We are busy. We co-own a performing arts academy, my husband is self-employed, we have three kids, and we homeschool. Some of my friends are amazed at how productive I can be. In one day I can educate two kids, snuggle and care for a baby, clean, do laundry, go grocery shopping, pay bills, order some dance costumes, cook lunch, get dinner in the crock pot, teach dance classes, and bake cookies!
What no one knows is, on days like that, school is Story of the World on CD, a Magic School Bus video, and a page of math for my son and free art time for my daughter. The laundry is washed, dried, and stacked in laundry baskets – not folded. The cleaning consists of loading and unloading the dishwasher in between everything else. The costume ordering is something I missed the week before for which I am now panicking about delivery dates. Grocery shopping was a just quick run through Aldi for something for lunch and a chicken to throw in the crockpot. It was my short teaching day (1.5 hours). And finally, the cookie dough was made a week ago and needed to be used up.
Is that a typical day? No. Every now and then I end up with a busy work day. In December I have to order dance costumes. In April I have recital packets, schedules, and performance orders to put together. Once a month I have payroll. Most of our days include two hours of school, one hour of me working from home, and three to five hours of me teaching. Sometimes, I can overlap the school and work at home hours a little bit. That leaves plenty of time to rest, play, clean, and run errands.
I have only been at this for three years, but here are some helpful hints for working (whether from home or away) and homeschooling.
- RELAX! You can’t do it all. (At least not in one day.) Prioritize. Make a big to do list, each day pick the top five to six things that MUST be done first (keep school at the top of the list on school days and add five other things). Mark them off as they are done and start the next day with school again, and then do anything not finished the day before, and finally add to it.
- Put chores on a rotating schedule. I tried assigning days, but that was too structured for our lifestyle. I have a priority list: laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, living room, refrigerator, front room, kids room, my room, pantry, garage. If I have time to clean, I do laundry first. If laundry is done, I clean the kitchen. If the kitchen is clean, or if I have at least started the dishwasher, I clean the bathrooms, etc. So, if I have an easy week, the whole house gets cleaned. I may even have time for other tasks – like organizing a junk drawer! If I have a few busy weeks at least the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms stay clean.
- Set your school schedule around your work and life schedule.We start school on August 1. We take a week for Thanksgiving, one or two weeks for Christmas, two weeks for performances in January (a continuation of Christmas break), and we stop formal school in the first week of May. If we don’t take spring break and if we have no sick days, that gets us our 180 days. This year we had sick days, but no spring break. We finished math, spelling, grammar/writing, reading, Latin, and science. We were short a couple of weeks so we did not finish history. We have made up those days with educational trips and activities this summer plus a week of intensive history catch-up.
- Ask for help. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed. This year it happened a lot! I was adjusting to three kids and it showed. I started asking my teachers to do things I normally do for recital. I gave up teaching the daddy/daughter dance. It is one of my favorite things to do, but I did not have time. I gave up the opening number. I am not teaching any summer classes. Mentally, I am now in a good place and have had time to plan out all of next year’s recital…almost!
- Take time for yourself. Read a book, go for a drive, go for a walk, watch a movie, surf the internet, go to lunch with a friend, or SLEEP!! You need time to reboot and refresh. Whatever you need, make sure you do it!
I am not an expert, but we are making it through. My dancers looked great at recital, the musicals turned out well, the house is clean-ish, and my kids learned a lot this year!
Cheryl has been married for 13 years and has 3 children. She has home schooled since her oldest started Kindergarten. She also runs a dance studio and teaches there 4 nights a week.