Time Management Tips For Busy Homeschool Families
We are a very busy family. Our days are full. We all have different interests that we like to pursue. Some of our activities include travel hockey, competitive figure skating, volunteering, knitting classes, woodworking classes, blogging, and softball. In our spare time, we throw in a little homeschooling, housework, and time with friends.
With a life like ours, it would be easy to feel like you are losing your mind. Over these past busy years, I have come up with some time management tools to ensure that everyone gets where they need to go, when they need to get there, while keeping everyone fed, somewhat clean, educated, sane, and loved.
When I was young, there were activities for kids, but not like there are today. There was school related activities and sports that took a little time after school and there was summer baseball and softball. That was about it. These days there are club sports, art lessons, cooking classes, LEGO clubs, dance teams, museum programs, zoo camps….. The list goes on.
The activity list for parents has grown, too. There are plenty of opportunities for parents to be involved volunteering through their children’s activities, church, and civic organizations. Plus, there are adult sport leagues all year round.
It all looks like so much fun! How do you choose? How do you keep from choosing too much?
My husband tells the kids all the time, “You can do anything you want, just not everything.” If we tried to do all the good things presented to us, we would be spread too thin in all areas. Our relationships, bank accounts, education, and sanity would all suffer. We must all determine what is most important to us. That’s a time management tip right there!
For instance, this fall, my son has to choose between hockey and football. He likes both sports, but this year they will overlap. If we ran like crazy and missed a game or two in either sport over the season, he could do it, but it would make our lives so very hectic. We told him he had to make a choice. So, he made the decision to just play hockey. Even though he enjoys football, hockey is his true love. He went with his higher priority.
Those decisions are tough, but the more we make them, the easier they get. It helps keep our priorities and goals in front of us.
Keep A Master Family / Homeschool Planner
Keeping the family’s schedule on one calendar or planner for all to see helps to not over schedule your life.
My daughter has several activities that she schedules herself. When planning her volunteer days or her figure skating training, she first consults the family calendar to see where there are openings. That makes planning easier for all of us.
Our family calendar is kept on the fridge for everyone to see, but I also like to keep the same information on a Google calendar online that anyone in our family can access if they are not in our kitchen.
As far as homeschool assignments, each child has a planner that I write their assignments in each Sunday night. They can add to their planners or rearrange the assignments as necessary.
Because each child is different, each child uses a different type of planner. My son has used A Plan In Place planners for years. They are customizable and printable. He likes a paper planner that he can write in and that has different types of pages to record his assignments, his reading lists, his saving and spending, and other notes.
My daughter generally loses her planners. And her notebooks. And her pens. And her textbooks. Occasionally a shoe. You get the picture. She uses and loves Homeschool Manager. It’s an online planner that is perfect for keeping records during these high school years. Homeschool Manager records grades, calculates GPAs, creates transcripts, and more!
My number one family time/sanity/money saving tool is a meal plan. Each Sunday evening, I make a meal plan for the week with a grocery list. I make the plan with my planner open so I can see how much time I have for each meal each day.
On days when I am going to be gone all day, I might plan a crock pot meal for dinner. On practice or game nights, we might have an easy to clean up meal like sandwiches before we go and then a snack when we get home. If we are going on a field trip, I make sure I have something on hand that makes a good sack lunch.
A busy schedule doesn’t allow meal planning on the fly. If I didn’t have a plan, we would end up at the grocery store every day or going out to eat all the time. That can get expensive. I need that money for hockey gear and hotels!
Everyone needs a break. Downtime is good for the whole family and might mean different things for different people. For my daughter, downtime means movie night cuddled up on the couch. My son likes family game night. My husband and I like to do something outside as a family. Whatever relaxes your family and makes them slow down, do it. Schedule it in so you know it gets done!
Make The Schedule Work For The Whole Family
We have been homeschooling for 6 years. At first, I tried to keep the kids on the same schedule. I admired how other homeschool moms had their days scheduled with lots of together time with their kids starting first thing in the morning. They started with breakfast and read together time at 8am followed by a subject the whole family was learning together. By noon, they were finished with school work and off on a field trip or playing in the backyard.
That didn’t work for us.
My daughter is an early riser. She is most productive in the morning. So, I schedule her school work and her figure skating training in the morning when she is most able to think clearly. My son, on the other hand, needs lots of sleep. I let him sleep in while my daughter is getting her things accomplished. When he wakes up, I have time for him.
If I kept them on the same schedule, it would be a nightmare. My son is no good in the early hours and could not do his school work with a groggy mind. If I made my daughter wait until my son wakes up, her most productive hours would be behind her.
The schedule needs to work for the parents, as well. I do not work well having activities back-to-back-to-back. I need breaks in the schedule or activities scattered through the week.
When we first started homeschooling, I tried to put all our extra classes and lessons outside the home on one or two days. We were running to get from place to place. I felt so stressed and rushed. It made me grouchy and tense. The kids didn’t fair too well either. Now, we schedule classes, lessons, and other appointments later in the afternoon throughout the week. That works much better for all of us.
Do You Have Time Management Tips To Share?
What works for our family may not work for yours. Have you found some ways to tackle the time management issue in your homeschool life? What works? What doesn’t?
What planner do you and your kids use?
Do you have any meal planning tips or tricks?