So, you want to be a better homeschool mom? Here’s how. I have a pretty big secret to share with you. It really doesn’t matter how good or expensive your homeschool curriculum is. Or how much you spent on setting up your school room. Or even how awesome your homeschool routine is.
Wait, What?! It Doesn’t Matter?!
Okay, so it can help a lot to have those things in order, but the true success of any homeschool is tied directly to the parent who is teaching the curriculum, running the school room, and enforcing the routine/schedule.
If that parent is grumpy, frustrated, exhausted, and unmotivated….everything else pretty much goes out the window.
Think about your time in school. What was your favorite class? Is it the curriculum you’re thinking of…or is it the teacher? Most of us can remember a teacher that seemed like magic.
I can still remember leaning over my desk after lunch time and listening to my 5th grade teacher read aloud Where the Red Fern Grows. I remember how my high school English teacher made The Scarlet Letter come alive. My college writing teacher made me feel like I could go anywhere and do anything with my life. She believed in me.
The passionate, engaged, and driven teachers are what made my education and learning thrive, not the books they were issued by the school board.
Why Being the Better Homeschool Mom You Want To Be is So Darn Hard
I think we all want to be that kind of teacher for our kids, and that’s probably one of the reasons you wanted to homeschool! But being that kind of teacher day to day in the homeschooling setting can be really challenging over time. Why?
- Well, our younger kids are not sitting in childcare while we teach.
- There is no janitor to clean the classroom at the end of the day.
- No lunch lady to take care of feeding the masses.
- No recess monitor to keep the kids alive while we take a break.
- No specialists to take care of things we are not as strong in (art, computers, foreign language, etc.).
- No teachers’ lounge to escape away and rest.
- No substitute teacher to step in when we get sick or have appointments.
- No principal to take care of the misbehaving kids.
- No assistant teachers to help carry the load of the day.
- No school nurse to take care of all the boo boos, runny noses, and coughs.
- And no parents to come and take the kids away at the end of the day.
As a homeschool parent, you have taken on all of the hats for your kid. It is a great joy to educate your kids at home, but it can also be a crushing load to carry on some days. There are a number of things you can start doing today though, that will help you reach your potential, have more energy, stay motivated, be more effective, and be the better homeschool mom you want to be.
How to Be a Better Homeschool Mom
I know that’s hard to hear, but getting up an hour before my kid has proven to be invaluable. This is time for you to drink coffee in peace, catch up on the news, read your Bible, and/or review your lesson plans for the day.
You can take a shower, get ready for the day, and greet your kids when they wake up as a smiling homeschool mom who has already shaken off the morning and is ready to take on the day.
Waking up early does not mean you should be losing sleep though – that causes a whole other problem. There is a simple trick to making sure you get sleep and you get up before your kids – and you can start today!
Don’t believe me? Check out this post to find out how I make it happen every morning.
2. Drink Water
I don’t know about you, but coffee and caffeinated tea are my go to morning beverages. I even own a t-shirt that says “Caffeine loves me!” But you can take it too far when you don’t balance it out with drinking a good amount of water.
Being just mildly dehydrated can you make feel irritable, tired, and give you headaches – all of which are a recipe for disaster in your homeschool day. If you want to be a better homeschool mom, consider trying to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. This will give you so much more energy and make you feel so much better than any amount of caffeine.
It’s super hard for me to remember how many glasses of water I have had in a day, so years ago I started using this kind of Nalgene water bottle. I only have to fill it 2-3 times a day to get all the water I need.
****Hate drinking water? I know it gets old. I love these drink mixes that have no artificial colors, preservatives, or sweeteners!
3. Get Dressed
I will admit that I taught a good number of lessons in my first year of homeschooling in my PJs. You’re not leaving the house, so what does it matter what you’re wearing? Turns out it matters a lot. Very few days of great productivity happen when you’re in your PJs. Staying in your PJs tends to produce days spent on the couch, cutting corners, and taking naps.
It also makes it so much harder to get going when there are errands to run. When your neighbor rings the doorbell at 11am, you run through the house like a crazy woman trying to find your bra. You feel defensive when your husband comes home and you’re still wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday.
And your kids develop a memory of their mom always in her bathrobe. See the problem there?
Believe it or not, one of the most popular and well loved things I have ever written on my blog is about the homeschool mom uniform I developed for myself, so that I can get dressed everyday in something that is comfortable, stain resistant, and grocery store appropriate in less than 30 seconds.
The idea came to me when I enviously watched my husband put on his uniform for work without any thought or real effort.
If you want to be a better homeschool mom, I strongly recommend you ditch the PJs and get dressed for the day in this simple homeschool mom uniform.
4. Get Organized
Nothing can make you feel lethargic and unmotivated to homeschool more than a messy, disorganized, cluttered homeschool area.
- Books and workbooks stuffed in a space that’s too small.
- Loose leaf papers fluttering everywhere.
- Random things stacked up too high so you have to pull everything out to find what you’re looking for.
- Pencils and art supplies everywhere except where they are supposed to be.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry! That’s normal! Homeschooling is often messy, but is important to keep that mess functional and contained in order to be the better homeschool mom you want to be.
Keeping things organized makes for a more relaxed learning environment, saves you time, and sends a message to your kids about how important this homeschool thing is!
Every homeschool space is different, but I strongly recommend the following steps to keep yourself optimally organized:
- Go through all the books/workbooks in your homeschool area. Do you really need all of them this week? Take everything you won’t be using for your homeschool week and put them in a storage area. This will help you and your kids find what you need faster and not have to wade through unnecessary extra things you have laying around. Every weekend, go through your upcoming lessons and pull any books from storage that you need, and put away any books you no longer need.
- Make sure each of your kids has a binder with page protectors to hold all of the most special art projects and assignments you want to keep. Everything else needs to be trashed (I know it’s hard!) in order to keep the stacks of paper under control.
- Purchase a caddy to hold all the pencils, art supplies, and other school things. Pencil pouches have to be dumped out on a table for your kid to find the right color he wants. Trying to put all the pencils back in a box can be infuriating for a kid and a mom. Save your sanity and get one of these awesome homeschool supply caddies – it was a game-changer for us!
5. Plan Dinner in the Morning
You know when you have one of those awesome homeschool days?
- You finally explained that thing in a way so that your kid got it?
- You performed a killer science experiment?
- The craft was a huge hit?
- The math game you came up with was everything?
You want to drop your mic and walk off the homeschooling stage in victory, but instead you find the house is a mess, the laundry needs to be done, and everyone is looking at you for dinner. Sigh. Not the reaction you were looking for.
Believe it or not, being a better homeschool mom has a lot to do with how you balance all the other things in your home, not just the lessons you teach.
In the morning, take a few minutes and make a decision about what you are feeding the people at 6 pm.
- Do you need to take out anything to defrost?
- Anything need to be thrown in the crockpot?
- Do you need to run to the store to pick something up?
- Are you ordering carry out that needs to be picked up?
Whatever it is, it is much less stressful for everybody to arrange it in the morning than it is to arrange it after a long day of school.
6. Post your Homeschool Schedule/Routine
If I had to pick the most important thing on this list to be a better homeschool mom, this would be it.
Take a minute to sit down and write out every subject that your child needs to do daily. Post that schedule so that you and your child can clearly and quickly see what needs to be done. When the work is completed, a line is drawn through that subject.
No more frustrated, “Are we done yet?!” questions and no more mom forgetting to do a subject because she got distracted.
Years ago I printed out my kid’s school subjects (math, history, science, etc.) on routine cards so they could turn over each subject when they competed it. This made it easy for me to display their schedule every day and it kept them motivated to turn over all of their cards and get their work done.
A huge win for this homeschool mom!
Can I save you some time? You can download my routine cards printable for free and get this going in your homeschool today! Just click here! If you want to take your routine cards to the next level, you can also check out these premium routine cards with fun themes!
7. Motivate Your Kids the Right Way
You know that you need motivation to get going with things and so do your kids. Unfortunately, many homeschool parents resort to using negative punishments and threats to get their kids to complete their work.
- “No dessert tonight if you don’t do your math!”
- “No screen time until this writing work is done!”
- “No time with your friends until this assignment is complete!”
This reactionary approach creates an educational environment where your child is learning that school work is done to avoid punishment. Yikes! That is not the better homeschool mom you are trying to be at all. You absolutely want to be proactive with your approach and start using a positive incentive rewards program with your kids in order to motivate them the right way.
I have been doing this with my kids for years and I know it has saved me from so many arguments, difficult days, and power struggles. In fact, I rarely get resistance from my three kids to do their school work and I think it’s because they know what they are working for and they are excited about it!
To find out more details about my positive incentive system, check out this post about how to motivate your homeschooler!
8. Get Your Kids to Pitch In – Consistently
Yes, homeschooling (especially homeschooling multiple kids) can be a messy ordeal. It’s like you are working a full time job from home with no janitor to help clean up the stickiness and mess. It is common to feel overwhelmed with keeping the rest of the house up while balancing all the school work, meals, snack times, crafts, and errands.
Asking your kids to help you can be even more infuriating.
“Why do I have to clean up this mess? I didn’t make it? Well, not all of it anyway!”
And when kids do help, they often provide “kid help.” Tasks are incomplete or poorly done and you have to constantly remind them to do these chores. Isn’t it just easier to do it yourself? Yes, it is easier in the short term, but over time you will become run down and resentful and overwhelmed with doing everything yourself.
So what’s the solution?
Chores become a part of your homeschool. They are something that must be completed – right along with math and reading. This way it is built into our homeschool routine and it is non-negotiable. I like to refer to them as life skills when talking to my kids.
I have a chore routine card posted with all the other subjects and it reminds me and my kids that their chores have to get done every day. Starting in first grade they become responsible for daily chores such as cleaning windows, dusting, keeping their room tidy, putting away their laundry, and changing garbage cans. As they get older, I teach them about wiping down sinks, vacuuming, and sweeping.
They more I teach them, the less I have to do, the more they learn how to take care of a house, and I know I’m a better homeschool mom for it!
9. Get Moving – For Real
This is likely not new information for you, but exercise does wonders to increase your energy, health, and stamina. All of those things are huge for keeping up with the bustle of homeschooling. But that’s not the only reason you should be exercising regularly. You have an awesome opportunity to model to your kids an active lifestyle and do it with them!
Regular exercise can be difficult to juggle for the homeschooling schedule which is why I recommend making it a part of your day, just like the chores mentioned above. Make sure that P.E. is apart of your homeschool day and do it with your kids! Show them how good it feels to move your body, elevate your heart rate, and strengthen muscles. Talk about the importance of stretching and flexibility. Explain how exercise keeps their heart healthy and their body strong!
This is a fantastic way to keep you active and show your kids the importance of being active for their whole lives – not just while they’re young enough to be on a a playground or talented enough to be on a sports team.
If this totally new for you? Have you maybe been blowing P.E. off? Not sure what to do about P.E. just yet? Check out everything you need to know about homeschool P.E. for more info to get started!
10. Take a Break to Recharge During the Day
I love being with my kids. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool! But, I also need some kind of a break to keep my energy up. That’s why I set my kids up with lunch in our kitchen…and I take my lunch to the dining room.
I eat in peace and quiet, I don’t get up to get anything for anybody, I read the news, maybe watch something on my laptop, or do whatever I want for about 20 – 30 minutes. This is life giving time to decompress, recharge, and get ready for the second half of the day.
If you feel overwhelmed with being with your kids day in and day out – I would strongly recommend carving out a slice of time in the day just for you. Gently explain to your kids that this is mommy’s time, and maybe set a timer so they know it will end.
If you feel bad about setting this kind of a boundary with your kids, please don’t. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids know that you are a person too and you have needs. If fact, you are helping them to understand healthy relationship boundaries – something their future roommates and spouse will appreciate!
Remember taking a time out during the days is not selfish, because it gives you the juice to keep going and to be a better homeschool mom! Are you an introverted homeschool mom too? Check out more tips for the introverted homeschool mom!