I was raised by two of the most organized people on the planet. Although my parents didn’t homeschool, my mom spun the plates of household organization, meal prep, entertaining, volunteering, laundry, and carpooling like she was sitting poolside sipping an iced tea. It was no big deal.
“Pick it up, don’t pass it up!”
“It takes more time to contemplate making the bed than to actually make it.”
These are the mantras of my childhood, heard on repeat day after day after day.
My tendency toward organization, tidiness, and decluttering might not have come naturally, but it was certainly learned by example and is now a 49-year-old habit. That habit has served me well over the past 21 years of homeschooling our eight kids, whether all eight were stomping through the halls and bedrooms or the remaining three are (mostly) quietly inhabiting the space.
I’m a firm believer that anyone can get organized to some level of success, but I’m even more convinced that there is no one right way to get there. You do you, only more organized. Homeschool organization can be your reality. Let’s get started!
Three Reasons to Get the Homeschool in Order
- A disorganized home is an unmanaged home, and a poorly managed home can be a place where strife and frustration rule the day, most notably when we homeschool.
- Having some organizational methods in place can ease the workload tremendously. You might even find yourself taking joy in what God has given you to do rather than dreading an area of your life that previously brought frustration.
- We are told to be good stewards of all the gifts and tools God has given us, but if we’re always misplacing something (i.e., pencils, am I right?) or things are regularly being destroyed because they were left out in the rain, or within reach of a toddler, then we’re not really being good stewards.
Those are some pretty solid “whys”; let’s get to the “how’s.”
If You’re New to Homeschool Organization, Start Here
- Preschoolers and Peace is a site I started in 2006 with the aim of helping homeschoolers who are trying to homeschool a variety of ages. There are loads of posts on household and homeschool organization; simply type “organization” into the search bar.
- Flylady is the classic “organization school” for those of us who feel like we have no idea where to start. Baby steps and no guilt.
- Organized Home has printables and lists to get you going. Decades after discovering this site, I still use their Christmas guide to keep me on track and underwhelmed.
- Motivated Moms provides you with daily household chore task lists and an app that will color-code who does what. Voila! I seriously love this one (and that’s an affiliate link).
Just Three Steps
Are the sites I mentioned too overwhelming? Need a simple primer for homeschool organization today? Start with these three steps:
- Identify three areas of your homeschool that need to be organized.
- Identify what bothers you about each area.
- Start with one of those areas and make a list of how you might tackle it. There is no wrong way (remember: you do you, your way) and no wrong order, although there might be easier ways. You’ll learn what works for you as you go along.
For example, if I know that the paperwork I must keep for our records or our special needs child is out of control, I would start by clearing a basket or a drawer that can house just that specific paperwork.
Then I would set aside an afternoon to go through each piece of paper individually, making a pile of what to keep and what to throw away. After tossing the trash, I would then make sections that correspond to the paperwork: “annual,” “to do,” “to file,” etc. I’d punch holes in each piece and file them in a 3-ring binder. Label that binder and voila! Done. Peace has arrived.
Three Meals Per Day
If there’s one thing I know about homeschooling, it’s that a disproportionate amount of time each day is dedicated to meal preparation, enjoyment, and clean-up.
Master grocery and meal lists are indispensable. Take an hour or so this week to make master lists for the stores you frequent, and arrange the lists in the order in which you shop the store. That will save you a ton of time, too. Better yet, order online.
Want to know my biggest secret to tackling meal prep and homeschooling? Rotating menus. It occurred to me at one point that school kids eat the same things on the same days for lunch, and why couldn’t we?
Having a plan like burritos on Monday, crackers and cheese on Tuesday, etc. allowed us to move in and out of those meals without a big production each day. It’s a season, and it doesn’t have to last forever, but it might be the difference between thriving and surviving.
One more thing regarding meals: Take it from me, frozen pizza is a legitimate dinner.
People Above Projects
For those of us who are already inclined toward an organized home, we understand that organizational systems are a great tool for achieving a household and homeschool that are peaceful. However, I have had to learn to set aside some of my desire for a perfectly orderly home in light of the reality of living with other people.
I’d love to have a laundry room that looks like it came from an issue of Architectural Digest (as if they publish photos of laundry rooms) but there is a reason magazine laundry rooms look like that: Most people do a limited number of loads per week. At the peak of my homeschooling-eight-kids-years, we did four loads per day.
On the rare occasions when all of the laundry is caught up here, it lasts only a few hours. During those years when our packed home housed eight kids and two adults, at the end of the day, ten people tossed their day’s laundry into the hampers, and the cycle began all over again. Relatable?
All that to say be sure your expectations match your reality.
Some Things Always Change
Just when I think we’ve got something all figured out, some aspect of our lives changes and we need to revamp. I have new chore cards to make this week because the seasons have changed and the kids are getting antsy. I have a grandbaby about to make her appearance! Without organizational systems in place, however, chaos reigns and peace is hard to come by.
I’d like a homeschool marked by peace. How about you?
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