12 Ways to Balance Your Home and Homeschool
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Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day for us to do everything or do everything well. As a parent taking on the role of educator, it requires careful planning and adaptability. The home becomes a multifaceted space, serving as both a nurturing environment for family life and a classroom for structured learning. Striking the right equilibrium demands flexibility in schedules, creativity in teaching methods, and patience in handling the inevitable ups and downs.
While homeschooling does present its share of hurdles, the opportunity to be present and fully engage with your child’s education and witness their growth firsthand is an unparalleled privilege. Finding harmony between nurturing a thriving home life and fostering a successful homeschooling experience ultimately hinges on a few things: Your openness to be flexible, initiating open discussions with your family, finding a supportive network, and a commitment to making this happen.
Finding balance while homeschooling can be challenging and sometimes it might mean lowering your expectations and setting clear priorities and picking your battles. Some people have this idea of some social media picture or Pinterest worthy home all the time and it’s just not realistic and it’s so important to not compare yourself with others. What tends to happen when we start playing the comparison game is that we compare our worst selves with someone else’s best self. Don’t do it! It’s not a battle you’re going to win and you’re going to drive yourself crazy and your family crazy with those kinds of unrealistic expectations.
In this season, you’re educating your children. You’re raising babies. You’re making memories. There are going to be times when you are in pure crisis mode 24/7. The house is going to get messy again and again, but your kids are only going to be at home for a few short years. Let’s keep things in perspective. It WILL get easier, especially as the kids get older. Next month could look very different than today. And don’t underestimate what you DO get done. If possible, write down what you have done so you can look back and visually all you are actually doing each day. It’s probably a lot more than you realize!
So, let’s get to some ways to help you maintain and balance your entire household during these years:
1. Establish a Routine (10:12)
Create a daily or weekly schedule that outlines when you’ll focus on homeschooling, house chores, and family time. A routine helps set expectations. We have an entire episode dedicated to this called “Schedules, Routines and Rhythms” because not only is it one of the main things people ask about, but it is also one of the key things to running a smooth household.
There are a lot of benefits from having an organized routine. It helps you stay on top of everything but, also, kids find comfort in knowing what happens next. If you’ve recently come out of a school environment, you may already be used to having some sort of structure to your day. The great thing about homeschooling though, is that you have the opportunity to cater this to your unique family. You don’t need to replicate a strict school schedule to have a gentle routine in place. We like to use the words “routines” or “rhythms” to imply a more laid back, less rigid flow to your day. Finding the right fit is definitely going to be different for every family. Blueprint For a Beautiful Week
2. Use Technology (11:44)
Use technology to your advantage. Technology is a timesaver when you use it to streamline tasks. Online grocery shopping, home management apps, and educational tools can help save time and stay organized. Keep a family calendar:
Some people like to use Alexa or Google home for grocery lists. There is also online shopping- grocery store apps, or Shipt/Instacart.
Since covid, so many stores feature online ordering and free pick up. You can keep a list going all the time and then click on the app when you are ready to buy and pick up. It’s so handy to take the shopping part out of your tasks and they load your groceries right into your car. Often this service is totally free once you hit the minimum pick up, but sometimes there is a slight cost- but still worth it! This can help you save money, too- no impulse buying. You can build your list right in front of you and make it fit your budget.
Subscription services can help you save time and money, too. You can find companies where you can have dairy, produce, and cleaning supplies delivered, even pet food. Amazon also has a subscription service you can set up for things you order often.
There are also a ton of meal planning services out there that will send you 2-3 meals per week with all of the ingredients and directions to make it. These are so easy; your kids can do it. It’s a great way to learn to cook! And it’s one less thing for mom to think about.
Subscriptions we have enjoyed for years:
My college student turned me on to Google Keep and its handy for keeping different lists for today’s tasks, long term tasks, gift lists for each member of the family, a list of movies/shows to watch, podcast lists, to do lists- short term/long term, and you can make menu planning lists and grocery lists in there.
Getting my family to use a digital calendar was the best thing I ever did, too. Everyone knows to check Cozi before they ask me if they can do things with friends, and they put their own things on there so that we don’t double book. My kids away from home still use it to plan trips home.
3. Time Management (15:40)
Teach your children about time management, so they understand the importance of balancing responsibilities and free time. In today’s fast-paced world, helping kids grasp the concept of time and learning how to manage it effectively is more crucial than ever.
Teaching these skills to them isn’t about overloading them with schedules; it’s about empowering them with essential life skills. You can start by introducing age-appropriate tools like colorful timers or visual calendars, making time tangible for them. Lots of kids like magnet or sticker charts, or some kind of checklist.
I love checklists and so do children! Recently, we posted on Facebook and Instagram pictures of one chart system I made where I used cardboard and clothes pins. We also have our free preschool routine charts, and I created several for the entire household for this week’s freebie.
As homeschoolers, we often have a lot of social outlets and activities outside the home, but if you’re go-go go, you’re never going to have time to get your house picked up, so when things get really out of hand, you may need to limit outside activities. It’s hard to get a grasp on things in the house when you are never home!
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s- it involves using a kitchen timer to break work into intervals typically 25-minute breaks. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato which is the shape of the timer he used.
You can also try setting tasks to things like getting the whole house clean in the time it takes to wash/dry your bed linens. You can also do an entire family pick up time! Even just 10 minutes of everybody picking up at the same time and doing nothing else can be super helpful.
4. Prioritize Tasks (19:51)
Identify the most crucial household tasks and focus on those. Not everything needs to be perfect; sometimes, good enough is okay.
The Fly Lady routine of having a weekly blessing of your house was handy- take an hour each and vacuum just heavy traffic areas, quick dust of surfaces, spot clean any floors with mop, polish mirrors or doors, purge magazines, mail, paperwork, change sheets, empty all trash. Then you could dedicate time on other days to doing other projects and your house is always semi clean. She also recommended things like keeping cleaner and wipes in every bathroom, so you could always do a quick clean in a pinch without grabbing items from somewhere else.
Think about doing a daily reset of your home, or a closing time at the end of the night. Do things like throw a load of laundry in first thing (and then fold the previous days), unload the dishwasher or rack and wash anything that was soaking from the night before. Fill water bottles and prep any food items for lunch or dinner. These things in the morning keep the rest of the day running smoothly and you never run behind on laundry.
5. Weekly Planning (23:26)
Dedicate a specific time each week to plan your homeschooling lessons and household tasks. This can help you stay organized and reduce last-minute stress. Look at your calendar, plan clothing and carpools, plan menu and meals, look if there are any supplies or things needed for classes or projects.
Keep a checklist of cleaning or organizing things that you do every week and divide those tasks into daily chores. Paying bills every Monday, Tuesdays check your grocery order, Wednesdays I will check my Every Plate or Hello Fresh order and select items for delivery (I also like to be working out like 3 weeks, so if I ever forget to do this one week, I don’t just get sent their selections)
6. Meal Planning (24:40)
Plan meals in advance. This will save you a ton of time and money and make your week run so much smoother and reduce your stress. There’s nothing worse than walking in the door and everybody’s hungry and there’s nothing to eat or everything is frozen. Also, it’s easy to get sucked into being a short order cook if you start asking for ideas! Consider batch cooking or using slow cookers for easy, nutritious meals. One year, friends got together and prepped a ton of freezer meals as a group. It took all day, but it completely packed our freezers with easy go-to meals. These are super easy, and you just throw them in the crockpot in the morning. I recently posted 2 free freezer meal plans with grocery lists in the Homeschool freebies Facebook group I created. Scroll down for our FREE Meal Planner!
I have a chalkboard in my kitchen with each day listed and every Sunday, I go through our calendar, determine which nights might be hectic each week and need a quick meal, a thermos meal, or maybe a crockpot meal that you toss in that morning. On weekends you can prepare easy go-to things for breakfasts and lunches during the week. Breakfast sandwiches, eggs, muffins, or pancakes can be made ahead and frozen and then reheated. Parfaits in a jar or a huge batch of oatmeal refrigerated in individual glass bowls are easy, too. This saves money and allows you to control the quality of the ingredients too. Acadiana’s Thrifty Mom Blog and Karissa at Home Instagram.
If your kids also like to cook, put them in charge of one family dinner a week. You can also set themes for each evening. Things for each day like a “Meatless Monday,” “Try it out Thursday,” “Cozy Crockpot Wednesday,” or “Movie night Friday.” You can list all of your favorite meals for each category and have a ready bunch of recipes to pull from each week. Planning doesn’t have to take long but it definitely will reward you in the long run.
7. Multitask Mindfully (29:17)
Look for opportunities to combine activities. For example, you can discuss math concepts while cooking together or practice reading during family story time. Using a literature-based curriculum means always mixing subjects for maximum effort- writing a paper about history reading crosses two subjects out. There are also so many family style curriculums that allow you to use one thing for all of the kids and then you can focus more one on one later with just things like math or reading instruction.
Use real-life events like cooking meals to help kids learn AND get dinner on the table. When we go to the grocery store, have the kids help write out the list. Then, while shopping, teach them how to compare prices and determine which item is the better value. Both cooking and shopping are sneaky ways to weave in math without having to print out another worksheet or find another practice activity.
As I’ve gotten older, I put them in charge of an entire meal with a small budget. We head to the store, they choose all the ingredients, they prepare, and they clean up. Just because you close the schoolbooks when things are out of control and you need a tidy, clean house with food on the table, doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning learning.
You can multitask with non-school stuff, too! When kids were younger, I’d make all the moms walk laps around the playground on park days. Now that they are older, I try to fit that exercise time in while they are otherwise occupied. For years, we had evening activities that took hours- instead of sitting in the car waiting, I joined a gym on that side of town near my kids studio and worked out while they were in class.
8. Involve Everyone (30:33)
Have your children and partner help you with household duties. After all, they live in the house too and it should never be solely your responsibility to take care of everything all of the time. Delegate and give up on perfection. The goal is to have it done to at least a passable standard.
Perfection is overrated. Share the responsibility! Assign age-appropriate chores to children, teaching them valuable life skills in the process. Download our free resource this week- it’s going to help you stay on top of those chores and involve everyone in your family as you divvy out responsibilities. There are also lots of lists out there with age-appropriate chores on it for inspiration. Over time and with lots of practice and patient instruction, kids can become very good at helping around the house. It is not always easy when they are learning how to complete a new chore but reminding yourself that it will pay off in the long run. Scroll down for our FREE Cleaning and Chore Charts!
9. Ask for Help (35:19)
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends and family when you need it. Delegate some of the schoolwork to them or put them in charge of a certain subject – maybe math! And completely take that off your plate.
Sometimes you can share responsibilities with other homeschool moms. We’ve shared carpooling a lot with some of my close mom friends. One year when our oldest kids were in a summer camp, we created a younger sibling kid camp with several families. We would each take all the younger siblings for an entire day and we would do activities and give the other moms the day off. We loved all day park days as much as our kids did, but every once in a while when the kids were having a great time playing, we would switch off with a mom — where she would leave early to go do some errands and I will drop off her child later in the day and vice versa. Sometimes having more kids at your house is easier than just having yours at home.
You might also consider hiring occasional help, such as a house cleaner or babysitter. When my kids were really little, I had a young homeschool tween come in a few hours a day as a mothers helper. It was a win win- she got supervised babysitting experience, and I got time to get things done.
10. Set Boundaries (37:43)
Clearly communicate your work and homeschooling hours to family members. Let them know when you’re available for non-school-related activities. Don’t be afraid to be firm about not taking calls between 9am and noon if that’s your prime school hours. You are not sitting at home doing nothing eating bonbons watching TV, your job is important and valuable. Turn your phone to silent and be present with your kids. They deserve that.
This is a struggle for all stay-at-home parents- people often think you have all the time in the world to take their phone calls, or book appointments, and meet household contractors, etc., just because you are at home. But you have your own stuff to do!
This goes for homeschooling commitments, too! It’s easy to get sucked into a lot of volunteer roles or teaching positions or other activity coordinating. And if you’re a person who is good at leading things, you’ll get asked to do this over and over. Learn to say no! Don’t commit to things your kids hate or that don’t benefit your family.
11. Self-Care (40:50)
Prioritize self-care. Taking time for relaxing and your personal interests helps you stay balanced and it’s going to reduce the chance of burnout. A burnt out mom is scary! As much as I used to be a night owl and hate early mornings, I really relish getting up with my quiet and coffee before everyone else so I prioritize that in my life.
It definitely gets a little easier as they get older to be able to leave them to go do things. I used to feel guilty about meeting other moms out for a moms night, or going to a book club. But don’t! Your kids aren’t going to suffer with one night in with dad or an evening of pizza while you are out with friends.
The point is to take care of yourself. Even a rockstar homeschooling mom needs a break. Don’t be afraid to make that part of the routine.
12. Flexibility (44:10)
Embrace flexibility and be willing to adapt your schedule as needed. Some days may require more focus on homeschooling, while others might prioritize home maintenance or family time. Being a homeschool mom is tough. There are times when it’s the most rewarding thing ever, but there are others when you feel lucky to make it through the day without tears.
It’s not always easy homeschooling, keeping house, and keeping your sanity, and it definitely takes time trying to figure out how to balance it all. Remember that balance is a dynamic process, and it may require adjustments as your family’s needs change. Balance is a little bit of a myth, because when we tilt activities toward one thing – even if it’s needed – it takes away from things on the other side of the spectrum. There’s no such thing as perfect balance all of the time. That’s life and it’s okay not to be perfect all the time. Be patient with yourself and your family, and don’t be afraid to seek support from friends and family or local resources to help maintain a harmonious home and family life while homeschooling.