I had three kids ages three and under. Of course, my house was a mess! Of course, I forgot things. Of course, I had no idea what was for dinner. I had three young kids, one of whom I was homeschooling. I couldn't be expected to have a clean home or any organizing practices in place. Or could I?
I said I was homeschooling one child at that time. But the truth is I was so overwhelmed that I never got around to the homeschooling part. And that was just one aspect of the problem. I never got around to laundry, or picking up, or even showering on many days. My husband would come home to a wife in pajamas, a messy house, and no dinner. I couldn't tell him what I'd actually done that day, though it felt like a lot.
I blamed my husband for being mad at me. His expectations were just too high, I thought. I was mad at him and mad at the kids for making messes.
Yet his frustration upset me because I knew something was wrong. If I couldn't get around to homeschooling a preschooler, what would I do when I had older kids? I had visions of Child Protective Services coming to take my kids away.
But I also know if I sent the kids to school, I would still have a problem. I had a problem BEFORE I had kids. As a single graduate student, I let dishes, laundry, and trash pile up. I lived with a roach infestation. I used one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another. I missed appointments with my therapy clients and lived in fear of being kicked out of the Ph.D. program.
Once I got married, I changed some of my messy ways, but not all of them. I still had piles of laundry and messes that languished for days and I still forgot things all.the.time. My self-esteem was terrible. I wondered how someone with a Ph.D. could fail to manage housework, parenting, and homeschooling a preschooler? But that's where I was.
While I believed God had called me to homeschool, I didn't believe I was equipped to continue. I was ready to wave the white flag on homeschooling and admit that I couldn't handle any more children.
My organizing fairy godmother
At the time, someone told me about FLYLady, a woman who shared organizing missions online. She wasn't a born-organized person (B.O. for short) and I loved that. I could relate.
FLYLady (aka Marla Cilley) didn't homeschool and didn't even have young kids at home, but I copied her routines anyway. I wanted peace and order and self-esteem. If she could have that, I knew I could too.
In a short period of time, I was cleaning my home in 15-minute timed segments. I had the kids helping me. I started getting showered and dressed nicely each day. I made homeschooling part of a routine.
I had a twice-a-month housekeeper then who marveled at how little time it took to clean my house. She thought she was just working faster. But she also wanted to know if I was going somewhere because I was actually dressed.
The unexpected benefits of an organized homeschool life
My housekeeper's amazement was just one small, unexpected benefit of organizing my homeschool life. Here are three more:
#1 Have a happier marriage with an organized homeschool life
My husband stopped complaining about the mess because picking up became a routine for me and the kids. The laundry was being done on a set day of the week. And best of all, I had a meal plan. I knew what we were having for dinner and I had the groceries to prepare it.
I was thrilled that my husband believed I could not only homeschool our kids but have more of them. We added three more children to our family after I found FLYLady.
#2 Have more patience with an organized homeschool life
I was so frustrated with myself for not cleaning the house, teaching my child, or staying on top of appointments that I blew up easily over small things. With routines, I noticed that I could handle a diaper blowout, a sibling quarrel, or a toy mess much better than I could before.
As I grew in patience, my marriage improved, and my kids exhibited less anger too. With more patience, I felt better about myself as well.
#3 Have time for more than homeschooling
Having babies and toddlers is time consuming, but the most time-consuming part of homeschooling is operating without a plan. I don't mean a detailed, read-these-pages-on-these days plan, but a plan for getting everything important to you done.
FLYLady's routines served me well for years, but I started wishing I had someone reminding me to get my used curriculum ready to sell, someone reminding me to put fall family activities I wanted to do on the calendar, and someone reminding me to organize my hobby supplies so I could actually use them. I couldn't find an organizing plan for homeschool moms like me, so I created one. The Organized Homeschool LIfe book was born. It has 15-minute missions for organizing every area of your homeschool life -- not just your school space and lesson planning. I loved having a plan and so did many moms who purchased it. It was a sanity saver for sure!
- see a list of weekly tasks to complete, including the 15-minute missions
- make a plan that begins with time with God
- make organizing a habit (rather than event) by listing a mission or another organizing task to complete each day
- make a list of three priority tasks and just three other tasks that can be completed in a day
- make a loose schedule for when to get things done that includes time for relationships and a daily reward
I use The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner to do all the things I feel called to do as a homeschooling mom, podcaster, and business woman. I've come a long way from feeling like I couldn't even homeschool a preschooler!
No matter where you are in your homeschooling journey, you can experience the unexpected benefits of an organized homeschool life like I have: a happier marriage, more patience and improved self-esteem, and time for more than homeschooling. Get a free sample of The Organized Homeschool LIfe book and planner to use for two weeks and see if you enjoy these benefits and more.