      Good luck to you.

  • tara says:

    Crystal- why do you homeschool your children? Do you see any savings in doing so? I don’t understand why people do this when their are professionals at school that do this. I am not trying to mock you in any way, so please don’t take it that way.

    Thanks!

    • Crystal says:

      We homeschool for many reasons — none of which have to do with saving money.

      My husband and I were both homeschooled and we loved the experience of getting to learn at our own pace, as well as being able to pursue specific interests. When I was in school (I went for two years before my parents started homeschooling me), I spent a lot of time waiting for the other children in class to finish up their projects. It was frustrating to me and I wanted to be homeschooled so I could work at my own pace.

      We also believe that God has called parents to be the primary teachers of their children and we see home education as a way to walk out these convictions. Plus, I truly love learning alongside my children. It’s one of the most rewarding things ever — even if it is somewhat tiring! Teaching my daughter to read and write has been an incredible experience. We’ve shared so many special moments together — and I’ve thoroughly loved it!

      • Angela says:

        Crystal,
        You named all of our reasons for homeschooling… only neither my husband or were homeschooled but rather had horrible experiences in public schools. The longer we homeschool the more amazing and rewarding it is. Truly, we could never think of changing our mind. The alternative appears so dull/uninspirational and socially negative. Our kids LOVE to learn; it’s a part of our life. Love it, love it, love it. Oh, and they can participate in countless extracurricular activities without feeling the stress they would if in a school.

      • Star says:

        I agree with Crystal’s list of why her family homeschools. We are going to be starting our 9th year of homeschooling this year and my oldest (who is an anvanced student) will be in 8th grade. I do feel comftorable about teaching high school, and I really think that any parent could do it! There are lots of great tools out there for parents that feel they don’t have a good enough grasp on a certain subject to teach it. My oldest started Spanish 2 years ago and though I know minimal spanish, he has done great. We use Rosetta Stone, which he does on his own.

    • Andrea Q says:

      Have you seen Waiting for Superman or Race to Nowhere? The public school system in the US is failing.

      • Dawn says:

        That is why I homeschool too.
        We did public school until 3rd grade and my child was just miserable. Now she loves to read, loves to learn, and is just a much happier, contented adolescent.
        Where we live the middle school is just overrun with drugs/crime/peer pressure.

      • Kristen says:

        That isn’t very optimistic, and no not all schools are horrible!!! Many a great student comes out of these fine institutions… Great Post Crystal!

        • Andrea Q says:

          I am optimistic that schools will eventually change, but in the meantime, my children need to be educated. They don’t have time to wait for the system to change and improve. There are some great schools and amazing teachers, but overall, the system is flawed and is not working.

      • Rachael says:

        Please don’t generalize that the whole system is failing. There are a lot of positive things going on in public schools as well.

        • BethB says:

          Yes! We’re in a “failing” district in Milwaukee but the schools in our neighborhood, specifically the one our family uses, are very good. My older son has attended a public Montessori school for two years now and will be entering K5 in the fall. At this point we couldn’t be happier with what he’s learning. This is great because I’d be a terrible teacher for him at this point! Sometimes I think we forget that sending your child to school does not mean you aren’t still teaching them at home. I don’t do much structured academic work with him but on a daily basis we talk about math, reading, science, etc.. I very much admire and respect homeschooling Moms (and Dads!) but right now it just wouldn’t be a good choice for our family. As our boys get older I’m very much open to virtual schooling to open up time for pursuing other interests but for now I’m very grateful for the school experience we have.

          • Andrea says:

            Public school teacher in Milwaukee, thanks for supporting public education! It is a frustrating time to be a public school teacher where we are blamed for the failing education system.

  • Janet says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have six kids and homeschool and I needed this encouragement today. 🙂

  • Mika says:

    This was a fabulous post! I don’t homeschool, but liek the previous poster I still struggle with getting everything done (I have 5 children, 3 school age). And posts like this just make me remember again how much I miss Biblical Womanhood. You have no idea of the changes YOU started in my life.

  • Angela says:

    Thanks for the post. We love homeschooling and I’m continue to be amazed at the level of school we finish/complete and all of the extra curriculars (art, multiple musical instruments, foreign language, dance, running, swim, bike, etc.) we are able to incorporate PLUS I run a food co-op on the side (which takes ~30 hours a week of my time). We realized early on that we had to get rid of the schedule to allow us to NOT be stressed. The set time to start the day and do our activities only created sleepy/cranky kids (and parents) and added too much stress. We’re more productive if we all sleep in and start the day when our bodies are ready. We have a tentative goal to complete 1/3 to 1/2 of our school before lunch and the rest after lunch and through the evening if necessary. We also do 4 full days and 2 half days of school per week (due to the co-op’s demands). 6 days of school at a comfortable pace, with LOTS of extras makes for a full and productive year filled with a LOVE to learn all of the time. Our other tip to share is that we do half days of school through the summer so we have more PLAY and VACATION time during the school year or through holidays when family is visiting or we wish to enjoy hot vacation spots when they are not crowded.

    I hope this blesses someone. Never stress… just keep moving forward. 🙂

    • Angela says:

      Oh… and I didn’t mention that I run ~20 miles a week. That’s 3 long workouts a week plus occassional races. I also make nearly all of our meals from scratch using virtually no processed foods. Like I mentioned previously, it’s just a way of life for us. By the half-way point of our 3rd year of homeschooling we found our groove and we’re moving forward. Slow and steady adjustments will help every family achieve their goals.

    • Laura says:

      Angela – you (and Crystal’s post) blessed me today 🙂 I love your line – “Never stress…just keep moving forward”. I needed to hear that! Our days sound a lot like yours and often I fret about not having a more “structured” schedule to our days. I homeschool our girls (ages 7, 4, 22 mo) and have been fretting that I don’t get up early and get stuff done before the kids are up but I need sleep more at this phase in life – our youngest still doesn’t sleep well at night. We do year-round schooling as well because, for now, that is what works best for our family. Thank you (and Crystal) for your wise words!

      • Crystal says:

        If you’re not sleeping through the night, you need to make sleep a priority instead of getting up early. You are doing a fabulous job, I’m sure! Don’t lose heart!

        • Angela says:

          Yes… Sleep is more important then schedule right now. I just started running a few months ago after nearly 10 yrs off because of my role as a mom of little ones. Set goals and walk toward them steadily. Praying along the way and seeking God’s plan and will for you and your family is key. Slow and steady

  • Sara says:

    Crystal – could you please do a future post with more details about the activities in your busy box? I have a four-year-old and a baby on the way. I work part-time from home as well as do the majority of our money management. This means I need a couple hours each day with focused attention and would love some fun ideas for my boy.

    • Sarah H says:

      I’m also looking for more ideas for busy bags.

    • Angela says:

      Sara,
      I do some work from home too. I purposely do most of it after the kids are in bed. The rest I do with them. They generally help out in some way or entertain themselves. They even help entertain the children of other women who come to help me and they are only 5 and 8 yo. My 8 yo can do the majority of her school work independently if I need her to. That’s NICE on rough days.

    • I could use “busy bags” ideas too! I have a two (almost 3) year old that I feel needs something meaningful/educational to do while I deal with the two one year olds. A couple of things that I have done were patterned after Montessori methods and they have been a big hit.
      I broke spaghetti noodles into various size pieces and she LOVES putting these pieces into the small holes in the top of my old garlic powder shaker. I also bought a bag of $1 stones/beads with four different colors. She would play with these things nonstop if I would let her. She sorts them every way imaginable. I have started using an empty egg carton with them. My plan is to put a “pattern” on the top row and have her match it on the bottom row.

      • Angie says:

        I too would appreciate busy bag ideas. I am in the midst of planning our homeschool year for next year. I will have one in 2nd grade, Kindergarten and a 2 year old. My 2 year old is a handful and needs to be occupied and included. I love the busy bag and work box ideas. I am doing as much research and prep ahead of time so I can just pull them out and be ready when they are needed. Thanks Crystal, I am somewhat new to your website and have thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Shannon says:

    I’ve been following your wonderful blog for about 1 year and was new to the world of couponing at the time Ifound you. I have referred so many to your site as I call you “the original” or “the Mother” of couponing and frugality!
    I have been a homeschooler from the start. My once kindergartener/first-born is now 15 and will be starting his sophmore year in the fall. My husband and I have been blessed with 6 beautiful children in our 16 years of marriage, 2 boys: 15 and 12, 2 girls: 6 and 4, and identical twin girls: 18 months old. I am always so encouraged (and on so many levels!) to read your posts. Thank you for what you do, and blessings to you and your family always! 🙂

    • Adrienne says:

      Shannon,
      Are your boys involved in sports? My husband and I are deciding to home school or not and my husband is concerned that in home scholing it will take away from the extra-curriculars, especially sports. I know most cities have city leagues, but my husband (ever the sports fanatic 🙂 ) is hoping if our sons have a tendency towards sports they can get a scholarship, but I’ve heard sports scholarships are difficult if you aren’t on a school team. Thoughts?

      • Andrea Q says:

        Do your children enjoy sports? Are they athletically gifted/talented? If they are, they could start attending public (or private) school when they reach middle school age. In some states, homeschoolers can legally participate in extracurricular activities offered by the schools, including music and sports.

        Also, this (somewhat dated) article might be of interest: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000002/00000217.asp

      • Brighid says:

        In our state, you can belong to your local school’s team assuming that you meet the other criteria (vaccinations, make the cut, etc.). You should check your state/local laws and see if he’d qualify.

      • Molly says:

        2 words: Tim Tebow

      • Susan says:

        Adrienne, my daughter is heavily into sports. She does school sports, but the sports activities that she enjoys and has benefitted from the most are not the school teams. This may change when she gets to high school (she’s 11 now), but so far, other sports through other organizations have been far better than school.

        I’m opposed to home schooling, for many reasons, but sports is not one of them.

      • Angela says:

        Shannon, In our county homeschoolers can play for any school… Which is actually a perk. 🙂

  • jessica says:

    you mentioned you had a BIG bag/box of actives for your kiddos to do during homeschool time.. could you share what you have included in that box?? THANK YOU A TON for this.. i am about to venture to the homeschool world and have wondered this thought!

  • This may seem so basic, but it’s what finally got my act together on the house end of things:

    Put it away right away.

    I found that if I left something out “for a few minutes” or “because I’ll need it a little later” that it all began to overflow and back up. Even if it was something as simple as putting a fork on the counter because I was done using it but I wasn’t done cooking dinner, the next thing I knew I had an entire kitchen full of dishes and an overwhelming desire to ignore it all. Instead, I put it in the dishwasher right away and the kitchen actually looks good before bed!

    The other big thing I do is before I walk out of any room, I look around and see if there is anything else I need to do before I leave it. If so, do it now instead of adding it to my to-do list. It’s the only way I’m keeping a clean house and kids who aren’t bored out of their minds!

  • Heather says:

    I REALLY benefited from reading this post, especially your schedule. I have 4 young boys in the same age range as your kids and this past year of homeschooling was a bit chaotic with no schedule. I know we could all benefit from more of a routine so I hope to implement some of your ideas. Thanks!

  • Stacy says:

    This is a great post Crystal. I love how you have things in big blocks of time. It seems to simplify everything and not feel so confining.

    I’ve seen the need for more structure in our home since my third child was born. A routine seems to help everyone.

    One tip I can share for those working on implementing a routine or schedule is to just write something up and try it out. Then make changes as you go.

    I have procrastinated this task many times because I wanted it to be perfect. It won’t be prefect, and even if it was, children and circumstances change and you would need to tweak it in time anyway. So, “just do it” (as the saying goes).

  • Megan says:

    “Instead of trying to get up earlier, make healthier meals, exercise, read more and learn how to knit all in the same month, pace yourself and pick the highest priority goal first. Once you feel like you’ve somewhat mastered it, add in something else.”

    This is such good advice! That way the time you’re adding the next thing, the last thing has already become a habit. Makes a lot more sense than my way, which is “Slack off for a while, and then decide to become impossibly perfect at everything overnight.” 😛

    Also, just FYI, Crystal, these are my favorite kind of posts, and I’d love to see more of them! Your tips on organization and time-management are always so helpful.

    • Wendy says:

      I agree! I really find these kinds of posts to be very helpful & inspiring. Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Laura says:

      I absolutely agree, too! I’m one of those that feels the need to see change *right now*, so while it’s hard for me to think of taking a whole three months to work on one habit, I know that it would be best for me in the long run.

  • Heather says:

    I love to read about how others juggle family, homeschooling, housekeeping, and work. I homeschool 4 children ages 3, 7, 11, and 13. I work part time at a Farmers Market on Saturdays during the market season, volunteer at church on Sundays, and volunteer at a local food pantry on Mondays. During the school year I work as a crossing guard for the public elementary school. My husband has Tuesdays off work, so we don’t have school on Tuesdays. My challenge has been finding time for things like oil changes and dentist appointments. I can get the laundry and dishes done every day. The school work gets done every day. It might happen over the course of the entire day, but it happens. House work gets done last, but it does eventually get done. Its those bothersome appointments that pop up that throw a wrench into everything and make my house of cards begin to come crumbling down. I end up trying to schedule everything for Tuesday when my husband can help out, but that means that we don’t see each other at all. He’s a chef, so he leaves early in the morning and comes home late at night. Tuesday is usually all we have together. How do you handle the unscheduled things that come up?

  • Tara LaPierre says:

    Thank you so much for an uplifting post. I read your blog all the time and you always seem “super mom” to me! Thank you for all the work you put into this blog and the post. You are truly inspiring.

  • Pam says:

    Thank you for sharing your schedule ms especially for emphasizing that people should not expect changes like this overnight. Plus, every family is different and will have different needs, which will be reflected in the schedule.

    We just finished our 20th year of homeschooling, with 12 more to go to get all 8 graduated. The oldest 3 are graduated and in or finished with college.

    My best tip is to establish an hour of quiet time in the afternoons daily. I noticed many years ago that crankiness reached a peak in late afternoon, often when i was trying to
    start supper. This quiet time in separate rooms seems to refresh everyone so that the rest of the day goes much more smoothly.

  • Beth Gibson says:

    Thanks so much for this article! I have a four year old that I homeschool and two jr. high stepkids who live with me full time, but are in public school. Between the kids schedules and everyday chores, I feel stretched thin sometimes. Your article was very encouraging!

  • Thank you for this! Earlier in the week, I wrote about “Having it all together.” I certainly don’t. I have five children, with three under three (set of one year old twins and a two year old). I read somewhere that if all you got accomplished in a day was breathing that you could count it a success. With two teething babies, a potty training toddler, a tween who has no routine now that school is out, and a teenager (enough said) – I hope that is true! Thank you so much for your inspiration. I am totally overwhelmed before I open my eyes in the morning. It is comforting to know that I am in good company by many of your readers. I do love this life. God doesn’t make mistakes and I suppose he thinks I”m capable of more than I do! 🙂
    Blessings to you Always in All Ways,
    Monica

  • Amanda C says:

    I’ve been reading you for a few years now, and I rarely comment. I just wanted to say “thanks” though, for all the encouraging posts that you post like this one. I love being uplifted, encouraged and inspired by your posts and the effort you make to love God and your family. So thanks. I totally feel like you’re a good friend that I’ve never met, who doesn’t even know I exist. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • Sarah beals says:

    My kids are older now, but we NEVER did well on a tight schedule. I would write down my goal for the morning, afternoon and evening and that was as scheduled as I got.
    We did lots of things around meal times. Breakfast included memory verses and multiplication tables, poetry and reading. Meal times are a great time to buckle everyone into their booster chairs and get things done. 🙂 ha,ha
    Now that they are older, they are on their own schedules and are quite efficient.
    Great post,
    Sarah

    • Angela says:

      I agree Sarah. I use our curriculum schedule to guide us through the day. We have a goal to finish a set amount of it in a specific/given day along with our music practice and scheduled extra curriculars. It works much better then a tight schedule for us. Well rested kids are happy kids and for some, they might require more rest one day versus another. Every family is different so go with what works for your family. 🙂 If you catch them during opportune teaching moments each day and slowly introduce them to what you’re expecting from them for school they will fall into an expected pattern with no complaints and will LOVE to school.

  • Spot on, Crystal! Great post.

    ~Kendra

  • Michelle says:

    Love the post. It’s so nice to see others admitting that they sometimes don’t get it all done. That is one of those things that mom’s don’t seem to ever talk about.
    I’m a homeschooling mom of three. I would love to see some of your busy bag ideas. I have a 3yr old that I try to keep busy while I’m working with my 5 and 7 yr olds. She is the easiest one to “keep busy” but I’m always looking for more ideas to add to my list to keep things new and interesting for her.
    Thanks much

  • takeya duncan says:

    Thank you so much for this post and all of the posts. I really appreciate you sharing yourself with us, it make me fell like i’m not alone and that i really have a friend. Thank you

  • Ashley Penn says:

    Thank you, so much!

    I’m only 24 years old, but I spent nearly 20 of those years as a perfectionist addict. And I mean that on a clinical psychological basis. It made me suicidal. By the grace of God, I met Jesus in college and He and my hubby help keep my sanity.

    I don’t have any kids… yet! But hubby and I both work full time and neither of us can seem to find the time of day. He leaves at 6 AM and my boss picks me up for my job at 7:30 AM. While I’m waiting for him, I clean the kitchen. I have 1 hour between when I get to work and when my shift starts, so I usually do my cross-stitching then. I don’t get off work until 6 PM. Hubby starts dinner and I do laundry, if it needs to be done and empty the dishwasher. We eat dinner together and usually go to bed around 9 PM because hubby has to wake up at 5 AM to be on time for work the next day! That’s it! No free time here and we don’t even have any kids to muck it all up.

    Speaking of which, it’s almost bedtime! God willing, our schedules will sort out some day. Until then, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the universe. Keep it up, babe!

    • Jess says:

      Ashley- if you are reading Money Saving Mom I’m guessing you are looking for great deals. If you are starting this before having kids you are doing great! I’m a fellow perfectionist, but I have been pleasently suprised by the ways in which I have changed since having kids (for the most part!) Keep leaning on God, and ask others for help when you need it. God bless you for sharing.

      • Ashley Penn says:

        Jess, I’m ALWAYS looking for ways to save money. We didn’t have much when I was a kid. (We were on government assistance because my mom left and my dad was on disability after getting hurt on the job.)

        Hubby grew up in similar circumstances, and we both don’t make a whole lot, so we’re looking for ways to stretch every dollar we can!

        That’s not the only reason, however. As I said, I looked around at all these moms in my church. Smart beautiful women with every hair in place, every dress pressed, clean house, good cooks… and I was so freakin’ frustrated about why I couldn’t do it! So I came online to get tips on managing this whole wife and mother thing. Check out my blog and you’ll see what I mean. http://proverbs31hopeful.blogspot.com/

        We “perfectionistas” gotta stick together! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I am the Jessica who asked the question. Thank you, Crystal, for addressing this topic and I am going to bookmark this page for future (and frequent) reference! There are some great words of wisdom here.

  • Katie says:

    thank you, plain and simple!

    just now exploring my options with homeschooling and I love to read about different experiences and routines. have an upcoming kindergartener, and 2 preschoolers, so a bit overwhelmed. But reading and learning…….

  • Mona says:

    Love your schedule! I’m going to start homeschooling this fall. DD did K & 1st in public school. DS#1 will be in K. I’m excited & nervous. This schedule gives me a starting point. I love your idea of keeping the younger ones busy too. DS#2 is a hurricane on wheels!! Just into everything all the time. I need to put some of these excellent ideas into action!! Thank you again!

    • Angela says:

      Mona,
      I’ve rarely had a problem with the younger/unschooled child needing activities to stay busy and always encouraged them to ‘go play’ or to join us. Only on a rare occassion did I have to come up with an activity to occupy their interest. By the time my youngest was 3 he was begging to school with his own worksheets. Even when playing while I read science or history lessons to my daughter he was clearly listening, because he would tell me about what he had learned several hours or days later. Invite them to join you and make it a family learning experience. Remember, if they are only ~1-4 years apart in age, only language arts and math need to be specific to each child. The science, history, etc. can be a family shared experience/lesson. Consider choosing a curriculum that integrates multiple ages/levels into one lesson. 🙂

  • Katy says:

    The greatest help with this question is your explanation of why you homeschool. YOU were homeschooled and you are a successful adult. Thank you for making the challenges of homeschooling worthwhile.

  • K says:

    This is such a great post!

  • Amber Cullum says:

    I haven’t read any of the other comments, but GIRL…….I still think you are WONDER WOMAN!!! I don’t know how you get so much stuff done from 5:30 to 8 a.m. I only have one child. I get up between 5:30-6 read the Bible, pray, read a little in another book, blog a little, and then it seems the little man is up. Not always, but those 2 hours fly by.

  • Jen says:

    i love this post! it doesn’t apply to my current state of life – but hopefully soon! – so i’m saving it to refer to later. 🙂 thanks for the great advice!

  • Chaos'sFriend says:

    Excellent and inspiring as always!

    I’m making a goal now to come up with two “Busy Box” activities per night until my box is full. I’m combing the internet for ideas (http://totallytots.blogspot.com and http://www.icanteachmychild.com are really good ones) but if you want to share some of yours, I’d really love that, Crystal!

  • Maggie says:

    This is such a well timed post! I have been trying to get myself and my son on somewhat of a schedule and this is such an inspirational post–it’s very structured without being rigid. I also love the ideas you gave for activities for your littler ones while homeschool the older ones. Mine is almost three and a basket of alternating activities for him would be great. Thanks so much for this post!

  • Laurie says:

    Speaking from a single mom by choice perspective I echo Crytal’s post. My girls are 3&7. I adpoted them from China as infants so it has been a crazy,chaotic last almost 3yrs since bringing #2 home at 12 mos. I was so overwhelmed going from 1-2 I often thought how am I going to do this and work full time. After my youngest was home for a yr I decided I better get organized and on a good schedule or I was going to be on antidepressants!!!! My oldest goes to school and my youngest is cared for by my mom. Our daily routine is the same every week regardless if school is in session or not as is our night time routine. For me I choose not do do any major housework during the week and keeping all things picked up,counters washed down,dishwasher loaded etc. I do most of all my cleaning starting on Thurs night with doing sheets etc and then friday night is the heavy duty stuff. My girls know how to empty the dishwasher,fold clothes,recycle,take trash out etc. They are even great at vacumming. Then our weekends we have time to sleep in and hang as a family of 3. My kids are in bed by 730-800 everynight and we are all up at 730 so I can start my day by 9am. On the weekends we sleep as late as we can. I am flexible to have a job to where I can run errands during the day and at times get to the grocery store. Since I am single I do not get out much,but need to get out more. I figure that God has so richly blessed us with our unique and beautiful family that I just want to be home as much as possbile at this point in my life. Thanks Crystal for your inspiring words of wisdom. We all need the same support.

  • Erika says:

    LOVE the “Embrace the Chaos” quotation from Sane Woman’s Guide (I read that two years ago when you recommended it on FB, I think! So thanks!!)–I just said it to someone the other day!

    And in addition to working on only one habit in ME, I am always trying to focus on just one major lesson/habit/character trait to be working on with each of the kids. Just like students who are overwhelmed when an English teacher “bleeds” all over their writing picking out every little mistake, our children need help honing in on one area of needed growth.

  • Laurie says:

    as a result of this I just finished reading through your 15 Favorite Preschool resources, but I guess because the pose is so old, I couldn’t comment on it. You art program that you referred to in the end of part 1 reminded me of a classical music program my mother used with us when we were homeschooled. So I looked it up and was excited to see it is still available and I could use it for my kids! It’s called color the classics. I just remember coloring pictures of a composer while listening to the classical music by that composer and my mother reading us a short biography of his life. I still remember some of that information, too! http://www.colortheclassics.com/

  • I homeschool 3 of my 5 children, and had a new baby this past winter. Changing my expectations helped me A LOT during this time. I had to remind myself often that having a swept kitchen floor was not the most important(or long lasting) goal. It made me relax so much and really enjoy this (crazy) season of life!I think the most helpful thing to remember is to do what works for your family. Our personalities and strengths are so different, that what might work for one, would drive the other crazy! Take nuggets of advice that really fit you, and leave the rest. Thanks so much for this post 🙂

  • Nicola says:

    Every parent should homeschool at least part time, even if your child is at public school you are teaching them every day. Teaching is more than maths and Language, it is social skills, sharing, morals, patience, kindness, love. Everything that we want our kids to be.

    My daughter isn’t even one yet so we haven’t made a decision but I enjoyed this post it didn’t bash the Public system (which so many mothers rely on) it was a great read.

  • Emily Kay says:

    I think it’s kind of funny that you say you’re not a schedule-person and then you listed your schedule. 🙂 When I think of routine vs. schedule I think of a MUCH more relaxed timeline than the one you gave. Personally I’m caught in a quandary. I like schedules and strict timelines (I’m OCD by nature.). But as you know, they just don’t work with little ones (of which I have three under four)! So when I try to set a schedule…even a loose one…I find myself frustrated, discouraged, and sometimes downright depressed. I haven’t been able to find a balance yet, as I tend towards the loosey-goosey no routine at all kind of day. But then it’s chaotic and that’s frustrating too. *Sigh* Someday I’ll figure it out.

    • Laura says:

      A schedule is just something to aim at. You’ll find after a time, that you become used to doing certain things at certain times, which helps you be more efficient.

    • Kimberly says:

      I read your comment and just thought I would suggest something that worked for me last year. I have 4 kids- 6,4,3 and 1. I have a dry erase board that I write everything on. I list the kids school work, my house work and kid chores. Instead of doing start times, I use end times like “Before lunch” or “finish by 3pm”. Sometimes I am a procrastinator and I find getting started is always the hardest. But I work well under pressure, so if I have 6 things on my list and it’s 20 minutes until my “be done by this time”, I just fly through and do it (not with the kids school work of course, just with chores). Most of the household stuff only takes 10-15 minutes max anyhow, it’s just getting started that’s hard!

  • Courtney says:

    My kids are 9, 11 and 12 and I have found that it was much easier to stick to a routine during the baby/toddler/little kid years. Now that they are older, they have so many more interests and activities and that has made life much busier! We might have swimming lessons in the morning, music lessons in the afternoon, and a ballgame in the evening. No two days of the week are alike, so my daily routine has to morph from day to day depending on what’s on our schedule.

  • Jess says:

    Anyone have sugestions for homeschooling with a busy schedule? I run a playgroup Wed mornings, have Bible study Thursday mornings, and a class Friday mornings. By the time we get home we have lunch, a little wind down playtime, and then nap. After that it is time for dinner. My daughter will only be 3 this school year, but she is ready and wanting to learn prechool skills. My son is 1.

    • Jess says:

      preschool that is. 🙂

      • Melanie says:

        I have 4 kiddos, 8, 7, 4, and 18 months. I have been homeschooling for 3 years. With a 3 year old you don’t really need much time. I find with my preschooler 30 minutes is more than enough time. We often practice recognizing words and counting and simple adding by doing kitchen projects (she loves to help in the kitchen) and then she might practice writing her name or writing letters in her journal. This makes her feel like a “big kid” because her older siblings have journals for their copywork.

        The great thing about homeschooling is that it doesn’t need to look like school at home. I know a family that does most of their school time after 4 pm. Dad works full time and mom works part time. The kids go to the grandparents in the morning, after mom comes home they play some together and do chores, then they do their school time. This works for their family.

        If you’re daughter’s ready to take a shorter nap, maybe you could put your son down first. Work on some “school” with her, read her a book and then have her rest.

        Good luck!

  • Sarah says:

    I love setting goals in different areas of my life…Christian, Wife, Mother, Household manager and seeing how I can push myself more. I loved this post though, as I look at our tiny apartment that is a mess and just want to go to bed. It is so encouraging to me to hear you say that it is a process. Also, Crystal I would love it if you posted a list of good parenting/education books that you have read/enjoyed through the years. Thanks!

  • Erin says:

    What are you reading aloud right now? I’ve looked at your favorite books list and wonder if you have any more to add.

  • Amy says:

    This is the best post ever!
    Thank you! I love your routine.
    I honestly do not know where we SAHM/Homeschooling moms got the idea that everyone else has a clean tidy house all the time, while serving perfectly balanced meals on time ( that clean themselves up afterwards) while fitting in all the activities in our curriculum (that also clean themselves up afterwards) and look good while doing it. I think it is because when we go to someone elses house, they have expect us and have made everything look really good for guests. (Anyone else ever stash dirty dishes in the oven, or go around with a laundry basket tossing stuff to put away later?) For this reason, I don’t feel guilty for not making everything perfect for company. I figure I might help some other moms feel better about themselves if my house is in it’s normal state!

    • Amy says:

      Replying to my own post, LOL.
      Another thing I am just learning (five children later) is that it helps to build in cleaning up tasks to the things we do. I don’t know why this was never obvious to me before, but with my personality type, I am always onto the next thing before I finish one thing and multitask way too much. Our habit we are working on now is slowing down, one thing at a time. Lunch is not over until the table is cleared and the dishes are washed. Craft time is not over until supplies are put away, part of playing a game is putting it away, etc.

    • The concept comes from the 50’s, where women did “do it all”. They also didn’t have kids in all sorts of activities, need to bring in an income and have half as many things to distract them.

      Despite the fact that 60 years later we’ve added so much more to our lives, the mentality still holds strong. Fortunately, it’s stuff like this post that helps break down that mentality!

  • I heard some simple great advice at a women’s conference earlier this year. Instead of trying to start new habits… stop some habits! How profound that was. I needed to stop a habit or two before I could think of adding a new one! (I’m still working on it!)

    We also homeschool year round. In the summer we focus mainly on reading, phonics, handicrafts and nature study. It helps us to have less stress by spreading out the hours. We us nap time for school work, that just what works for us!

    I would love more information on your activities for the little ones while you are homeschooling! Thank you for everything you do!

  • Michele says:

    This is why I have a magnet on my fridge that says “I can do one thing well today, you pick: homeschool the kids, or clean the house”.

  • Kristie says:

    I like the idea of the need for routine, and the blocked-out times for a flexible schedule. I homeschool our 5 oldest, and the toddler is just 2. As your schedule gets more complicated, with more school time and more classes to fit in, those blocks of time will be the lifesaver, even if they have to be bent when the occasion calls for it. Another thing: the older your kids get, the more they can do around the house. We do chores from 7 – 7:45 each school morning, and the house really is clean when we start Bible time at 7:45. It may not be deep-cleaned, but my army has been through with sink disinfectant, dishsoap, window cleaner, and vacuum cleaners, as well as folding laundry. Let those little blessings be all that: Blessings! They enjoy a clean house too. It’s a fun challenge to see if we can be “on time” for Scripture memory time.

  • Lorrie says:

    I have just finished homeschooling after 13 years and I can so relate to much of what you said. I wish someone had shared some of that with me all those years ago. It was a fun and bumpy journey and part of me misses it and some of me doesn’t. I miss the younger years you are in now but our son is now graduated and 18 and just got his first job today! He has worked doing yard work and such but no formal job. He plans to work and go to the community college. I am so proud of him and the young man he is becoming. God is so good.
    One thing you mentioned is that you have had to let go of expectations. The Lord gave me this saying I want to share with you…Live life with expectancy, not expectations. To me this means don’t have any expectations but live life with joyful anticipation of what will come. I spent too many years having expectations on myself and others but now I try to face each day with expectancy and eagerly await what the Lord will bring. It has brought such joy and relaxation into our lives by having Mama live this way! Thank you Crystal for all you do for us and the wonderful mama and wife you strive to be.

  • marsha says:

    This woman just saved my sanity with this post. I’m 7 mths pregnant with 2 kids under 3. I’m trying to organize my house which we’ve been in for less than a year, my husband works long works long hours. I really want to do things with my kids for the summer but I just don’t have the energy which makes me feel guilty and irritated that I can’t do all I want to do. Its good to know I’m not the only one.

  • Thank you so much for posting your schedule. You have no idea how much it helps me!

  • dawn says:

    Oh, that is my dream schedule right there. That is seriously what I try to do, almost down to the letter! I’m not a scheduley, routiney kind of person though, so it rarely works that way. Thank you for this post! I’ve carved out some alone time for tomorrow afternoon and I’m going to do some HS planning. This post has encouraged me to not stress it so much, and most of all, to ask God how to plan our school year and days. Thanks!!

  • Amber says:

    Crystal, you are so inspiring! Thank you so much for the sheets you posted. I always enjoy reading your suggestions. It is a huge help!!! 🙂

  • Lori says:

    Giving yourself grace is so important. Sure, we hear folks say that being supermom is an impossible feat…but we still secretly want it and are disappointed when we don’t achieve it. Grace makes it easier to pick up and try again when our plans go awry. There’s always tomorrow!

  • kasey says:

    Very good post. Thank you it was much needed, especially “giving yourself grace.” I am a homeschooling mother of 13. Just until recently I had all but 1 living at home. I tried for perfection for many years and learned that it doesn’t work. I let the expectations go, and I also learned to let the expectations of others go as well. Couponing has added a little more work to my life but I find it to be such a blessing. Things that I have NEVER thought of purchasing I now can. The children LOVE it as well.

  • Lee says:

    I love your routine 🙂 Have to admit I giggled at your “early bird confession” I wake up between 5 and 6 am (because I have an early riser) but almost always konk out by 9:30 or 10 🙂

  • Leah says:

    I, for one, don’t even understand where we got the idea that the house-cleaning is our responsibility. I think of our home as the office I work out of: raising the kids, tending to their needs, doing our finances, cooking our meals, dealing with appointments, planning our lives, and my 10-hour/week real estate business.

    Other than tidying up at the end of the night, I take no responsibility for CLEANING my office/home (does your husband clean HIS office before he leaves at 6? Do you, if you’re a working Mom? I sure didn’t when I worked in an office.)

    I have house-cleaners that come in every 2 weeks and deep clean toilets, kitchens, floors, dust, change sheets, everything. With US (me and DH) doing a daily tidy / kitchen wipe-down, it stays pretty nice until their next visit.

    I take no jabs at women who choose to take on this responsibility, as I assume they’ll take no jabs at me for waving off this responsibility. I just hope we all think about fairness, and the reasons we became Moms. I sure didn’t become a Mom to become a housekeeper. That’s my $.02!

  • Jessica says:

    I am quitting my job in a week and half and just wrote a post on my expectations and how they have changed dramatically over the past couple weeks/days. Posts like this are a balm to my worried soul about getting it all done! Thank you.
    http://www.andtheycallherblessed.blogspot.com/2011/06/expectations.html

  • Jennifer says:

    I love your schedule. I’ve been needing to have something like that in my home. My question though is when do you fit in grocery shopping and other errands that need to be done regularly? That seems to be what messes up attempts to have somewhat of a schedule in my home.

  • Heather says:

    I laughed a little reading this post – it sure looks like a tight schedule to me! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m sure I would get a lot more done if I followed something similar. However, after having been in the workforce until I was 30, I revel in my days of freedom now! I love just going with the flow. Granted, I don’t homeschool, so I’m not trying to fit that in, and I have a very loose routine since kids (and me) need one. My routine is to serve 3 meals a day at somewhat regular times, and try to do most errands in the morning. Bedtimes are firm. I have a list of chores for each day of the week, but half the time I just push them back to the next week! I know, I’m a slacker! My 4th kid has just stopped napping and I am excited at how this will open up our day!

  • Are you planning on adding more time for their education as they get older?

    • Crystal says:

      Education happens outside of “school hours” — it’s a way of life for us. We’re always learning no matter what we’re doing or where we’re going! However, we’re on a more relaxed homeschooling schedule due to summer. We’ll start up again in the Fall with more homeschooling time during the day.

      I hope that clarifies things — I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear from my post!

      • Thanks for the reply! I homeschooled my younger sister for a few months, and as an educator (I teach fifth grade), I am curious (and sometimes concerned- for example freeschooling- allowing children to learn as they are curious) as to how parents are homeschooling their children- because I always fear that a lot of parents jump into homeschooling thinking it will be easy and then end up over their heads (I don’t think that’s the case here at all). I worry sometimes because of course that has an affect on our future. And I was also curious because Georgia requires at least 4.5 hours of instruction when homeschooling.

  • chelsea says:

    Love the insight into your schedule! That’s too funny about the baths in the morning. We do ours at night, but only because the kids are SO dirty from playing outside all day, especially my son!

  • Melanie says:

    What a great post! We moms are sometimes way too hard on ourselves, whether we work, homeschool, send our kids to school or a combination of those things. I would add 2 things that I have been learning in the past several months.

    1. Don’t compare yourself to other moms, even those in similar situations. Every family is different and what you see in public or when you’re visiting a friend is not always reality. You never know what goes on when you’re not there, for the good or the bad.

    2. Keep things simple. This is a hard one because I have a husband and in-laws that see the number of things our kids receive for Christmas and Birthdays as important. We are working on this. I have found my kids are happier with fewer choices rather than more. When there is less stuff there is less of a mess. We recently cleaned out my son’s room of EVERYTHING because he wasn’t keeping it clean. He slept better and was better behaved during that time than ever. Simplicity makes embracing the chaos that does come easier.

  • DL says:

    As a mother who has had the privilege of home educating my children for 22 years, may I offer an encouragement. My two older children married this past year and I am on my last year of teaching my youngest child. I am so grateful that my husband and I have had this opportunity to disciple our children through the home education process.
    Now as I look back, all the challenges and hard times have become a part of the memories and are precious.

    I will miss this season of life and am now looking forward to being a part of the process of home educating my grandchildren in the future.
    I still do not get everything done and am still seeking to find the balance in my life, but I have found that simple routines and schedules are an amazing aid both to the mother and to the children. A word of caution is that building into the lives of our children does take time and may mean choosing to do less inside or outside of the home. I would not trade these home education years for anything!

  • Shelly says:

    How can you get up at 5:30 – 6:00 every morning? My children often sleep until 8:00 – 9:00 and I can’t make myself get out of bed earlier than them. I go to bed around 10:30. If I got up at 6:00 every morning I would have to make sure I went to bed at 9:00 every evening.

    • Crystal says:

      I get up early because I have so many things that I want to do in the morning and I feel so great when I get up early and get them done! It makes the rest of the day go so much smoother, too!

    • lyss says:

      I am with you, Shelly! Crystal said she can function on 6 1/2 to 7 hours of sleep at night. Others truly need more. I know that I need 8-9 hours or I don’t function well. I get crabby, can’t get much done, etc. if I don’t get enough sleep. And while I try not to make excuses for myself for being grouchy, I may as well get enough sleep so everyone is happy, if you know what I mean! 🙂

      Thank you, Crystal, for sharing. Except for being jealous of the -only needing 7 hours of sleep and I get up at 6am and feel great- part, this post is really helpful! 😉 I just have to remind myself to push myself to do what I can do, not push myself to do what others are doing.

      I am trying to start a routine like this so I can get more done and so my little ones have more direction than “just play” all day. I’ve found that if there’s lots of fussing and fighting, etc. (my kids are 3 and almost 2) if I pull out something different like coloring or puzzles to do, they can be quite happy. Going outside often does the trick, too, but in the 100* heat, we mostly stay indoors in the summer!

      • Crystal says:

        I can *function* on 6.5 hours of sleep — but I don’t I thrive on that amount. 😉 I prefer 7.5 to 8 hours — and try to get that much at least 3 days a week. If I do that, than I can do well on 6.5 to 7 hours the rest of the week.

        I recently went off coffee entirely and I’ve found that I need less sleep and am less tired than I used to be when I drank 1-2 cups per day. I have no idea why or how, but that’s been very interesting to me.

        All that to say, do what works for you and make sure you are taking care of your needs so that you can be a cheerful, energetic wife and mom. If you’re trying to be like someone else, you’ll just end up frustrated and grouchy — I know, I’ve tried and it’s not worked well!

    • Getting up is hard! But once I do it, I’m good to go!

  • Ashley says:

    Crystal,

    I was wondering if you would be willing to do a post on the different activities you rotate for your little ones. I will begin homeschooling in the fall and I have a 3 year old that I need to keep busy! I’d love to know what you use.

    Thanks!

  • Jen says:

    Excellent post! I’ve been following your blog for a while, mostly for the deals, but this one is exceptional! You talked so much about stuff that’s going on in my life now. I just had my 3rd son about 8 months ago, and there are still so many things that I want to change in the structure of our days before I start to homeschool the oldest boy in Kindergarden in the fall. But your advise about changing slowly and choosing one thing to change every 3 months really helps. With 2 boys, things seemed managable, but with 3 now … I’m really seeing that I need to let go of some cleaning/perfectionist ideas and just focus on the kids and getting through the day loving them. Starting homeschooling and caring for the boys and maintaining a home seems overwhelming but reading through your daily schedule seems like its do-able now. I know that only God can help me set up a good schedule and only He can maintain it. Thanks for the reminders and very timely and encouraging post. 🙂

  • Abigail says:

    Oh this article is so timely! I am so disorganized and with a 3yo I try hard to keep things in order. I had a schedule that we seemed to do really good on, but we had some major changes happen in life and well the schedule went out the window. My son knows his abc’s, counts and is learning to write, so we wont to start him on some preschool/prek schooling. I know I want to home school and we know we want more kids. We are also relocating with my parents to start a homestead/farm. When I think of schooling, small kids, keeping house, animals, garden, and family….wow feels overwhelming, but your schedule seems practical, like something I could copy and make work for us with minor changes. So, thank you thank you thank you! You have given me hope that I can do this and make it work and be good for my whole family!

  • Valerie says:

    Crystal, Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I am interested to know what Bible devotional you use with your children as well as what Bible Memory you do with them. I am trying really hard to find something engaging for my young children and would love some good recommendations.

    I also echo the question several comments above on what activities you rotate for your younger children while you homeschool. I am going to need to keep a 2 yr old busy while I homeschool my 5 yr old this year.

  • Barbara says:

    With this post I finally feel confident with my goals of wanting to home-school my son, who will be 3 in October. Until now the idea was overwhelming; sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough time in the day. I now see what I really need is a schedule. I am also intrigued by truly how little time is spent home-schooling (in retrospect to traditional school hours). Although I intended to begin in the fall, I’ve been so inspired here that I’ve found a curriculum online and will begin teaching my son next week! He seems more than ready as I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that even with all of our outings there is something more he is needing now. This leads me to my only question… how do you schedule outings, or field trips? Is is something you feel is necessary daily, weekly, or monthly ? Thanks for sharing your personal schedule with us Crystal; you are wonderful!!

    • Crystal says:

      The one-on-one or one-on-two model versus the one-on-twenty model (in a traditional classroom) can definitely allow you to get a lot more done in a lot less time — most of the time, at least! We also try to incorporate learning and education into all of life, not just school hours.

      We usually do something special on Fridays (special outing, get together with friends, field trip, etc.) and then we also often do something with Jesse on the weekends (last week we went to a space museum).

      In the summer, we’re more relaxed and do go on more outings throughout the week, as well. During the school year, we usually keep special outings and field trips to Fridays.

      If you only have one child, you might find it works better to have more outings or field trips. It’s really up to learning what works best for your individual family and child!

  • Debera says:

    Thank you so, so, so much! I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my constant feelings of inadequacy. You just gave me permission to just be and stop sweating it. Thank you.

  • Thanks for a timely post! Having a 8 yr old girl, 6 yr old boy, 1 yr old girl and finding out your pregnant is a little overwhelming, yet so exciting as well! The nausea and tiredness have hit me hard this week. When having a good day, I do what I can, and then today, I’m ready for a nap. Trying to let go of perfection and knowing for now, I just need to keep the kids healthy, fed and happy!

    Thanks for the daily inspiration.

  • Becky Lee says:

    Thanks for a glimpse into your day. I appreciated that you listed your schedule as I would like to add some more structure to our day when the school year begins again in late August. Your blog is a blessing to my life as i run our home, love my husband and kids! Thanks for taking the time to write!

  • melissa says:

    Wow–I’m amazed! One quick question… I’d love to start reading longer chapter books to my 2, 4, and 6 year olds. Anyone have any suggestions that will keep their attention?

    • Dena says:

      I homeschooled my boys from third grade to high school graduation.I would suggest for young children.Purchase an egg timer.Set it for 30 minutes.As the children get older they will be pulled into the story and request a longer time.So they can find out what happens next.You can always add more time.This worked wonders for us.You have to be firm and set a minimum time in the beginning.Hope this helps.

      • melissa says:

        Thanks for that suggestion. I guess what I was asking (it isn’t very clear as I re-read this) was for suggestions for specific books.

        • Dena says:

          Oh,I’m sorry Melissa.We used Alpha and Omega for our regular curriculum.And for the chapter books.The kids were allowed to pick three library books a week from the public library.We started out reading together.And eventually they read on their own.They loved the public library back then.It was before we had a computer.They would get all excited cause it was library day.lol.They even thought it was unfair that they couldn’t get their own library card until they were five.You can usually find great chapter books for kids at Walmart fairly cheaply.I remember them reading Finding Nemo and How to Eat Fried Worms.Basically,if there was a movie they wanted to see,we/they read the book first.Use your own judgement as far as age appropriate.We read the book Holes.I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 12.Sorry for the confusion 🙂

          • Home School Dad says:

            We do a LOT of reading aloud…our kids have greatly enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, we just finished the BFG (Roald Dahl.) We do shorter read alouds with Beatrix Potter. Since our kids don’t watch much tv at all (and zero during summer months) they are quite content to listen to stories and allow the words to paint a picture in their minds. My wife and I often read aloud to each other in the car as well, and you can always hear the kids chiming in. Recent adult read alouds were: Don’t Ride A Bike in the House Without a Helmet, I Beat the Odds (Michael Oher).

  • Dena says:

    I homeschooled two boys through third grade to high school graduation.I’m familiar with wearing your jammies all day.lol.I would schedule our days as such.In the mornings after breakfast three subjects.Bible was always first then math and english.Break for lunch at noon.From one to two we straightened the house up.Then from 2-5 or six they finished up with the other three.It helped me a lot to assign a laundry basket for each room of the house and the boys would help gather anything that belonged in that basket/room.When everything was put away (they helped) the house was fairly clean.My boys are 18 and 21 now.Homeschooling was SOOO worth it.I’m so proud of the men they grew up to be.

  • This is so helpful to me as a blogger, believer, mom, and wife! I am thinking about homeschooling one day also!
    The way you manage your time is awesome. Do you all have weekly activities you’re involved in? Or how do you fit in the grocery store? I’m wondering if (even with just one child – an infant), I should start more of a routine like this – without all of our outings with friends, etc – as a better way to manage time.

    • Crystal says:

      Grocery shopping typically happens on either Tuesday or Thursday or Saturday. It depends upon the deals and the time I have. I go over our lunch break and we bump the afternoon stuff until later or I go later in the evening when my husband is home.

      We try to have two to three days each week that we stay home all day. I aim for that to be Monday, Wednesday and, sometimes, Thursday. We try to schedule most all of our activities, get-togethers and extra stuff for Fridays and the weekends instead of breaking it up throughout the whole week. We’re more relaxed about this during the summer, but during the school year, we pretty strictly stick with not doing a lot of extra stuff Monday-Thursdays in order to keep a consistent routine in our home. We’ve found things flow so much better when there is consistency on a regular basis.

  • Daniela says:

    Thank you very much for this much needed encouraging mesage. I am a young mother of 5 children (all 8 and under) . I have a hard time accepting that the house will not be spotless clean (at least for a while). My husband reminds me all the time that I may be pretty close to a superwoman, but I am not, and that is something I need to remind myself over and over again. I like the idea of having a schedule to go by, but with a 6 month old, a 24 month old and an extremelly active 4 year old, it’s not very doable. Thanks for the insight and great ideas.

  • Ericka says:

    I am sure others have posted replies similar to mine, but I also wanted to express MY thanks for being honest in your posts. I have been visiting your site nearly every day for years and appreciate the godly wisdom, savings, and ideas. Unfortunately, I am not a SAHM YET, I so desperately long to be home with & homeschooling my children. I’m praying for that blessing to come within the next year (before my son is in kindergarten). Thanks for sharing your life and hard work. God bless!

  • angie says:

    Off and on we struggle with our boys sitting at the table during mealtime
    (ages 4 and 2). I’m just curious if your kids sit at the table with you and Jess nicely and without getting up during the 6 – 7:30 dinners you reference? If so how do you do it? 🙂 thanks — been following your blog from the times when being frugal wasn’t hip.

  • Dawn McKinney says:

    You were way more structured than I was with my 3. I had more of a free form way of homeschooling. But everyone has their own way, and each state has their own law. We are lucky that WA has the least constricting homeschool law in the US, where the parent has pretty much 100% control over the children. The only basic two rules there are here is you need to be a certified homeschool “teacher”, (obtained in one or two nights of an awesome class), or have an Associates degree (in anything), and have the child tested yearly through an SAT or Individual Assessment test. That’s it. I got my kids the Bob Jones University Homeschool curriculum, and let them have at it. I was active duty military at the time, also had a farm and ran two businesses off that farm. The kids also helped with those businesses and farm chores. The consistently scored at or two grades above their school level every year. Definitely homeschool if you can, but know what your sate laws are, and stand your ground. The rewards are incredible for you and your kids.

  • Joanna says:

    What a blessing this post was! Thank you times a million for your honesty and encouragement!

  • Noah says:

    I would love to hear what you have in the various busy boxes. Working on that for myself as I start homeschooling next year.

  • Raquel says:

    Thank you! I found this very helpful!

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