This post is from our contributing sponsor Time4Learning.
As a parent, staying on top of everyone’s schedule and keeping track of each family member’s activities can be a full-time job. Add to that the role of housekeeper, chef, chauffeur, nurse, teacher, and (fill in job title here), and it’s no wonder that parents refer to themselves as the CEOs of their families. But how much is too much? The answer varies depending on who you ask, but with stress levels skyrocketing, more and more people are looking to get back to basics.
There are so many benefits to simplifying our lives. Even minor changes can have huge impacts on our health, mindset, and overall well being. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association in 2013, Americans live with more stress than they think is healthy. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is ‘a great deal of stress’, the average reported stress level was 5.1, which is high considering the healthy stress level was a 3.6.
The same survey reported on the symptoms associated with high-stress levels. These varied greatly and ranged from feeling irritable, overwhelmed, and fatigued, with some people even experiencing issues with upset stomach and indigestion.
Let’s face it, we’re all looking for less stress and more simplicity in our lives. Even if homeschooling only takes up a few hours of your day, it likely consumes much of your internal dialogue and worries, so why not start there?
Start by eliminating all the excess homeschool clutter: whether it’s outdated paperwork you’re not required to keep, artwork and projects collecting dust, books that your children have outgrown, etc. Just like you may clean out your closets and get rid of items you haven’t worn in the last six months, do the same with other things around your home. Chances are, there is a lot you could stand to toss. While some things can only be disposed of in the trash, others can be donated to a library or charity. You’ll soon notice that when you have less clutter, your mind will feel less bogged down and a lot clearer.
Think and teach outside the box
All children have different learning styles and preferred teaching methods. Some methods work better for certain subjects, but that doesn’t mean you need a different curriculum for each subject, especially an expensive one that includes tons of textbooks. Get creative with how you teach.
For starters, don’t underestimate the power of a library card. Not only are reference books plentiful (and free to borrow), there are also DVDs available for rent too (also free). Use them, return them, and you’re done.
Do you have a friend of a relative with a cool profession? Have your child shadow them for a few days. This is especially beneficial if your child is into a particular field like medicine, mechanics, teaching, or engineering. The opportunity to learn firsthand from a professional will be priceless.
Another way to simplify your homeschool is by taking advantage of an online curriculum like Time4Learning, or free web-based courses. All you need is right on your laptop. How’s that for keeping it simple?
Scale back on extracurriculars
Do your children a favor: do not overschedule them. Sure, you want them to be exposed to different activities and discover their talents, but overbooking them will only frustrate them and stress you out. Afterall, you are also the chauffeur, right?
Remember, children need time to play and grow too. So scale back and take it easy. Sign them up for no more than two extracurricular activities at a time and rotate every few months. If they are absolutely passionate about a particular hobby, then, by all means, nurture it, otherwise, lighten their load and give them (and you) time to just take it easy.
The first step to simplifying your homeschool starts with honesty. Set realistic goals for both yourself and your children. Do away with whatever is hindering progress and keeping your family from moving forward. You’ll find that everyone will be a lot happier and a lot more productive when there is nothing holding you back.
Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]