Once you are homeschooling, you realize how easy it can be to adopt a fluid sense of time. In fact, you might sometimes lose track of what day of the week or hour of the day it is when you remove yourself from a traditional school schedule! However, with that flexible perspective on time comes a need for being more particular about the ins and outs of our day. Otherwise, we become so fluid that we end up wasting our precious hours.
Are you super careful to protect your time or are you extremely casual with the hours in your day? Whether you veer to one end of the spectrum or the other, the following tips can help you gain some balance with protecting your most precious commodity— time.
1. Don’t Set Lofty Goals
If you’re the type to plan your life in advance, you may be more prone to setting lofty and unreasonable goals. If this is you, try to give yourself a bit of wiggle room when it comes to setting homeschool goals. Planning is essential to homeschool, but be sure not to overdo it. Those idealistic goals often result in disappointment when real life doesn't turn out like our expectations.
Instead, set reasonable goals that are smaller and more manageable. For example, instead of saying that you’ll complete your science book cover to cover before the end of the school year, break down the topics in the book into month by month blocks and set out to complete one topic each month. One month is easier to manage than an entire year, right?
The same goes with your daily time management. Rather than setting out to ensure your kids are involved in piano, violin, tennis, soccer, and a homeschool co-op, reevaluate your goals with rest and relaxation in mind. Try dropping a few activities and focusing on one or two only so that you don’t run yourself ragged.
The BookShark schedules are based on a four-day model because we know that you need that fifth day of the work week for extra pursuits, catching up, and errands/appointments.
2. Do Set Daily Routines
When you have homeschooling paired with homemaking and extracurricular activities, life becomes hectic very easily. The antidote to protecting your time is to simplify your life as much as possible.
The simplification process begins with what I mentioned earlier— not setting lofty goals. When you simplify your life, you recognize what absolutely needs to be done in your home and you begin to set routines around the necessities, feeling no guilt for leaving out the non-essentials.
Whether you’re a schedule person or not, whether you like to get up early or sleep in late, home routines are paramount for time management. Make sure you have an established morning routine for breakfast, clean-up, and homeschooling. What about lunch? Factor in meal planning to make your life easier.
What does your typical day look like between lunch and dinner? Begin discovering your family schedule by observing what things look like today, and make mental notes of how you want them to look in the future. Then think about your dinner routine, time together as a family, free time, bath times, and bed times.
How does this all work out and how would you like to see it changed? Make a list of the changes you would like to make and begin implementing them into your family routine one at a time. But always remember to keep your goals reasonable and take small steps. Big changes are more likely to fail than small modifications.
3. Learn to Say No
Last, but not least, learn to say no.
You simply can’t be at every family function or be involved on every volunteer committee no matter how talented or gracious you are. You may think you are the only person in the world who can fill that spot on the committee, but if it eats away an unprecedented amount of your time in a way that negatively impacts you and your family, then you need to say no.
Peering at a glossy homeschool catalog, you may want to switch to a curriculum that you think will change your life. But if you have the slightest inkling that your lifestyle has no room for a preparation-intensive unit study or series of complicated projects, you must say no and stick with the easy to implelment, pre-planned curriculum you are already using.
And on the other hand, if you realize that you carschool more than you like, and you’d rather be home more often in order to enjoy great literature together as a family, then maybe it’s time to say no to those things that keep you from what you love and need most.
Protecting your time is an important aspect of homeschooling effectively. Be sure to guard your time well so that you can be free to enjoy the things you love most in life.