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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.
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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.