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Every evening you fall into your chair exhausted. You’ve spent the day rushing around putting out small crises, running kids to various activities, and trying to drill math facts in between events. You’re exhausted, the kids are cranky, and you rarely see your husband. There has to be a better way.
What to do when your schedule is too full.
Take a look at the weekly schedule you created yesterday. Look carefully at the activities you have listed on the schedule. Do you have breathing room? Do you have margin in your day?
Hopefully, you’ll look at the weekly schedule, sigh in relief, and see plenty of margin in your day. You have time to homeschool your children, deal with minor crises, and enjoy well-chosen activities. You’re content, the kids are happy, and you enjoy time with your husband.
But what if the opposite happened? You look at your schedule and it’s too full. You’re running around trying desperately to juggle too many balls, praying nothing important drops.
It’s time to take a good hard look at your activities and homeschool.
First, consider which activities are non-negotiable. These are activities that support your reasons for homeschooling, activities which your family would sorely miss if they dropped.
For instance, if your family’s involved in Classical Conversations and it’s the heart of your homeschool, don’t drop it.
You have a child who’s a talented dancer and dreams of dancing on Broadway. Keep the dance lessons.
Usually, we have countless smaller, less important activities that we involve ourselves in because everyone else is doing them. These are activities such as field trips and weekly fun activities.
Make two lists of your activities.
In general, there are two types of activities your family enjoys: the best and the good. There’s no doubt that many activities are wonderful opportunities for your children. They will experience new challenges, learn about the world, and enjoy fun projects.
However, these opportunities come at a price. If you involved yourself in too many activities, you lose the opportunity to enjoy time as a family. There’s no time to sit and relax as a family in the evenings. There’s no time to enjoy long discussions about history, science, or current events around the dinner table.
You lose the best things in life chasing the good.
The best activities support your family’s goals. They’re not just another activity to sign up for, they serve a purpose. They support why your family is homeschooling in the first place.
Divide your family’s activities into two groups. The vital activities go on the list of the best. The wonderful opportunities which don’t directly support your family’s reason to homeschool should go on the list of the good.
What would your ideal schedule be?
How would your ideal day and week look? Many families homeschool in the mornings to leave the afternoons free for activities, field trips, and socialization.
Other families homeschool 4-days a week to leave one day free for extracurricular items. You can spend the day exploring the zoo, going on nature hikes, or even cleaning the house.
Does your family have a regular mealtime to sit and chat?
Think out of the box. Dinner may not work for your family because of various activities. What about breakfast? Have you thought about making a hot breakfast for the family every morning to sit and enjoy eating together? Then you could simply offer a simple meal for supper as people come home from their activities.
Write down your ideal schedule and work it around the vital activities for your family.
Set Limits on the Other Activities
Don’t let the good overwhelm the best for your family. Set limits on these activities.
Limit them by time: For instance, you may decide you’re ideal schedule is to homeschool in the mornings and enjoy family time in the evenings. This leaves your afternoons free. Go ahead and add an activity or two to the afternoons. Enjoy the freedom homeschooling brings.
If you’re part of a co-op you love, make it part of your homeschool. Plan a 4-day schedule that leaves one day free. Plan your extra activities for that day. Go on an all-day field trip to the zoo. Take a long nature hike. Spend the day going from one activity to another.
Choose only those activities which fit into the time you allotted.
Limit them by number: Many families choose to allow each child to pick one activity per quarter or semester. The child can choose dance, swimming, soccer, or basketball.
You can also choose to limit your outside activities to the ones you consider vital for your family plus one extra fun opportunity, or two extra activities.
During any given time period, only choose a specific number of good opportunities for your family.
Give yourself the margin you need in your weekly schedule by limiting the number of activities your family enjoys.
Read more in the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool Series!