How to Trust God with the World

How to Trust God with the World

Trusting God with all the scary things going on in the world right now can be challenging, but that’s our focus this month with the Trust Project.

How can we trust God with a potential pandemic, a stock market crash, climate change, and politics? The short answer is we have to decide that our God is in control of even these worldly threats.

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Why should we trust God with the world?

We begin as we always do with asking ourselves why we should trust God in this area? What are the benefits? What will we start doing and what will we stop doing?

The benefits for me are not having to worry, get angry, or try to convince others that I’m right and they’re wrong. One thing I have started doing is to pray regularly about world events and crises. Something I have stopped doing is regularly reading and watching the news. The news just makes it more difficult for me to have peace. I also unfollow people on social media who say things that upset me.

Now let’s use our TRUST acronym.

The T in trust is for truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on this month is Psalm 18:2:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

He protects us and shields us more than any medical mask, health care plan, or mutual fund could.

Our Bible account is from Daniel Chapter 3 — the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refusing to bow down and worship the gold statue king Nebuchadnezzar erected. Despite being thrown into the fiery furnace, the men had Jesus in the fire with them. They emerged from the furnace without even the faintest smell of smoke on them.

Jesus is in the fire with us too. There is no reason to fear, though the heat is being turned up and we can feel it.

More believers are facing persecution in today’s world than ever before. Increasingly, even in the Western world, we are asked to compromise our beliefs or face the consequences. But we can trust God to deliver us from every terror and tyrant the world can throw at us. And if He doesn’t deliver us on earth, He will deliver us safely to heaven.

The R in trust is for remembering.

When I was a girl, I learned that the greatest threats we faced were the second ice age and nuclear holocaust. New Year’s Eve 1999, I was at the top of a tall building looking out over the city, waiting for the lights to go out. In 2001, the US experienced the 9/11 terror attacks and immediately thereafter anthrax in our mail. In 2008 we experienced a significant economic downturn. Housing values plummeted and family members lost their jobs or had their income cut in half. Our retirement declined in an alarming fashion.

Thanks be to God, we are still here. I know that nothing can touch us without the loving, wise permissive will of our heavenly father. How has God delivered you from worldly threats in the past?

The U in trust is for understanding.

God gives us wisdom we can use to protect ourselves in the world. On New Year’s Eve 1999, we had stored water and food at our house in case of a shutdown. After 2008, we know to diversify our investments. To prevent illness, we know to wash our hands frequently. We know better than ever how to be good stewards of our environment. We know that one vote makes a difference. And we know that God is in control of it all. What wisdom has God given you for worldly threats?

The S in trust is for supplication.

When it comes to worldly threats, there is very little we can do. That is why we pray. We pray for our leaders to be blessed, whether or not we agree with them. We pray that they would rely on God and His wisdom. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted. We pray in repentance for ways in which we have mistreated our world and more importantly, the people in it. We pray for mercy, and we trust that God will answer. If we are anxious, it’s a sign that we are trying to be God. In response, we must return to praying that God would be God.

The second T in trust is for Thanksgiving.

We thank God for all the ways He has provided for us, not just in our lifetimes, but for centuries. We thank God for our nations and for those who sacrificed to give us the freedoms we enjoy. And we thank God that He will not leave us orphans. We thank God that He is in control of diseases, of seasons, of the nations, and even of our economies. He determines who is in power and for how long. We express our gratitude that He will continue to care for us. We thank Him that we are not running the world and He is.

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Six Apps for Focus, Fitness, and Finance

Six Apps for Focus, Fitness, and Finance

I share a list of sanity savers each week. For time-sensitive sanity savers, be sure to subscribe.

My iPhone has changed my life, mostly for the better. These are six sanity-saving apps I’m loving for focus, fitness, and finance.

Focus, Fitness, Finance App Sanity Savers

Time 2 procrastion focus app

#1 Time 2

My friend shared this app with me this week and I am so excited about it. It’s a time boxing app that reminds you to keep focusing on the task at hand and shows you that you’re running over time. Check out Time 2 on iTunes. Do Now is an Android alternative to try. I can’t wait to have my fellow ADD-plagued student try it too.

Skedpal app

#2 Skedpal

I’ve written about Skedpal before, but didn’t mention the accompanying app. I rely on it to add tasks on the fly, update my schedule, and see what needs my attention now. The free Skedpal app is available on iTunes and Android.


Gymatic app#3 Gymatic

I have both an iPhone and an Apple Watch. I don’t like using my iPhone to log my weights and sets while doing my workouts, mainly because I either have to remove it from my armband (the screen isn’t fully responsive through the plastic) or worry about it getting stepped on or dropped as I move around the gym. I started looking for an app that would allow me to log everything right on the watch. Gymatic not only allows you to do that but will automatically record your reps. You teach the app what constitutes a rep. When doing legs, you have the option of moving your watch to your leg (or shoe). I decided that wasn’t very convenient, so I moved my arms every time I did a leg rep and had it recorded as a rep that way. The app is surprisingly responsive but not perfect. Check out Gymatic on iTunes.

Gymaholic app#4 Gymaholic

I was impressed with Gymatic, but I didn’t want to have to correct errors in reps the app was making. I searched for an alternative and found Gymaholic. It does not automatically log your reps. I create my workout on my phone, then press to edit the reps or weights on my watch. It works brilliantly. I can either leave my phone at home or in my jacket pocket while I work out. Find Gymaholic on iTunes.

Bank of America mobile app#5 Bank of America

I love being able to deposit checks, transfer money to my kids’ accounts, and check account balances and activity right from my phone. It’s a huge time saver for me because I can use it anywhere. Find the Bank of America app on iTunes or for Android.

Flipp app#6 Flipp

I learned about Flipp from Amy Lynn Andrews’s superb newsletter. Flipp organizes your stores’ circular adds with coupons. Get the best deals on the products you need this week or stock up and save. Find Flipp on iTunes or for Android.


Do you have an app that is helping you focus or achieve your fitness or finance goals? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to subscribe below so you will hear about more app reviews in the future!

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How to Manage Homeschool Stress

How to Manage Homeschool Stress

This has been a stressful month for me. I have spent time thinking and praying about what led to the stress and what I can do about it. If you’re a stressed homeschool mom too, or if you just want to avoid stress in the future, I hope these tips help you.

Stress Management for Homeschool Moms #stressmanagement #homeschool

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First let’s define stress. Stress is a physical and emotional response to demands or threats. Release of adrenaline and cortisol is one response to stress that prepares our body for emergency action. The problem is when we have a chronic release of these hormones because everything feels like an emergency. Chronic stress can lead to physical and mental illness.

There are are six situations that can lead us to experiencing stress as homeschooling moms that affect everyone. But I will put these in a homeschool mom frame of reference.

#1 High Expectations

First is high expectations. The higher expectations we have of ourselves, our kids, and everyone else we interact with, the more likely we are to be disappointed. Disappointment leads to stress. When I began homeschooling I expected that I would have children who were dressed in matching outfits sewed by me, who would form a homeschool band at an early age. They would finish high school by the eighth grade and would make everyone praise me with their politeness, their bold faith, and their genius. That might be a little exaggerated, but you know what I’m saying. I went into homeschooling with very high expectations of myself and my children in particular. When we all failed to meet those expectations, I was disappointed. I was also stressed and even angry. My high expectations led me to become an impatient homeschooling mom. If that’s you, you may want to listen to the episode I did on how to be a patient homeschool mom.


My true confession time is that I have had very high expectations this month that have led to disappointment. Besides some events that were out of my control, like a hurricane, I have been stressed as a result of adding more responsibilities to my already full life. I wish I could do more and more and more, but I can’t do that and maintain the happy, balanced life I currently enjoy.

To manage stress as a homeschooling mom, we must manage our expectations. As you think ahead to this homeschooling week, the planned vacation, or another activity that you have high hopes for, consider the past. What has gone wrong in the past that may very well go wrong this time? It’s a good idea to also consider everything that might go wrong. This allows us to plan for those disappointments. Even more importantly, thinking ahead allows us to lower our expectations. I don’t know what you’re trying to balance in your life, but I also urge you to make an accurate assessment of your expectations of yourself. I had a long talk with my husband and he gave me some much-needed wisdom. I recommend talking with your spouse, homeschooling friends, and praying about your expectations and making sure they aren’t too high.

#2 Comparisons

My high expectations of myself and my family often come from comparing. I love the relationships that social media has allowed me to develop. But I don’t like that I am constantly tempted to compare myself to others. There are enough temptations to compare even without social media. Other homeschoolers tell you the impressive activities or achievements of their children. You see another mom working full-time and homeschooling who even has a clean house, and you wonder what’s wrong with you.

When we compare, we typically compare ourselves to those we perceive are achieving at a higher level. We raise our expectations of ourselves and our kids and typically pile more on an already full schedule. We may wonder how we have gotten ourselves into a very stressful lifestyle. It usually begins with comparisons.

Here’s my true confession time. I often compare myself to others who are super successful as bloggers, podcaster, or publishers. I don’t have their page views, their email subscribers, or their customers. So I raise the bar, even though I am happy and at peace in the work I’m doing. My stress level increases and I wonder if I should quit it all.

To manage the stress of comparison requires putting blinders on. We haven’t been called to be great at everything. Even though a friend is teaching homeschool classes and blogging and having her kids become proficient in a foreign language so they can do extended missionary work, that doesn’t mean it’s your calling. I will be spending less time reading about what other bloggers, podcasters, and publishers are doing going foward. They have to run their race and I have to run mine. Consider taking a break from social media or even relationships that tempt you to compare. Remind yourself of your calling every day. We are called to obedience, not results.

#3 Complaints

The third cause of stress I want to address is complaints. When we’re stressed, we complain. But complaints also lead to stress. The more we talk and think about what isn’t right, the worse we feel. We can find ourselves feeling mistreated, taken for granted, and out of control simply by virtue of complaining. Because complainers love company, we can add fuel to the complaint fire when we participate in a complaint session. Maybe everything is going fairly smoothly for you and your homeschool, but you hear someone talking about how their kids don’t pick up like they should or aren’t doing their work fast enough, and you’re prompted to remember all the ways your children disappoint.

True confession time. I’ve engaged in a lot of complaining about everything that has gone wrong lately. My website went down, there have been mix-ups and mistakes in multiple areas of my life. My complaining about them has added to my stress level and I have entered into a vicious cycle.

The answer to avoiding and managing stress that comes from complaints is to focus on gratitude. The book Kisses from Katie convicted me of my complaining attitude. I highly recommend the book and I think it would be an excellent one to read to slightly older children. I realized that my complaints were shameful given the abundance God has blessed me with in multiple areas of my life. I certainly didn’t like having my website down, but I am so grateful that I have a platform to share my ideas in a free country and that God provided technical help and emotional support very quickly. Gratitude has to be more than just listing one thing we’re grateful for each day. For me at least it means covering every complaint with gratitude.

#4 Fear

At the root of our high expectations, our comparisons, and our complaints is fear. We are afraid that we won’t measure up, that we’ll fail, that we’ll be rejected. So we raise our expectations of ourselves and our kids, so we won’t be labeled a homeschool failure. We compare ourselves to the exceptions rather than the rule in a misguided effort to motivate ourselves. We don’t want to be left out or left behind, so we agree to do one more activity.

Our fear of an unlikely eventuality creates something more fearful–stress. God would not have us choose out of fear. He admonishes us not to be afraid more than 300 times in the Bible.

Confession time. I hate doing new things in which there is a possibility that I will be embarrassed. I was, in fact, embarrassed more times than not by doing new things this week. I was stressed as a result, but I am honestly grateful. Here’s why.

To overcome fear-induced stress, we have to stop sweating the small stuff and laugh. I did everything in my power to avoid being embarrassed and it happened anyway. I realized that the Lord was most likely trying to get me to stop being so afraid of embarrassment. I decided to laugh. Some fears aren’t funny though, right? One of my stressors was my son having a serious bike accident. Had the circumstances been just a little different, he could have been killed or paralyzed. My fear of him possibly needing surgery or having a complication from his injury did absolutely nothing to change the circumstances. This is why Jesus asks us which of us can add even a single hour to our lives by worrying. Our fear serves only to cause us stress. How much better it is to trust in the Lord and to take all of our anxieties to him in prayer. I definitely asked friends and family to join me in praying for my son as well. Fear is not our friend. I encourage you to listen to the episode I did on anxiety for more.


#5 No Limits

Another way in which we contribute to our own stress is by having no limits. We throw out our routine. We ignore guidelines. We go to bed later than we know is good for us. We eat more sugar or fat or whatever food doesn’t sit well with us than we know is good for us. We allow the kids or ourselves to have more screen time than is healthy. We let the house go. Having no limits or disregarding them will increase our stress level tremendously. We think that having a free-for-all in our homeschools is relaxing, but it’s actually the opposite.

True confession time. I stayed up until two in the morning one night last week for no good reason, other then the comparison and high-expectation trap. I have also been spending an inordinate amount of time on social media again. I have tried to tell myself that having no limits will make me feel better, but of course I feel worse.

To manage the effects of no-limit stress, the obvious answer is to create and/or enforce limits. Get to bed at a reasonable time. Start eating the diet that makes you and your family feel great. Have limits for screen time that help you and your family be productive and enjoy one another’s company. Choose reminders or apps to support you in those limits.

#6 No Rest

One of the biggest contributors to stress is not having rest. Whether that means not getting enough sleep or not having enough down time, no rest will eventually lead to serious stress. Again, our habit of no rest can come from many of the other risk factors: high expectations, comparisons, fear, and no limits. Glitches and challenges that would normally be easily managed can become crises if we aren’t getting the rest we need. This, of course, applies to our kids too.

True confession time. While I have generally been getting eight hours of sleep a night, I have been expecting myself to work evenings and Sundays in addition to my usual six full days a week. This is important, so please hear me on this. Even if I don’t work evenings and Sundays but I expect myself to, I will experience stress. I never have guilt-free down time then. A mixture of working, kid and family activities, and guilt over not working have led to my having no rest and a very high stress level.

To manage the effects of no-rest stress, I am calling it a day guilt-free at dinner time and I am going back to my habit of not working on Sundays. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have to be a taxi service to kids in the evening or that we won’t have a commitment on Sundays. But I will no longer have the unreasonable expectation that I will be working at those times. I took last Sunday off and stayed off social media. I felt like I had been to a spa! I talked to my husband about how great I felt and he said, “You need to talk about this on your podcast.” So here I am.

When we have reasonable expectations, stop comparing, complaining, and fearing, and when we institute limits and rest into our lives, we and our families can manage stress.

Which of these six causes of stress has been the biggest problem for you? Comment and let me know.

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Curriculum Paralysis: Deciding Which Curriculum to Use This Year

Curriculum Paralysis: Deciding Which Curriculum to Use This Year

Do you have so many curriculum options that you don’t know what to use? That was the problem one of my readers had. I could relate. After all, the longer you homeschool, the more books you purchase, and the tougher the decisions can be. Here is how I’ve overcome this decision paralysis.

Curriculum paralysis

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If your main struggle is curriculum addiction, you’ll want to listen to the podcast I did on the topic. Sometimes we have a problem saying no to buying one more option. The more options we have, the more difficult it will be to decide what to do this year. I also did an episode on the questions you should ask when choosing curriculum. However, when you’ve already spent the money and your bookshelves are full, how do you decide? That’s what I want to address today.

Homeschoolers Who Love Options

As I considered this problem, I realized I have confronted it in many areas of my life. I am someone who wants to do it all. I want to write books in multiple genres. Truth be told, I’d love to be a Christian podcaster and speaker and not just a homeschool one. I’d love to write and speak about a variety of topics. I’d also like to teach in a co-op and maybe at the university again. I’d like to get more involved in homeschool activities and leadership.

There is a term for people like me. We have so many interests and we get depressed when we are told we have to choose one to focus on. We are called scanners, multipotentialites, Renaissance women, and polymaths. I think of myself as a Holly Hobby. In the past I felt bad about my habit of trying to do it all. It felt immature. It’s true that in trying to do it all, you rarely finish anything. That was discouraging and hurt my self-esteem. Then I read the book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. She has dealt with many people like me and has some solutions for us. I am going to pull from one of her solutions to address the problem of curriculum paralysis. You can use it to deal with paralysis in other areas of your life as well.

What I am not going to say to my reader with curriculum paralysis is just as important as what I am going to say. I am not going to tell her she has to decide on one option and get rid of the rest. This is terribly depressing and discouraging to a Holly Hobby. It’s like telling her that she can choose one ride to go on at Disney World. No, she won’t be able to go on every ride and see every show, but she has to believe that she can when she enters the park in order to be happy. We know there’s no way she can do My Father’s World, Classical Conversations, and Tapesty of Grace at the same time. But telling her to choose just one for all time isn’t the right response.

Decide Which Curriculum to Use This Year

So here is the right response: schedule your curriculum. To begin, that means to decide which curricula you absolutely want to use this year. If you can tell yourself that you will use some of them next year, you’ll reduce some of the options for this school year.
How can you put something great off an entire year? By choosing curricula that really can wait without your children becoming too old for it. If it’s a history curriculum or something that isn’t strictly age-dependent, wait on it. For each, ask what’s the worst that can happen if you wait a year to use it.
Another way to decide which curriculum to use this year is to consider what’s most exciting to you. Take a look at your bookshelves and move the options you are most eager to use to the front. If you do this every year and there are books that are always at the back of the shelf, you’ve made a decision about what not to use, but in a less painful way. I have books that I have never used because of this process. While I regret that I haven’t used them, I know I made the right choice. I’ve been able to pass them along to homeschoolers who will want to use them.
Another way to limit your options for this year is to decide how many different curricula you think is reasonable to use for one subject (that includes all-in-one curricula that also covers the subject at hand). If your friend was using three math curricula this year for the same student, does that seem like too much? If it does, settle on a number that makes sense to you.
Next, ask yourself if using multiple curricula at once will make any of them less effective. For example, if you are doing poetry tea time with Brave Writer and poetry memorization with IEW and the Grammar of Poetry, your kids may not enjoy the relaxing and fun aspect of poetry tea time. They may end up hating poetry! This is the same issue with using a curriculum that is great because of short lessons. Stacking many curricula for the same subject will erase its advantage in motivating your children.
If you still can’t decide how many curriculum options to use for the same subject, ask your veteran homeschool friends — and not the ones who are always trying to impress. If you presented using My Father’s World, Classical Conversations, and Tapestry of Grace this year to your experienced homeschool friends, they would laugh. You can also ask your kids. Show them how much work they would be expected to complete each week for each subject and if they seem alarmed and not just reluctant, you’ll know you’re trying to teach too much at once.
Once you have decided on a number for each subject or for an all-in-one curriculum, go to your shelf that you’ve arranged according to excitement. For example, if you think using two Bible curricula this year is reasonable for you, go to your shelf and choose the two you’ve moved to the front as the most exciting options. Then, and this is very important, move the books you will not be using this year out of sight. I have a storage area in my basement for books I’m not using. It helps me to feel confident and to be less distracted when I don’t see those other options tempting me.

Schedule Curriculum for This Year

Once you know the materials you will teach this school year, decide how you’re going to schedule those options. I see three good choices.
First, choose the day or days of the week that you will use each. For example, some of my customers use a different language arts curriculum Monday through Thursday and then do Grammar Galaxy on Fridays. For some curriculum options, this means you will not finish it this year. Is that acceptable to you? It may be if it is a supplement, a fun curriculum, or something you plan to continue the following year. Create a schedule for which curriculum you will use on which days that your whole family can see. A schedule will help hold you accountable so you aren’t dragging something else out of storage.

Video web course with 5 lessons and worksheets, loop schedule templates, and exclusive FB group access!

A second option is to use a loop schedule for your curriculum. When I have explained loop scheduling at conferences, some people are confused. I’m going to try to make it clear, but if it isn’t, Proverbial Homemaker has a Loop Scheduling workshop. So maybe you have Fix It Grammar and Grammar Galaxy in the loop for 11:00 in your homeschool day. If you used Fit It Grammar the last time you did language arts at 11:00, you’d use Grammar Galaxy today at 11. Or, if last Friday you used Fix It Grammar, you’d use Grammar Galaxy this Friday. A loop schedule works well when your schedule is unpredictable and it allows you to fit in a number of options. You can loop more than one option, too. So maybe you want to loop your Kids Cook Real Food course, an art course, and a music appreciation course for a block on Fridays. You can use a schedule that hangs on the wall with pockets for activities. You would move the card for each activity back as you use it when looping. Alternatively, you can write your loop options on an index card and move a paper clip to mark which option is up next.

A final schedule option is to use one curriculum for part of the year — a quarter or semester. We tend to do this when we think a curriculum isn’t working, but this would be a planned change. The advantage of this is you keep things simple by just using one option at a time and you change about the time you and the kids are getting bored. The thing to keep in mind with this option is the need for continuity of subject matter. If you’re going to change math curriculum at the semester, you wouldn’t want to start at the beginning of the new book if the material has already been covered. On the other hand, the kids may not understand how to do the problems in the middle of the book if they haven’t seen how the material is handled at the beginning. For this reason, I don’t recommend changing certain curricula mid-year. If your kids are struggling with the material, changing mid-year is fine. It’s no problem to change Bible or history curriculum mid-year, for example. Even language arts can be changed mid-year, depending on the scope and sequence.
If you’re still feeling paralyzed, ask a verteran homeschooling friend to come over and go through this process with you. Verbalize why you want to use each curricula, and most likely you’ll know what to do, even if your friend says nothing.
One final thought. You are the teacher. People were homeschooling successfully before there was curriculum written specifically for homeschoolers. Your decision is not going to make or ruin your kids. If you are a reasonably consistent teacher and pour love into your homeschooling, your kids will do well.
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Routines: Homeschooling, The First Year

Routines: Homeschooling, The First Year

I am so excited about this week’s episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show. I have been wanting to interview new homeschoolers for a long time and have my listeners take the journey with them. It’s finally happening! I will get to introduce you to the five women who are going to be joining me each month and sharing the homework assignments I give them.

For their first homework assignment, I knew I had to talk about routines. Here’s why they’re so critical for beginning homeschoolers.

The need for routines in the first year of homeschooling

The Need for Routines in the First Year of Homeschooling

The lack of routine in my life nearly put an end to my homeschool and any possibility of having future children. It caused a lot of stress in my marriage, too.

The freedom of homeschooling really appealed to me. I would be free to choose curriculum, free to emphasize the subjects that mattered to my family, and free to go through the day according to my own rhythm. It was that latter freedom that ended up enslaving me. Being able to rest when I was sick was wonderful and so was being able to adjust my schedule to have my mother-in-law (who suffered from dementia) over for the day. What wasn’t wonderful was having no time to homeschool, yet feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything else. It wasn’t wonderful having piles of undone laundry and no idea what to make for dinner when the clock read 5 p.m.

When I found FLYLady online and created routines, I discovered real freedom. I no longer had to decide when to do dishes or laundry. I knew when we would do school. I even knew what we were having for dinner. The kids loved having a routine and my husband was ecstatic. Routines gave me peace of mind and the confidence that I could not only homeschool but add more students.

The Importance of Chores in the First Year of Homeschooling

Homeschooled children are home most days and that means more mess. Art projects, dramatizations, and science experiments require extra clean-up, too. If we don’t develop an approach to making sure our kids contribute to the clean-up and needs of the home, the likelihood of burnout is high. The bonus of creating chore routines is that our kids develop important life skills and a sense of responsibility. Spouses who prefer an orderly home will appreciate it, too.

If you’re just beginning this journey, allow me to save you a lot of time pursuing the perfect chore system: there isn’t one. I’ve tried dozens of them and the simplest system is the best. You don’t even have to have a system, but you must have a routine. I often get the most housework done with my kids when we work together, room to room.

Establish a routine for doing the daily tasks and then create a routine for weekly chores. What works best for my family is rotating the daily tasks and assigning the weekly chores on a yearly basis. We have always completed our daily chores before starting school. That’s for my benefit. If the house is a mess, I can’t focus on our school work. Homeschooling also becomes a reward for getting chores done.

You can find one editable chore checklist here and a new Chore Game printable below for subscribers. (Click the form below to gain access.) But any chore system will do.
Claim the Chore Game for Subscribers

The Importance of Teaching Children to Do Laundry in the First Year of Homeschooling

I used to do all the laundry in our home. At first, that wasn’t much. But with just three children who were ages three and under, I felt like I was drowning in it. Of course, the most time-consuming part of laundry is putting it away.

As soon as possible, consider teaching your child to use the washer and dryer. I chose not to have my kids separate lights and darks and only rarely had a problem as a result. I would pour the laundry detergent into the cap for my littles and they loved pouring it into the machine.

I also underestimated the importance of teaching my kids how to fold. Before I did, their clothing was jammed into drawers. I bought expensive folding boards, but teaching them to fold on their own was more effective. When I learned the Konmari folding approach, I taught it to them and have loved the results.

Finally, do what you can to help your children hang clothing. A lower closet bar may help and accessible hangers are a must.

A critical part of both your chore and laundry routines for kids is supervision. My fantasies of having my children do what I’ve trained them to do without me checking on them have not been realized. The younger your kids, the more likely you will have to work with them. Rather than being irritated by this as I have often been, see it as a time to connect with your children. Have fun, chat, and encourage.

The Importance of Meal Planning in the First Year of Homeschooling

My mother ran a large daycare in our home when I was little. With so many mouths to feed and so much childcare to provide, she always had to have a meal in mind. If you are a beginning homeschooler, you may not have 14 kids to feed, but you may have another meal to plan and provide than you did before (i.e. lunch). You aren’t running a daycare, but you are teaching at least one child and possibly providing childcare for others. You may be signed up for classes and activities. Without a plan for meals, you will probably be very crabby at the end of the day. You may have to run to the store or spend extra money on takeout. The delay can make the rest of your family crabby, too.

The mistake we make in meal planning is to use new recipes. A meal plan should be made with meals your family already loves. The book Do Less recommends serving the same six meals every week. That seems extreme, but even if you have that one-week meal plan established and you’ve shopped for it, you’ll be ready to make something — even if it’s not as varied as you like.

In my free meal planning ebook for subscribers, I share ideas for making your base meal plan healthier and adding new recipes to the plan. I also talk about the benefits of buying a month’s worth of groceries at once. I wrote about this concept when five of my kids weren’t teens to adults. A week’s worth of shopping is a major undertaking for me now, but it’s so much better than having no plan in place.
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First Year Homeschoolers Homework for Routines

If you’d like to follow along with our new homeschoolers, here is your homework assignment:

I’m looking forward to checking in with our new homeschoolers (and you too) in August.


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Howie Mandel Unit Study

Howie Mandel Unit Study

The iHomeschool Network bloggers have been sharing unit studies on famous people whose birthdays are that month. I wanted to get in on the fun! But I’m unconventional. I chose to create a unit study on a contemporary comedian who is also unconventional: Howie Mandel.


In the process of creating a unit study on Howie Mandel, I learned a lot. I hope our kids will, too. I love the idea of taking a day to study something completely different. Don’t you?

A unit study of Howie Mandel gives us the opportunity to learn about topics we don’t spend a lot of time on in a traditional school day:

  • Selling
  • Voice overs
  • ADD
  • OCD
  • Comedy writing, and more!

Howie’s life also serves as a reminder that individual differences can be the source of our success!

Because I love learning new things, I decided to use this unit study as an opportunity to learn a new platform: Teachable. This online learning site allowed me to put this unit study into a series of lessons, including videos and websites. I’ve even opened the comments on the last section so kids can share their funny material. I’ve made the unit study free since I’m working the bugs out.


I hope you and your kids enjoy it. Let me know what you think of the platform or if you have any questions.

If your kids like funny writing, be sure to download my funny writing prompts for fall. Better yet, purchase Grammar Galaxy — a curriculum that makes reading and writing fun every day.

If you enjoy unit studies, be sure to check out the other November birthday unit studies from iHN.



Image credit: By Matt Ottosen, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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