Tip VI: Prioritize Your Life, School, and Home
This point is a three hour mini-seminar and audio series, but I will try to summarize it in a couple of brief paragraphs! When we began homeschooling many years ago, even with only one little son, we found ourselves overwhelmed by activity. Ray and I were both working on our master’s degrees. We were active in church. We were homeschooling my sister and helping others homeschool. We lived close to extended family who needed and wanted our attention (including younger siblings at home).
One day we sat down to solve our time and activity dilemma, and we made a list of all of the things that could/did fill our evenings—things we needed to do (meetings, etc.), things we should do (visit elderly grandparents), things we wanted to do, and things that were automatically built in (overtime, church services, etc.). When we examined our list, the total evenings that could potentially be filled came to sixty—if we did everything we could/should/would!
Armed with that calendar and prioritizing help from marriage and family teaching we had received, we learned how to prioritize. We looked at the things that we wanted to say yes to—and said yes to them. We looked at the things that we could say no to—and said no to them. We applied the mantra that “when you say yes to something (or someone), you are saying no to something (or someone) else.” We asked ourselves who we truly wanted to say yes and no to—and determined early in our marriage that we did not want to say no to our immediate family (our children and each other) just because we were saying yes to someone else.
Specifically, in the area of prioritizing and time management with homeschooling, when we meet new homeschoolers, we often ask them what their days (especially mothers) are like (before beginning homeschooling), and when the mom tells us how busy she was with part time work, volunteering, and other obligations, we ask her what she will cut from her day to make time (three to six hours a day, depending on the ages and neediness of the students) to homeschool. Homeschooling is not something that you can add onto an already full day. It must be prioritized—and put into the schedule before other things of lesser importance. One of the reasons that I am thankful that we started “homeschooling” when Joshua was a toddler is that I never knew of life with daytime hours that were not already earmarked for school. In other words, my days have always been spent schooling. I didn’t have to add it onto other things that I did during the day. Prioritizing school—the hours that it truly takes to educate and oversee our kids’ education—makes a huge difference in the success of a person’s homeschool.