Ever had one of those days where you’re still in your pjs, the breakfast dishes are still in the kitchen sink, and you spent the last four hours binge-watching old episodes of Full House with your kids rather than accomplishing anything of any real value all day?
In my house, we jokingly refer to those days as “slug days”.
It’s my personal belief that every homeschool can benefit from an occasional “slug day”. The key word there being occasional. The rest of the time, to get the most out of our homeschooling, it’s important to find ways to maximize our time.
There’s no shortage of advice out there for maximizing productivity. The problem for homeschoolers it that most of it doesn’t work very well for homeschoolers. Homeschooling blurs the lines between work and family. Additionally, so much of our days are dictated by smaller human beings.
That said, there are 6 habits productive homeschoolers successfully internalize.
Bookend Your Days With Morning and Evening Routines.
Productive homeschoolers know the way we start our day sets the tone for the rest of the day.
When I get up around 7 AM, get dressed in my workout garb, have a few bites of yogurt, and then hit the trail for my morning run by 8 AM, I am a rock star. I’m unbeatable. Things get done.
When I oversleep, stagger out of bed, and go check Facebook…yeah, I can kiss this day goodbye. Nothing is going to get done.
The way we end our day sets the tone for how well we’ll sleep and which decision we’ll make when we open our eyes in the morning.
When I’ve determined in advance that I am hitting the sack by 10:30, I get my youngest tucked in at a more reasonable time. I step away from the computer earlier in the evening. In short, I consciously make decisions that move me closer to bed by 10:30. I’m proactive.
When I don’t have a plan, my youngest is still wide awake (and not in her pajamas) at 9:30. And I’m still mindlessly surfing the net at 2 AM.
Anticipate Future Failures
Productive homeschoolers quickly learn to attune to the times our plans predictably hit the skids. Then we discipline ourselves to take proactive preventative measures.
Thursdays are our busy days. There are several windows of opportunity throughout a typical Thursday for Murphy to stick his meddlesome nose into my plans and wreak havoc on them.
After some trial and error, I learned that my girls must have their archery bows, towels, and water bottles ready to go by the door on Wednesday evenings. I started keeping a foldable chair and a blanket in the back of my van. I know that breakfast must be quick, easy, and filling. I’ve also figured out that if we leave our house by 7:10 AM, we usually arrive at archery practice by 7:45 (about 15 minutes before practice starts). But if we delay departure by as little as 10 minutes, we typically don’t get there until 8:15.
As I’ve become aware of each potential snag, I’ve made the accommodations to avoid it.
Delegate As Much As Possible
Productive, happy homeschoolers know we can’t do it all ourselves, all at the same time, and do it all well. Trying is a recipe for homeschool burn-out.
At home, my kids all pitch in and help with the daily household chores.
When a homeschool group I created and run topped 1000 members, I enlisted a few volunteers to serve as additional group administrators to take some of the workload off my shoulders.
Say “Yes” Less Frequently
Productive homeschoolers know that saying yes to everything leaves us overwhelmed, in chaos, and anything but productive.
2016-2017 has been the year of no for my family so that we can focus more clearly on just a few things that are important to us. Swim team? No. Horseback riding lessons? No. A co-op at the YMCA that sounds absolutely amazing? No.
Yeah, stop laughing.
The life of a homeschooling parent is unavoidably full of distractions. But here’s how to apply this principle to our lives: when we must (or want to) focus our attention on one thing, eliminate every distraction that we can.
Before Erica and I sit down to watch one of the films for her US History study together, I check with Jillian to make sure she doesn’t need me to help her with anything for the next 90 minutes. If she does, I get it done before we click “play”. If she says she doesn’t, I make sure she understands that we are not to be disturbed then unless someone is bleeding or something is on fire.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Productive homeschoolers know that trying to juggle two or more activities that require concentration backfires.
When Jillian and I work on her reading lesson, that’s all we do. When we play one of her math games together, that’s all we do. When Erica and I watch a history video together, that’s all we do. When I write a blog post, that’s all I do.
Now when a “slug day” rolls around for my crew, all bets are off. The morning and evening bookends just don’t happen. Nothing gets delegated; it gets deferred. Somehow, those “slug days” help us recharge our productive batteries, and we’re ready to be rock stars again the next day.