How You Can Follow Through with Your Plans and Goals This Year

How You Can Follow Through with Your Plans and Goals This Year

Last I wrote, I gave three reasons we don’t follow through with our plans and goals. You’ll want to read that article first if you haven’t already. I had a mom tell me she hoped I could help her get past those three obstacles. I hope I can too. I want to share how I believe you can follow through with your plans and goals this year.

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Before we dive in, I want to say this. I believe that God is the source of our strength and success. I know He deserves all the credit for the changes in my life. My degree in psychology, my natural abilities, and the dozens of books I’ve read have all failed to change me in terms of getting organized, helping me lose weight, homeschooling my kids, improving my patience, or writing books. In fact, most of the time those qualifications have gotten in the way of my success. It’s only been when I have confessed to God that I can’t and don’t know how and need Him to take over that anything lasting and worthwhile has occurred.

What I want to share with you today is wisdom that I believe the Lord gave me as I sought Him over and over again for help getting past my procrastination, disorganization, and addictions to get more done. But always take anything I suggest to you to the Lord yourself and ask Him to give you discernment for whether it is right for you in this season of your life. With that important disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about how we can overcome three important obstacles to following through this year.

How to get more done despite our minds equating planning with completion

Last time, I explained that when we plan a goal that has some anxiety attached to it like saving money or losing weight, we feel better after planning. We feel we’ve done something and that makes all the difference to us mentally. Even goals that don’t have anxiety attached like writing a book or running a 5K fade into the background after we’ve spend time planning them and dreaming about them.

Planning is an important part of following through with homeschooling and other goals, so how can we follow through even though our mind is kicking back and relaxing? The first way is to use a 12 Week Year. One reason our anxiety is decreased after planning is because the end goal is far off. We tend to think of our homeschools as a full year, for example. And many people have goals for the year. We become like the hare, thinking we have plenty of time to win the race. Our anxiety is gone as soon as we’ve begun the race. It doesn’t kick in again until we’re nearing the finish line or the end of the year. Then, of course, it’s too late to accomplish anything meaningful.

The solution is to plan our homeschools and our goals for a quarter, not a year. Twelve weeks go by much more quickly. We can feel an appropriate amount of pressure to keep working toward the goal. We can plan exactly what has to be completed each week to reach the goal, where a year-long plan has to accommodate too many unknowns. Larger goals can be broken down into 12-week progress points. I’ve written about how planning my homeschooling by the quarter made a world of difference in keeping my kids and me motivated.

The second way we can overcome the planning-equals-completion problem is with remembering our why. Last time I gave an example of a woman wanting to lose weight because she was worried about her family history of diabetes. We humans tend to avoid thinking about these anxiety-provoking truths, so we have to work against that. We have to regularly consider why we’re planning, whether that’s our homeschool studies or a personal goal. We have to really think about it and consider it. Let me give you a personal example.

Last January, I realized with a start that at my current writing pace, I would not have the third volume of Grammar Galaxy ready for the Great Homeschool Convention in April. I imagined myself talking with attendees and trying to explain why I didn’t have another volume done, despite a year going by. I hated the thought of it! I worked furiously to be finished in time and every time I grew tired, I called up that image. I also reflected on my why, which was written on my weekly page of The Organized Homeschool Life Planner.

Remember your why by imagining in detail both how you will feel if you do accomplish your plans and if you don’t. Then reflect on your why at least every week.

The third way we can overcome the planning-equals-completion problem is by developing systems instead of goals. You may have a goal of finishing the first semester of your history curriculum before Christmas break. You are consistently reading and studying for 30 minutes every school day at home. But then the kids or you get sick. It doesn’t happen.

You can easily be disappointed that you don’t meet your goal. I could have had something keep me from publishing the third volume of Grammar Galaxy in time too, right? Not meeting our goals could lead us to want to throw up our hands in defeat. But both the history studier and I have something even more powerful than a goal. We have systems. If we continue the habits that lead to the goal, we will succeed–even if it’s not on the exact timetable we planned. There’s a good chance that if you continue studying history consistently that you will finish the book by the end of the year. Even if you don’t, you will have learned so much. If I kept writing Grammar Galaxy consistently despite the setback, I would have had the volume done for the next conference.

Using a 12 Week Year, remembering your why, and developing systems instead of goals can overcome our mind’s resistance to planning.

How to get more done despite our subconscious being on to us

The second obstacle to following through I discussed last time is our subconscious being on to us. It knows when we aren’t being realistic, that our goal isn’t important, or that we don’t have a good reason for pursuing our plans. It runs the show and we don’t follow through.

The first way we can overcome this obstacle is by consistently using a paper planner. Rather than having a one-and-you’re done approach, we can create a planning habit. I have found that planning by month, week, and day, I can easily see when I’m overloaded. Seeing plans on paper allows me to see that my expectations of myself and my kids aren’t realistic.

Instructions for The Organized Homeschool Life Planner

I prefer using a planner for myself that includes a schedule or routine for each day. In my Organized Homeschool Life Planner, I take my list of tasks and add them into a loose schedule for the day. It becomes obvious when I won’t be able to fit everything in.

Then I can use the third strategy for overcoming my subconscious and following through. That’s reduce commitments. When you’re asking a child or a work animal to do too much, they have a clear way of letting you know. They won’t budge. Our subconscious behaves the same way. When your weekly or daily plan freaks your mind out, you need to cut commitments. There are ways you consistently spend your time that should be eliminated, but there are also little things that just don’t have to be done. One way I identify these is by asking myself if I would stay up tonight as long as it took to get it done. If not, it can be removed from my plan for the day. My subconscious will start cooperating with me to get more done.

By using a paper planner, a schedule, and by cutting commitments, you can work with your subconscious to follow through on your plans and goals.

How to get more done by learning how we work best

The third obstacle that keeps us from following through is not knowing how we work best. We follow other people’s approaches and when they don’t work, we berate ourselves for being lazy. We may even tell ourselves we’re not cut out for homeschooling or the other goals we have.

This is what happened to me. I thought I wasn’t organized enough to homeschool or diligent enough to write books. I had plenty of evidence to back me up! But I tried using routines and wow! What a difference! Before I tried routines, I learned that time with God each day and exercise also helped me get more done. After trying routines, I tried other methods I’d read about like Getting Things Done. Some worked, some didn’t.

In 2013, I had the crazy idea to try a different productivity approach every week for a year and to share my results here on this blog. I was surprised by the response to it. I had people from all walks of life responding to my experiments. If you’re a long-time follower, you may recall the blog series. My intention was to write a book about the process at the end of the year. I started it but put it off and then gave up on the goal. Now I’m so glad I did.

Five years later, I’ve learned so much more about my own obstacles to getting more done and how to overcome them. In that time I’ve blogged, produced a podcast, written The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner, and three volumes of Grammar Galaxy. I also started a business and began conference speaking, while still homeschooling, making family and friends a priority, and enjoying several hobbies. What’s more is I’m happier and more at peace than I’ve ever been.

One big reason I’ve accomplished these things is I learned how I work best. I created a productivity formula unique to me in this season of life. I also know how to find what works for me as life changes. Instead of telling you how to get more done, I want to share with you how you can determine that for yourself.

Today I’m launching my book, A Year of Living Productively. In it I share over 80 productivity strategies. I give you the rationale for using them, the instructions for using them, my experience using them, and similar strategies to try. In the book, I help you decide which strategies to try first. Included with the book is a tracking form so you can reflect on your results. Like me, you may find that something that didn’t work before works brilliantly now and vice versa.

Purchasers will have access to a bonus that includes further reading for each strategy, another review of that approach when available, a list of the best tools, and a digital tracker option.

A Year of Living Productively is a great tool to use to become more productive as a homeschooling parent and as an aid in guiding your high schoolers and college students in getting more done. It’s perfect for assisting bloggers, authors, and entrepreneurs in achieving more than they dreamed they could. Save time reading the dozens of books I’ve read by giving only the methods that fit your life a try.

Buy the PDF for just $7.50!

The advantage of the digital PDF version is click-and-go access to the strategies you’re most interested in. And during the launch from now through December 16th, you’ll save 25% off the PDF list price. Get the book for just $7.50, or bundle the book and the digital Organized Homeschool Life Planner for just $22.50. If you haven’t gotten your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life book, you can add it to the bundle and pay just $30 for all three resources.

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If you’d like the Kindle or print version, A Year of Living Productively is also available on Amazon. If you know a productivity junkie, someone who struggles with procrastion like I did, or anyone who wants to follow through and achieve their goal, A Year of Living Productively makes a great gift. Note that A Year of Living Productively is not a faith-based book but The Organized Homeschool Life is.

My prayer is that you can overcome the obstacles that keep you from following through with your plans and goals so that next year will be your most productive year ever.

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Why You Aren’t Following Through on Your Plans and Goals

Why You Aren’t Following Through on Your Plans and Goals

Are you great at making plans for the school year but you never seem to do what you’ve planned? Or are you great at setting goals for the new year that you struggle to achieve? If that’s you, I’m going to put my psychologist hat on and explain why your follow-through fails.

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One of my friends mentioned that she is a great planner. She has a great time taking her goals and planning them out in her planner in detail. She is so excited about her plans. She tells her family and friends about them. She believes she will succeed. And then the plans she has spent time crafting, the plans she was positively giddy about, never get beyond her planner. Why is that, she asked me? Why do her plans so often remain in the planner where she put them and never become reality?

If you can relate to my friend, know that I can too. I’ve left so many plans and goals in the planner cemetery. I wanted to know why I did that and how I could carry out my plans and achieve my goals. So I started doing some research. Then I did some experimenting. I learned there are three reasons we fail to follow through with our plans and goals.

Planning reduces anxiety

The first reason we fail to follow through was a surprise to me. Let’s say the new school year is upon you and you’re stressed. You don’t have anything ready. So you collect your books and grab your lesson planner and you start planning. Before long, you have several weeks planned. Ahh! Doesn’t that feel better?

Or let’s say that you haven’t been working out much this fall. As a result, your weight has increased. That makes you nervous because you have diabetes in your family. And you’re not that old. You know that if you don’t deal with eating and exercise now, you could have a serious problem later. So you talk with your husband about it and you agree that you’ll give one another the gift of a gym membership for Christmas. Yes! You ask for a new pair of running shoes too. Now you don’t need to worry about your health, right?

The problem is that sometimes when we make plans, set goals, or even take a small step toward achieving them, the anxiety that drove us to plan in the first place is greatly decreased. Research shows that in our minds, planning our goal is like actually achieving it. It’s handled, so we don’t need to think about it again.

When another homeschool commitment comes up that really needs to be arranged in your schedule, you don’t worry about it because you’ve already done some planning. But then things get real and your plan isn’t working. You stop using your lesson plans. Or it’s the holidays and you know you should work out and eat healthfully but you tell yourself that your gym membership in January will take care of it all.

Should we avoid planning to keep our anxiety high then? No, but there is a way we can stay motivated once we’ve planned. I’ll share that in next week’s post. In the meantime, I recommend reading How to Keep the Happy Planning Going.

Our subconscious is on to us

The second reason we fail to follow through with our plans is our subconscious knows the real reason we’ve made our plans and it’s not a good enough reason to do the work required.

So you planned lessons using two different science curriculum because you couldn’t decide which one to use AND you know that some of the best homeschoolers say that one curriculum isn’t enough. You really admire these homeschoolers whose kids got full-ride scholarships. You also scheduled one read aloud a week regardless of how long they are, simply because you want to read a lot of great books this year–like the ones you meant to read last year.

[Read Curriculum Paralysis]

But your subconscious is thinking, “Really? Like that’s going to happen.” We can ignore our subconscious for a while, but as soon as we get through a week or two of school and get nowhere near everything done, our subconscious behaves like a homeschool hater. “You may as will give this up,” she mocks. And so we do, even though we don’t acknowledge that we aren’t being realistic in trying to be awesome homeschoolers. By the time we acknowledge that we aren’t following through with our plans, we’re more likely to tell ourselves that we’re losers than see that no homeschooler could do everything we planned.

When it comes to fitness, if one of the real reasons you wanted to set a fitness goal is because you know you’re going to see your super fit relative over the holidays, you aren’t likely to follow through. You’ll see her and say, “Yeah, so we got ourselves a gym membership for Christmas.” She’ll be enthusiastic. “That’s great! Good for you,” she’ll say. And you’ve accomplished your goal as far as your subconscious is concerned. No need to sweat it until next year when you see her. You can join a different gym then.

If you aren’t following through, there’s a good chance your “why” for your plans or goals is weak. Next time I’ll share strategies for keeping a strong why.

You don’t know how you work best

The third reason you aren’t following through is you don’t know how you work best. Some of the homeschool bloggers you follow have their kids start school by 7 a.m. It works for them, so you’ve been trying that. But you’re a family of night owls. Every time you try to get the kids up in the morning, it’s a battle. They’re tired and you’re cranky. Once you start, the kids sit and stare into space, falling asleep during your great read aloud. You’ve tried letting them get up much later, but that doesn’t really seem to work either. You have no idea how to get it all done without being mad at your kids and yourself.

And that’s just the beginning. You don’t know if you should be a year-round homeschooler, a textbook homeschooler, or a co-op homeschooler. Do you have time to work, blog, or start a business too? It sure doesn’t seem like it, though your finances could certainly benefit from the extra income.

Your super fit relative gets up early to work out. It gives her energy, she says. But you are so exhausted from staying up late and exercising early that you just want to crawl into bed and skip school. You’re just not the exercising type, you decide, and the fitness goal is forgotten.

You don’t know how you work best because you’ve been trying to make what other people do fit you. I did this for years in my homeschooling. I wondered what was wrong with me and my kids.

I also did it in my efforts to blog and write books. I thought I was a loser who wasn’t cut out for writing because I couldn’t make other people’s approaches work for me. And then I tried something new. Instead of continuing to force myself to use other people’s methods, I started experimenting. In 2013, I tried a new method to help me follow through and be productive every week. In the process, I  found some things that worked brilliantly and discovered others that people raved about that didn’t work well for me at all.

At the end of that year, I felt like I understood better how I worked best. I planned to write a book about my experiments and share the secret to getting more done. But months went by. And then years. And I still hadn’t written the book. During that time, however, I learned more about how I can get more done. In fact, I started becoming more productive than I’ve ever been. In fact, in addition to homeschooling and podcasting, I published The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner and three volumes of Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum. I began speaking at homeschool conferences and running a business while still having time for my family and several hobbies.

At the beginning of my year of experimentation, I thought I would be telling people the best strategies for getting more done and following through with their plans. But five years after finishing the experiments, I understood that the most powerful strategy is to learn how you work best. I finally felt ready to write a book about others could discover their unique productivity formula like I did. It’s going to be available to you next week when we talk about how you can get more done in 2019.

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But if you can’t wait until then to develop your own method of following through, you can download a free sample of the book, A Year of Living Productively, that will get you started. Click the book cover above for your free sample and productivity updates.

Next time I’ll explain how I overcome these three obstacles to follow-through to be the most productive (and happy) I’ve ever been. Talk to you then.

What’s your biggest struggle with follow through? Comment and let me know.

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Habits of the Organized Homeschool Mom

Habits of the Organized Homeschool Mom

Organizing didn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to learn it the hard way. But today I feel like I’m organized enough to do everything God has called me to do as a homeschooling mom. If you’d like to take a shorter journey to organization than I took, this article is for you. These are the habits of an organized homeschool mom.

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Regular time with God

The first habit of the organized homeschool mom is regular time with God. I know there are secular homeschoolers who feel it’s possible to be organized apart from God. I’m not going to argue that point for them. But if you are a follower of Jesus who struggles with overwhelm, the first place to start is with your personal devotion time.

Busy homeschool moms frequently find it difficult to have regular devotional time. I understand that. I had three children three and under. That was the most challenging time for me. When you have been up most of the night with a screaming newborn, devotional time tends to fall by the wayside. I get it! But I also see time with God like I see eating. When you’re really busy, you might have to eat standing up or on the way to an appointment, but few of us would forgo eating all day long, no matter how busy we are.Fortunately, time with God is easier to fit in then eating.

The thing that interferes with regular time with the Lord is our notion that devotional time has to fit a formula. It doesn’t. My time with God has looked different during various seasons of my life. When I was nursing a newborn, it meant I was praying in the middle of the night. When I was in a moms’ Bible study, it meant I was spending a lot of time digging into the Scriptures. Today my devotional time is very eclectic and all day. I read a little of my Bible with study notes; I read from a church or another devotional; I pray in the morning using an app and throughout the day.

You can consistently have time with the Lord if you lose the perfectionism. Just talk to Him and read His responses the way you would with a friend who is messaging you. That’s all it is. Yet it is the most powerful organizing habit of all. My mood and my schedule for the day have been dramatically changed as a result of being in God’s presence intentionally.

Routine

Organizing habit number two is a routine. I know you’ve heard it over and over again that you need a routine. Strangely enough, I never heard that as a new homeschooling mom. It was news to me. But my willingness to do a few of the same key activities in order, day after day after day, changed me from a woman who was ready to give up homeschooling and having more kids to a woman who felt like she could do this homeschooling thing.

A routine is not boring; it’s not rigid, and it’s not confining. A routine gives your mind the freedom it needs to think about important matters. If you don’t have a routine for cleaning the house, homeschooling the kids, and making meals, your mind will be preoccupied with these things. Any new stressors will put you over the edge. Ask me how I know. I resisted having a routine but the routine liberated me. Routines have had to adjust as my children have grown and my activities have changed. But having routine is the second most important habit for being an organized homeschooling mom

Decluttering

Organizing habit number three is decluttering. Whether you are removing things or activities you don’t use, need, or love, you will never be organized when there’s just too much. We have become victims of our own abundance. Where once it was challenging to find curriculum that worked well in a homeschool setting, now we’re tearing our hair out trying to decide what to buy and what to use once we buy it.

Buying more bookshelves is not an organizing habit. Don’t get me wrong! I love books. We have many of them. But I’ve learned to become comfortable with giving them away. I can bless other homeschoolers, I can repurchase or borrow anything I find I later need. I was not given the job of lending library to the world. Neither were you.

The third habit works together with the first and second habit. We need to ask God to show us a routine that will serve our family. Our routine should include a regular time for decluttering. Rather than think we’re going to take the next month off to declutter and simplify, we need to make decluttering a part of our routine, so that we will never find ourselves overwhelmed with stuff again.

Realistic Expectations

The fourth habit of organized homeschool moms is realistic expectations. I have been guilty of basing my expectations on what other homeschooling families say they are doing. Whether I read their blog posts, look at their photos on Instagram, or see their amazing activities on Pinterest, I can feel like I’m falling behind.

I attended a kindergarten graduation with my second son and was wowed by the kindergartners who performed musically for the ceremony. These children seemed so advanced. My son sat at the graduation, clearly not paying attention to the ceremony at all. It’s so ridiculous now, but I thought he and I were lacking something. That son ironically grew up to be an advanced student and a part of our church’s worship band. I didn’t begin pressing him to do more after that kindergarten graduation, but I could have. I could have let fear about not measuring up add to the burden of homeschooling instead of the joy of it.

Realistic expectations also mean that our to-do list is manageable. We should be able to finish our day’s list on a regular basis. I hear from homeschooling moms all the time who are frustrated and depressed about their students and their own lack of progress. Most of the time that frustration comes from trying to do more than any normal homeschooler can do.

Planning

The fifth habit of organized homeschool moms is planning. Diona Navarro shared with us how planning gives us freedom in so many ways. She mentioned how a plan can give us control. I went on to dive deeper into the idea that the plan doesn’t control us; rather, it guides us and gives us peace of mind and joy as we complete it. I asked Diona to talk about The Organized Homeschool Life, which is a plan for helping us to be the organized homeschool moms God has called us to be. Listen to what she said on the podcast.

The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner will help you to create the habits of an organized homeschool mom. First, every day your planner will direct you to spend time with the Lord. Rather than having long lined pages to complete that aren’t realistic for busy moms like us, you’ll have a few lines on which to write your gratitude to God, the word you heard from God, and your response to Him in prayer. Even if all you do is just complete that part of your daily plan, you’ll feel connected to the Lord.

The next habit The Organized Homeschool Life helps you develop is routines. Each day you’ll create a basic schedule for your day. You’ll be guided in the process of creating a routine with a helpful printable. Once you’ve created a workable routine, creating a loose schedule of specific tasks for the day will be easy and gratifying.

The third habit The Organized Homeschool Life helps us develop is decluttering. You’ll be challenged to declutter after Christmas, to declutter bedrooms, clothing, used curriculum, and the places in your home that tend to collect clutter. In the Organized Homeschool Life Facebook group, you’ll receive prompts to remind you to keep up your decluttering habit.

The Organized Homeschool Life also helps you have realistic expectations. Each challenge is made up of four steps that take just 15 minutes each. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do in such a short period of time. The Organized Homeschool Life Planner includes space for your organizing task of the day, so you’re reminded to stay on track with these missions or other organizing tasks you need to do.

In studying my own productivity for a year, I found that on average I completed just six tasks a day, aside from my routine tasks. That’s why there is space for just six tasks on your daily planning page. It feels amazing to complete your task list for the day and not feel like a failure because you haven’t done all 30 of the items on your overly long list.

Finally, The Organized Homeschool Life is a plan. You can develop your own plan for organizing your homeschool life or you can save yourself time and use or tweak mine. The Organized Homeschool Life gives you a starting point. Each week, the four steps of the challenge for the week are outlined for you in a very short read in the book. The weekly planning page in the planner lists the steps for the week, allowing you to plan when to do them. The planner is organized into months and weeks but isn’t dated, so you can start organizing your homeschool life at any time.

I want homeschooling moms have the peace and joy that I have in planning an organized homeschool life. That is why from now through November 17th, 2018, you can gift yourself both the book and planner at launch pricing. Whether you prefer digital books and planners or you love having a printed book and beautifully spiral-bound planner to use, you’ll find both here.

Organize me!

Not sure you can keep up the organizing habit? Be sure to check out How to Keep the Happy Planning Going. You can also give The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner a try with the Christmas Planning challenge. You’ll receive sample pages that will tell you if the The Organized Homeschool Life is for you before the sale is over. Click the image below to have the sample emailed to you. You’ll also be subscribed to Psychowith6 and the Sanity Saturday newsletter.

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Which of these habits has been the biggest struggle for you? Comment and let me know.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for the Disorganized Homeschool Mom

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Disorganized Homeschool Mom

If you’re a disorganized homeschool mom, I have Christmas gift ideas you’ll love because I know what’s helped me become more organized. Even if you’re already in the process of getting organized, you’ll love these. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for a disorganized homeschool mom in your life, I promise she’ll love these–with no offense taken! Be sure to read to the end for the best gift idea of all–cash! I’ve gotten together with some pretty awesome bloggers to give TWO families some CASH in the 5th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway – $500 cash (delivered via Paypal). You’ll find the entry form at the end of the post.

Sink Reflections

I was so disorganized that I was ready to quit homeschooling and having kids when we had three. Then I found FLYLady, Marla Cilley who is the author of Sink Reflections. Her no-judgment, 15-minutes-at-a-time approach to getting organized changed my life. In fact, you’ll find my endorsement on the back of the book! If your home is in chaos, you will love this book and implementing the FLYing approach even more.

The Organized Homeschool Life Book and Planner

After creating routines and getting my home decluttered, I longed for organizing help designed just for homeschool moms. I applied the FLYLady 15-minute-mission approach to every aspect of a homeschool mom’s life (seasonal planning, school room organization, curriculum planning and much more). The result is The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner with a year’s worth of weekly challenges that will get your whole life in order. The planner helps you fit the missions into a daily task list that helps you balance family and personal needs. These tools have made me happier and more productive than ever and are the perfect Christmas gift for the Christian homeschool mom on your list.

Get Your Pretty On

If you need help decluttering your closet, simplifying your wardrobe, and putting outfits together that make you feel great, Get Your Pretty On is for you. You’re given a shopping list of wardrobe essentials (whether you want a year-round basic wardrobe, work wear, or a fresh seasonal wardrobe). First, you shop your closet. You’ll have a number of these pieces already. Then you can thrift store shop, Black Friday shop, or request the remaining pieces as gifts. You’ll have a calendar of outfits to wear using these pieces and access to a private Facebook group that is so much fun! You’ll feel fantastic in your clothes–a great goal for the new year. The winter capsule wardrobe or the annual membership make perfect Christmas gifts.

The Instant Pot

If you’re organized, you can use a crockpot. Put the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and dinner is done! But when you’re not that organized, the Instant Pot comes to the rescue. It’s a pressure cooker that is like the offspring of a slow cooker and a microwave. You can add frozen meat to it and in no time, your meal is ready and tastes like it’s been cooking all day. This cookbook makes a great companion gift.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo can help you get and stay organized with reminders, timers, automatic ordering, and quick answers. The bonus is you can listen to your favorite tunes while you’re organizing.

iRobot Roomba

When was the last time you vacuumed? I thought so. With a Roomba, that job is no longer yours. And it works with your Amazon Echo!

Magnetic Refrigerator Dry Erase Board

Trying to get your family to check your wall or digital calendar can be trying. But everyone uses the refrigerator! Keep them informed with a magnetic dry erase calendar for the refrigerator. My daughter enjoys filling ours out each month.

Multi-Device Charging Station

If your devices or back-up batteries are frequently low on power at all the wrong times, you’ll be a more organized homeschool mom with this multi-device charging station.

Wireless Key Finder

If you frequently lose your keys or remotes, you’ll love this wireless key finder. Simply attach your keys to a device or stick one of the sensors to a remote and you’ll hear a noise directing you to the lost item. It’s a real sanity saver!

Personalized Carabiner

Easily add this personalized carabiner to a backpack or bag to identify it. Perfect for kids’ activities!

Sonic Boom Alarm Clark

We all know it’s easier to get organized if you’re up before noon. If you’re a heavy sleeper (or your family members are), this super loud, bed-shaking alarm clock is the perfect gift for you.

Wifi Digital Picture Frame

Do you have good intentions to scrapbook? While you’re working on creating the scrapbook habit, this digital picture frame will allow you to enjoy your photos now. Anyone can email photos to it. It’s on my gift list this year.

James Brown Tufted Leather Armed Storage Bench

If you a hotspot where items collect, a storage bench can be an attractive solution. I use this bench to store the kids’ extra shoes that accummulate near the front door. It’s a great place to sit and put your shoes on, too.

Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Lipstick

Do you forget to reapply lipstick? I used to until I started wearing Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Lipstick. It wears all day and doesn’t dry out my lips. Perfect stocking stuffer for the busy homeschool mom.

Pilot Frixion Clicker Gel Ink Pens

Pencils have to be sharpened and mechanical pencil lead breaks easily. These Pilot Frixion Clicker Gel Ink pens are my favorite. Fine point, eraseable ink. Problem is other people love them, too, and they disappear. They make the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite homeschool mom.

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Want more gift guides? Check out this list from the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

Christmas Blessings Giveaway

We hope that the prize will be a blessing to the winning families and will help them fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to save for a rainy day. Whatever the money ends up being used for, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.

There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these generous bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes and this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them. So I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows? Maybe you will find your new favorite blog.

The giveaway will run from Monday, November 12th through Wednesday, November 21st (ends at 11:59pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.

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How to Keep the Happy Planning Going

How to Keep the Happy Planning Going

I hope I’ve convinced you that planning makes homeschool moms happy. If you haven’t yet read the reasons planning rocks for homeschool moms, do that first. Today we are talking about how to keep happy planning going. If you’re like me and you have begun using numerous planners only to leave them languishing on the shelf, you’re going to love this post.

Listen to the podcast

How to Keep Using Your Planner

My guest on the Homeschool Sanity Show, Diona Navarro, had these tips for continuing to use your planners.

Buy a planner that works the way you do.

“Don’t just buy a planner because it’s cheap, pretty, or other people are buying it,” Diona says. She explains that the right planner for you should allow you to record your thoughts. Her preference is for a planner that allows checklists and is something she can make pretty with her supplies.

Keep it simple.

Diona sets up her planners so others could take them and use them to direct her family’s day. That means it has to be easy to understand and not overloaded with tasks.

Keep it accessible.

Diona advises leaving your planner out where it’s visible. Leave it on the table in the kitchen, for example. The more you see it, the more you’ll rely on it.

Plan to plan.

Diona takes time every Saturday and Sunday to use her various planners. Without set times for planning, it wouldn’t happen. Diona advises that you plan more than one week at a time in case you can’t do your regular planning time.

 I love the tips that Diona gave us. I have a few of my own to add.

Use your planner as a guide, not a boss.

You’re the boss. And no matter what you said you wanted to do in your planner, you get to change your mind. Like a tour guide who has ideas at the ready for you, your planner is happy to take you on any side trips you want to take. A tour guide is not evaluating you and neither is your planner. Planners don’t grade our performance.

If we view our planner as our boss, we will resist opening our planners and having a performance review. Here is how I solved this very pervasive problem for myself. After I have made my plan for the day, I close my planner and walk away from it. I take a picture of my planner, so I can refer to it later in the day when I feel a little lost. But closing my planner gives me permission to take the route I feel led to take through my day. Like a map, my daily plan is there to refer to if I need it. This perspective and approach have made me more likely to follow my plan for the day.

Make planning the best part of your day and week.

My planning always begins with time with God. I am in prayer and in the Word and I have peace. I recognize small matters for what they are. I am reminded of the power I have in Christ for the big matters that are facing me.

I love beginning my planning time with gratitude. That attitude is proven to improve mood even in those who do not recognize a sovereign God. My monthly plan gives me a picture of all my family’s activities and how much I have to be grateful for. I love that I have the opportunity to assess areas where I have missed the mark as well. I can leave any guilt or fear that I have right there on the page.

Once I have spent time with the Lord, I feel ready to consider my priorities for the day. I make this part of planning so rewarding that I don’t want to miss it. I sit in a comfortable chair with excellent light. I have blankets at the ready and often a cute little dog to cozy up to at the same time.

I allow myself to use stickers and colorful pens and motivational quotes as I feel led. I end with a realistic view of how my day will go that gives me peace.

Conclusion

Using these tips, I believe that you can continue as a happy planning homeschool mom. To get even more from your planner, make sure you subscribe to learn the habits of the organized homeschool mom and how to make adopting them easy.

Which of these tips will best help you keep up the planning habit? Comment and let me know.

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Why Happy Homeschool Moms Are Planners

Why Happy Homeschool Moms Are Planners

Planning has made me so much happier in my homeschool. I want every homeschool mom to have the same happiness. I hope to convince you to start planning for the first time or to resume your planning habit.

I asked Diona Navarro, homeschool mom and planner extraordinaire from AllDayEveryDayMom.com, why happy homeschool moms are planners. I’m going to share her reasons as well as my own in the post below. But you’ll love listening to this podcast episode even if you read. Diona is so inspiring.

Listen to the podcast

We are happy planners because we experience freedom.

We homeschool moms enjoy tremendous freedom with our schedules. What a blessing! We enjoy even more freedom when we plan. We can make sure the must-do’s are accomplished in the most efficient way possible, so we can enjoy teaching and learning with our kids in the way that makes our heart sing.

We are happy planners because we make time for the best things.

When we plan, we are intentional about making sure the seasonal activities, the great books, and the fantastic field trips happen. When we don’t plan, we often find ourselves disappointed in our homeschool.

We are happy planners because we don’t forget.

Planning makes it less likely we forget appointments and invitations and to-do’s. No one likes the embarrassment of forgetting these things. But even better, because we plan memory-making activities, we are more likely to remember them. We can even keep our planners to remember the good times we’ve had.

We are happy planners as we anticipate activities.

We envision our planned activities and we get a hit of dopamine that makes us feel great. We imagine how excited our kids will be when we go on that field trip, do the cool science experiments, or read a fantastic book together. In fact, anticipating is often better than reality!

We are happy planners because we reduce anxiety.

When we feel that we have so much to do (and isn’t that ALL the time?), but when we get it on paper, it feels manageable. We can control it. We can make decisions about which tasks to delete and which to defer so we can have a reasonable achievable day.

We are happy planners because we’re actually doing something.

That sense of peace we have in planning can lead to another source of happiness: doing. Research is clear that we are more likely to do something when we have planned when we will do it. Furthermore, we are happier actually doing things. We may enjoy talking about our homeschooling or life plans, but nothing boosts our mood like being productive. When I follow my plan for the day, I feel fantastic. I want you to experience that same happiness.

But what if you’re not actually using your planner?

Make sure you subscribe so you’ll be notified of my next post / podcast episode that will share how we can keep the happy planning going!

What makes you happy about planning? Comment and let me know.

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