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3 Tips on How to be a Fiercely Productive Homeschool Mom


Mary Ellen challenges that while being a fiercely productive homeschool mom is not easy, the rewards are enormous, and if you follow these three simple tips you will see your productivity skyrocket.

Some days you just don’t feel particularly productive, and today, for me, is one of those days.

While we all need a lazy day once in a blue moon, it’s important to not let that lazy feeling linger too long or suddenly you are less of a productive homeschool mom and more of a distracted, trying-to-keep-up mom.

Being productive is largely a matter of developing good habits, which is tedious, I know. The rewards, however, are numerous, and the peace you feel at the end of the day when you know you’ve put in a good amount of work and accomplished all that you wished to is a priceless feeling.

Here are three ways to bolster fierce productivity:

1. Use a planner

Whatever works for you is the planner to use, not what works for some lady on Instagram whom you’ve never met and has no relationship to your life. It can be as simple as a composition notebook you picked up at the nickel bin during back to school sales.

The only thing you need is a place to write down everything you want to do and everything you need to do. These are two different lists. Some things we want to do, like paint the guest room, while others need to be done, such as teach math and scrub the toilet.

I use a few planners. I have one daily planner for family events, work commitments, parish commitments, my daily to-do lists, appointments and the like. I also put a lot of these things on Google calendar, which is linked to all of my children. They get email notifications when an event that they are involved in is coming up. So when there is an altar server meeting at church, it goes in my paper planner and on the Google calendar linked to my son Kevin and my husband.

I also keep a teacher planner for the younger kids homeschool assignments, and the high school kids use a combination of Google and the Seton high school planner for their assignments, which I check on a weekly basis. I also use a fitness planner which I use to track my water, work-outs and food consumption.

All of this helps to keep me on track with the details of my life. It seems like a lot, but it’s become a habit to check in with these planners all day, and it really doesn’t feel like too much in the actual living of it.

Be realistic in your planning. Don’t think you can do more than you can do. It sounds weird to say it’s unproductive to do too much, but it really is. If your day is so jam packed with school work and activities that you have no time to do laundry or weed the garden or sit down to eat lunch, then your house and your frame of mind will suffer greatly.

Leave room in the day for breathing space to catch up on chores, to read an article, to read to the children, to play dolls with your daughter and to wonder at a Lego creation. These things may seem counterintuitive to productivity, but your children and your home are your primary concerns.

You need to be in a good place to keep up with all of the aspects of your busy life, and being unrealistic in your expectations is not going to be helpful in that regard.

2. Prep the night before

This is such an easy thing to do, but it can seem so overwhelming. It’s evening, the day is done, and you feel like it’s time to put your feet up and unwind for a while.

Before relaxing take a few minutes and check that planner to see what’s happening tomorrow. Do you need to photocopy something? Pull out some craft supplies? Are there pencils available? How about setting up the breakfast paraphernalia? These little chores, done ahead of time, save precious minutes in the mornings and make the day run more smoothly right off the bat.

3. Schedule some teacher time

I’ve written about this before, all teachers need some time to reconnect with the plans, organize their spaces and prep the books for the coming semester. Some moms take a week between quarters or terms, some moms take one day a month.

How you manage it is, of course, entirely up to you and dependent on what type of homeschool schedule you keep, but I cannot emphasize enough how life changing it is to take the time to read through your lesson plans, decide what needs to be done, what enrichment activities or liturgical observances to include, to write up your plans or your thoughts, do a little research and maybe listen to a few IHM talks to inspire you.

Those that teach in brick and mortar schools receive this time as professional development days, and you are no less entitled. As a matter of fact, you probably need it more since your job as a homeschool mom is 24/7.

Schedule the time, announce it to everyone, make the arrangements, and consider it written in stone. You will find that when you have that space and time to really immerse yourself in the plans your productivity will skyrocket.

I hope my advice proves inspiring and encourages you to take the time you need to adequately prepare yourselves to be as productive as possible in your homeschool life. The kind of productivity that results in checked off tasks brings such peace to a homeschool mother’s heart, and this peace permeates her whole household.

Now that is really fierce!

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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