Revealing the secrets of homeschooling, how I get it all done

The most frequently asked question I receive from polite strangers has nothing to do with socialization and everything to do with latent fears regarding parenting. “How do you do it all?” They ask as my daughter bags groceries and I pay. I revel in the praise which comes as a welcome distraction from the questioning glances I receive shopping at one o’clock on a school day with kids in tow. Because I believe that these concerns about parenting ability actually underly most people’s misgivings of homeschooling, I have decided to reveal my secrets.

Principle I: Delegate

There is no way one person can humanly get everything done that needs to be done in the care and education of four children on a daily basis. It is therefore imperative to learn to delegate. Teaching children to do simple chores is a necessity, not only for your own sanity but for their development. Here is my two year old sampling some cookie dough she and her sister made.


The eight year old may occasionally confuse teaspoons and tablespoons, resulting in some pretty salty pancakes, but that is where the taste tester come in. What stays in the two year-old’s mouth is probably edible, unless it is a toy, bird seed or some random thing she has pulled out from under the bed. For the life of me I cannot figure out why toddlers, who stick everything in their mouths, are such notoriously picky eaters.

They even did a pretty good job at cleaning up after themselves.


The picture does not really show the flour and flecks of dough, but it does answer another mystery. The worst cup of tea of my life. Take a closer look:

An empty box of baking soda and an open sugar container. I think my taste tester has some ‘splaining to do.

Principle II: Multi-task

Young boys have a peculiar knack for getting dirty. Really dirty. In fact, if you don’t wash them once in awhile, they can be hard to recognize.

Now it is time to put some sibling rivalry and his affinity for making messes to work. While his sister chased him with the hose, I started a bath and a load of laundry. He then removed all of his extra clothing on the back porch and was carried to the bath. By the time he was done with his splash fest, we had another task to check off our list of chores. With the bathroom thoroughly soaked, all it needed was a good toweling off to be as spic and span as my bright little boy.


Principle III: Foster Independence

Young children are necessarily needy. And the more children you have, the more they all seem to need your attention at the same time. To ease the stress of being pulled in ten different directions at once, it is good to train your children to help themselves and each other as much as possible. Here is an example. Due to the small size of our house, we store most of our books in storage tubs, rotating them on a weekly basis. The rotations have slowed since their father was forced to Denver, however. My two year-old and my son decided that we needed to remedy this situation. Why bother mom? They have been raised to be independent, which I am sure is what possessed them to stand on top of the dog food bin to pull down a storage tub full of books.


You probably saw that coming. Fifty pounds of dog food and 200 books on the laundry room floor. This is where deep breathing, prayer and the self-control to just walk away come in. As well as the next principle.

Principle IV: Appreciate the little things

We all need our quiet place. And it is very good to go there before exploding. Especially when you are about to ground your two year old and four year old until their eighteenth birthdays for doing something they thought would be helpful. So take a deep breath and count to three.

One.

Two.

Three.


I bet you feel better now. It works for me every time. And simply cleaning up the mess was a much more reasonable consequence, don’t you think?

Principle V: Everything is Educational

Life is bound to interrupt your school day now and again. Not nearly as often as the PA system in a public school, but it does have a way of cropping up on you. Before fretting too much at how far you are getting behind, remember that there is educational value to be found in everything. Whether it is a trip to the beach,


a torn toy,

or even just cleaning the laundry room while mom holds the baby and talks to the ceiling, there are lessons to be learned. And it is in this daily walk that we teach them the most about how to live and what is important.

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0 Responses

  1. Love the blog! The pictures are perfect and the different survival tips true and amusing.

    The sweet photos of the baby at the end were precious!

    Glad to find your blog. 🙂

    Duckabush Blog

    Kathy in WA (from SHS)

  2. What a great post, Dana!

    Thanks for putting up some pictures of your children. How beautiful!

    I thought your advice was great and your telling of it was hysterical.

    Thankfully, I can say that none of my three boys has ever (yet) gotten that muddy!

  3. Dana, great post, this is a riot, and terrific pics!

    I’m from the Denver/Littleton area (until we moved to Colorado Springs 5 years ago, and then moved out of state last month). In fact, there are several of us on the SHS list who know that area. If you have any questions at all, please post them to the list or contact me privately.

    Kristine/SHS

  4. Great Post!
    When I first saw the pic of your muddy boy, I thought, “Why do they have a statue in the gate?” Funny. I love muddy boys and have learned to accept dirt as a part of life.

    I’ll have to put some framed baby pics in the utility room for spilled dog food, though 😉
    ~Christy

  5. Dana,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog….I’m glad to finally find yours.

    Loved this post! Truth and humor and baby photos all rolled into one…life doesn’t get any better.

  6. And every day Ross? Wow. And I was just wondering where you had gotten to since your blog seems to be gone. I’m glad you are still around!

  7. Good reminders. Even after 18 or so years of homeschooling the truths still hold firm. Thanks. PS–My boys have been THAT muddy before also.

  8. I thought your little boy was an adorable kid statue too, then read the text with it.

    & Yes, looking at baby pictures improves any day

    Another SHS-er stopping by :))

    Susan in Va

  9. This is exactly right on–every little bit of it. 🙂 It is how we survive and I often try to explain it but for those of the rigid schedule it has been, until now, impossible to explain. My usual response–God’s grace and lots of creativity. 🙂

  10. Good advice Dana! to that truly number one question I’m always asked too. Usually I just want to respond, “Don’t you know? God endowed me with super powers available to no other human. I have 4 arms, and eyes in the back of my head, and 38 hours in every day, and can clone myself at will.” My real answer can be found somewhere on my blog. (It’s been several years – and I’m not *that* organized) But much like yours it includes delegation, as well as prioritizing, and just plain enjoying life. (even though I’m still an overachiever 🙂

    Great pics of the kiddos, too. How can anything be wrong with a sweet sleeping babe in the home?

    Lisa
    http://frommeandmyhouse.com/blog-led

  11. Dana,

    GREAT post…I LOVED IT!!! All of it made me smile especially the pics of your baby baby:-) Thanks for this…it helps to take the ‘edge’ off!!!!

  12. Yeah, I like that Lisa. I’m super woman. That is how I do it all. Now if you could just convince my house and my family that it were all, in fact, done, we’d be getting somewhere!

    I’m glad you got a smile, Deidra. That was the desired outcome. September is stressful for some reason. I guess it is because all the beautiful plans from summer are getting coffee spilled on them and aren’t necessarily working out quite as planned.

    Everyday Wisdom by Dana…sounds like its own blog. So long as those who follow it don’t turn around and sue me for ending up like me. Yikes. What a scary world that would be!

  13. Dana, really great advice here!! And cute pictures, real life, I love it all…delegation is so important, I’m learning to do more of it…

  14. LOVE the muddy boy picture. My brother always looked like he had some sort of dirt on his face when he was young. Chocolate? Mud? Dog food? We never knew.

  15. Hi. I’m Heidi. I’m also very happy to find your blog.

    This post reminds me of the words that keep me going on the hardest days.. “sometimes the baby/children is/are the lesson”.. even when I think that I may be the only one learning anything.

    Thanks for stopping by..

  16. Appreciated your tips for getting everyone working together and getting stuff off the to-do list. You seem to have found good methods for harnessing and using the chaos rather than being overwhelmed by it (most of the time, anyway, I imagine).

  17. I know this is an old post, but that photo of your son covered in mud made me laugh. I have to show this to my husband who thinks it is a cardinal sin if our boys get dirt on their knees!

  18. I am a second year home schooler with two kids (6,7). I believe my favorite principle is number 4. I marvel at what a chore it is to make myself sit still and breathe.
    This was a very encouraging post for a beleaguered Mom. Thank you.

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