When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t really think about how much it would affect the rest of my responsibilities. Maybe you can relate to this?
I was so excited to start teaching our children, so I was very focused on how and what to teach. I didn’t think too much about how I would manage all the other things I needed to get done in a day…but that didn’t last long! The messy house, the lack of good meals, the struggle to find things – these all started to cause frustrations and I realized that I needed to do something to help things run more smoothly in our home while homeschooling.
You see, homeschooling is like having a part-time or full-time job, depending on how many children you’re teaching. Because of this, it’s helpful to set up systems of organization for the various areas of responsibility you have in managing your home. A meal planning system and a housekeeping system are essential to keep you from going crazy!
I personally found it helpful to make a weekly schedule for the various areas I needed to organize in our home. Over the years I developed a weekly system for meal planning and housework/chores. I’ll share what has worked for me in the area of meals and housework, and some resources and links for other ideas as well.
Here are some tips for managing meal planning and housekeeping and doing it well, all while homeschooling:
1. Meal Planning
I’m so thankful to my sister-in-law, Donna for her ingenious ideas on how to make meal planning easier!
Donna created a weekly meal system in which she listed seven evening entrees with side dishes, and she included the list of groceries she needed for those meals on the same sheet.
She created eight weeks of meal plans with this system. She saved the lists in a plastic covered sheet placed in a binder along with plastic sheets filled with recipes for all the meals listed on all the meal-planning sheets. Each week when it was time to get groceries, she took out one of the weekly meal planning lists and went to the grocery store to purchase what she would need for the week. I started using this system and found it saved me a lot of time and energy. I didn’t have to come up with new meals every day or even every week – once I had the system set up, it was a breeze to plan and make meals for each week.
With this system, I would sometimes change the order of the meals listed on the sheet and make something on a different day than I had originally planned, but I always had all the groceries I needed for each week as long as I stayed with making the meals listed on that sheet. I just looked at the list in the morning and got out anything frozen that needed to thaw and I was ready for the meals for that day.
This meal planning system is available in The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner (In the planner, you’ll also get the template so you can tweak it and reproduce it as needed.) and it’s also in my Homeschooling with Confidence book -both are available in the store section of the website.
Here are some other meal planning resources and ideas:
• E-meals (They plan and shop, you cook!)
• Cook ahead and freeze – this saves a lot of time when it comes time to make a meal on a busy day. You can buy in bulk, then brown hamburger, chicken pieces, onions, and peppers, etc. ahead of time and freeze to use later.
• Pressure cooker fast cooking Instapots have been growing in popularity, but I also like the Crockpot Multiuse Express Pot because it does both slow cooking and fast pressure cooking. It’s less expensive, has better ratings and does more!
• Places to find new recipes:
2. Housekeeping system
It’s crazy how the house still needs to be cleaned when we’re homeschooling! If only it would just stay clean while we all live and learn in it full-time, right?
The good news is, along with having the kids living in and messing up the home all day long, you also have their help to clean it up! That’s what chores are all about! And it’s good for them to learn how to keep up a home anyway. Someday they’ll have a home of their own and will need those skills, so don’t feel guilty. Start delegating and training your kids to do the housework! They need these skills for when they are out on their own.
Chores are also character-building. Having your children doing chores helps make them more responsible. It also helps them learn to serve others and learn to work well with others. It may be challenging at first to teach them all the aspects of cleaning a house, but the benefits will be so very worth it!
I remember when one of our boys came home from college one weekend. He said that he had to teach his roommate how to do his own laundry because he had no idea how to do it! Our kids had been doing their own laundry since they were 9-10 years old! He was amazed that his roommate didn’t know how.
Not sure how to set up a chore system? Here’s a list to get you started:
(Both The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner and Homeschooling with Confidence have a list of age-appropriate chores to help you determine what your child can do at the age they are at, plus you’ll find several different chore chart templates to choose from.)
• Make a list of all the rooms in your home.
• Write out what needs to be done in each of these rooms to maintain them and keep them clean (dust, vacuum, wipe down the fridge, counters, etc.).
• Separate the list into items that need to be done daily and items that can be done weekly. I would also recommend setting up a regular once-a-week “House Cleaning Day” where you do a deep-cleaning, and everyone helps with those chores that can be done once-a-week.
• For each chore on the two lists, make an index card with the details of what is expected of the person doing this chore. (For preschoolers, keep their chores simple and use pictures.) Include things like putting away clutter, cleaning windows, doorknobs, etc. (If you need guidance on this, go to flylady.net and check out her detailed cleaning lists.)
• Determine how you can separate each of these lists into the appropriate number of individual chore lists based on how many children you have. For example, we have four children: for helping in the kitchen, one helped with breakfast, one with lunch, one with dinner and the last emptied the dishwasher.
• Make a list of personal hygiene skills you want your child to practice every day and include that in their list of chores to be done.
• Make up a chore chart for each child including daily chores and some weekly chores. Each week, or month, make up a new chore chart and rotate which chores your child is doing for that week or month so that they will eventually learn to clean the whole house.
I believe managing your home in these two areas (meals and housekeeping) is super important when you’re homeschooling. It helps your days to be more relaxed and gives you more time to enjoy your children.
Please share ideas in the comments if you have suggestions for others on how to manage meal planning or housekeeping well in your home – I’d love to hear from you!