One of the questions people ask me most often is about how to homeschool and work from home. People email me or ask in person, “how do you do it all?”
These issues have been on my mind a lot lately and I thought my response would be helpful to others.
How To Homeschool and Work From Home: How do you do it all?
Nell T asked:
You homeschool, have several children, and you work from home. I’m strongly considering homeschooling my boys now, and I own a business, too. What advice do you have for me on how to handle it all without totally losing my mind. How in the world do you do it all?
And here’s my answer.
I don’t do it all. I do a few things.
I’ve made choices based on my biggest priorities and goals in life, the “big rocks”. Everything else has to fit in after that, which means a lot of those little things just have to go!
I often think of the saying, “you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want“. Choosing one thing is saying Yes to that thing, and No to other things.
How To Homeschool and Work From Home: decide what things are crucial to you.
What are the things that, if done, you would consider it a good day? There isn’t enough time or energy for everything,
I’ve repeated this exercise several times over the years. It gives structure to my life and it only takes a moment for me to quietly remind my brain of what my “big rocks” are. Have you ever heard that illustration? There’s a neat, short video here, and the narrator has a sexy British accent too (bonus!).
The gist is this: If you take a bucket and start filling it up with small rocks and sand and then try to add bigger rocks, it will overflow. But if you put the big rocks in first and then the smaller, you still end up with room for sand and even water. It’s a great metaphor for priorities.
At this point in my life, my big rocks are: my spirituality (always), family, my blog and homeschooling.
Some things that aren’t a priority to me: socializing, arts and crafts/DIY, having a perfectly decorated, renovated house, TV and movies, and hobbies. When people talk about the latest Netflix series they’re binge-watching, I haven’t the foggiest clue what they’re talking about. My Instagram feed is filled with my mom friends who are constantly going out, while I stay home. And I’m ok with that!
I have a “big rocks” list for other categories too: housework, homeschooling and blogging stuff. I ask:
“If nothing else gets done today, what would I want to accomplish to feel happy and productive?”
On my big rocks list for homemaking would be keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean, and cooking a healthy, hot dinner.
I make sure the areas that impact health (kitchen, bathroom) are clean. And I get a healthy dinner on the table each night. These are important to me. If the dusting only happens monthly, no big deal. My home is tidy and comfortable and I love it, but it does not look like a Pinterest or Instagram photo!
How to homeschool and work from home: simplify your homeschool day
Read more about my minimalist homeschooling philosophy here. I focus on the Big 4 subject areas and encourage independence in my learners (and choose curricula that makes that possible).
Big rocks for blogging are: writing content (blog posts, emails, guest posts) and working Pinterest.
I recently signed up for Elite Blog Academy 3.0. I’m committed to working every assignment and exercise, which takes time. Something had to give. I decided to do batch freezer cooking, for the first time ever. I spent 90 minutes (including cleanup!) to make 9 dinners for 9 people. Neat!
This freed up an extra hour in my day to work on EBA.
There are also a lot of things I don’t even attempt to do even though they might be fun or have certain advantages. For instance, right now my two young daughters aren’t taking any extra-curricular classes. It’s not a priority at this time.
Don’t compare yourself with others
I’ve had to make peace with my business growing more slowly than some of my counterparts. That’s been hard at times. I’ve felt the occasional twinge of envy when I see how some bloggers have meteoric success and achieve in months what it’s taken me years to accomplish.
But I just remind myself that I’m on a different journey. I’ve made choices that limit my time, so it’s just that – a choice. I could choose to put my kids in school so I have more time for my business, but I don’t want that.
When I remind myself of my values, I avoid comparisons.
How To Homeschool and Work From Home: practical tips
Put your housework and meal prep on autopilot. Simplify everything you can. Menu plan! It’s ok to eat the same things over and over again as long as they’re healthy. Reduce decision fatigue wherever possible. Stay off your phone unless you have nothing else important to do. If you struggle with this, read moms cell phone addiction tips.
Assign kids chores (and accept a certain level of messiness due to homeschooling and having bodies in the house all day)
Create flexible routines for your days, especially for morning as it sets the tone for the entire day. My basic routine looks like this:
4:30 – up, dress/face/hair, blog work.
8:30 – Breakfast, tidy kitchen (what’s for dinner? defrost meat, look at menu plan), start laundry
9:30 – read aloud with all kids, do phonics and math with little girls, big start school on their own, read my Bible
10:30 – Help bigger kids with school work, answer questions, reboot laundry, take littles outside to play
11:30 – lunch prep, eat, cleanup, do a household chore
1:00 – play outside, take a walk or bike ride
Naptime for 2 year old and mom
2:30 – tea time + snack, check up on big kids’ schoolwork, Bible reading and study, check up on chores, tie up loose ends with blog work
3:30 – Laundry, household chore
4:00 – start dinner, tidy house before hubby comes home
6:00 – Eat dinner, after-meal cleanup with entire family
7: 00 – Relax, hang out with family, read, make tomorrow’s to-do list, lay out clothing for next day
8:30 – Teeth and face and into bed!
Specific times are flexible, but the routine flows like that every day.
A few more helpful articles on how to homeschool and work from home:
- WAHM life: what’s working now
- Simple bullet journaling (for organizing my brain and everything else!)
- Favorite blogging resources – work smarter, not harder
- If you’re interested in blogging to earn money, be sure to get this download, Free 100 Top Blogging Tips
hi there Carrie,
THis was encouraging to me. I’m a new WAHM still and I find it very difficult to “do it all”. I have wondered for quite some time how ladies like you and Nell “do it all” and I’m glad you have shared that you “don’t.” I feel better! We’re all in this together right??
That was a great article about not comparing yourself Carrie. I had never seen that one before.
Sharon@New Urban Mom says
Carrie – I just read this cross blogging post today and I have to say you are the mom I tried to be when my two were toddlers. The only difference is you are much more organized and determined to succeed – and so you are! I wish I’d had a friend like you then! I like the small rocks and large rocks approach – makes everything seem so much more doable. I ended up panicking about finances and returned to full-time work when our kids were 4 and 2.
That was 12 years ago and while my kids are our joy and benefitted by having grandparents home with them after school (we bought a house 2 blocks away from them), I still miss not having some of those memories that you are carefully nurturing and enjoying now with your four.
Thank you for this public/private blog – I love it!
Those are good words of wisdom. I could easily slip into comparing myself to someone else who doesn’t have four kids and why aren’t things moving faster.
I also focus on the 3Rs and try not to get too uptight when social studies and science don’t happen. It does get tougher when you have a teen who wants to go here and there.