Q&A: How do you manage homeschooling and homemaking without the house falling apart?

How do you manage to homeschool, take care of your house and have young children without the house looking like a toy store, art store and grocery store blew up? -Jessica

Great question, Jessica!

I think many people have this unrealistic picture that I just sit around in this perfectly clean and organized home and do geography lessons, hands-on science experiments and read for hours on end with my three children with nary an interruption or mess.

Truth be told, we have plenty of messes. There are days when I never make it out of my pajamas and it seems like while I’m cleaning up one mess, the children are in the other room making an even bigger mess.

I love being a mom. I love homeschooling. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Not by a long stretch. There are days when I want to pull my hair out. There are many days when I feel so overwhelmed with the responsibility of training and raising three children. There are days when I just want to give up and give in.

But, I’m slowly learning and growing as a mom. Learning what works and what doesn’t work. Learning to rely upon the Lord more. And, most of all, learning to let go of my expectations and my perfectionism.

There are many moms who are much farther along in their mothering journey who likely have much more wisdom to share, but here are a few things I’ve found to be tremendously helpful:

1) Accept the Fact That It Will Be Never Perfect

One of the quotes from The Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family that I loved was, “Embrace the Chaos”. This has helped me so much.

Children are being raised, trained and nurtured in our home and this means that it’s not going to be perfect — or even close. Messes, spills, sticky peanut butter fingerprints are inevitable. When I let go of perfectionism and accept that this life of mine isn’t going to be all neat and tidy all the time, I’m a much more relaxed and cheerful mom.

2) Ask God for Patience

Many days, I feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing this mothering thing. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it forces me to my knees on a very regular basis to ask the Lord to help me. I try to start each day with time reading God’s Word and praying asking the Lord to please give me patience, love and joy as I teach and care for my children. I need His help and grace every moment of every day!

3) Have a Plan

I’m not a fan of rigid, regimented schedules. They just don’t work for this fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.

A routine, however, is a lifesaver for me. Having on paper set blocks of time for our main priorities in each day has been very beneficial to me. We get more done, life is more organized and instead of having to worry about what we’re going to do next, we just do the next thing on our routine list.

We’re always tweaking our routine (and that’s the beauty of it!), but here’s how our summer schedule currently looks for us:

I wake up sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. I read my Bible, pray, read for 10 minutes from my current book, exercise, blog for a bit, take a shower and get dressed.

Our day “officially” starts at 8 a.m. Sometimes the children wake up before then and, if so, they have free time until 8 a.m. At 8 a.m., we have breakfast, read our Bible devotional together and work on our Bible memory verses.

8:30 all the children take baths, get dressed and get their hair fixed.

9:00 is chore time. This is when I do the bulk of the house cleaning. I have daily chores that I do on a daily basis (clean the kitchen, wipe down the counter tops, clean up my room, etc.) and day-of-the-week chores that I do once a week.

The girls are responsible for their room and bathroom, plus they help out with emptying trashes and vacuuming. Once they get their chores done, they can play until 10:00.

10:00 is homeschooling time. We do My Father’s World, Math, Reading and Penmanship (we’re already finished with History, Art and Science until the fall) around the kitchen table.

Kaitlynn and Silas listen in and work on busy bags, coloring, bean-scooping, etc. I have a big tub with activities that I rotate for them to do. They usually only stick with one activity for 10-15 minutes, so I stop and get them set up with something else as needed.

Kathrynne usually doesn’t finish up all her work during this time so she’ll work on finishing it up after lunch.

11:00 is read-aloud time (during the school year, we bump this time to the afternoon and continue homeschool time here). I read a few picture books and then a few chapters from our current read-aloud book. The children often play with Legos on the living room floor while I read. I’ve found that they seem to listen better when their hands are busy.

11:45 the children can go outside to play in the backyard while I switch the laundry, make lunch and check in on blogging stuff.

12:30 is lunch time. If we’re still in the middle of an exciting part in our read-aloud, I’ll often read again during part of lunch.

1:30 is quiet time. Silas goes down for a nap, Kaitlynn reads books in her room (usually falling asleep) and Kathrynne reads or plays quietly (or finishes up her school work). I do most of my blogging during this time. In the fall, Kathrynne will be working on finishing up her homework during this time, plus reading.

3:00 (or whenever Silas wakes up) is snack time. If the children have all their chores and Kathrynne has all her school done done, they are free to play until dinner. They sometimes play very nicely, other times, it’s complete chaos… we’re still working on that. :) I get dinner made, pick up, fold and put a load of laundry away and finish up any blogging/computer tasks if I have time or need to.

6:00 is dinner time. We usually take our time around the table, talking about the day, getting into rousing discussions, etc. Dinner sometimes lingers until 7:30 or later. After dinner, we quickly clean up, the children get their jammies on and teeth brushed and then we have our family Bible Time. After that, the children go to bed.

8:30 is our time as a couple. Sometimes, we have an “at-home date night” complete with a movie and some sort of treat. Sometimes, we both have projects to work on so we’ll just hang out in the same room with our laptops (the glamorous life of both being self-employed!). Other times, we just talk.

10:30 to 11:00 is typically lights out. Yes, we’re “early birds” like that — and sometimes I konk out soon after the kiddos go to bed! (I’ve always wished I could be one of those people who thrives on 5 1/2 hours of sleep. But alas, I’ve learned need at least 6 1/2 to 7 hours every night — preferably a little more! — to function well.)

4) Focus on One Habit at a Time

It’s so easy to want to change our homes and selves overnight. But that’s entirely unrealistic.

We all have areas we need to grow and improve in. We all have things we want to instill in our children. But none of us can do it all at once.

One thing I’ve found to be very helpful is to make a list of all the areas I want to work on and then just choose one area to focus on for three months. Instead of trying to get up earlier, make healthier meals, exercise, read more and learn how to knit all in the same month, pace yourself and pick the highest priority goal first. Once you feel like you’ve somewhat mastered it, add in something else.

Slow and gradual improvements tend to be much more long-lasting — and much less exhausting!

5) Give Yourself Grace

Superwoman is a myth. No woman does everything and every woman has her areas she struggles with.

Having a plan for our day has helped me tremendously, but nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan. There are always unexpected interruptions, messes, children with bad attitudes and many, many disruptions to each day.

I used to beat myself up that I wasn’t as organized and efficient as I wanted to be. But I started realizing how unproductive this was as it only served to discourage me.

I’m slowly learning to give myself grace. When I’m tired, I’m learning to choose sleep over a spotlessly clean kitchen. When I’m feeling burnt out, I’m learning to let myself not worry about blogging or laundry for a few hours and just go do something fun with the children, with my husband or with a friend.

Life is meant to be enjoyed and savored not run through at breakneck speed. Take time to stop and smell the roses, even if it means fewer things get crossed off the to-do list!

I’d love to hear suggestions from the rest of you on balancing homemaking and toddlers (and homeschooling, if you do that, too!). I’m constantly learning and would love to hear your ideas!

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  1. Katie says

    thank you, plain and simple!

    just now exploring my options with homeschooling and I love to read about different experiences and routines. have an upcoming kindergartener, and 2 preschoolers, so a bit overwhelmed. But reading and learning…….

  2. says

    Love your schedule! I’m going to start homeschooling this fall. DD did K & 1st in public school. DS#1 will be in K. I’m excited & nervous. This schedule gives me a starting point. I love your idea of keeping the younger ones busy too. DS#2 is a hurricane on wheels!! Just into everything all the time. I need to put some of these excellent ideas into action!! Thank you again!

    • says

      I’ve rarely had a problem with the younger/unschooled child needing activities to stay busy and always encouraged them to ‘go play’ or to join us. Only on a rare occassion did I have to come up with an activity to occupy their interest. By the time my youngest was 3 he was begging to school with his own worksheets. Even when playing while I read science or history lessons to my daughter he was clearly listening, because he would tell me about what he had learned several hours or days later. Invite them to join you and make it a family learning experience. Remember, if they are only ~1-4 years apart in age, only language arts and math need to be specific to each child. The science, history, etc. can be a family shared experience/lesson. Consider choosing a curriculum that integrates multiple ages/levels into one lesson. :)

  3. Katy says

    The greatest help with this question is your explanation of why you homeschool. YOU were homeschooled and you are a successful adult. Thank you for making the challenges of homeschooling worthwhile.

  4. says

    I haven’t read any of the other comments, but GIRL…….I still think you are WONDER WOMAN!!! I don’t know how you get so much stuff done from 5:30 to 8 a.m. I only have one child. I get up between 5:30-6 read the Bible, pray, read a little in another book, blog a little, and then it seems the little man is up. Not always, but those 2 hours fly by.

  5. says

    i love this post! it doesn’t apply to my current state of life – but hopefully soon! – so i’m saving it to refer to later. :) thanks for the great advice!

  6. says

    This is such a well timed post! I have been trying to get myself and my son on somewhat of a schedule and this is such an inspirational post–it’s very structured without being rigid. I also love the ideas you gave for activities for your littler ones while homeschool the older ones. Mine is almost three and a basket of alternating activities for him would be great. Thanks so much for this post!

  7. Laurie says

    Speaking from a single mom by choice perspective I echo Crytal’s post. My girls are 3&7. I adpoted them from China as infants so it has been a crazy,chaotic last almost 3yrs since bringing #2 home at 12 mos. I was so overwhelmed going from 1-2 I often thought how am I going to do this and work full time. After my youngest was home for a yr I decided I better get organized and on a good schedule or I was going to be on antidepressants!!!! My oldest goes to school and my youngest is cared for by my mom. Our daily routine is the same every week regardless if school is in session or not as is our night time routine. For me I choose not do do any major housework during the week and keeping all things picked up,counters washed down,dishwasher loaded etc. I do most of all my cleaning starting on Thurs night with doing sheets etc and then friday night is the heavy duty stuff. My girls know how to empty the dishwasher,fold clothes,recycle,take trash out etc. They are even great at vacumming. Then our weekends we have time to sleep in and hang as a family of 3. My kids are in bed by 730-800 everynight and we are all up at 730 so I can start my day by 9am. On the weekends we sleep as late as we can. I am flexible to have a job to where I can run errands during the day and at times get to the grocery store. Since I am single I do not get out much,but need to get out more. I figure that God has so richly blessed us with our unique and beautiful family that I just want to be home as much as possbile at this point in my life. Thanks Crystal for your inspiring words of wisdom. We all need the same support.

  8. Erika says

    LOVE the “Embrace the Chaos” quotation from Sane Woman’s Guide (I read that two years ago when you recommended it on FB, I think! So thanks!!)–I just said it to someone the other day!

    And in addition to working on only one habit in ME, I am always trying to focus on just one major lesson/habit/character trait to be working on with each of the kids. Just like students who are overwhelmed when an English teacher “bleeds” all over their writing picking out every little mistake, our children need help honing in on one area of needed growth.

  9. says

    as a result of this I just finished reading through your 15 Favorite Preschool resources, but I guess because the pose is so old, I couldn’t comment on it. You art program that you referred to in the end of part 1 reminded me of a classical music program my mother used with us when we were homeschooled. So I looked it up and was excited to see it is still available and I could use it for my kids! It’s called color the classics. I just remember coloring pictures of a composer while listening to the classical music by that composer and my mother reading us a short biography of his life. I still remember some of that information, too! http://www.colortheclassics.com/

  10. says

    I homeschool 3 of my 5 children, and had a new baby this past winter. Changing my expectations helped me A LOT during this time. I had to remind myself often that having a swept kitchen floor was not the most important(or long lasting) goal. It made me relax so much and really enjoy this (crazy) season of life!I think the most helpful thing to remember is to do what works for your family. Our personalities and strengths are so different, that what might work for one, would drive the other crazy! Take nuggets of advice that really fit you, and leave the rest. Thanks so much for this post :)

  11. Nicola says

    Every parent should homeschool at least part time, even if your child is at public school you are teaching them every day. Teaching is more than maths and Language, it is social skills, sharing, morals, patience, kindness, love. Everything that we want our kids to be.

    My daughter isn’t even one yet so we haven’t made a decision but I enjoyed this post it didn’t bash the Public system (which so many mothers rely on) it was a great read.

  12. says

    I think it’s kind of funny that you say you’re not a schedule-person and then you listed your schedule. :) When I think of routine vs. schedule I think of a MUCH more relaxed timeline than the one you gave. Personally I’m caught in a quandary. I like schedules and strict timelines (I’m OCD by nature.). But as you know, they just don’t work with little ones (of which I have three under four)! So when I try to set a schedule…even a loose one…I find myself frustrated, discouraged, and sometimes downright depressed. I haven’t been able to find a balance yet, as I tend towards the loosey-goosey no routine at all kind of day. But then it’s chaotic and that’s frustrating too. *Sigh* Someday I’ll figure it out.

    • Laura says

      A schedule is just something to aim at. You’ll find after a time, that you become used to doing certain things at certain times, which helps you be more efficient.

    • Kimberly says

      I read your comment and just thought I would suggest something that worked for me last year. I have 4 kids- 6,4,3 and 1. I have a dry erase board that I write everything on. I list the kids school work, my house work and kid chores. Instead of doing start times, I use end times like “Before lunch” or “finish by 3pm”. Sometimes I am a procrastinator and I find getting started is always the hardest. But I work well under pressure, so if I have 6 things on my list and it’s 20 minutes until my “be done by this time”, I just fly through and do it (not with the kids school work of course, just with chores). Most of the household stuff only takes 10-15 minutes max anyhow, it’s just getting started that’s hard!

  13. Courtney says

    My kids are 9, 11 and 12 and I have found that it was much easier to stick to a routine during the baby/toddler/little kid years. Now that they are older, they have so many more interests and activities and that has made life much busier! We might have swimming lessons in the morning, music lessons in the afternoon, and a ballgame in the evening. No two days of the week are alike, so my daily routine has to morph from day to day depending on what’s on our schedule.

  14. Jess says

    Anyone have sugestions for homeschooling with a busy schedule? I run a playgroup Wed mornings, have Bible study Thursday mornings, and a class Friday mornings. By the time we get home we have lunch, a little wind down playtime, and then nap. After that it is time for dinner. My daughter will only be 3 this school year, but she is ready and wanting to learn prechool skills. My son is 1.

      • Melanie says

        I have 4 kiddos, 8, 7, 4, and 18 months. I have been homeschooling for 3 years. With a 3 year old you don’t really need much time. I find with my preschooler 30 minutes is more than enough time. We often practice recognizing words and counting and simple adding by doing kitchen projects (she loves to help in the kitchen) and then she might practice writing her name or writing letters in her journal. This makes her feel like a “big kid” because her older siblings have journals for their copywork.

        The great thing about homeschooling is that it doesn’t need to look like school at home. I know a family that does most of their school time after 4 pm. Dad works full time and mom works part time. The kids go to the grandparents in the morning, after mom comes home they play some together and do chores, then they do their school time. This works for their family.

        If you’re daughter’s ready to take a shorter nap, maybe you could put your son down first. Work on some “school” with her, read her a book and then have her rest.

        Good luck!

  15. Sarah says

    I love setting goals in different areas of my life…Christian, Wife, Mother, Household manager and seeing how I can push myself more. I loved this post though, as I look at our tiny apartment that is a mess and just want to go to bed. It is so encouraging to me to hear you say that it is a process. Also, Crystal I would love it if you posted a list of good parenting/education books that you have read/enjoyed through the years. Thanks!

  16. Erin says

    What are you reading aloud right now? I’ve looked at your favorite books list and wonder if you have any more to add.

  17. Amy says

    This is the best post ever!
    Thank you! I love your routine.
    I honestly do not know where we SAHM/Homeschooling moms got the idea that everyone else has a clean tidy house all the time, while serving perfectly balanced meals on time ( that clean themselves up afterwards) while fitting in all the activities in our curriculum (that also clean themselves up afterwards) and look good while doing it. I think it is because when we go to someone elses house, they have expect us and have made everything look really good for guests. (Anyone else ever stash dirty dishes in the oven, or go around with a laundry basket tossing stuff to put away later?) For this reason, I don’t feel guilty for not making everything perfect for company. I figure I might help some other moms feel better about themselves if my house is in it’s normal state!

    • Amy says

      Replying to my own post, LOL.
      Another thing I am just learning (five children later) is that it helps to build in cleaning up tasks to the things we do. I don’t know why this was never obvious to me before, but with my personality type, I am always onto the next thing before I finish one thing and multitask way too much. Our habit we are working on now is slowing down, one thing at a time. Lunch is not over until the table is cleared and the dishes are washed. Craft time is not over until supplies are put away, part of playing a game is putting it away, etc.

    • says

      The concept comes from the 50’s, where women did “do it all”. They also didn’t have kids in all sorts of activities, need to bring in an income and have half as many things to distract them.

      Despite the fact that 60 years later we’ve added so much more to our lives, the mentality still holds strong. Fortunately, it’s stuff like this post that helps break down that mentality!

  18. says

    I heard some simple great advice at a women’s conference earlier this year. Instead of trying to start new habits… stop some habits! How profound that was. I needed to stop a habit or two before I could think of adding a new one! (I’m still working on it!)

    We also homeschool year round. In the summer we focus mainly on reading, phonics, handicrafts and nature study. It helps us to have less stress by spreading out the hours. We us nap time for school work, that just what works for us!

    I would love more information on your activities for the little ones while you are homeschooling! Thank you for everything you do!

  19. Michele says

    This is why I have a magnet on my fridge that says “I can do one thing well today, you pick: homeschool the kids, or clean the house”.

  20. Kristie says

    I like the idea of the need for routine, and the blocked-out times for a flexible schedule. I homeschool our 5 oldest, and the toddler is just 2. As your schedule gets more complicated, with more school time and more classes to fit in, those blocks of time will be the lifesaver, even if they have to be bent when the occasion calls for it. Another thing: the older your kids get, the more they can do around the house. We do chores from 7 – 7:45 each school morning, and the house really is clean when we start Bible time at 7:45. It may not be deep-cleaned, but my army has been through with sink disinfectant, dishsoap, window cleaner, and vacuum cleaners, as well as folding laundry. Let those little blessings be all that: Blessings! They enjoy a clean house too. It’s a fun challenge to see if we can be “on time” for Scripture memory time.

  21. Lorrie says

    I have just finished homeschooling after 13 years and I can so relate to much of what you said. I wish someone had shared some of that with me all those years ago. It was a fun and bumpy journey and part of me misses it and some of me doesn’t. I miss the younger years you are in now but our son is now graduated and 18 and just got his first job today! He has worked doing yard work and such but no formal job. He plans to work and go to the community college. I am so proud of him and the young man he is becoming. God is so good.
    One thing you mentioned is that you have had to let go of expectations. The Lord gave me this saying I want to share with you…Live life with expectancy, not expectations. To me this means don’t have any expectations but live life with joyful anticipation of what will come. I spent too many years having expectations on myself and others but now I try to face each day with expectancy and eagerly await what the Lord will bring. It has brought such joy and relaxation into our lives by having Mama live this way! Thank you Crystal for all you do for us and the wonderful mama and wife you strive to be.

  22. marsha says

    This woman just saved my sanity with this post. I’m 7 mths pregnant with 2 kids under 3. I’m trying to organize my house which we’ve been in for less than a year, my husband works long works long hours. I really want to do things with my kids for the summer but I just don’t have the energy which makes me feel guilty and irritated that I can’t do all I want to do. Its good to know I’m not the only one.

  23. says

    Oh, that is my dream schedule right there. That is seriously what I try to do, almost down to the letter! I’m not a scheduley, routiney kind of person though, so it rarely works that way. Thank you for this post! I’ve carved out some alone time for tomorrow afternoon and I’m going to do some HS planning. This post has encouraged me to not stress it so much, and most of all, to ask God how to plan our school year and days. Thanks!!

  24. Amber says

    Crystal, you are so inspiring! Thank you so much for the sheets you posted. I always enjoy reading your suggestions. It is a huge help!!! :)

  25. says

    Giving yourself grace is so important. Sure, we hear folks say that being supermom is an impossible feat…but we still secretly want it and are disappointed when we don’t achieve it. Grace makes it easier to pick up and try again when our plans go awry. There’s always tomorrow!

  26. kasey says

    Very good post. Thank you it was much needed, especially “giving yourself grace.” I am a homeschooling mother of 13. Just until recently I had all but 1 living at home. I tried for perfection for many years and learned that it doesn’t work. I let the expectations go, and I also learned to let the expectations of others go as well. Couponing has added a little more work to my life but I find it to be such a blessing. Things that I have NEVER thought of purchasing I now can. The children LOVE it as well.

  27. says

    I love your routine :) Have to admit I giggled at your “early bird confession” I wake up between 5 and 6 am (because I have an early riser) but almost always konk out by 9:30 or 10 :)

  28. says

    I, for one, don’t even understand where we got the idea that the house-cleaning is our responsibility. I think of our home as the office I work out of: raising the kids, tending to their needs, doing our finances, cooking our meals, dealing with appointments, planning our lives, and my 10-hour/week real estate business.

    Other than tidying up at the end of the night, I take no responsibility for CLEANING my office/home (does your husband clean HIS office before he leaves at 6? Do you, if you’re a working Mom? I sure didn’t when I worked in an office.)

    I have house-cleaners that come in every 2 weeks and deep clean toilets, kitchens, floors, dust, change sheets, everything. With US (me and DH) doing a daily tidy / kitchen wipe-down, it stays pretty nice until their next visit.

    I take no jabs at women who choose to take on this responsibility, as I assume they’ll take no jabs at me for waving off this responsibility. I just hope we all think about fairness, and the reasons we became Moms. I sure didn’t become a Mom to become a housekeeper. That’s my $.02!

  29. Jennifer says

    I love your schedule. I’ve been needing to have something like that in my home. My question though is when do you fit in grocery shopping and other errands that need to be done regularly? That seems to be what messes up attempts to have somewhat of a schedule in my home.

  30. Heather says

    I laughed a little reading this post – it sure looks like a tight schedule to me! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m sure I would get a lot more done if I followed something similar. However, after having been in the workforce until I was 30, I revel in my days of freedom now! I love just going with the flow. Granted, I don’t homeschool, so I’m not trying to fit that in, and I have a very loose routine since kids (and me) need one. My routine is to serve 3 meals a day at somewhat regular times, and try to do most errands in the morning. Bedtimes are firm. I have a list of chores for each day of the week, but half the time I just push them back to the next week! I know, I’m a slacker! My 4th kid has just stopped napping and I am excited at how this will open up our day!

    • says

      Education happens outside of “school hours” — it’s a way of life for us. We’re always learning no matter what we’re doing or where we’re going! However, we’re on a more relaxed homeschooling schedule due to summer. We’ll start up again in the Fall with more homeschooling time during the day.

      I hope that clarifies things — I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear from my post!

      • says

        Thanks for the reply! I homeschooled my younger sister for a few months, and as an educator (I teach fifth grade), I am curious (and sometimes concerned- for example freeschooling- allowing children to learn as they are curious) as to how parents are homeschooling their children- because I always fear that a lot of parents jump into homeschooling thinking it will be easy and then end up over their heads (I don’t think that’s the case here at all). I worry sometimes because of course that has an affect on our future. And I was also curious because Georgia requires at least 4.5 hours of instruction when homeschooling.

  31. chelsea says

    Love the insight into your schedule! That’s too funny about the baths in the morning. We do ours at night, but only because the kids are SO dirty from playing outside all day, especially my son!

  32. Melanie says

    What a great post! We moms are sometimes way too hard on ourselves, whether we work, homeschool, send our kids to school or a combination of those things. I would add 2 things that I have been learning in the past several months.

    1. Don’t compare yourself to other moms, even those in similar situations. Every family is different and what you see in public or when you’re visiting a friend is not always reality. You never know what goes on when you’re not there, for the good or the bad.

    2. Keep things simple. This is a hard one because I have a husband and in-laws that see the number of things our kids receive for Christmas and Birthdays as important. We are working on this. I have found my kids are happier with fewer choices rather than more. When there is less stuff there is less of a mess. We recently cleaned out my son’s room of EVERYTHING because he wasn’t keeping it clean. He slept better and was better behaved during that time than ever. Simplicity makes embracing the chaos that does come easier.

  33. DL says

    As a mother who has had the privilege of home educating my children for 22 years, may I offer an encouragement. My two older children married this past year and I am on my last year of teaching my youngest child. I am so grateful that my husband and I have had this opportunity to disciple our children through the home education process.
    Now as I look back, all the challenges and hard times have become a part of the memories and are precious.

    I will miss this season of life and am now looking forward to being a part of the process of home educating my grandchildren in the future.
    I still do not get everything done and am still seeking to find the balance in my life, but I have found that simple routines and schedules are an amazing aid both to the mother and to the children. A word of caution is that building into the lives of our children does take time and may mean choosing to do less inside or outside of the home. I would not trade these home education years for anything!

  34. Shelly says

    How can you get up at 5:30 – 6:00 every morning? My children often sleep until 8:00 – 9:00 and I can’t make myself get out of bed earlier than them. I go to bed around 10:30. If I got up at 6:00 every morning I would have to make sure I went to bed at 9:00 every evening.

    • says

      I get up early because I have so many things that I want to do in the morning and I feel so great when I get up early and get them done! It makes the rest of the day go so much smoother, too!

    • lyss says

      I am with you, Shelly! Crystal said she can function on 6 1/2 to 7 hours of sleep at night. Others truly need more. I know that I need 8-9 hours or I don’t function well. I get crabby, can’t get much done, etc. if I don’t get enough sleep. And while I try not to make excuses for myself for being grouchy, I may as well get enough sleep so everyone is happy, if you know what I mean! :)

      Thank you, Crystal, for sharing. Except for being jealous of the -only needing 7 hours of sleep and I get up at 6am and feel great- part, this post is really helpful! 😉 I just have to remind myself to push myself to do what I can do, not push myself to do what others are doing.

      I am trying to start a routine like this so I can get more done and so my little ones have more direction than “just play” all day. I’ve found that if there’s lots of fussing and fighting, etc. (my kids are 3 and almost 2) if I pull out something different like coloring or puzzles to do, they can be quite happy. Going outside often does the trick, too, but in the 100* heat, we mostly stay indoors in the summer!

      • says

        I can *function* on 6.5 hours of sleep — but I don’t I thrive on that amount. 😉 I prefer 7.5 to 8 hours — and try to get that much at least 3 days a week. If I do that, than I can do well on 6.5 to 7 hours the rest of the week.

        I recently went off coffee entirely and I’ve found that I need less sleep and am less tired than I used to be when I drank 1-2 cups per day. I have no idea why or how, but that’s been very interesting to me.

        All that to say, do what works for you and make sure you are taking care of your needs so that you can be a cheerful, energetic wife and mom. If you’re trying to be like someone else, you’ll just end up frustrated and grouchy — I know, I’ve tried and it’s not worked well!

  35. says


    I was wondering if you would be willing to do a post on the different activities you rotate for your little ones. I will begin homeschooling in the fall and I have a 3 year old that I need to keep busy! I’d love to know what you use.


  36. Jen says

    Excellent post! I’ve been following your blog for a while, mostly for the deals, but this one is exceptional! You talked so much about stuff that’s going on in my life now. I just had my 3rd son about 8 months ago, and there are still so many things that I want to change in the structure of our days before I start to homeschool the oldest boy in Kindergarden in the fall. But your advise about changing slowly and choosing one thing to change every 3 months really helps. With 2 boys, things seemed managable, but with 3 now … I’m really seeing that I need to let go of some cleaning/perfectionist ideas and just focus on the kids and getting through the day loving them. Starting homeschooling and caring for the boys and maintaining a home seems overwhelming but reading through your daily schedule seems like its do-able now. I know that only God can help me set up a good schedule and only He can maintain it. Thanks for the reminders and very timely and encouraging post. :)

  37. Abigail says

    Oh this article is so timely! I am so disorganized and with a 3yo I try hard to keep things in order. I had a schedule that we seemed to do really good on, but we had some major changes happen in life and well the schedule went out the window. My son knows his abc’s, counts and is learning to write, so we wont to start him on some preschool/prek schooling. I know I want to home school and we know we want more kids. We are also relocating with my parents to start a homestead/farm. When I think of schooling, small kids, keeping house, animals, garden, and family….wow feels overwhelming, but your schedule seems practical, like something I could copy and make work for us with minor changes. So, thank you thank you thank you! You have given me hope that I can do this and make it work and be good for my whole family!

  38. Valerie says

    Crystal, Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I am interested to know what Bible devotional you use with your children as well as what Bible Memory you do with them. I am trying really hard to find something engaging for my young children and would love some good recommendations.

    I also echo the question several comments above on what activities you rotate for your younger children while you homeschool. I am going to need to keep a 2 yr old busy while I homeschool my 5 yr old this year.

  39. Barbara says

    With this post I finally feel confident with my goals of wanting to home-school my son, who will be 3 in October. Until now the idea was overwhelming; sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough time in the day. I now see what I really need is a schedule. I am also intrigued by truly how little time is spent home-schooling (in retrospect to traditional school hours). Although I intended to begin in the fall, I’ve been so inspired here that I’ve found a curriculum online and will begin teaching my son next week! He seems more than ready as I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that even with all of our outings there is something more he is needing now. This leads me to my only question… how do you schedule outings, or field trips? Is is something you feel is necessary daily, weekly, or monthly ? Thanks for sharing your personal schedule with us Crystal; you are wonderful!!

    • says

      The one-on-one or one-on-two model versus the one-on-twenty model (in a traditional classroom) can definitely allow you to get a lot more done in a lot less time — most of the time, at least! We also try to incorporate learning and education into all of life, not just school hours.

      We usually do something special on Fridays (special outing, get together with friends, field trip, etc.) and then we also often do something with Jesse on the weekends (last week we went to a space museum).

      In the summer, we’re more relaxed and do go on more outings throughout the week, as well. During the school year, we usually keep special outings and field trips to Fridays.

      If you only have one child, you might find it works better to have more outings or field trips. It’s really up to learning what works best for your individual family and child!

  40. Debera says

    Thank you so, so, so much! I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my constant feelings of inadequacy. You just gave me permission to just be and stop sweating it. Thank you.

  41. says

    Thanks for a timely post! Having a 8 yr old girl, 6 yr old boy, 1 yr old girl and finding out your pregnant is a little overwhelming, yet so exciting as well! The nausea and tiredness have hit me hard this week. When having a good day, I do what I can, and then today, I’m ready for a nap. Trying to let go of perfection and knowing for now, I just need to keep the kids healthy, fed and happy!

    Thanks for the daily inspiration.

  42. says

    Thanks for a glimpse into your day. I appreciated that you listed your schedule as I would like to add some more structure to our day when the school year begins again in late August. Your blog is a blessing to my life as i run our home, love my husband and kids! Thanks for taking the time to write!

  43. melissa says

    Wow–I’m amazed! One quick question… I’d love to start reading longer chapter books to my 2, 4, and 6 year olds. Anyone have any suggestions that will keep their attention?

    • Dena says

      I homeschooled my boys from third grade to high school graduation.I would suggest for young children.Purchase an egg timer.Set it for 30 minutes.As the children get older they will be pulled into the story and request a longer time.So they can find out what happens next.You can always add more time.This worked wonders for us.You have to be firm and set a minimum time in the beginning.Hope this helps.

      • melissa says

        Thanks for that suggestion. I guess what I was asking (it isn’t very clear as I re-read this) was for suggestions for specific books.

        • Dena says

          Oh,I’m sorry Melissa.We used Alpha and Omega for our regular curriculum.And for the chapter books.The kids were allowed to pick three library books a week from the public library.We started out reading together.And eventually they read on their own.They loved the public library back then.It was before we had a computer.They would get all excited cause it was library day.lol.They even thought it was unfair that they couldn’t get their own library card until they were five.You can usually find great chapter books for kids at Walmart fairly cheaply.I remember them reading Finding Nemo and How to Eat Fried Worms.Basically,if there was a movie they wanted to see,we/they read the book first.Use your own judgement as far as age appropriate.We read the book Holes.I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 12.Sorry for the confusion :-)

          • Home School Dad says

            We do a LOT of reading aloud…our kids have greatly enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, we just finished the BFG (Roald Dahl.) We do shorter read alouds with Beatrix Potter. Since our kids don’t watch much tv at all (and zero during summer months) they are quite content to listen to stories and allow the words to paint a picture in their minds. My wife and I often read aloud to each other in the car as well, and you can always hear the kids chiming in. Recent adult read alouds were: Don’t Ride A Bike in the House Without a Helmet, I Beat the Odds (Michael Oher).

            • says

              What did you think of I Beat the Odds? It’s on my list of books I want to read, but I’d love to hear a review from someone else.

  44. Dena says

    I homeschooled two boys through third grade to high school graduation.I’m familiar with wearing your jammies all day.lol.I would schedule our days as such.In the mornings after breakfast three subjects.Bible was always first then math and english.Break for lunch at noon.From one to two we straightened the house up.Then from 2-5 or six they finished up with the other three.It helped me a lot to assign a laundry basket for each room of the house and the boys would help gather anything that belonged in that basket/room.When everything was put away (they helped) the house was fairly clean.My boys are 18 and 21 now.Homeschooling was SOOO worth it.I’m so proud of the men they grew up to be.

  45. says

    This is so helpful to me as a blogger, believer, mom, and wife! I am thinking about homeschooling one day also!
    The way you manage your time is awesome. Do you all have weekly activities you’re involved in? Or how do you fit in the grocery store? I’m wondering if (even with just one child – an infant), I should start more of a routine like this – without all of our outings with friends, etc – as a better way to manage time.

    • says

      Grocery shopping typically happens on either Tuesday or Thursday or Saturday. It depends upon the deals and the time I have. I go over our lunch break and we bump the afternoon stuff until later or I go later in the evening when my husband is home.

      We try to have two to three days each week that we stay home all day. I aim for that to be Monday, Wednesday and, sometimes, Thursday. We try to schedule most all of our activities, get-togethers and extra stuff for Fridays and the weekends instead of breaking it up throughout the whole week. We’re more relaxed about this during the summer, but during the school year, we pretty strictly stick with not doing a lot of extra stuff Monday-Thursdays in order to keep a consistent routine in our home. We’ve found things flow so much better when there is consistency on a regular basis.

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