Before we start, let me just say that being a homeschool mom is tough. Yes, there are times when it's the most rewarding thing ever, but there are others when you feel lucky to make it through the day without tears.
Balance is a little bit of a myth, because when we tilt activities toward one thing - even if it's needed - it takes away from things on the other side of the spectrum.
Want to take a bath at night and practice some self-care? That might mean giving up reading Clifford for the 900th time at bedtime.
Want to get outside more for nature studies? That might mean that housework takes a back seat.
So, if you're looking for a magic cure-all or a way to make everything perfect - stop. There's no such thing as perfect balance all of the time. That's life. And it's okay.
But let's look at some of the ways that maybe you can find a bit more evenness between homeschooling and the rest of your life.
A Balanced Homeschool Day
In talking with other homeschool moms, I have found that there are usually three main types of families - super organized, go with the flow, and then those in the middle.
The super-organized families handle day-to-day life by creating detailed charts or schedules for each family member. They know what time breakfast is, how long to plan for each homeschool subject, what time they'll eat lunch every day - and what they'll eat, how much free time they have, when they'll eat dinner, etc. For them, structure is key.
Other families are the exact opposite of the ones described above. They live life by the seat of their pants. They don't plan elaborate schedules but prefer to take life as it comes. They truly go with the flow of life. They may keep a calendar so they know about important appointments or events, but that's as close as they get to a schedule. For them, living life one day at a time is about experiencing life as it happens rather than depending upon a piece of paper to dictate when they do things. For them, not having a firm structure to life is key.
And then there are those who fall in the middle. That's definitely where my family lands. We're the ones who have schedules and chore charts, but we're also open to trying new things and not being so regimented. There's structure, but there's also room for flow. It's a fine line between the two and one that can sometimes be hard to navigate. Staying neutral, so to speak, isn't as easy as it sounds - especially when you have a lot of pressure from the outside world.
Does this mean that one method of balancing daily life is better than the other? Of course not! Part of the benefit of homeschooling is learning what works best for your own family. This may take time and some trial and error, but you will soon find yourself falling into a routine that is best for you.
Tips for Creating Balance in Your Homeschool
Sometimes creating balance is all about making minor tweaks to what already exists. Here are some things that might work:
Have a Discovery Day
Create an area in your home where everyone has access to good books and music - don't forget the headphones. Having resources around gives kids someplace to turn when they want to learn something new. The benefit is if that if they are interested in something on their own, they're learning without realizing it. This method is often referred to as delight-driven or unschooling.
It enables children to learn about what interests them and allows us as homeschooling moms to be able to concentrate on taking care of other things rather than sitting with the kids while they go through formal lessons. Of course, being there to help when needed is important, but letting kids have a discovery day or even a discovery afternoon takes some of the pressure off of you and allows them to focus on things that they're curious about.
Cooking with Kids
Use real-life events like cooking meals to help your child learn. I have never been a big fan of cooking. I do it because my family needs to eat, but if I had the choice I would gladly pass the task on to someone else. One of the ways that I find a balance between cooking and homeschooling is to let the kids help.
If I'm cooking dinner, I let the kids measure out the ingredients. If the recipe needs to be doubled or tripled, they're the ones who figure out the measurements. Not only does it teach them about cooking, it gets in some great fractions practice as well!
When we go to the grocery store, my kids help write out the list of items needed. Then, while we're shopping, they help with price comparisons and learn how to determine which item is cheaper and/or the better value.
Both cooking and shopping are sneaky ways to weave in math without having to print out another worksheet or find another practice activity. It creates balance because it lets me get done the things I need to do while also giving them a chance to learn. Balance doesn't have to be fancy or involve bubble baths. Sometimes it's just a matter of weaving things into your day.
Life Skills Start at Home
Get your children to help you with household duties so that they can learn responsibility - and so you're not getting a frantic call from college when they realize they don't know how to operate a washing machine!
Kids can learn how to cook, sort clothes, do laundry, and stack dishes in a dishwasher. Not only will they be learning skills which will be helpful for their future, but it will also make your job easier. Bonus - you can also count the time they're learning those skills as home economics!
Balance for Homeschool Moms
There are many things that you can do to balance your daily life as a homeschool mom. The number one thing? Don't feel like you have to do everything yourself!
Let your partner work with your children on some of the school subjects. Have him or her take the kids outside for a nature walk while you take a deep breath and drink a cup of coffee for a minute.
Have your children help you with household duties. After all, they live in the house too and it should never be solely your responsibility to take care of everything all of the time. Delegate and give up on perfection. The goal is to have it done to at least a passable standard. Perfection is overrated.
And don't forget to give yourself some grace. You will be able to find what works best for your family. It just takes a bit of trial and error. Your life will never be perfectly balanced - no one's is, but you can create more equilibrium by just letting things go a bit.
Even a super homeschooling mom like you needs a break and needs some help. Don't be afraid to make that part of the routine.