You spent so much time organizing the books, supplies, and notebooks at back-to-school time and now…they’re a mess.
The kids can’t find their notebook, binder, or workbox that you knew would solve all your organizing problems. And for that matter, they can’t even find a pencil!
Your toddler has gotten into the art supplies because your older child left the cabinet unlocked. To top it off, your preschooler has mixed up all the pieces for those 40 great learning kits you created.
Or maybe that was just me. I would tell myself that I’d find the hacks I needed to fix everything over Christmas break, when I would have so much extra time. Ha ha ha. I don’t have to tell you how that worked out, do I? As winter turned into spring, I would give myself the same pep talk. Come summer, I would figure out how to get and keep my homeschool organized. No matter how determined I was, the cycle kept repeating.
If you’ve struggled to get your homeschool organized and keep it that way, one explanation is because you think organizing is a once-a-year event. After 16 years of homeschooling, I’ve learned that it isn’t. In fact, I’ve learned that the best homeschool hack is to organize all year. Here are three reasons why:
1. You’re Not Just Organizing Your Homeschool; You’re Organizing Your Life
As a homeschooling mother, you know you’re more than a teacher. You’re the cook, janitor, technology director, homeroom mom, field trip chaperone, and much, much more. Yet we often approach organizing our homeschools as though we were only a teacher. Once the classroom and lesson plans are organized, we think we’re done. Wrong!
In order to have the peaceful, organized homeschool we desire, we have to organize our entire homeschool life: meal planning, housekeeping, computers, parties, and trips. There is more to do than you could possibly finish in a summer organizing session.
Because you’re organizing your whole life, you will also have tasks that must be done in season. Holiday planning, outdoor activities, and purchasing items at their lowest price are examples of to-do’s that can’t be completed in one organizing session in the summer. Not being prepared for seasonal activities is a source of stress that none of us needs.
2. Organizing Isn’t a Skill; It’s a Habit
We say we didn’t get the organizing gift and we don’t know how to make our school rooms and homes look Pinterest-beautiful. But the pretty bins and baskets we ogle are primarily the result of the skill of decorating–not organizing.
We can definitely be overwhelmed and need help from an experienced homeschooler in scheduling our days, planning lessons, and arranging our space. But that skill (that honestly comes primarily from experience and not genetics) is a very small part of homeschool organization. Organization that lasts is because of the habits you have.
As a psychologist, I’ve been exposed to the let’s-analyze-why-you-don’t-have-good-habits philosophy and I can tell you it doesn’t get you the organization you want. Maybe your home was a very disorganized place and you didn’t learn good housekeeping habits. That doesn’t mean that you can’t learn them. Keep doing the same small things in exactly the same way every day (as I did with flossing my teeth) and in short order, you will have developed a habit. If we try to organize once a year, we will not develop the habit that will keep our homeschools and lives organized.
3. Organizing Isn’t Static; It’s Responsive
We started homeschooling in part because we wanted an education that fit our student’s needs. In fact, learning how to teach to our child’s strengths and interests can be one of the most rewarding aspects of homeschooling. It’s tempting to sigh with relief that we’ve found the curriculum, the environment, and the activities that work for our child. We got organized and now we’re done.
But then things change. A new baby is born. A learning challenge is uncovered. Puberty happens. Our homeschool has to respond to these changes. A once-a-year organizing session can’t address your family’s needs in a timely fashion. Waiting to address them can threaten your and your family’s commitment to continue homeschooling.
Static, once-a-year organizing can also lead to perfectionism and procrastination. We wait to address a problem until we have lots of time (summer?) and the perfect solution. Procrastination can lead to disappointment, frustration, and discouragement. In contrast, organizing all year means we find practical, if not perfect, solutions to the challenges we have in our homeschools and families now.
But How Can We Organize All Year Long?
Perhaps you agree with me that you should organize all year long so you can organize your whole life, develop the habit of organizing, and be responsive to your family’s changing needs. Your next question may be, “How do I do that?”
That was honestly my question. Over the years, I learned many of the things that I should do to make my homeschool and home more peaceful and effective, but I didn’t know where to start. So I started brainstorming. I made a list of everything I thought would lead to more sanity and put it on the calendar for the week it made sense to do it. I broke each of those organizing challenges into daily missions that took about 15 minutes. Then I looked for ideas and resources that would help me complete those challenges.
It made organizing all year long seem so simple! And it specifically addressed my unique needs as a homeschooler. But I didn’t want to be selfish with it. I knew this simplified approach to homeschool life organization could help other homeschoolers, whether they were new or experienced. So I put it in book form. The Organized Homeschool Life will take you to homeschool sanity week by week. You can have a more organized life no matter what time of year it is. It’s available now.Learn More