Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Without a doubt, the simple life has a lot going for it.
But when you’re a homeschooling parent, you may not have extra hours to devote to the cause.
Let’s face it–sometimes we don’t have the time to even nurture a private thought. Or go the bathroom…alone. So we need a few streamlined shortcuts to point us in the direction of a simple life.
It might not be perfect, but it will be a start. And sometimes that’s all we need.
Here are a few quick simplicity hacks for the busy family.
1. Create a toy rotation system.
In my book, Steady Days, I give many practical suggestions for busy moms with young children, including this one.
If your home is overflowing with toys that you want to keep, do a fifteen minute sweep with an empty laundry basket or box and remove some. I like to target toys that have many small accompanying parts (You know, the ones that get lost everywhere?).
When you’re finished, put the box in a separate space–like the basement or closet. Then take one toy out each day. This keeps clutter to a minimum, and also encourages your kids to get excited when a “new” toy appears.
2. Keep only your favorite books.
Remember the Little House Series? The Ingalls family had two books–a Bible and a book about birds. Both were treated with the utmost of reverence and respect. I think we lose a bit of that wonder when our walls are lined full of hundreds from top to bottom.
Surely a shelf of favorites provides more pleasure than one crammed tightly with any and all titles.
In a spare 30 minutes, you can ruthlessly sweep through one large bookshelf. If you need to keep certain books for up and coming younger children, then collect and store them in plastic totes. If not, make a plan to either give or sell them. I like to pass ours on at the end of the year to another homeschooling friend who needs them.
3. Clear a surface.
Clearing a surface can be accomplished quickly, and it pays off in positive vibes every time you look at it. I found this to be the case when I recently tackled my desk, which had been a source of cluttered frustration for months.
If you need some motivation to clear a few hotspots this spring, be sure to check out Project Simplify over at Simple Mom. It’s easier to make changes when you know you’re working with a virtual community.
4. Store any unused curriculum.
If I have a resource that isn’t working out for us, I stick it in a box in the attic. That way it’s not out cluttering up our shelves (or making me feel guilty for not using it), but it’s still accessible if I find I need it in the future.
Warning: Don’t let this be your excuse for accumulating boxes in your attic, though. Enough is enough!
5. Ration your art supplies.
Photo by Michelle Brunner
Some parents believe their kids need unlimited access to all art supplies in order to nurture their creativity. Others keep almost all supplies under lock and key, dreading the mess that ensues.
I think the right answer depends on the age of your kids. Are they going to use up an entire glue stick in one day? (Raising my hand here!)
In our home we have certain art supplies (block crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, stickers) out at all times. Other items–like glue sticks, tape, and scissors–have to be asked for. I always say yes, but it just lets me know who is using what before someone ends up with a haircut (It happens!). Really messy supplies–like glitter and paint–are stored separately for times when we’re working together and I can help out.
Your art supply philosophy will change as your kids get older, but not having to tidy up supplies multiple times can go a long way toward simplifying your day-to-day life.
Some days feel busy and harried, in spite of our best intentions to live simply. Remember: The goal of the simple life isn’t perfection; it’s creating a life that works best for you and those in your care.
Look around your home. Now imagine you have 30 minutes (or 5, 10, 15)–what would be the most useful area you could simplify?