My kids piled out of the mini-van and chatted happily, heading in the door of the donut shop. It was hot — almost 100 degrees on this mid-July day. But it was the first day of school and that means donuts.
This was not some spontaneous decision made in the moment, but instead, a planned (and beloved) tradition that makes the first day of school something we anticipate instead of dread.
We always start school on a Wednesday. We always start with just a handful of subjects. We always start with a tidy school room. And we always get donuts. Why? Because we like it that way and also because mom is a checklist mom.
Being a checklist mom in the homeschool world has become a bit of a dirty word over the past few years. Things like list-checking, scheduling, and laminating are done in secret or not at all. It is not quite fashionable anymore to actually desire and achieve some structure in your homeschool day.
Because if you are, you simply must be damaging relationships.
Because it can’t possibly be accomplished without being a psycho mom or causing yourself so much stress your hair begins to fall out.
Because it might make the other homeschool moms feel less.
(Yeah, I went there)
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In truth, organization and structure have exactly the opposite effect on my homeschool than what some might think. Because I know what we are doing and where we are going in our day-to-day, I have time to step back and focus on enjoying my kids and building those relationships.
Since I have put systems in place, our routine mapped out, and made all my paper copies for the school year, I actually feel much less stress.
And my job is to encourage moms, but I think checklist moms need some encouragement too. If you are fine with flying by the seat of your pants, following whatever learning experience piques your interest today or schooling in your pajamas with messy hair (and an unmade bed!!), then good for you! I am glad you have found your happiness and peace.
But if flying by the seat of your pants and unmade bed make you cringe and begin to hyperventilate … If reading all the “you should be doing less” makes you feel worse instead of better … If you have tried it their way but that only increases your feelings of discontent with your homeschool then maybe you are a little more checklist mom than you might be willing to admit.
And it’s time to embrace that. Stop apologizing for it. Because honestly, we have too much to do to spend time being responsible for the feelings of the homeschool mom down the street. We have kids to educate and wringing our hands over hurting feelings needs to stop taking up space on the to-do list.
Embrace your gifts
Nobody woke up one day and thought, “I want to be one of those people who achieve more and run a little better with just a touch of stress simmering beneath the surface.” There is a certain balance the checklist mom has to maintain in order to keep life and relationships healthy. If we spend less time fighting the checklist tendencies, though, we have more time to spend maintaining that healthy balance.
So what can this look like? Here are a few ways the checklist mom can embrace her gifts:
Make some goals for yourself. What behaviors and habits do you need to focus on this school year? We have a handy form in our free homeschool planning pack that you can use to list a few strengths and weaknesses and then craft three to four goal statements for yourself.
Would your life be easier if you did meal planning and prep every week? I love the 5 Dinners in One Hour model that allows me to prep once and cook in minutes all week long. I have started having the kids help me with the prep and counting it as home ec time.
Get rid of Flylady. I mean she seems like a sweet lady and all, but that’s never going to work for you because you passed that point long ago. Find a cleaning guru you can appreciate (Ok, my house will never be this clean but man it is oddly soothing to watch her work. #goals)
Be sure to find a homeschool planner that works with your personality-type instead of against it.
Get your homeschool room organized.
Does one of your daily-to-dos need to be “hug each child” in the morning? There is no shame in putting that on your list if doing so means you actually smile. In fact, since you live and die by your to-do list, go ahead and put all the “weird” things on there. Things like hug a child, slow down to pray, kiss the husband, and call your mom. These things don’t have less meaning just because you put them on your list first.
Create a plan for your school year that will work for you. It’s ok to know exactly what you want to do in the day-to-day of your homeschool. It won’t kill your creativity (in fact, some would argue that it will actually enhance it) but it certainly will bring you more peace.
And that’s where I can help. I will be back next week to talk more about how having a homeschool plan can make your year better.
My kids don’t know and don’t care that I took them to get donuts because it was something I planned and put on the to-do list. All they care about was the fact that it was fun … and they got sprinkles.
You do you and do it well. And for goodness sake, stop apologizing for it.