Get Organized The Easy Way

Does organizing or staying organized seem hard? It did for me. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I share the easy way to get and stay organized.

Hey, homeschoolers! If you’ve heard any of my organizing episodes before, you know that I was so disorganized that I felt I couldn’t homeschool without having division of family services come in. Not only was my house a mess but I wasn’t actually teaching my preschooler. He was my proving ground and I proved to myself that I could not do it!

That was when I found FLYLady online and discovered the power of routines. Routines changed my life and gave me the confidence I needed to keep homeschooling and even have three more children. Routines–a string of habits regularly done in the same order–provide the structure that we need to keep up our homes, care for our kids, and homeschool. They also make organizing possible.

But organizing, even with routines in place, can seem hard. Perhaps you have a part of your routine dedicated to organizing. But instead of decluttering and making access to things easier, you choose to do something else. You might decide to fold the laundry, clean a window covered with fingerprints, or scan Pinterest for organizing hacks instead of actually organizing. Why do we do this and how can we fix it?

Before I share the easy way to get organized, I want to admit that I can easily fall into the hard way of getting organized, too. When I do, I don’t want to organize. At all. Allow me to describe the hard way that has me wanting to do anything but get organized.

Organizing the Hard Way

The hard way requires a decision on every item in the space. Have you ever had to complete one of these long, legal documents for an expensive product or service you’re purchasing? It has a dozen options that you haven’t researched. So you have to look to the sales rep for an explanation and a recommendation for each. The worst is when the sales rep shrugs and says it’s up to you. This is how we can feel when we’re faced with a space full of items. Should you get rid of it? Move it? Buy an alternative to it? Ask someone if they want it? Sell it? Take a picture of it or record yourself explaining the significance of the item before you let it go? What kind of organizing system should you use for storing it? What options are available for that? Will you use it again? When? How often will you use it and does that frequency justify keeping it? That decision fatigue plus any emotion the item brings up can be exhausting with just one item. I feel stupid for buying it. I feel guilty for buying it. I remember the person who gave it me and I feel sad or angry. I wonder if that person will ask about it if I let it go. No wonder we want to avoid this process! Therapy would be easier.

The hard way also means perfectly following the plan. I love the decluttering missions from Home Storage Solutions 101. So many times I’ve started the new year telling myself that I’m going to do the missions on the day they’re planned. Then I get to “create tax organizer for current tax info.” I see the word tax and I’m more interested in cleaning the toilet. I tell myself I can do tax stuff later. What I really mean by that is when my husband says our accountant needs all our tax stuff this week or else. So I skip it for now.

Then when I’m supposed to take decluttered food to the food pantry according to the plan, I think, “I don’t even know where to take it! Is this a big enough donation to drop off? Shouldn’t it be better food than the lima beans I didn’t eat? Should I buy some food to add to this? And it’s raining. Hard. I don’t know where my umbrella is. I’ll do it another day.” Then I’ve already failed. I didn’t do the tax system or the food donation, so now I can’t win in the game of “do everything in my decluttering plan when scheduled this year.” I quit using the plan because it’s simply a reminder that I’ve failed. Again.

The third way to make organizing hard is by doing it alone. If I’m alone when I make the decisions, I don’t know if my husband needs something in the space. I’m stuck. If I ask him to join me, he will likely just say “keep!” without considering the 25 options I described earlier that are clearly required before making a decision. When you have young kids, you can declutter their toys and clothes without them, while fretting that they will describe this trauma to their therapist one day. “My mom threw out my prized possession, the object I would take with me in case of fire, without even thinking to ask me. And this is why I can’t take care of myself today.” We compare this nightmare scenario to the certainty of asking your child about an object and knowing the answer will be “keep!” when it should be tossed or “Get rid of it” when it should be kept. We default to doing it alone in response and feel frozen, so we don’t do it at all.

We also default to doing it alone because we are too embarrassed to ask for help. We won’t let anyone see how much stuff we have or how much a mess it’s left us in. We don’t want to see the shock on a friend’s face or to be gossiped about. Better to just handle it ourselves. Doing it ourselves is also a punishment. “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” We’ll have to do it all ourselves, though we have likely had help from others in creating the clutter. But when it comes time to do it, we’d rather delay that punishment. Of course! Asking for professional help in terms of an organizer or therapist is out of the question. We don’t think we’re bad enough to need a professional; we can’t afford it or don’t want to spend the money on our own failure; or we want to do the work ourselves first. Then the professional won’t think we’re so bad.

The hard way is deciding on every item perfectly and alone. Have you tried organizing the hard way? I have. So what’s this easy way I speak of?

Organizing the Easy Way

Only make the easy decisions now. I love that Dana White advises us to eliminate the trash first. If you have difficulty parting with trash, you must consult an expert on hoarding. This advice won’t help you. But apart from that, make decisions on the obvious items. If you have some principles to guide you, you’ll have more easy decisions. For example, my guideline is that clothing that needs repair goes. Why? Because my history is that I don’t repair clothes. I just buy new. What if I have an exception? I do have one right now. The sleeve of a favorite top has come loose and can be easily stitched up. I’m not deciding on it now. It’s not an easy decision. I intend to stitch it. But when I am decluttering in the future, I will see if I’ve stitched it and if I am still wanting to wear it. If no is the answer to both, the shirt will go. If I gave the shirt away now, I would have some angst about it. So it stays. Easy decisions on decluttering or locations or organizing schemes shouldn’t give you anxiety or have you waffling. The decision should be quick and unemotional. Again, if every decision is lengthy and emotional, you’ll need help from a professional. But most people can make quick decisions on some items.

When making easy decisions, you can either leave the questionable items where they are (as I did with my shirt in my closet), or you can put them in a maybe box. The option you choose should not make you anxious. If putting something in a box stresses you out, keep it where it is.

The next easy way to organize is to see the plan as a buffet. Take from it what you want, without even considering that you’ll take it all. You’d be hospitalized trying to eat every item on a buffet. Instead, you’d likely choose some things from the salad bar, a main dish option or two, a side or two, and a dessert or two. If it’s a really good buffet, you’ll go back for seconds. But you don’t consider yourself a failure for not eating every item.

Let’s apply this analogy to an organizing plan. I have an organizing plan in The Organized Homeschool Life. There is an area of your life to organize each week. Within that area, there are four 15-minute missions. If you tell yourself that you will do every mission every week, that’s the hard way, and you will fail. The easy way is to choose the areas that would make the biggest difference to your life. The easy way is to choose one area a month to focus on. The easy way is to choose one mission in that area to complete a week. The easy way is to do just 5 minutes instead of 15.

But won’t that be pointless, you may ask? No. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 5 minutes that would improve your life. I have cleaned out many a drawer that was giving me fits in just 5 minutes. Even if you do no more than 5 minutes of organizing a week, you’ll have more sanity. But the odds are good that you’ll see the benefits of decluttering and organizing and want to do more–more than you’d want to do if you told yourself that you have to follow the plan perfectly.

When you are making the easy decisions and treating your organizing plan like a buffet that offers small samples to enjoy, you are organizing the easy way. But you can also do it the easy way by organizing with others. Before you object and say that you have no one who would want to come over to help you, let me tell you about how I decluttered a huge stash of books. I know, letting go of books is heresy. But I’m married to a book salesman and I was keeping a mental health library for eternity. It needed to be trimmed. While I was decluttering, I was on the phone with a friend who lived out of town. I have no idea if she was even listening to me, but as I told her why I was keeping a particular book, the answer became obvious to me. “A friend gave this to me…and I haven’t read it and don’t want to, so why am I keeping it?” It was so much easier to trim my book collection this way. It was almost fun!

I can guarantee that you also know people locally who love organizing. They not only love it but would be energized by helping you and would not judge you or gossip about you. Pray about this and talk about one of your organizing dilemmas. See who says they would love to help you. If you would feel better about it, offer one of your gifts in return. You could teach her child a skill, babysit, make her a meal, etc. You can also ask someone to be your accountability partner. My friend and I are doing one thing a week to get organized and are reporting it to each other when we get together.

There are also professional organizers who are worth paying. They are really no different than hiring a carpenter to work in your home. These people have seen it all and will likely tell you that you’re not as much of a disaster as you think. Consider the value of having an objective, experienced person help you simplify your life. Ask your friends for a referral.

Then realize that there is tremendous value in working through the family issues that keep you working alone. Things got very testy when I organized the garage with my husband.  But we needed to resolve the conflict instead of ignoring it. One of the best ways to do that is to be clear about what you need instead of attacking the other person’s character.

Kids also have to be taught to declutter their belongings. If we don’t teach them, it can become a lifelong struggle with marital conflict of their own. The container concept is an easy way of teaching kids. They can keep as many toys as comfortable fit in a box or a closet and no more. Instead of starting with the trash with this kind of organizing, have them choose their favorite belongings. Whatever space is left is available for second-tier belongings.

I had the biggest challenge decluttering toys with kids of different ages. I solved it by putting blankets on the floor–one for giveaway, one for trash, and one for keep. As an older child put a toy he enjoyed when he was younger on the giveaway blanket, a younger child could rescue it for the keep blanket. As we continued going through toys, I was amazed to see my kids move things from keep to giveaway. They needed time to let go and they had the modeling of the kids who weren’t as attached to toys. If you have just one child, you can do this with them. Put the items on the giveaway blanket that you think should go and let your child put it on keep. Once it’s on keep, let it be your child’s decision to let it go. Another time it may be an easy choice but it isn’t now.

Yet another option is to have your child sort items to a maybe blanket. Those items can be boxed up and kept. If your child asks for an item within a certain time frame, retrieve it. Otherwise, let them go without mentioning it to your child.

Conclusion

If you make the simple decisions about what to declutter, use an organizing plan your way, and you get help from friends, family, or a professional, you’ll be organizing the easy way. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes.

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Have More Confidence As A Homeschool Mom This Year

Do you lack confidence as a homeschool mom? A number of moms on the Homeschool Sanity Facebook page have commented that they do. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we discuss how we can have more confidence as homeschool moms this year.

Hey, homeschoolers! Before we dive into the topic of mom confidence, I’d like to thank CTC Math for sponsoring this episode.

Sponsor

Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That’s right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months!

Why We Lack Confidence

Before we can talk about building confidence, let’s talk about why we lack it in our homeschooling.

The first reason is fairly obvious: we haven’t homeschooled before. Even classroom teachers can be intimidated by the prospect of teaching all subjects to multiple students–especially their own. It’s normal to lack confidence without experience.

The second reason we lack confidence is we are aware of our shortcomings. I was keenly aware of my lack of organization–something I’ve written and spoken about extensively, and which troubles many a would-be homeschool mom. And it wasn’t just messiness I was worried about. I’d been excited about a lot of projects in the past that I’d lost interest in. What if I did that with homeschooling?

Many homeschooling moms didn’t get good grades in general or in particular subjects, causing them to worry about their ability to teach their own children.

The third reason we lack confidence is because of messaging from other people. We may have family members or friends who disapprove of homeschooling and tell us about homeschool horror stories. From childhood, we may have heard about our shortcomings repeatedly. Or we were mistreated, causing us to wonder who we are to take on this important responsibility. Finally, other homeschoolers can make us feel less than confident by presenting an unattainable picture of homeschooling. Engineers in your support group who lead a championship robotics team. Homeschoolers who pay for expensive private tutoring and classes to ensure their child’s success. Mothers with supportive family who have lots of time to plan and implement an enriched education. You may feel like you’re not qualified.

How to Homeschool with New Confidence This Year

Inexperience, shortcomings, and others’ messaging can make us feel ill-equipped to homeschool successfully. But here is how we can overcome and take on homeschooling with a new confidence this year.

First, we can begin seeing ourselves as co-learners rather than professors. I learned more about child development and education by homeschooling my kids than I ever did in school or my work as a psychologist. We don’t want to fail in our homeschooling and parenting, but failing is the only way we learn. There are no homeschooling parents who haven’t made mistakes. There are also no classroom teachers who have been perfect.

The only way to grow in confidence as a homeschool mom is to do it. If we are so terrified of making mistakes with our kids that we never try homeschooling or quit at the first sign of challenge, that is the real failure. I’m not saying that everyone is called to homeschool. But if you feel called and you don’t take that call because of fear of messing up your kids, I think you will live to regret it.

These are the things I was afraid of when I began homeschooling: being too disorganized to follow through; having a child who couldn’t read; having an impulsive, immature child who would get hurt; choosing the wrong discipline strategy; having a child behave inappropriately online; having a child who couldn’t write well; having a child rebel; having a child embarrass me. I experienced ALL of these things. And praise God that I did. I’m not afraid of them anymore. The Lord got me through every single one of them.

The second way we can grow in confidence is to focus on our strengths. Organization wasn’t my forte’, but making learning fun and exciting was. As long as our homeschool was reasonably organized, my kids would focus on the fun unit studies, field trips, and co-op activities we did. And that’s what my kids remember.

I disliked gathering the supplies needed to do experiments only to discover that something didn’t work. What I loved doing was teaching literature, writing, and speaking. So my friend and I swapped those responsibilities based on our strengths. She was organized with the labs and I was organized with language arts. Teach your kids from your strengths and share responsibilities with a friend or co-op in your weaker areas.

We also focus on our strengths when we pursue our passions. Teaching world history wasn’t my strength because I had no background in it. But that’s why I was so excited about the topic. I would have read the lessons even without my kids. Even if you’ve struggled with a subject in the past, you can be an exceptional teacher because you’re passionate about learning and teaching it now.

The third way we can grow in confidence is to make the right comparisons. You’ve probably heard that when we feel we are falling short, it’s because we are comparing the inside of our homeschool (and what’s really going on) to the outside of someone else’s homeschool (where it’s carefully curated to present the best image).

But don’t get me wrong. There will be areas that another homeschool mom is further ahead than you are. She’s been doing it longer, has different abilities, has a supportive family, or kids with different strengths. Before you wish you were her, realize that she has made choices that you wouldn’t make. I used to feel inadequate with a mom who was constantly planning fun outings for the kids down to healthy snacks for them to enjoy afterward. But I couldn’t be her and didn’t want to be her. I placed a higher priority on academics and cleaning at home. Yet, what a blessing it was to enjoy her gift for planning activities that my kids enjoyed!

The Bible describes the kinds of comparisons we make as being as foolish as a foot comparing itself to an eye in importance. We are all part of the same body. We can all help one another as homeschoolers so we can achieve our unique goals.

When a friend or family member who doesn’t approve of homeschooling questions your ability to homeschool because of some shortcoming, you can say, “Oh, there are bigger issues than that to prevent me from doing a good job at homeschooling.” You’re likely to surprise a homeschool hater that way.

We can stop worrying about what another mom we know or what a social media influencer is doing because that’s not our role. But we can also stop the comparisons by comparing ourselves to Jesus. Are we as loving and faithful and just as He is? No? Then we should give up. Really. We can stop trying to be great homeschool moms and realize that we can’t do it. Instead, we need Jesus to take over. We need Him to use our unique combination of weaknesses and strengths to be the homeschool mom He planned all along.

Instead of worrying about whether we are going to ruin our kids for life, we can give the responsibility back to Jesus, trusting that He will work everything together for their good and ours. In that sense, we can be confident as homeschool moms because we are confident in Him. What a relief it is for me to know even now that I don’t have to worry about what I did or didn’t do. God had it under control and He still does. Philippians 1:6 is a verse we can hold on to: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Conclusion

We can grow in confidence this year as we continue to homeschool, focusing on our strengths, and making the right comparisons. Ultimately, we can be confident that we don’t have what it takes to homeschool our children successfully, but Jesus working through us does. Amen?

I pray this episode has been a blessing to you. Thanks again to CTC Math!

Have a happy homeschool week!

Special Replay: Homeschooling Through the Winter Blahs

How to Homeschool Through the Winter Blahs: The Homeschool Sanity Show Podcast

Do you feel blah once Christmas is over like I do? The tips on this episode will encourage you!

Subscribe on iTunes

The Organized Homeschool Life or on Amazon. Join me on Facebook. I hope you’ll join us for accountability.

Teaching Tip of the Week

The teaching tip of the week is Shining Dawn Books’ Nature by the Season: Winter. This preschool/kindergarten curriculum will help you and your younger learner appreciate winter and have fun learning. With 40 Nature Walk ideas and colorful worksheets, you’ll find yourself warming up to learning this winter.
Click here to view more details

Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week

The Memory Keeping Challenge

How to Homeschool Through the Winter Blahs

I turned to the bloggers of iHomeschool Network.

Reasons I'm Thankful for Winter free printable

I’ve created a free Thankful for Winter printable for you and your kids.

There are plenty of free options for getting into the word at biblegateway.com.

If you are still struggling with your attitude to the point that you suspect you’re depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor or counselor. I did an interview with the Fletchers for Homeschooling in Real Life on depression.

I have a winter workout for kids and 6 workouts you can do at home on Psychowith6.

Be sure to check out my post of 6 more crazy-easy crockpot recipes for fix it and forget it homemade meals this winter.

I have a really fun study on Mr. Popper’s penguins on Psychowith6 that you could try. The iHomeschool network bloggers have lots of great ideas for you. I’ve also pinned some good ones on my winter inspiration board on Pinterest.

Start a new fun study. Gena Mayo’s 20th Century Music Appreciation is a great one. I bought soft fake snowballs for the kids for this purpose.

Action Steps

If we will change our attitude about winter, take care of ourselves and the kids physically, and do something new, we can definitely homeschool through the winter blahs. Make a plan right now and let me know what you’re going to do on the Homeschool Sanity Facebook page.

Next Week

How to Teach Kids to Declutter

Have a happy homeschool week!

The New Thing for Maintaining Homeschool Enthusiasm

Is it hard to be enthusiastic about homeschooling this time of year? It usually is for me and it’s hard to be enthusiastic about life in general when the winter blahs set in. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I’ll share an idea for maintaining your homeschool and life enthusiasm–an idea that’s already changed my life.

Why We Lose Our Homeschool Enthusiasm This Time of Year

January doesn’t drag me down the way it did in my childhood. I grew up in South Dakota where the cold and snow had a profoundly negative effect on my mood–an effect I didn’t understand until spring when I felt like someone had changed my batteries. Winter where I live now involves regular breaks from the cold and gloom. The occasional 60-degree days keep me going.

But winter isn’t the only thing that can make us meh about homeschooling. It’s also back to the regular routine. The excitement of Christmas break is over. There is a lot of school left before spring. So what do we do?

I used to make curriculum and routine changes for the new year. And these changes helped. But soon the enthusiasm I had for those changes waned too, and we were all fairly bored, hoping to muddle our way through to spring. The seasonal change can make symptoms of depression worse. (Help a son or daughter with depression.)

The Power of Novelty

If you can relate to any of my experience, you may be someone who enjoys novelty as I do. In fact, research suggests that many of us with attention-deficit traits are high in novelty seeking. But it turns out that God created all of us to seek new experiences. When we encounter something new, we get an increase of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine not only improves symptoms of depression but helps us learn. There are clear benefits of novelty, but we also benefit from the structure of a homeschool routine. I’ve discussed this on the podcast many times. If we tried to homeschool in a completely unpredictable fashion, we’d be stressed and our kids would be unhappy.

So, how can we enjoy the benefits of both novelty and structure? Recently our local Christian radio station mentioned a woman whose resolution is to do something new every day this year. Wow! I was instantly sold on this idea, but I had no idea how life-changing it would be from the get go.

Let’s break it down. Something new. In Isaiah 43, God proclaims that He is doing a new thing. If God does new things, why shouldn’t we? We can enjoy newness in curriculum and schedules and our school space, but as I pondered this woman’s resolution, I realized that newness can be so much more.

New Activities

We can try new activities–especially once. It’s low commitment and easier to fit one class or activity into the schedule than a six-week class. I signed up for a one-time, online Native American cooking class and an in-person bookmaking class with a friend this month. I found these activities by searching for class offerings in my area. With YouTube and free online classes and apps, you could try dozens of new activities with your kids. If you find out they’re not for you, you’ve still benefitted from the novelty.

New Options for Activities

We can also try new options for an activity we already enjoy. I like to cook, exercise, and go out to eat. I made scalloped potatoes and ham in my Instant Pot and was astounded that the potatoes need just two minutes cooking time! I am signed up to do a free workout at Row House this week. It’s a gym with a guided rowing and strength training workout. I have been to two new restaurants since starting this challenge. I liked one of them a lot and had a delicious dessert at the restaurant I wasn’t as crazy about.

If you love music, listen to new genres. Like foreign language learning? Try out another language for free on an app like Duolingo. Enjoy art? Try a new technique.

New Places

We can go new places. I started walking outside in colder temperatures this winter for the first time. I am cold phobic, but friend Barb Raveling told me that I just wasn’t dressing warmly enough. She was right! I’ve maintained a positive mood by walking outside even when the temps are in the 30s. This positive experience got me to agree to play tennis with my family in these same cold temps. And I loved it.

When I thought about doing something new daily, I realized that my walks are always in my neighborhood. I started searching for walking trails that aren’t far from me. I was surprised to learn that there is a walking trail in a park I’ve been to dozens of times. But my jaw dropped when I walked the trail and discovered the beauty of a flooded mine. Check my story highlights on HomeschoolSanity on Instagram to see it.

I looked up the popular attractions near me and I’ve been to most of them during my 20+ years of homeschooling. But there are some I’ve missed that I can’t wait to check out. There are also many events I’ve never attended. And even before I was seeking out new experiences, I have wanted to take time to go to new hole-in-the-wall places, new shops, and new parks. Now I will make the time to do it.

You can play a sport you already enjoy in a new location. Take a new route to church or co-op. See what Yelp recommends for your area and check out a new place.

New People

Doing something new can also mean new people. The same old activity feels fresh when someone else joins you. My husband agreed to go with me to Row House early in the morning this week. He has never worked out early before and I’n excited to have him join me. Friends of ours who have never played pickleball would like to join us this winter. It will make it a new activity for us, too. I just read about a couple who restored a 305-year-old farmhouse and has been inviting people over. Their guests have raved about feeling welcomed and connected. I realized that inviting new people over for dinner would be a blessing for all of us through the ministry of hospitality.

New Attitude

But new doesn’t have to take up more of your time or money. It can also be an attitude. I used to dislike shipping books to customers after my kids were employed elsewhere and couldn’t help. Then I started playing funny shows that I’ve already seen while I shipped. The laughter became associated with shipping and now I enjoy it.

As I walked along the trail that had been right under my nose all these years, I wondered what else I was overlooking. I was reminded of the sign my late sister-in-law had that now hangs on my wall. It says “Some people live like nothing is a miracle and some people live like everything is.” My sister-in-law was the latter and I want to be, too.

You’ve done the laundry a million times, but have you ever done it while praising God for the blessing of family and clothing and laundry machines and hot, running water? Have you done it while singing your heart out to your favorite praise song? Have you gotten up and danced? Have you turned it into a game with your kids? If not, that can be your new attitude. Are there things you’ve been afraid to try? It can be as small a matter as being willing to try anchovies or as major as speaking or performing in public. Either way, your new attitude will slowly chip away at your anxiety, giving you a new enthusiasm for life.

Daily, Weekly, Seasonally

That’s the new–new activities, new options for old activities, new places, new people, and a new attitude. But what about the every day part? A couple of my friends said it would drive them crazy to come up with something new to do every day. Me? I love it. It’s a challenge which also motivates me as a strong-willed person. I have something to look forward to every day, which improves my mood significantly. I have a list of options on my phone that I add to daily. If one option doesn’t work out, I have plenty of others to choose from.

But you don’t have to do something new daily to enjoy the benefits. What if you had a goal of a new activity every week? If you choose that approach, my advice is to plan it early in the week or early in the weekend, so you’re more likely to do it. Or have a set day of the week for the new activity with backup options.

Yet another approach is a seasonal bucket list. I recommended creating a Christmas bucket list on an Instagram reel and advised posting it where your kids could see it. I took my own advice and posted mine on the fridge. My kids who were home for Christmas are 17 and up and they were all interested in the list and wanting to check off the activities. They were more excited about it than I was! Whether you do something new daily, weekly, or seasonally, get your kids involved. They will look forward to it, be more enthusiastic about school, and will make memories with you that you’ll all treasure.

I have some guidelines for my approach. I won’t count new clothes, books, or exercise routines in the usual places. You’ll want to create your own guidelines. I plan to do something new every day in 2023. I don’t know if I will continue in 2024, but I may not have to. I’ve already noticed a new curiosity and enthusiasm for life that I think will be a lasting result of this challenge. I would love to have you join me. I’m posting in my Instagram stories daily with the hashtag #neweveryday. I would love to see the new things you’re doing and be inspired by your ideas.

If you’re interested in a new curriculum, a new approach to productivity, or a new organizing plan, I can help.

Grammar Galaxy, A Year of Living Productively, The Organized Homeschool Life

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Protect Your Homeschool From Hijacking

Right before Christmas my HomeschoolSanity Instagram account was hacked. You may wonder what that has to do with you. This is the Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where I explain what happened and how my experience can help you protect not just your social media accounts but your homeschool and life from hijacking.

Sponsor

Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That’s right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months!

Protect Your Homeschool Life from Hijacking

If you clicked on my stories for Homeschool Sanity for Instagram during Christmas week, you may wonder why I’m obsessed with cryptocurrency, bragging about the Mercedes I bought with my profits, and using a lot of y’all’s in the captions. My account was hacked. There appeared to be no way for me to get it back. Instagram does not have email, chat, or phone support. Instead, a broken autoresponder was my only option for restoring access, and much to my disappointment, I did not get a Christmas miracle of suddenly getting it back by the 25th.

How I Was Hijacked

How did this happen? I wish I could say that I did everything right. But I did not. In fact, that’s why I’m sharing this episode. Because there are a number of things I did wrong. I made some embarrassingly stupid moves. I’m sad to say it isn’t the first time. It was the first time I lost a social media account to a hacker, yes. But not the first time I’ve made choices that made it easy for the enemy to hijack my life. I have learned a lot from these experiences, however, that I want to share with you in the hopes that your social media and your homeschool will be safe from hijackers.

Unmanaged Emotions

The first reason my Instagram account was hijacked is because I had emotions I hadn’t managed. In my case, it was guilt. I had contacts with two people the day my account was hijacked who wanted money from me. My family and I had been generous with them in the past. I owed them nothing. In fact, they have a history of manipulation. But because they are still poor, I felt some guilt about not helping them. Later that day a woman, who had wanted to sell me makeup in the past, direct-messaged me on Instagram. I looked at her request that I vote for her as an ambassador as well as the fact that I had never purchased makeup from her and guess what I felt? Guilt. If I had done some truth journaling or some chatting with my husband about the guilt I was feeling earlier in the day, it would have been managed. I never would have been vulnerable to this request. Guilt isn’t the only unmanaged emotion that can result in a hijacking, though. Fear and anger are two others. Moses let anger at an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Israelite lead him to kill the man. He then had to leave Egypt in fear for his life. We can all think of foolish things we’ve done out of fear and anger that were not managed properly.

Distractions

The second way I opened myself up to the hijacking of my Instagram account is that I was distracted. I was helping my son make Christmas cut-out cookies and what was I doing? Looking at my Instagram messages. Had my phone been put away first, I wouldn’t have lost my account. Or had I looked at the message and set my phone aside until I could focus, I wouldn’t have been hijacked. We can be following an exercise and eating plan that works, when staying up late to watch a show causes us to sleep in and miss a workout.  We can be talking to a family member and trying to read at the same time, resulting in a loss of connection. Distractions make it easy for the enemy to get to you. King David was supposed to be with his army in the spring. Instead, he was watching a married woman bathe on the rooftop next door. As a result of this distraction, King David’s reign was hijacked.

Ignoring Red Flags

The third way I opened myself up to hijacking is that I ignored the red flags. The requests this person I supposedly knew were as fishy as a salmon pan left in the oven overnight, yet I went along with them likely because of my guilt and distraction. I honestly still can’t believe I did it, but I wanted to get the request over with. Sometimes we ignore red flags and get hijacked because we are in a hurry. Whatever is the quickest, easiest way to get a time demand out of the way is typically what we choose. That’s what I chose anyway. I wanted this person to leave me alone so I could get to the cookies. We notice the negative influence someone is on us or our kids, but we blow it off. We see the anxiety that watching or reading the news creates for us, but we rationalize it. We have a bad feeling about the co-op we joined, but we tell ourselves we have no other options. The hijacker didn’t have to explain why things seemed so fishy. I explained it for him. My account security is keeping me from voting for her. That’s what I thought. Why would I ignore that red flag? One reason is because I forgot God’s warning in 1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I was like Hezekiah in 2 Kings who showed the Babylonian envoys the treasure. Not smart.

Denial

The fourth way I opened myself up to hijacking is denial. Even though the signs that I’d been hijacked were undeniable, I denied them. I just forgot my password. That’s all. I’ll get right back in. Only I couldn’t. Denial is based in fear and pride. I was afraid to face the fact that someone in Nigeria had just taken over my account. I was too proud to admit that I couldn’t quickly fix it. I was like the Israelites who refused to enter the Promised Land until they were rebuked and punished by God. Then they tried going in without Him. It didn’t go well. It didn’t go well for me either when I panicked and initially thought that text messages I received were from Instagram trying to help me regain access to my account. Instead, they were from the hacker. We are in denial when we ignore the signs that our husband has become distant, our child is struggling, or our debt is increasing. The answer isn’t to keep trying to solve the problem on our own. We need help!

Recovering from Hijacking

After trying to regain access to my account for several days with no success, I gave up. I created a new account and started telling people to unfollow and block my homeschoolsanity account. Giving up is the first step in being free. It’s what I did many years ago when I couldn’t get my eating under control. I admitted to God that I couldn’t do it. That’s when He took over. Admitting powerlessness is the first step in 12-step programs. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It only means you can’t fix it in your own strength. The day after I gave up, I heard from a connection who learned about my account problem. He sent me this message: “You have to know someone.” He pledged to help me after the holidays. That was great news for me. But what about you? What if you don’t know someone who works for Instagram? What if you don’t know a counselor, a doctor, or a loan officer? The thing is, you know Someone better. Giving the problem to God will either result in success the way you define it or success the way He does. You cannot fail. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 reads: “When all these things come upon you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you call them to mind in all the nations to which the LORD your God has banished you, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey His voice with all your heart and all your soul according to everything I am giving you today, then He will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you from all the nations to which the LORD your God has scattered you.” Even when we’ve been hijacked as a the result of our own foolishness, God will help us and restore us.

Conclusion

After being assured that help was coming, I figured there was no harm in using the automation to try to regain access to my account. I went through the steps as I had so many times before without success. But this time, boom. I was back in control of my account. I quickly took steps to ensure the hacker could not regain access. When we recover from any kind of hijacking, that’s what we have to do, too–fortify our lives so we can’t be hijacked again. We want to manage our emotions, avoid distractions, pay attention to red flags, and ask for help from the One who can restore us. After I was logged in, I realized a blessing from this experience. The hacker had direct-messaged many of my followers, asking them to vote for me as an ambassador. Most of these people said yes. They didn’t even know what I was wanting to be an ambassador for! But they said yes. They were kind and generous with their time. I pray I can be as kind and generous with mine going forward. If you use social media, I would love to have you follow me at homeschoolsanity on Facebook and Instagram. Either way, I’d love to communicate with you via email. Go to homeschoolsanity.com/subscribe. Thanks again to CTC Math for sponsoring the podcast. Have a happy homeschool week!

3 Reasons to Give Up on Your New Year’s Goal

What a weird headline for a New Year’s blog post, right? Give up on your goal before you even get started? You may have a goal that doesn’t fit the criteria below, and if that’s true, carry on! I wish you well. But if you can answer yes to any of the three questions I have for you, consider giving up the goal now.

1. Is the Behavior Required to Meet Your Goal Unsustainable?

You can stick with that low-carb diet, the twice-a-day workouts, and the all-day school schedule in the short-term. But how long will it take before you hate the process and give up?

If what is required to meet your goal isn’t something you can live with long-term, you will not only give up on your goal, but you’ll have a harder time achieving the goal in a more reasonable fashion later on. Overly strict dieting has been linked to weight gain, not loss, for example.

If you can admit right now that going without sugar for the rest of your life is not something you can live with, ask yourself what is? Could you exchange one soda or treat a day for something else you enjoy that has less sugar? Modify the rules for achieving your goal until you can say yes to a long-term commitment, or give it up right now. You’ll be better off.

2. Does the Goal Come from a Place of Self-Loathing?

If you are disgusted with yourself–your eating, your shopping, your time management–you’re likely to choose a punishing path to get yourself to your goal. To make matters worse, you’re unlikely to give yourself credit for changes you make. You’ll tell yourself you should have been doing the right things all along, kicking yourself for past mistakes.

This type of goal tends to come with a lot of internal name-calling: “You’re gross! You’re lazy! You’re pathetic!” It’s like hiring a harsh coach to get us on track. Initially, just like the unsustainable program, it will work. But we will soon be sick of the mean coach we’ve become. We know this coach doesn’t really love us, so we will cut her loose. We give up the goal and feel like even more of a loser.

If you know your goal of filling one trash bag a day with your stuff doesn’t come from a place of self-love, could you focus on 5-minute tasks that make your life easier? Become an encouraging coach focused on helping yourself take baby steps, or give up the goal right now. You’ll feel better about yourself.

3. Does Your Goal Require Extraordinary Willpower That You Haven’t Had Before?

If you have to white knuckle it, summoning willpower that has never been available to you in this area of your life, you’re likely to fail with the goal. If you have a strong desire to shop for curriculum you don’t need, for example, you can exercise self-control in the short-term. You’ll delete the email, unfollow curriculum groups on Facebook, and tell friends you’re happy with your choices when they talk about their latest finds. But then you’re listening to a podcast and hear about something completely new and amazing. It won’t do any harm to check it out, right?

Like a goal that requires unsustainable behavior, you’re likely to give up on willpower goals quickly. When the excitement of New Year’s fades, when you’re tired, or when the unexpected stresses you out, your willpower will fail you. Even when we ask God to give us more willpower, we will quickly find our reserves have run dry.

If you know your goal relies on your own willpower, ask God to change your desires instead. Meditate on Scripture and read Sidetracked in the Wildnerness. If you don’t want unnecessary curriculum, a second helping, or the dopamine hit you get from social media, you won’t need more willpower. The added benefit is you will recognize how much God loves you right where you are and how powerful He is to help you. If you won’t trust God with your goal, you’ll be better off giving it up now–at least until you’re ready to wave the white flag and ask Him to take over.

Conclusion

My prayer is that God would get the glory as you find yourself transformed by the love of God this year.

If you have a goal of getting organized or being more productive this year, my books The Organized Homeschool Life and A Year of Living Productively will give you a sustainable plan.

Melanie Wilson is the host of The Homeschool Sanity Show and the author of Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum.

How To Gamify Your Homeschool

A homeschool mom wrote to ask me where my episode on gamifying your homeschool was. The problem is I don’t have one! But I thought it was a fantastic idea. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we talk about making our homeschooling more like a fun, motivating game.

Sponsor

Finding a math curriculum that works for your family can be a challenge! With CTCMath, all of your kids from K-12 can learn at their own pace with one family subscription. That’s right! With a CTCMath membership, you have access to all grades and lessons, which means your children can work at whatever level is best for them. Whether your kid needs to catch up, keep up, or move ahead, with CTCMath they can finally understand math and work at their own pace. CTCMath is offering listeners a half-price discount plus a bonus 6 months when you register for a 12-month membership. Yep. That means you have access to a complete online homeschool math curriculum for all your kids for 18 months!

Gameschooling

You might have heard of gameschooling. There are some excellent online influencers who share games for teaching just about every topic. I’ve shared games for teaching language arts as well as holiday games. I’m a huge fan of games as a break from traditional teaching. Kids love them and depending on the games, we parents do too. Not only are games fun learning, but they can create family memories you will cherish.

I incorporate games into Grammar Galaxy as well. I particularly like active games because they’re a welcome break for active kids. The fun involved in a game releases dopamine in the brain which aids in retention of the material.

Language Arts Board Games

Free Grammar Games

Free Vocabulary Games

Gameschooling: The Waldock Way

Gameschooling: My Little Poppies

Gameschooling: The Mulberry Journal

Gameschooling is great. But there is more to gamifying your homeschool than simply adding educational, fun games to your curriculum.

Gamifying Your Homeschool

Gamification means adding game principles to your homeschool life so that you and your family are more motivated.

Let me share an example to explain. Imagine that you were invited to play a card game. There are many rules: you must play certain cards for points but there are other cards that will cost you points. You begin trying to play to earn points. But you forget and play some cards that cost you points. There aren’t any written rules to refer to.

After some time goes by, you ask how you’re doing in the game. Are you ahead, behind, winning, or losing? You’re told to just keep playing the game and you’ll figure it out. New rules seem to be added to the game every turn that cost you points. When you make what you think is a play that will earn you lots of points, you’re told that you can’t make that play now.

My kids have had me play a card game just like this. I reminded them of this game over Thanksgiving and asked them for the name of it. They couldn’t remember. Maddening! I hated the game and never wanted to play it again.

Sometimes our homeschooling is just like this. Our kids do some schoolwork. They feel good about it. But they made some mistakes. They didn’t show their work. They didn’t put enough effort into it. And we let them know. We make them redo the work. We may even give them extra practice work if they didn’t understand a concept.

Or they did very well. They did the work so quickly that we worry we aren’t challenging them. So we ask them to do more advanced work. We ask them to read more or to move on to another subject. We might even add a curriculum to their workload.

The same process can happen with chores. Didn’t do them well enough? Do them again. Get extra chores added on. Do them well but fast? You can handle more chores.

Are you getting the picture? Our kids may feel like they’re playing a game where the rules aren’t clear but what is clear is that there’s no way to win. That isn’t motivating. For anyone.

So how can we fix this to properly gamify our homeschools?

First, the rules for winning at school and chores need to be limited, clear, and preferably posted. We aren’t motivated by a game that tells us to “play cards,” so our kids won’t be motivated to “do school.” They need to know exactly what must be done to earn credit.

If you’re worried that what I’m sharing contradicts with getting kids to take initiative, please don’t. When kids know exactly what is expected of them, they’ll be more likely to take initiative to learn or help more.

But for that to happen, the rules have to be limited and winning has to seem possible. If there are so many rules to remember that I don’t know who to do first, I’m going to want to quit the game before I even get started. If our students have so many assignments that they can’t remember them all, they will feel defeated before they begin.

In addition, winning has to seem achievable. I have started to play video games where the high scorers are listed as motivation for us to compete. I just have to play once and get a paltry score to realize that I will never reach that level, nor would I want to spend the time necessary.

When we have students who are underperforming, our tendency is to want to fill up their lesson plan with work to help them catch up. What happens instead is they feel hopeless and don’t want to even try. Instead, we want to help our kids see that they are winners in school and life. We want to do what we are good at–even if that thing requires time and effort.

In my How to Motivate Any Student class, I share that the first time I played on a part-3 golf course, I hit a flag with my ball on the drive. I was convinced I was a great golfer, and I wanted to keep playing. That was true even though golf is a time-consuming game. We see people spending consider time and effort developing skills in all sorts of areas of life, most likely because they initially believed they had some talent or ability in it.

We can give our kids that initial confidence by making the work easy enough and quick to complete. We know this when it comes to habits and life changes for ourselves. We know we can’t run a 5K without first walking and jogging short distances. We won’t be motivated to organize if it’s going to require weeks and hours of effort. That’s why we work in short, timed bursts.

To use that gamification strategy of making winning possible for our kids, we may have to do some experimenting. Keep cutting down the workload or reducing the level until your child is agreeable. Grammar Galaxy‘s mission steps take just 10-15 minutes each to complete. Some homeschool parents are concerned that this just isn’t enough time. But what happens when you require just 5 minutes of reading a day or 10-15 minutes of language arts a day is kids think it’s doable, so they’ll start. They’ll keep reading because they enoy it. They’ll want to do a second and even a third step in their mission because it was easier than they thought.

Third, a gamified homeschool requires visible progress. Imagine playing a board game where you can’t see how close you are to winning. You have no idea where your marker is. Sometimes our homeschooling is like that. We’re just “doing school” and not even a calendar date indicates the end of the work because Mom feels we need to continue into the summer. I am not suggesting there is a problem with schooling year-round. I AM saying that kids need a finish line to be motivated. I’ve mentioned before how my kids became super motivated to finish their work at the end of the school year when they had a list of everything needed to do before having a long break.

Quarterly Checklist

Have a chart posted in a visible spot (like on the refrigerator) that shows progress in books read, math lessons completed, or chores done. Research shows that without any rewards (even without praise), public progress charts improve performance.

Kids also need to know that their work is meaningful and can’t be minimized in an effort to get them to do more. Here’s what I mean. The games of Sorry and Candyland can be so frustrating to play specifically because all your forward progress can be wiped out in one turn. Homeschooling shouldn’t feel like that for our kids. To that end, we should avoid having them redo a whole curriculum. Instead, we might consider switching to a new curriculum or adding supplementary work to shore up the learning. The only reason I would ignore this advice is if your student is on board with redoing the curriculum. We also don’t want to add chores for a student who finishes work quickly and thoroughly.

The final thing a gamified homeschool requires that I’ll discuss today is the unexpected. If you knew you would never win or would win at Solitaire every time, you would not want to play. Variety is the spice of life and it’s what makes games fun. I’m a big believer in routine. We do our best work and are likely to be well rested with a predictable schedule.

But we all need some spontaneity too. Instead of having a regular game day, you could announce that you’re going to spend the afternoon playing board games. Cut your student’s workload in half after assigning it. Go on a surprise field trip. Watch educational movies instead of doing the scheduled lessons. Do fun science experiments. Invite friends over to play. Do your school routine backwards. Even have kids put their clothes on backwards if you like. Put one of your students in charge for the day. Use shopping and cooking as school. Turn your chore list into a randomized game. Roll the dice and do the chore with that number. List some topics your kids are interested. Roll the dice and study the subject that comes up for the day. Have slips of paper with surprise activities or breaks in a jar and let your child choose one when the mood strikes. You can also use a randomizer app on your phone for this purpose.

As long as these surprises don’t become routine, kids will feel like they are playing a game in being homeschooled. Of course, learning is its own reward. But some of our habits can minimize the natural motivation of homeschooling.

Conclusion

When we make the rules for winning clear; when winning seems achievable; when kids see visible progress; and when they regularly experience the unexpected, we have gamified our homeschools and will likely have more homeschool sanity.

Thanks again to CTC Math for sponsoring the podcast.

Have a happy homeschool week and a very merry Christmas to those listening this third week of December.

Motivating Learners With Dr. Lyle Lee Jenkins

Is your student less than motivated when it comes to reading or math? This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where Dr. Lee Jenkins shares creative ideas for motivating learners.

Hey, homeschoolers! As a psychologist, mother, and now a guide for homeschool parents, I have a great interest in motivation. Before I introduce my guest, I want to thank my sponsor for this episode: 5000 Blankets.

Sponsor: 5000 Blankets Movie

It’s incredible what can happen when you transform your heart to serve the people around you.Catch 5000 BLANKETS exclusively in theaters for two days only! December 12 & 13. Tickets at https://www.fathomevents.com/events/5000-Blankets

Motivating Learners with Dr. Lyle Lee Jenkins

I was happy to have Dr. Jenkins join me for the podcast to share creative ideas for engaging our kids in the learning process. Lyle Lee Jenkins is an author, speaker, consultant and a recognized expert in improving educational outcomes. The author of How to Create a Perfect School, All About Henry, his newest release How to Create a Perfect Homeschool, and 15 other books, Lee has spent the last 50 years learning from world-class experts while working as a teacher, principal, school superintendent and university professor. Lee’s speaking career has taken him across the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia, and he has taught online courses to educators from more than 25 countries. His mission is providing innovative solutions for the most perplexing education problems.

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did. We discussed:

    • Tips for motivating reading
    • Tips for motivating math
    • Why Dr. Jenkins talks about the “perfect” homeschool

Resources for Motivating Learners

Find links to Dr. Jenksins’s books at HomeschoolSanity.com/Motivating Learners Email Dr. Jenkins at Lee@LTOJ.net.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Aesop’s Favorite Fables Have a happy homeschool week!

Thanks again to 5000 Blankets for their sponsorship.

Why You’ve Fallen Behind In Your Homeschool Plan

Have you fallen behind in your homeschool plan? Do you want to avoid looking at your lesson planner because it’s so depressing? If that’s you, I have good news. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where we’ll get back on track.

Sponsor: 5000 Blankets Movie

It’s incredible what can happen when you transform your heart to serve the people around you.Catch 5000 BLANKETS exclusively in theaters for two days only! December 12 & 13. Tickets at https://www.fathomevents.com/events/5000-Blankets

The Planning Fallacy

Now the good news: There’s nothing wrong with you! You’ve just fallen victim to a human thinking error that’s characteristic of some of the smartest people. It’s called the planning fallacy. It means we tend to underestimate how much time projects take, even when we have experience that has taught us better.

So you tell yourself you can get the science experiment part of your curriculum done in half an hour, even though they’ve taken you at least three times as long in the past. Why are we irrational this way? Because we also have an optimism bias—especially when it comes to our own abilities.

I’ve been watching a baking show, a baking competition in which bakers make elaborate baked goods in a very short amount of time. Even though a baker will admit to never having made the recipe at home under the time limit, she hopes that she will for the competition. She hopes. It’s a kind of magical thinking that we’re all guilty of at times. You’ve never made it to co-op in under ten minutes, but you hope you will today—somehow.

Why do we have this optimism bias and this magical thinking about the future? Researchers have a number of theories:

First, we use the best-case scenario in our planning. For example, we tell ourselves we can get to church in six minutes because of that one time when every light was green.

Second, we plan this way because we want to believe that our scenario will happen. We avoid the disappointment of admitting that there is no possible way we can complete two foreign language curricula in one year.

Third, we honestly don’t remember how long a similar project took. We think the math lesson took ten minutes to complete when it actually took 20.

Fourth, we emphasize the differences between the current project and a past one. Yes, science experiments took forever last year, but now you’re organized. And your kids are more mature.

Fifth, long-term deadlines promote poorer time estimates. We do worse in realistically planning for a full school year than we do for this week.

Sixth, we focus on the variables that we can control, forgetting that much of the most time-consuming parts of our day are unexpected and out of our control. We don’t know that our printer will stop working right when we go to print the lab worksheets or that the dog will get out of the yard as we’re about to start the art lesson.

How to Overcome the Planning Fallacy

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting depressed. Maybe we should scrap our homeschool plan and just see what happens? Depending on your homeschool laws, you might not have that choice. Or you know that you get far less done without a plan. So you’d still like to plan in such a way that you don’t fall far behind. How can we do that?

First, instead of using a best-case scenario, let’s use a worst-case one. In a study of college students who used this strategy, researchers found that the students did even worse than their worst-case scenario. But at least they were closer! If this is challenging for you to do, try doubling your time estimates. If you’re anything like me, you’ll push back against this. “There’s no way it’s going to take four hours to get a science experiment done!” Then split the difference. Plan on three hours and if you have time left over, you can catch up on other subjects or have some down time.

Second, we can admit to ourselves that we can’t do everything we want to do this year. But the good news is we’ll have something exciting to look forward to next year! It might help you feel less disappointed to make a list of the great activities and curricula you’ll take on another time.

Third, start timing your activities. Don’t rush through the science experiment. See how long it really takes you on average.

Fourth, consider the similarities between your current plan and what you did last year. If you still have a tendency to start school later…if your kids still dawdle over the lesson…if you don’t like dragging out the supplies any more this year than last, think again about what you can realistically accomplish.

Fifth, consider planning for the short-term if you’re a yearly planner. Plan for the quarter, the month, the week, or even the day if you feel more in control of your time. One way to increase your motivation for completing the plan is to use the free quarterly planner I’ve created. When you and your kids finish their work for the quarter, they get the rest of the time off. This worked like a charm for my kids!

Finally, think about the obstacles that got in the way of your homeschooling last week. Was someone sick? Did the washing machine leak? Was a family member or friend in need of help? One of the best ways we can accommodate the unexpected is to have margin in our plan. Just as the margins of a page have nothing on them, our plan or schedule should have spaces where nothing is there. We can keep an hour of our day, a day a week, or even a week a month unplanned to manage those times when we get behind. The key to making this work is not to treat the unplanned time like a tax refund. What I mean is, we shouldn’t put our schoolwork off, thinking that we’ll just use our unplanned time to do it. Even though the time is unplanned, we should treat it as reserved for emergencies only. If nothing comes up, we have time to relax or have some spontaneous fun!

Although it’s human nature to overestimate what we can accomplish and then be disappointed, we can do better. We can estimate using the worst-case scenario. We can plan some of our activities for next year. We can time our activities to have better estimates. We can consider the similarities between our ideas for the future and what we’ve done in the past. We can plan for the short-term and put margin into our plans. 

Thanks again to 5000 Blankets for their sponsorship.

Have a happy homeschool week!

How To Get A College Degree Debt-Free

If your student wants to attend college but doesn’t want to be loaded down with debt, I have a treat for you. This is The Homeschool Sanity Show, the episode where guest Kara Walker shares uncommon but practical tips for saving money on a college education.

Hey, homeschoolers! I absolutely love chatting with homeschoolers. That’s just one reason I wanted to interview Kara Walker. Kara graduated from college debt-free, and is now on a quest to help other students do the same with her podcast, “Money and Mental Peace,” and her online course “The Debt-Free College Blueprint”! She is a twenty-something Christian entrepreneur, amateur snowboarder, and recovering over-achiever. Kara enjoys goal-setting, budgeting, and living a debt-free lifestyle, and wants to help YOU do the same!

Kara is absolutely delightful. If you have a college-bound or finance-interested teen, have them listen to this episode with you. You won’t be disappointed.

College Degree, Debt-Free Resources

Dave Ramsey personal finance courses

Dave Ramsey podcast

Modern States Study Guides

Homeschooling for College Credit

Money and Mental Peace – Kara’s website and podcast

How we manage college

Have a happy homeschool week!