The tension was a physical presence in our home. I was cutting the school day short to accomplish other tasks I committed to complete. My volunteer work and writing was having a negative impact on my homeschool focus.
This was happening too many days in a row. Our family was out of balance. I could feel it.
With my husband working long days and odd hours in his military job, all of the parenting was my job. It was a season to assess the imbalance in our home and homeschool.
Spring cleaning is not just for our homes. Yes, closets and cupboards need some sorting now and then, but re-balancing life is a task I focus on every spring. It feels like a renewal season.
We clean the nooks and crannies of the house. And, we dig deep into the nooks and crannies of our priorities when the days feel like they are veering into chaos.
Three Routines to Reclaim Balance in Homeschooling
Learning to juggle homemaking and homeschooling was a challenge for me. As a former classroom teacher, I knew how to teach. But trying to figure out how to time-block in order to keep a relatively clean and orderly home was difficult.
After reading Teaching from a Place of Rest, my entire outlook changed. I realized that academics can live in harmony with the hands-on tasks of home life. Rooting myself in that perspective, I adjusted our schedule to meet our needs.
Because no homeschool year looks exactly like the previous one, I have implemented three different routines at different times in my homeschool to get life back in balance.
These strategies have allowed my family to shift more easily when we start to get overwhelmed. Focusing on our priorities and values is the key. The needs are met, and then the extras have to find their place in line. The flexibility of homeschooling is a huge advantage in the military lifestyle.
1. One Day for Chores Approach
We took one day a week to solely focus on cleaning and household tasks. The kids had chores they helped with, and I was able to clean the house and grocery shop. These are essential life lessons for kids, so we were still learning.
Taking one day off each week to complete cleaning and errands brought balance back into our life. The house was not turning into a wreck. I had a plan for completing the housework.
2. Every-Other-Day Approach
The one-day-off schedule worked for a couple of years. Then, I started teaching more whole-group lessons. That added a new dynamic. Our schedule had to adjust again.
We used an every-other-day approach to subjects. Mondays and Wednesdays we covered some subjects. Tuesdays and Thursdays we covered the others. For example, on Monday and Wednesday we worked on math, reading, and language arts. That left Tuesday and Thursday for science, social studies, and art. Friday was still homemaking day.
Instead of the kids getting bored with subject monotony, this approach kept things fresh from day-to-day. I really loved this season in our homeschool. Having all the kids around the table together, while I was reading aloud or discussing a science concept, was a really special experience.
This type of learning brought us together. It was the most free and flexible schedule overall for us.
3. Chore Charts Approach
Once I had all four of my children working on a more structured school schedule, we needed to add Friday back in as an academic day. This was mainly due to the older two being ready to cover more ground academically. In turn, the younger two needed more of my focus.
When the laundry and grocery shopping were not getting done consistently due to the time I needed to focus on the kids’ schoolwork, we had to adjust again. So I added in chore charts for the kids.
Delegating tasks was a necessary step in our household. After all, the children live here too so they can help keep the home livable and comfortable. We always taught our children to complete chores starting at the preschool age. They had a list of 3-4 chores they had to complete at least every other day. Sorting laundry, folding towels, and washing windows are things the kids can handle without much supervision.
Since the kids were finishing their school work at different times each day, the chore charts provided a physical reminder to the kids of what they needed to do after school time.
Chore charts helped foster independence, because I could ask, “Did you do your chores?” They had to look at the chart to see what was left to complete. After their chores, they could have free time.
Delegating tasks not only helped us create more balance in our home, but it also helped the kids gain perspective of the work that goes into running a household.
Balance Is Always the Goal
As a faith-focused person, balance is important to me. Teaching that to my children has been an essential aspect of our homeschooling journey. Using flexible schedules to get the school work done, but also pay attention to the household work, has been necessary for this military wife and homeschool mama.
A lot can fall on my shoulders with my husband’s crazy schedule. Maintaining balance—in spite of that—is how we continue to build a positive family and positive homeschool experience even while in the military lifestyle.