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How to Create a Peaceful Homeschool Life

We all want a peaceful homeschool life.  There is no denying it.  When we talked about wearing all the hats, I said that the first step was to make a list of priorities and figure out what you can say no to.  Saying no is never easy, but once you start it becomes easier.  Once we have some margin in our lives, we can then concentrate on creating a peaceful home.  As homeschool moms we have the unique opportunity to mold our children and educate them how we see fit.  But, we have to do that in the midst of everyday life.

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It is always exciting to see the joy in the mess that our kids find, but then we have to clean up the mess.  There isn’t a janitor that is going to come through and vacuum the glitter off the floor…or attempt to anyways!  Instead, it falls on our shoulders.  We are the ones that manage our homes, so it is up to us to create that peaceful homeschool life.  How is that possible though?  We don’t send our kids away during the day, so even when we attempt a “10-minute tidy” every hour, the house still looks like an explosion went off by the end of the day.  That does not create a peaceful home.  In fact, it is a huge drain on us emotionally.

Peaceful Homeschool – Expectations

We have a lot of big expectations for how our days are going to go.  We are homeschooling, we are training our kids, we are teaching them how to become productive adults as they grow.  But, we do this in the midst of our home, our haven.  The expectation that everything will always be rosy is one that immediately needs to go.  I would love to say that I have the magic pill to make everything run smoothly in your home, but it isn’t one size fits all.

A big part of our culture right now is social media, and how everyone shows a highlight reel.  I hate that.  Obviously, it isn’t fun to scroll through Instagram and see all the beautiful pictures.  You know that there had to be meltdowns on that gorgeous hike through the woods.  Just out of sight of that beautiful dinner is a complete disaster of a kitchen.  You know, but you don’t see.  And when you don’t see, it is hard to believe.  I try not to be that person on Instagram – I want to show our real life!  But, it isn’t always pretty to look at.

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Adjusting Expectations

The first step in creating a peaceful homeschool life is to adjust our expectations.  Do you know that most kids leave for school in the morning and don’t get home until after 3pm – or later if they have extracurricular activities?  Now think about your homeschool day – how often are you out of the house?  Even if you were out of the house for activities every single day of the week, you would still be home more than the average student that attends public or private school.

What does this mean?  It means that you can’t compare yourself with your friends’ homes who have kids in school.  You will never have the same experience as that person.  Of course, they have their own challenges, and I am not trying to minimize that.  However, when you are in your home the majority of the time (with kids), your home will be more difficult to maintain.

This means that you have to adjust your expectations.  Either you need to let some of the mess and clutter go, or you are constantly going to have that emotional drain, and your emotional wellness (for you and your family) will continue to suffer.

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It’s not Easy!

It is most definitely not easy to adjust your expectations.  It is something that I constantly struggle with.  If you have been around Townsend House for a while, you will have heard me say that our house has no closets.  We live in a lovely late 1800’s New Englander home, and the people who originally built our home were nudists.  At least that is what I imagine.  Why there are no closets, I don’t know.  And why we haven’t built closets in the past so many years, I don’t know that either.  Instead, we try to make do with what we have – which is a lot of metal shelves and visual clutter.

It drives me absolutely batty, but there are only so many things within my power to fix.  I know that I can’t start building closets in our home without a huge headache, so I have to adjust my expectations.  And constantly go through my home for things that most definitely do not spark joy in my life.  But even when I remove as much visual clutter as I can, I still have three little ones in this house that love to be creative and messy.  It is a constant learning process for them to know what to pick up, where to put it, and when to do the cleanup.  And something that we need to work on together.  If I leave them to their own devices, it doesn’t work.

You have to be able to let that stress go – stress from the mess.  On the other hand, you can spend every waking minute trying to make things shiny and orderly.  I have done that too.  Every moment I am not homeschooling, I can be cleaning.  It is a never-ending cycle.  One that will leave you drained and frustrated.

Peaceful Homeschool – Your Spouse

In order to have a peaceful homeschool, you need to have your spouse on board.  This can be a huge challenge to overcome, especially if your husband doesn’t understand the benefits or why you chose to homeschool in the first place.  It is hard for us, as homeschool moms, to get out of the public school mindset, but I think it is even more difficult for our husbands because they do not see the school we do each and every day.  Showing off what your kids do during the day is a great way to get dad involved.  Bring the discussions to the dinner table, and have him participate with your kids.

Sometimes your spouse is on board, but you feel the weight of everything else home related (bills, budgets, cleaning, cooking, errands), and he doesn’t quite see why you can be home all day and still struggle.  Once you accept your homeschooling as a full-time job, you need to explain that to your spouse, and maybe even to yourself.

Homeschooling is a Full-time Job!

You may not realize it, because you are trying to fit everything in around homeschooling, but it is a full-time job.  You spend a lot of time researching curriculum.  Setting up rhythms and routines has become a constant seasonal adjustment.  You spend your time trying to get everything done and still struggle because you don’t take your job as just that, a job.

Do you acknowledge that it is a full-time job?  That might even be the first step in getting your spouse on board.  Explain the hours of time that you put in to not only teaching your children, but researching curriculum.  Teaching new ideas takes time, and sometimes needs an entirely new approach for a child – this takes time.  While homeschool instruction may not take an entire day, think about all the time you spend planning your days, planning your weeks, and planning your year.  It’s a lot.  Do you participate in co-ops?  Are you planning field trips?  Do you spend time seeking out library books each week?  It is all time that goes towards this job of homeschooling your kids.

Planning from Behind

Planning from behind is something I have done since the beginning of our homeschool journey.  What is that?  It means that instead of planning your day in advance, you write down everything that you do throughout the day with your kids.  Then you categorize it into the different subject areas.  Julie Bogart talks about planning from behind in her new book The Brave Learner.  I may not use it exactly the way Julie describes in her book though.  Planning is fun for me, so I still plan out our days, but I don’t plan every minute of the day.  I have a broad overview of what we should be covering.

Then in the morning you start with a sheet of paper and write down everything.  On days where I am feeling particularly discouraged, I will write down everything school related we do, but then also everything else that I do on that day – everything.  Then at the end of the day, I have a reference for what we did for homeschooling and we can discuss that as a family at dinner, but I also have everything else that I accomplished which usually makes me feel a lot better about our days.  And if you are struggling with your spouse not understanding what you do while you are home all day long, you can show him.  Not as a weapon, but as a starting off point to figure out how to break up what needs to be done each day in your home.

Peaceful Homeschool – Totally Overwhelmed

If you are totally overwhelmed in your journey as a homeschool parent, you may need to take a step back.  You probably need to cut down on all the extra – even if it doesn’t feel like extra.  I know that we have talked about saying no before, but did you take me seriously?  Do you feel like it would be selfish to do that?  It isn’t!  If you are a ball of emotions and can’t seem to get anything accomplished because you are so overwhelmed, you have to take a step back.  You aren’t helping anyone by continuing to say yes, by constantly putting yourself last.

It is OK for you to take a mental health day and do nothing but figure out how to move forward.  You can take this season off from sports.  Take a week off from extracurricular activities.  Make the choice to put yourself first and figure out what your priorities are.  I am giving you permission to play movies all day for your kids so that you can really think about what you need to do to bring peace into your home and homeschool.  Cut out all the extra.  Make a list of everything you do in a week and see which things need to be on the chopping block.  Sit down and have a serious discussion with your husband about managing the home, and ask for help.

Ask for Help

If you can’t look to your spouse for help, look somewhere else.  Ask a friend to watch your kids while you run out and get all your errands done one morning.  Decide that cleaning the house will wait until the weekend, and then let that stress go!  I know it isn’t easy, but if you can let go of the preconceived notions of what your home should be, and instead accept it for what it is, it will relieve some of the weight on your shoulders.  Not all of it, that would take a long time to get to that point, but some of it.  Enough to get some breathing room.

Asking for help is hard.  You want to do it on your own.  But, if you are so overwhelmed, you need to find some way to get help.  If you don’t have family around, look to your church.  If you don’t have a church family, look for other homeschooling moms.  Go to the children’s section of the library and let your kids loose while you take some time to think about what you need to do.  Use technology when you need to, and don’t feel guilty about it!

The Bottom Line

Creating a peaceful homeschool life is not something that happens overnight.  It takes time.  Sometimes a lot of time.  But, if you sit down and write out what you want your homeschool to be, why you started to homeschool in the first place, it will become clearer to you.  You will figure out areas that you can cut back on.  It will become easier to say no once you say it the first time.  Really sit down and evaluate every aspect of your day – what can go?  What is absolutely necessary to your days?

I know what a weight life can be.  You want everything to be perfect, but the reality is that it won’t be perfect.  Letting go of that need for perfection will help the weight clear.  All those expectations you have?  Write them down, read them aloud, then crumple up that paper and burn it.  Expectations will only bring disappointment if you let them be the center of your homeschool.


How to Create a Peaceful Homeschool Life

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