Please refer to our DISCLOSURE STATEMENT.
So you want to know more about balancing homeschooling and home?
What if I told you that balancing homeschooling and home (and work or anything else) can’t be accomplished?
Wait! Wait! Wait!
Before you go away mad or curl up in a corner and start doing that ugly, snotty cry, give me a chance to explain.
OK. You’re still here. Great! (Whew.)
Anyway . . .
When you’ve finish reading this post, you’ll have a REAL action items that you can implement to help with “balancing” homeschooling and home.
• The “Balance Myth” and what you should be doing instead of “balancing”
• How to determine your homeschool, home, and work priorities
• Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS!) and how it’s creating chaos in your homeschooling life
• How saying NO will create more “balance”
• How to create more “balance” starting TODAY
About the “Balance Myth”
Before we go any further, you’ve probably already realized that I’m putting “balance” in quotes.
That’s because I think that balance is a LIE that society sells to people (especially women).
That sounds super accusatory and angry, doesn’t it?
That’s probably because I’ve spent the last 17 years working from home in my own business (seven of those while also homeschooling) and feeling like a failure because I can’t “DO IT ALL!”
Nothing was EVER balanced.
If I was excelling in business, my house was a MESS.
If I had homeschooling pretty organized, then business stuff fell through the cracks.
And, time for myself? FORGET ABOUT IT. It’s laughable (and is still something that I’m working on, to be honest).
So if there’s no balancing homeschooling and home, now what?
Don’t give up!
I want to help you achieve the homeschooling, home (and work, if applicable) life that you and your family deserve!
I want you to change your mindset from thinking that balance is achievable to understanding how to prioritize your life instead.
Once you do this, you’ll understand that you don’t need more “balance” in your life. What you really need is a good PRIORITY LIST and a REALISTIC way to achieve those priorities.
Um . . . what?!
Right about now, you’re probably still skeptical, huh?
I mean, balance MUST be a thing. Society tells us all the time that we CAN balance (and gives us many, many solutions on how to do so — many of which don’t ever work).
So, why isn’t it, like ever, working for us in our lives?
UNDERSTANDING THE BALANCE SCALE
Envision a balance scale— you know, those scales where you put something heavy on one side and it goes down, but the other side goes up?
(You may even have one of these for homeschooling!)
If you’ve ever played around with one of those scales, you know that there are weights of all different sizes and heaviness that come with the scale.
Now, think of each weight as a responsibility.
For example, “homeschool” may go on a bigger, heavier weight because it’s more important in life, while (sadly) “me time” may go on a smaller lighter weight.
Now, pretend that you close your eyes and pick a weight and place it on one side of the scale. Now, close your eyes and randomly pick another weight and place it on the other side of the scale. Then, repeat this process, placing each weight, one-by-one, on the scale until all the “responsibility” weights are gone.
It goes something like this:
The homeschooling weight goes on one side and tips the scale all the way down. Then, the work weight goes on the other side and tips the scale a little further in that direction.
Bible study group goes on one side and ballet class for the kids goes on the other.
Cleaning house goes on one side and working out goes on the other side.
If you alternate until all of the “responsibility” weights have been placed on the scale, chances are that scale will never, ever balance.
THAT’S BECAUSE ALL OF THE THINGS YOU NEED AND WANT TO SPEND TIME ON HAVE VARYING IMPORTANCE TO YOU.
Your scale will never balance unless everything is of equal “weight.”
And, in life, that will never happen.
NOT ONLY THAT, YOUR PRIORITIES HAVE VARYING IMPORTANCE TO YOU ON DIFFERENT DAYS.
Guess what? The weights of your responsibilities will change daily. So, just when you think you have this “balance thing” figured out, WHAM! It changes the very next day.
For example, one day a work project may be a heavier “weight” than homeschool. So, you might give the kids free learning time while you complete the work project.
On another day, family dinner time will be a bigger, heavier “weight” on the scale than making it to soccer practice.
On even another day, you are bouncing along on your homeschool schedule thinking, “We’re finally going to get caught up today!” and then WHAM AGAIN! The dog throws up in your lap and you spend the rest of the afternoon in the vet’s office.
Just like that, the priority of the dog has moved to a bigger responsibility weight on one side of the scale, while the homeschooling weight on the other side of the scale becomes smaller. And, that darn balance scale tips — yet again — in one direction and throws everything out of balance.
This is life. It happens to all of us. And, that never-ending task of trying to get that scale to balance just right is the thing that is making us all crazy.
Not only that, it’s making us less productive by weighing us down with feelings of failure.
I think you’re starting to see that the balance really isn’t achievable, right?
So, what should you do instead of believing that balance lie and living that life of chaos?
7 STEPS TO BALANCING HOMESCHOOLING AND HOME
STEP 1: SPEND A WEEK WRITING DOWN WHAT’S GOING WRONG
Before you move forward, you need to understand what’s holding you back.
Take a moment and write out your schedule for the upcoming week. At the end of each day, make notes on what went right and also what derailed your day.
What happened during the day?
Did you stay on your schedule? (Why or why not?)
What can you do differently?
(Hold on to that list. We’ll use it in a bit.)
STEP 2: REDEFINE “BALANCE” AS “PRIORITIES”
I want you to replace the word balance with the word priorities. So, whenever you’re feeling like you need to balance, what you really need to do is reprioritize.
Balance is defined as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
Priority is defined as “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.”
So, when you say “balance” (and really should be saying “priority”) what you really mean is that you are giving more important things (for that day) more attention than other things.
Now, go back and look at your weekly schedule and your notes of things that worked and things that went wrong from Step 1.
Were some of them because you didn’t prioritize the day?
STEP 3: BE OK WITH LETTING THINGS GO.
When you shift your thinking from “balancing” to “prioritizing,” you will need to be OK with letting things go sometimes.
If you’re prioritizing a homeschool field trip for that day, then you might not get to the laundry.
And, that’s OK!
(You know that laundry is just going to sit in a basket for a week or so before it gets put away anyway. Why sweat one or two or five more days?)
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO NOT HAVE TO “DO IT ALL” IN ONE DAY.
If you don’t get all of your scheduled homeschool things done for the day, it will be there tomorrow (and your kids won’t even suffer from missing it that day!).
STEP 4: STOP SAYING “WHEN I FIND TIME”
OK, this is a big one.
You need to stop saying “When I find time, I’ll do ____.”
The truth is this: you make time for the things that you want or really need to do.
When you are constantly living in a state of feeling like you don’t have enough time to do things, it creates that “unbalanced” feeling in life where you can’t get things done.
DON’T SAY THIS: “When I find time…”
SAY THIS INSTEAD: “Today, I’ll make time to…” (And then, do those things you prioritize for that day!)
(Try it. It works. I SWEAR.)
STEP 5: RECOGNIZE YOUR TIME WASTERS
OK, this one may get a little touchy because many of us (including me) have convinced ourselves that our time wasters are really just downtime for our sanity.
It many cases, those time wasters are what we use to avoid or procrastinate. Then, when things don’t get accomplished, we feel stressed and our lives feel chaotic.
So, what should you do?
TAKE THOSE STUPID GAMES OFF OF YOUR PHONE, YOU IDIOT.
(I was actually talking to myself there . . .)
I spend a lot of time in the car carting my kid around or waiting for her during her outside-the-home classes. Most of the time, what do I do? I sit there and play games on my phone or scroll through social media to “pass the time.”
Then, later in the week I say things like, “I can’t cook healthy meals this week because I didn’t have time to make the menu and shop.”
So, we order take out or hit the drive-thru window.
And, we waste money and we’re still not eating healthy.
See how (what seems like) one little time waster can trickle down throughout your whole life and create chaos — you know, that “unbalanced” feeling?
Take a few minutes (I always suggest setting a timer on your phone for 5 minutes) and list out all the time wasters you can think of. At the end of the 5 minutes, determine which ones are your “procrastinators” and get rid of them!
STEP 6: LET GO OF SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME
Shiny Object Syndrome goes like this:
“Oooh! That homeschool class looks fun! I need to sign them up!”
“Ahhh! My friend said that homeschool curriculum is better! I’ll order that!”
“EEEK! Everyone is joining a homeschool co-op. My homeschoolers are going to miss out and be behind if we don’t join!”
“If we don’t go to that homeschool meet up this week, I’ll feel left out…”
Shiny Object Syndrome are things that grab your attention and make you feel like you’re missing out.
And, many of us homeschool parents feel this way a great deal because we want to be sure that we are providing our homeschoolers with everything they need and that our kids aren’t missing out.
So, we sign up and overbook and overcommit and then get annoyed when we our life feels overwhelming.
YOU NEED TO PUT A LIMIT ON OUTSIDE THE HOME CLASSES, MEET UPS, OVERBOOKING, AND OVERCOMMITTING.
Take a look at what you’re doing outside the home or what you’re trying to squeeze in each day. What can you get rid of to decrease that chaos and make more time for your priorities?
One thing that really helped me is that I try to plan the majority of our outside-the-home classes on one day so that I know we’ll be out that day and can plan the at-home things on the other day.
SANITY SAVER TIP: Plan one day a week as a “free learning” day. We do Free Learning Fridays where my kid picks what she wants to learn and does independent projects. Then, I know that every Friday I have that day to catch up on house stuff or work.
Oh, and there’s something else that goes with this step:
PRACTICE SAYING, “NO.”
YIKES. I know.
Saying “no” can be difficult, but it is an important part of the process of gaining “balance.” If you have not accomplished your daily priorities and someone asks you if you want to meet up for a homeschool field trip, saying no will be hard but will help you achieve that balance you’re looking for in life.
I’m not recommending saying, “NO!” to all the fun (unplanned) stuff. But what I am saying is to recognize when your failure to say no to others is creating chaos in your life.
STEP 7: PRIORITIZE EACH DAY
This is it. All of those other steps have been leading up to this one action that is going to help your life become more “balanced.”
To help with balancing homeschool and home, you need to do the following prioritizing task:
• Set a timer for 5 minutes.
• On a piece of paper, list out everything that you want/need to accomplish in a “normal” week day.
Write everything you can think of in 5 minutes. Include the MUST DO things (like homeschool, work, cook dinner, etc.) and also the WANT TO things (like read, work out, meet with friends, weekly field trip, etc.)
DO NOT EDIT OR WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE WRITING YET.
Just keep brainstorming until the time runs out.
• Now, set another timer for 2 minutes.
Look through your list and number the top 10 most important things for each day. Think of the things as a “weight” that you put on a scale (from my earlier example). The “heavier” weights will have a higher priority (starting with #1).
At the end of 2 minutes, you will have a tentative list of daily priorities. Later, you can go back and assign the items to the specific day of the week.
BALANCING HOMESCHOOLING AND HOME TIP: TRY TO GET YOUR PRIORITY LIST DOWN TO 3-5 THINGS THAT MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED EACH DAY.
Your Priority List should be the things that MUST get accomplished each day . . . no matter what! The smaller you can make your priority list, the more “balanced” your day will feel. If you accomplish your 5 priority items for the day, everything that you accomplish or do after that is icing on the cake!
THE NEXT STEP IN BALANCING HOMESCHOOLING AND HOME IS UP TO YOU!
I’ve given you the same actionable steps that I used to help calm the chaos in my homeschooling and home (and, for me, work) life:
1. I wrote down what was going wrong.
2. I realized there is no “balancing” and instead there is “prioritizing.”
3. Then, I let the non-priority things go and stopped freaking out when they didn’t get done — especially the housework stuff! (I like to say, “If friends are coming over to my house and will judge how clean it is, then those aren’t the people I want as friends.”)
4. I started saying, “I will make time to . . .” instead of “I need to find time to . . . ”
5. I recognized my time wasters. (Stupid phone games.)
6. I let go of Shiny Object Syndrome and learned how to say, “NO.”
7. And, the biggest of all, I learned how to prioritize 5 items or less each day that we must complete to avoid feeling overwhelmed or chaotic.
NOW, WHAT ABOUT YOU?
WILL YOU CHANGE OR JUST CONTINUE THE WAY IT’S ALWAYS BEEN?
You’ve read through this entire post and now you have two choices:
1. You can ::eyeroll:: and move on, continuing to waste time searching the internet for answers that will never come, or
2. You can take control of the chaos in your life today and move forward, letting go of that unattainable goal of “balance” and instead embracing “priorities.”
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE STARTING TODAY?