3ae3468a622c4dcf930178669ecb4f80Since we’ve moved to Arizona, something has felt amiss with our homeschooling.

Because we were busy buying and moving into a house and then taking a trip back home in early September, we didn’t even start our homeschool year until late September.

We were busy in the fall joining and attending groups, doing schooling, and everything else we do in life.

In January, I cut a number of my jobs, but I still didn’t get the breathing room I was hoping for.  I think that’s in large part because we had dental appointments at least once a week, sometimes twice a week, for the past two months.  (In the first three months of 2015, we had 18 dental and medical appointments!)

The other reason is that everything is so far away here.  One dental appointment takes at least 1.5 hours because it takes 30 minutes to drive each way.  Something has to give.

Here’s what I’m doing to find more time to homeschool and do my freelance work.  These steps should hopefully help us all feel more relaxed.

1.  Freezer cooking.  I stopped freezer cooking regularly a few years ago, but it’s time to reinstate the process.  I typically take about 45 minutes to one hour to cook and clean up lunch and then do it again for dinner.  That is 1.5 to 2 hours a day just for cooking.  Of course, I won’t get rid of the clean up (a girl can dream, though!), but I’ll definitely have less to clean up and my cooking time will be nil.

2.  Make appointments early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  If I have to make appointments at the dentist or doctor, etc., I will try to make them at 8 a.m.  That way, even with the appointment, we still have the whole day to homeschool.

3.  Set regular times to get on the computer.  I’ll admit it, when the kids are working independently, I’ll hop on the computer to quick check e-mail or Facebook.  That definitely isn’t the best use of time, so I plan to set a regular, limited time to check the computer during school hours.

4.  Only participate in extracurricular activities with our homeschool group.  Our homeschool group offers a variety of educational and extracurricular activities, which is wonderful.  However, we know what works for us academically, so from now on, we won’t be doing history club or classic books club with the group.  We’ll only do extracurricular activities.

5.  Limit the number of activities the kids participate in.  This fall, we plan to limit the number of activities the kids participate in.  All three kids will participate in PE class at the park and our homeschool co-op (which is full of enrichment classes like dance, art, etc.).  Bookworm will participate in 4-H.  As the girls get older, they’ll each add an activity.

6.  Get up early.  I’ve noticed that if I do my freelance work after the kids go to bed, I get rather wound up and have a difficult time relaxing and going to sleep.  This means I fall asleep too late and get up too late.  Instead, I’m going to get up early every morning (between 4:30 and 5 a.m.) so I have time to do at least 1.5 hours of work before the kids get up.

7.  Go to bed early.  To get my full 8 hours of sleep, I’ll need to go to bed at 8:30 p.m.  This means that after the kids go to bed, the only work I will do is grading their assignments.  After that, I’ll read a book or watch a show on Netflix with my husband.

8.  Stretch out our weeks.  Our homeschool curriculum is 36 weeks long.  That gives a family 16 weeks off.  However, we NEVER take 16 weeks off since we homeschool year-round.  So, for our next school year, I plan to spread the assignments out over, say, 44 weeks.  That gives us 8 weeks off total, and also gives us more time to finish our curriculum.

9.  Break assignments down by days.  Rather than tackling all 8 subjects each day, I plan to experiment with scheduling subjects on certain days of the week.  Math and science will be daily, obviously, but history can be twice a week as can a subject like phonics.  I’m hoping this change will make our homeschooling day go more smoothly.

10.  Be flexible.  Sometimes school won’t get done.  Sometimes less work will be completed than I would like.  That’s okay.  Because we school year-round and because we sometimes do school on the weekends, it’s okay if some work doesn’t get done sometimes.  Life gets in the way.

As much as I’m a check-the-box kind of person, I’m learning to relax a little and expect the unexpected.

If you homeschool, how do you free up more time so you can homeschool in the way you’d like?

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