Like any mom, I wear many hats: cook, chauffeur, personal shopper, maid, homeschool teacher, nurse, blogger, and the million other things we moms do to facilitate our families’ lives.
I’ll never forget one evening, I was chatting with the ladies in my church small group. One of the moms shared a problem she was struggling with, and she nodded her head at me and said, “Not that you’d know anything about that. You’re supermom.”
I was stunned. Was she kidding?! I feel like I fail at this mom thing every single day. For every thing I think I do well, there are ten more that I didn’t do well enough.
I’ve had people say to me many times: “How do you DO it all?!?”
The simple answer to that question is: I don’t. At least not all at once.
Like most people, my life goes through seasons.
- Once I ran a 10k, and for the 6 months leading up to it, I was training hard. I did almost no cleaning and very little cooking.
- My husband left for military training for 3 months last summer, and I did pretty much no homeschooling or exercising.
- When I first got diagnosed with PCOS, managing my diet was a huge time-suck, so I did not keep up very well with my blogging.
It’s all about priorities, and nobody can do everything all the time.
Right now, my main priorities in life are: homeschooling and blogging. I set aside a lot of time to both of those pursuits. I have a pretty set schedule, and I use my cell phone alarms to keep me on track throughout the day.
I implement little systems and hacks to make my life easier. Clothes shopping, for example, is SO much easier and cheaper with the spreadsheet I carry around with me. I spend very little time devoted to the task of acquiring my children’s clothing. Other friends I know spend entire days or weeks every season shopping for their kids’ wardrobes.
My kids are a little bit older now than they once were — ages 4-10 — and they do the bulk of our housework. My 10-year-old has 8 chores, which some people might think is a lot. But I think that a good solid 30-45 minutes of manual labor each day is good for them, and they will be grateful as adults to have these skills.
Something that I suck at right now? I’m really struggling with my health, and it’s taking a toll on my self-esteem. It’s very hard for me to stick to a no-sugar-low-carb diet when I still gain weight on the diet. No amount of dieting or exercise is helping me LOSE weight, it only slows down the rate of gain. It’s very frustrating and a blow to my motivation.
But all that is to say that I’m just a mom like any other mom, doing my best to keep all the balls in the air, and sometimes letting one (or two or five) fall, in order to keep my sanity!
Give yourself grace! God does, and so should you.
How did you purchase your last home cash?
We did many things to purchase our house in cash, but the biggest thing was a change in mindset. We had to decide that being debt free was more important to us than maintaining a certain lifestyle. This means we went years with no smart phones. No cable. No new cars. No vacations. No eating out. No “fancy” toys.
I think these experiences have shaped us (and our children) for the better, because we have a much greater sense of appreciation for what we have. And this isn’t to say that we never had fun in those years — we just found other ways to do it. We had family game night instead of going out to the movies. We went hiking instead of to the amusement park. We went to the free splash park near our home instead of the expensive water park.
Do you ever feel a little bit of guilt when not buying the fun snacks/cereals when on a budget?
No. Part of the reason for that is that my kids do get these things occasionally. I firmly believe that making the special things “special” means making them rare. If they aren’t a rarity, then they will not be as appreciated. I allow my kids to buy treats with their allowance, if they so desire. I let them buy a box of whatever sugary cereal they want on the week of their birthday. They get treats like Pop Tarts and Disney-themed fruit snacks when we go on road trips or vacation. And grandpa often comes to visit with a box of Animal Crackers from Costco.
These kinds of things are not only expensive, they are also packed with sugar & preservatives. It’s not a part of our everyday lives, and my kids are healthier for it!
How many hours per day do you homeschool?
It varies based on the kid, and on each kid’s individual level of motivation — LOL! In a normal day, we do 45 minutes of group instruction, followed by 45 minutes of independent work. After lunch we do another 30 minutes of group instruction, followed by more independent work (each kid works until finished). So that’s 2 hours per day for everyone PLUS 0 for my kindergartener (he finishes his stuff in the morning), probably 30 minutes for my 2nd grader, and 1-2 hours for my 4th & 6th graders.
How do you do your grading scale? Do you use any particular curriculum?
I don’t give my kids grades. Occasionally, I’ll give them a test — but that only happens a few times a year, if that. I think learning is more important than grades, and with homeschooling, we have the one-on-one interactions that inform us as moms (and teachers) whether or not the student has mastered the material.
As for curriculum, we are what many call “Eclectic” homeschoolers, which is just a fancy way of saying we pick and choose books from all over the place. You can pop over to my HOMESCHOOLING page to see curriculum roundups for the last 3 years!
How do I find a homeschool scholarship where I live?
I mentioned in my live homeschool room tour that we received a regional homeschool scholarship to help pay for materials. I know that this one only serves particular counties in NW Ohio. But there are many ways to receive aid on a national level. Here are a few with which I am familiar:
HSLDA Financial Aid (monetary scholarships)
Homeschool Free (free curriculum)
And also check out this post for a bunch of places to get free curriculum online!
How do you manage your food expenses with such a tight budget?
The simple answer to this is: careful planning. I make everything I can from scratch, and I buy in bulk. I blogged my menus for an entire year to give you a picture of what I buy week-to-week and how much I spend. (It averages under $175/month for the 6 of us.) In this post about how to save money on dinner, I also go through some of the shortcuts I take to cut back even more!
The biggest way to cut back on food is to stop eating packaged junk! Buy 5 dozen eggs for $1.63 instead of 5 boxes of cereal for $10. Buy 10 pounds of potatoes for $1.99 instead of one pound of french fries for $2.97.
Does your husband homeschool the kids as well as work?
A year ago, this would have been a resounding YES. At the time, he was in school full time (which only meets on Tuesdays), and home the rest of the week. Now, he is still in school full time, but he is also working as a pastor at a church, along with starting up a new ministry on our local college campus, handling new expanded Army duties, and some other personal requirements. Needless to say, he’s busier than he used to be. But when he is home, he certainly jumps right in to whatever we’re doing. He is always happy to help check a kid’s math or answer a grammar question.
When do you feel is the best time to lesson plan and not get overwhelmed?
Many of the school books we use are Evan-Moor books, which require NO lesson planning. I totally love them for that reason. The only subjects I really need to plan are our group subjects: geography, history, spanish, & science. It is a lot of work to plan it all out, but I do it during our 6-7 week school break from mid-November through New Year’s. Then during our school year, all I have to focus on is teaching. I also find it easier to map out the whole year at once, to make sure I cover everything I want to cover!
Thanks everybody for chiming in with your questions! I loved answering them!