Homemaking and Homeschooling

One of the themes this month at Simple Homeschool is balancing home and school. Along those lines my post there today is Managing your Kitchen and your Child's Education.  

Preparing and writing that post got me thinking about other areas of home management and I decided to share here at FIMBY how I manage both our home and our children's education; two rather large undertakings at once. 

A Homemaker's Introduction

I've been making home for seventeen years now. Unreal considering I'm only 34 (though I feel barely nineteen). When I was seventeen I left home to attend university a hour a way from my hometown. I had no interest in dorm life and rented an apartment with my young aunt who was finishing her last year of university while I was studying in my first. 

I married Damien three short years later and began home making in earnest while still going to school. Celine was born a month after I graduated (I studied 6 years for a 4 year degree) and I finally settled into full time homemaking and mothering, fulfilling my childhood dream. Yes, I've always wanted to be homemaker, just like my mom.

All that to say, though I'm still on the younger side of 35 I have a lot of home making experience. This has been my career and I'm proud of my accomplishments - a well run home, three healthy, helpful and creative children and a happy husband. If this sounds too traditional or happy homemaker for your tastes that's ok, I am very comfortable with who I am; wife, mother and homemaker.

A Homeschooler's Introduction

Before we were even married Damien and I discussed and decided to homeschool our children. We knew from the get go that I would be a stay-at-home mom and he would be the wage earner and that we would adjust our standard of living expectations right from the beginning to make this possible.

In studying to be a teacher, I realized somewhere along the way that I could never teach in a large school setting. Too much of my heart, time and effort would given there when what I really wanted to do was devote myself to our family. But knowing that we were going to homeschool helped me to prepare my mindset from the very beginning for how to structure my time to accommodate learning, while still maintaining a home. 

Our family is not home schoolers so much as home learners. I use the term homeschooling most of the time because it's easy and people understand what I'm talking about. But as far as managing both home and learning I don't spend near the amount of time "schooling" my children as many homeschooling mothers/homemakers do.

Organizing our Days

The overall structure to our days is basically the same but the individual activities vary according to seasonal and life changes. 

Week at a glance

I like to get my worst work done early in the week. For me this is menu planning and produce shopping.  I also budget and pay bills by mid week and try to get all our errands done by Thursday. Friday is usually reserved for afternoon tea with friends, playdates or just being home together. 

Weekends are family time. We hike one day and the other day we work on the house or some other creative project and usually get together with believers for home church. I don't plan to accomplish home making related tasks other than cooking on the weekends, ie: all my home making stuff needs to happen during the week.

Days at a glance

Mornings - Time for basic house chores and structured learning work. 

  • Prepare breakfast and often start lunch. Kids clean up their rooms. 
  • Eat, clean up, do laundry and household chores. 
  • School work and learning projects. One day a week we go to the library.
  • Finish preparing lunch and read our own books while eating.

Afternoons - Time for my writing, reading together, outdoor play, projects, errands, playdates and community involvement .

  • Reading aloud and my writing time. Some days we skip those and head straight outdoors or onto the main activity of the afternoon.
  • The afternoon's activity is largely determined by the day. Early in the week it's errands, bill paying and other work but by Wednesday we have large blocks of time for creative projects and play according to our interests. Right now we're spending lots of time outdoors and working in the yard.

Evenings - End of the day clean up, supper and time all together with Damien.

  • The evening really starts around 4:30/5:00 when we start to clean up our projects and make supper.
  • Eat supper and clean up the kitchen all together (again and for the last time - phew).
  • Now the kids are older they don't go to bed till 8:30/9:00. Damien's largely in charge of the evenings and we mostly do inspirational family stuff - reading, games, watching inspiring talks or documentaries, getting ready for outdoor adventures. I sometimes do personal projects. 

When my children were little the mornings and afternoons looked quite different and of course kids went to bed earlier. Mornings we did errands and other out of the house activities. Early afternoons we napped and rested (mama included), if there was time in the late afternoon we did projects. Then supper, clean up and bedtime. I had three young children close in age and I didn't start specific school activities with Celine till she was eight (Brienne was 5 at the time). 

Specific Homemaking Tasks

1. Meals & Food shopping

My post at Simple Homeschool deals with this subject but I want to add a few more thoughts.

Like I mentioned above I menu plan early in the week. Because our family values buying good quality, healthy and local food as much as possible we are members of two buying clubs and have a csa farm share. This simplifies my grocery shopping in some ways, I only go to the "grocery store" once a month (I buy fresh produce each week), but complicates it in other ways.

I spend time placing orders on-line, co-ordinating pick ups and deliveries, keeping financial records and going to community meetings every couple months. I try to do most of this work early in the week during my designated meal prep and computer time but once a month I spend a couple extra hours on the buying club our family organizes. I consider this part food work and part community building.

More details of time I spend in the kitchen.

I actually use this from time to time for removing stains

2. Cleaning & Laundry

This is one area that I find very easy to incorporate the children into.  The kids have been helping me keep home for many years and the training I did with them when they were little is starting to pay off.

  • Laundry - In a normal week we do 5 or 6 loads of laundry, so most days we do one load. Hard as it may be to believe, I honestly think living without a dryer and hanging all our laundry simplifies our life in this regard, we only wash truly dirty clothes and linens. I sort and wash and the kids pretty much do the rest - hanging, folding and putting away. These days I help more because I like to be a part of hanging the wash outside in the nice weather.  
  • Normal Cleaning - This is all done by the kids and I during morning chore time (right after breakfast) and again at the end of the afternoon before supper. In the morning we tidy the bathroom, vacuum needy areas, do cat care, and extra kitchen work as necessary. In the afternoon the kids tidy up their projects from the day and vacuum the main living areas while I cook supper. Once a week a child helps/makes supper. Kid's clean up their rooms, ie: put away toys and pick up clothes before breakfast.
  • Deep Cleaning - Um, what's that. We do tackle big cleaning and organizational projects from time to time, like cleaning the kids' rooms (see also three steps to less clutter in the kids's rooms at Small Notebook). I will sometimes do a large project on a weekend work day or we will spread it out over several weeks and do bit by bit each morning during our regular chore time

3. Errands & Bills

Errands are by far my least favorite home making chore, so I don't do very many. I combine trips whenever possible and often just make do without. I don't even like thrift shopping, I'd rather be home. Needless to say I don't schedule a lot of time for this least favored task.  

I do one errand run a week and will sometimes add a quick trip when I'm already out - like stopping at the post office when I'm driving home from the library. My big goal for this summer is to start running errands on bikes but we'll see. Damien does all our clothing and gear shopping, mostly on-line, but we make purchasing trips every few months as needed.  

Paying bills and managing our family finances in one of my jobs and I enjoy doing it. I'm good with details and organization so I do well with this task. I set aside a couple hours one afternoon a week to do this. Kids will usually play or sometimes watch a video while I work. It is difficult to involve them much in this job but as they get older we hope to hand over some of the family budgeting and decision making to them. 

Working & Learning Together

I think the beauty of homeschooling is that I can teach my children these very practical, hands-on life skills as an integrated part of their education

Our children will grow up knowing how to cook healthy meals, keep a tidy and welcoming living space, live below their means and stay out of debt (they can choose their own paths as adults but they'll have this skill set to guide them). This is just as important as their language, science, history, math, geography, art and music studies.  

I consider it a great privilege and awesome responsibility to be right where I am as homemaker and homeschooler; teaching my children and caring for our home. 

Any questions about our home routine or school structure? How do you balance the demands of homemaking and taking care of your family/homeschooling (if you do that)?

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  • Claudia

    Claudia on April 9, 2010, 11:54 a.m.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this timely post! I am a brand new homeschooler (we're just 2 weeks in!) and these subjects have been heavy on my brain since pulling our 7 year old out of school. Your blog has been such an inspiration to me and your perspective really helps clear my brain of nagging worries (namely, Are we doing this right?).


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on April 9, 2010, 1:29 p.m.

    Renee, First off, you are only 34? I am in shock. Not because you look older, but because you are the most pulled together, mature 34 year old that I know. Perhaps, also because you were a much younger new mom than (I realized!) anyone I know. Second, what an organized and helpful post! I do see so many differences in our lives given the age of our kids, something you have said to me so many times before, but this really brings it home. Thank you for the light of what is ahead! Off to try and feel more pulled together and mature now... Nicola


    • renee

      renee on April 10, 2010, 1:37 a.m.

      It's easy to look mature when you write about your life, but you should see me in person (ha, ha)!  I was a young mom, but we planned it that way and look forward to living our 20's in our 40's (travel, backpacking across Europe, we toss around lots of dreams). My children will all reach adult hood by the time I'm 45 and then it's smooth sailing - ha!!  

      You know I am amazed at how much you pull off with young children. Your blog for one. Having little ones is intense work but it does get easier, especially when they start really sharing the work load. 


  • Stacy

    Stacy on April 9, 2010, 2:24 p.m.

    What a winderful post! It was really refreshing to hear of someone else who truly loves her job as a homemaker and takes pride in it. I also attended college, for engineering, but secretly wanted to just be a great wife and mother. I caved into all of the pressure of society and my family and just went. Now, I am so fortunate that I was able to stand up to all of that pressure and just do what I always longed to do, thougth I am still paying off those school loans :-( There will always be time for a paying job after our children are raised, if I ever want to choose that path.

    Thanks for sharing how you organize your day. It is nice to see how other homeschoolers do it and make improvments to our own schedule to help things go more smoothly. We are still working on the clutter in our house, though, with and upcoming move, I am sure that will quickly work itself out!


  • Pamela

    Pamela on April 9, 2010, 2:50 p.m.

    I'm with Nicola - your maturity had me thinking you were older! Now I'm thinking, "Cool - same age as me! Why am I SO BEHIND?!" :-)

    I loved this post. I may have to print it out and re-read it several times. I long for some kind of structure. Last year I went from working full-time (heart-breaking) to part-time (better, but still not right for me). I work Monday thru Wednesday (1/2 day Wed). Then I feel bombarded on Thursday/Friday trying to catch up so I won't be sunk on the weekends. I have yet to figure it out. So what do I do? Read blogs looking for ideas!

    We don't homeschool, but in many ways I wish we did. One of the biggest benefits is time to teach life skills. I certainly wish I had pondered all of this before getting married and having kids. My husband and I have made progress towards a better family life, but backing out of a bad situation is harder than not getting into in the first place! (Whew! Looooong comment!)


    • renee

      renee on April 10, 2010, 1:25 a.m.

      Pamela, I think I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes. That must be difficult to keep care of home and be working. Glad that you are working things out to progress towards a better family life, as you say it. It's worth it. 


  • Kika

    Kika on April 9, 2010, 4:05 p.m.

    Another great post; the details are interesting and helpful. Our home life isn't very different from your own. This is my dream - being wife, mom, home-manager and I think I'm good at it:) I enjoyed university too but cannot imagine leaving my own children in other people's care most of their young life while I teach other people's kids all day. My kids too are growing up learning how to run a home and cook/bake even though my style is pretty simple (no Martha Stewart in me at all) - a couple of my favorite meals are homemade soup and buns or baked potatoes and salad (my husband has very different preferences though - beans and rice are big staples for him). I appreciate that my husband loves to cook and on weekends and holidays, in particular, will jump in and that gives me more reading time!!! I also enjoyed your post at SHomeschool - always look forward to them.


  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on April 9, 2010, 5:37 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I love reading how other women do it so I can pull together ideas to create the best system for me. Right now I'm coming into a phase where Nemo is really ready for more challenges in his daily life, learning some life skills and having creative projects to keep him busy. This is really exciting for me and I'm enjoying it, but I also have two younger ones who obviously aren't ready for that. Perhaps it's hardest with Daphney because she is not yet ready for things Nemo is but she still wants to participate. Anyway, long story short, each child is doing exciting things, but trying to coordinate them can be a challenge for me! And I agree what the deep cleaning part! That's like a once a year thing for me, lol.


  • Alisha

    Alisha on April 9, 2010, 10:16 p.m.

    Thanks for that, Renee! It's nice to read a little more about YOU instead of what you DO. I had no idea you were 34 either! I wondered how old you are because your skin is amazing, but when I watched your homeschool video a couple of weeks ago, it got me wondering. You look great! And I'm with these other ladies, you sure have your stuff together!!!

    Thanks for letting us know you a little better. :)


    • renee

      renee on April 10, 2010, 1:23 a.m.

      You know that's funny Alisha. I could write a lot about myself. I'm not shy and feel comfortable talking about most anything and have always answered any question lobbed my way (either in person or writing) honestly. I have nothing to hide. But I always think people don't want to read that kind of stuff. Like talking about yourself is somehow vain or rude. So thanks because I wondered "maybe this is more information than people want to know" but I felt like sharing it regardless because it's who I am and what I wanted to write about. 


  • Misha @ ~beautyandjoy~

    Misha @ ~beautyandjoy~ on April 9, 2010, 11:59 p.m.

    Oh Renee - thank you again! Your timing in writing this helped me reframe our whole week and see it as a success, not a disappointment. I needed the reminder again that daily (even seasonal) homemaking arts and skills are all part of the gifts I am giving the kids. Thank you so much for that!

    Also - yes, 34 shocked me, too! I'm 37. But you got a big head start on me. :)


  • Hillary

    Hillary on April 10, 2010, 12:32 a.m.

    I consider you amazing for simply being able to pull that post together! It just oozes flow and good home/family vibes. Thanks for sharing and getting me inspired!


    • renee

      renee on April 10, 2010, 1:19 a.m.

      Thanks Hillary. I worked on it for several days during my writing time and after kids went to bed. I'm kind of tired of seeing it now.


  • renee

    renee on April 10, 2010, 1:15 a.m.

    Well. Can I honestly say I'm a little embarrassed now that I revealed my age. Like maybe you all will take me a little less seriously now... Since most women in this day and age don't marry so young I kind of got a head start on most of my peers in the baby making and home making department. I've always felt a little out of sync in this regard but very happy nonetheless doing what I've always wanted to do. 

    But really all these comments about my age have made me feel a little silly and self conscious. I have friends who are teenagers and others who are grandmothers. I never really think of myself as a certain age except maybe 19 (with three school aged kiddos, a husband and mortgage). I suppose one day age will catch up with me. Sigh.


  • kyndale

    kyndale on April 10, 2010, 2:55 a.m.

    The first thing that came to mind as I was reading this is I think you create such a loving and safe home for your children. They are very blessed to have you as a Mama! I wish I could be as organized as you but I'm working on it. We get closer and closer all the time. Happy Weekend to you! Kyndale


  • daffodil lane

    daffodil lane on April 11, 2010, 1:59 a.m.

    This has the prefect balance of detail! I love hearing what other homeschool families are doing - actually doing, but it sometimes gets lost in too much detail. You hit it right on. I totally aagree, homemaking skills are so important to teach, yet I rarely think to include them when I consider what we've done each month. I also loved reading many of your older links. I'd love to backtrack more, but can't find an archive of your posts. (Help?) Also, at 34, you are stunning. :)


    • renee

      renee on April 14, 2010, 1:22 a.m.

      daffodil lane,

      When you say you can't find an archive, do mean a monthly archive? I don't have that because I never use them when I visit other people's blogs. Would that be helpful?

      Have you tried using the search function? If you type in one or two words from the title or from the post, if you know what you're looking for, you can find it that way. 

      Or, you can use the sidebar to find the categories to look for specific posts. Also, all my most helpful (in terms of content) posts are archived in my resources sidebar on the front page. I'm working at making those easier to navigate. 

      I have to talk to my resident techie about the monthly archives, if that's something we'd consider doing.


  • Francesca

    Francesca on April 11, 2010, 1:02 p.m.

    What a great post Renee. What I find interesting about your age is that you knew already what you wanted in college, and went ahead with it. I've changed my life many times, and although looking back I can see how it all fits together (sort of, at least), what I was striving for in my early twenties couldn't be more different from what I have now. The one consistent trait in my life has been my inability to write a meal plan:). I never know what I find in the stores, or what culinary inspiration I may get from my garden, or what I feel like eating that day!


  • old recipe for a new world

    old recipe for a new world on April 27, 2010, 3:38 a.m.

    Ah yes, this is great and I don't know how i missed it before. I love how your weeks have a kind of larger rhythm--I'm thinking circadian, or some word like that, that we usually apply to a day or the seasons of the year...time for activity, rest, out in the world, snug at home, etc. I'm really heartened by the way you thrive on home time, to the point that you even worship there (maybe you'll talk more about that sometime?). When do you blog? Do you ever feel like that takes you away from things you'd like to be doing instead? And I love your New England home. :)


    • renee

      renee on April 27, 2010, 10:33 a.m.

      The first point under the afternoon is reading to the kids and my writing time. For now, writing time translates to blogging. Maybe later it will mean a book (smile). I do the lions share of writing my posts during a one hour time after lunch. I do photo prep in the evenings and editing and other blog maintenance in the evenings, or sometimes mornings before breakfast.

      Do you mean blogging taking me away from things I'd rather be doing instead? No, never. I love to write. If I could I would spend hours a day writing. I hope to move in that direction as the kids get older and spend more of their days on their interests. But maybe then I'll have another interest (smile).

      I feel I could spend hours a day doing many creative things and in my current season of life I feel like my bread labor is a discipline (maybe that's why it's called labor). It's a wonderful bread labor though - managing a home and feeding my family. 


  • Vanessa

    Vanessa on May 17, 2010, 6:41 p.m.

    Thank you so much for this post. I happened across it from the weekend reading links at simple homeschool. I have two children (and one on the way). My two are right at preschool age and the great debate of homeschool versus public pre-school and education has been a big one. We've ultimately chosen to home school and this post helped to eleviate some of the stress as I and my pre-schoolers are beginning the journey. To know that home-making and home-schooling can be so easily combined together makes it a lot less over-whelming. One of my biggest questions was how am I going to manage the home and school at the same time.

    I'm learning so much (and there is a lot out there about homeschooling) that I'm sure you know how overwhelming beginning can be. I'm definitely going to add you to my reader.


  • Gwen

    Gwen on May 18, 2010, 8:53 p.m.

    This is a fun blog to read! We are homeschooling, keeping up with the disaster that three littles can make each and every day and trying my best to cook with intention and teach my children to love healthy foods and how to live beneath our means for a more peaceful life. Thank you! I will come back and check out more! For what it's worth I do love the archives...when I find a new blog I love to see what else has been said...just nosey I guess ;)


  • Anna

    Anna on Sept. 7, 2010, 2:51 a.m.

    I just ran across your blog, and I think you're fantastic! I'm 26 and just celebrated my 3rd anniversary with my husband, and my daughter just turned 1 1/2. I also went to college and graduated, knowing full well that my career would be full-time wife and mother. I'm so glad you mentioned how different your life was with small children. Sometimes it's tempting in this stage to look at mamas with older kids and think, "why am I struggling to keep to a schedule and keep my house organized, when she can do it so well with more kids than me?" But it's all a process and I have to remember that the child care aspect of parenting winds down a lot in a few years, leaving more room for structure and homemaking. Especially as the kiddos get big enough to help. Even now, our little one helps put away socks and washcloths, and when she makes messes I get us each a rag to clean up together. Baby/toddler seasons are just that: seasons! :) Yet even now, I spent my weekend sewing curtains, making soup to freeze for later, cleaning, reorganizing a closet....things still get done. :) Anyway, glad I found your site!


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