Hi there! Join me this month for My Journey to Homeschool series. In this series, I’ll be sharing the why behind our homeschool and the process it took to get from there to here.
If you’re new to this blog, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.
Last week, I shared How We Pulled Off an Entire Year of FREE Curriculum.
This week, I’ll be sharing how I plan for homeschool and manage my life.
We couldn’t have made it through our first three homeschool years without a vision and a plan. My planning routine has pretty much stayed the same over the years, the only difference is I’ve gotten a bit fancier. Instead of just typing everything out on a Word document and printing it, I made a customized home management binder with cute inserts.
Why do I use a home management binder rather than a store-bought planner? Because most planners are too small for my needs. With a home management binder, I can literally three-hole punch my entire life into it—and I have!
Read on to see what I put into my home management binder. There’ll be free printables at the end! For privacy purposes, I won’t be sharing my exact write-ins for certain schedules. I hope you don’t mind.
1. Daily Do-To List
This is pretty self-explanatory. What’s different than most to-do lists, though, is that I also include a water intake tracker and a section to list my daily gratitudes. I got this great idea from a Youtuber called Jady Alverez. I simply laminate this insert so that I can reuse it with a dry erase marker. Check out my sample “To-Do List” below.
2. Events Calendar
This comprises all events from homeschool fieldtrips, sports games and practices, co-op days, playdates, birthday parties, extracurricular activities, local family events, holidays and more. I will also chart doctor and dentist appointments here. Check out my sample events calendar below. Of course for privacy reasons, this is an unofficial sample. Wouldn’t want anyone showing up at my kid’s soccer games.
3. Daily Tentative Schedule
This is more of a routine than a schedule. I basically like to picture what a perfect day would look like and write it down. That makes it more of an ideal than a reality, doesn’t it? Haha. But it does help our days flow better even if we don’t follow it verbatim.
I know some of you like seeing other people’s schedules, so here it is! Our REAL schedule. Just know “momma time” seldom happens, but I do workout in the evenings so that sort of counts as momma time, right?
You’ll notice that I’ve also noted the days I plan to rest, have a family day, and buy groceries. Optimal grocery shopping time happens between 3 and 5:30 on Thursdays. However, if we have a fieldtrip or some sort of outing that week, I’ll typically pick up groceries straight afterward. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m realizing Tuesdays after co-op is probably the best day to swing by the grocery store since it’s on the way home. Hmmm.
It’s safe to say this schedule only works when it’s a non-event day. I think the key to a functional routine is to leave some wiggle room. That way there’s more flexibility on the days we have fieldtrips, co-op, and other events to attend.
4. Daily Homeschool Schedule
I keep a separate homeschool schedule so that I can go into more detail as far as time management goes. It also helps me plan how to divide my time between my two children. Typically, all the subjects my oldest son can work on independently is the time I’m scheduled to work with my kindergartner. Again, this is ideal, but we try to stick with it as much as we can.
I will share our actual schedule so that you get a gist of how things work with teaching more than one child around here. This is tentative, so it’s likely to change as we get into a good groove.
One thing you’ll notice is that some subjects are missing. That’s because we’re working with the Good and Beautiful curriculum this year and it comprises multiple subjects that include phonics, spelling, grammar and punctuation, literature, art, writing, and geography. I labeled that curriculum “Fluency” and “Course.”
Another thing you’ll notice is that we don’t have “free” days. Many families reserve Fridays for makeup work or fieldtrip days. We don’t. One reason is that we attend fieldtrips primarily with our homeschool group and choose dates that are available, which isn’t always on a Friday. Another reason is that we don’t take as many breaks as public-schools, so I sort of view those extra school days as a way to stay on track.
5. Blog and Work Schedule
I don’t have a 9-5, but I do work on many projects throughout the year. Since most of those projects are monetarily compensated, I label them as “work.” I like to keep a separate blog and work schedule because they allow me to see the full picture at a glance. I laminate these schedules so that I reuse them with a dry-erase marker.
Here is my actual “work” schedule. My goal was to keep it pretty light because I want to enjoy the last few weeks of summer with my family.
When do I work on these projects? VERY late at night. However, I do try and commit to the bulk of my projects during school breaks and summers. I have set work days, but I honestly just work whenever I have time. Today has been a sixteen-hour day so far, but that is normal for Mondays.
Yes. I said sixteen. I’ve been working on this project from noon to past four in the morning and counting. I don’t think people realize the time it takes to create and publish quality content.
And this is why I only blog once a week. For one, blogging is not all that I do. For two, I’d be super sleep deprived trying to cram a bunch of blogs in during the homeschool year. I love blogging and earning extra income, but not at the expense of my well-being. If I’m a mess, my kids will also be a mess. They are only this small once. When they’re older, they’ll be plenty of time to invest more of myself in these types of ventures. The internet isn’t going anywhere.
6. Workout Schedule
This isn’t a fantasy schedule. I actually do workout 3-5 times a week. It’s typically during the evenings between 8 and 11 pm at our local gym. I do cardio each of the days I go and have a different target muscle group for each weight training session. Below, I share my workout routine.
They say you make time for what’s most important, and physical fitness is important to me for three reasons. One, it lifts my mood. Two, it makes me look and feel great. Three, it’s my me-time. Most people like to listen to music while working out, I love listening to podcasts and learning more about my interests!
7. Cleaning Schedule
I like to break my cleaning schedule into two categories: Daily Cleaning and Weekly Cleaning. I used to also have a monthly cleaning agenda, but NEVER lived up to it, haha. You know, things like washing the windows, walls, etc.? Yea, those things got done when they got done.
For daily cleaning, I try and do a load of laundry each day. Admittedly, some days I forget. We also take turns unloading and loading the dishwasher and doing afternoon and evening pickups to get the house in order. Sweeping the floors and wiping down kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces is also a given.
For weekly cleaning, on my list of to-do’s is washing the bedding and linens, cleaning out the cars, deep cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, and mopping the floors, and taking the trash to the curb on trash day. Everything else like dusting, washing baseboards, and cleaning the windows, fridge, oven, etc. will get done on an as-needed basis. And by as-needed, I mean when I’m tired of looking at it. Got to keep it real, here.
I DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT, do all the cleaning. My boys have a chore checklist. My husband primally cleans the bathroom and takes the trash out. And we all pitch in on the dishes and other daily chores around the house. Therefore, laundry, cooking, and vacuuming are primarily the things I do by myself on the regular basis.
8. Weekly Meal Planning
I also laminate my weekly meal planner so that I can reuse it with a dry-erase marker. The categories are broken down into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Here is our actual meal plan for the week. Try not to judge me too much, haha. This is primarily for my boys. My husband and I do smoothies for breakfast and leftovers for lunch.
I’ve been asked about meal planning a few times and the key for me is eating the same thing in rotation! One week, we’ll have PB&J with fruit and cheese for lunch. Another week, we’ll have cheese quesadillas and apple slices for lunch all week. The same with breakfast and snacks.
For dinner, we have a few tried and true recipes we like to rotate with. I always cook extra for leftovers the next day and a possible lunch for my husband and I. In total, I only cook dinner about 3 times a week. That is the power of leftovers! Spaghetti leftovers in itself will last us three days—lunch included.
9. Favorite Recipes
Yes, I have a list of all my favorite recipes. I get most of my recipes from Divas Can Cook and tweak them to suit our needs. While I made cute inserts for my recipe lists, I find it’s just easier to print them from their home website. I then put them into sheet protectors and place them into my home management binder. These recipes are great to have on hand when meal planning and making my shopping list.
Here’s an example of how to use the planner inserts to record recipes. And, yes, beef stew is one of our favs!
10. Monthly Budgeting
The most dreaded of them all, but it must be done. Once again, I laminate these inserts for repeated use. I’m still learning the art of budgeting, but found it helpful to log these expenses in an excel spreadsheet at the end of each month. Since we are business owners, this helps keep us in the practice of being financially responsible. We also keep a business log specifically for business expenses, but that’s best done in Excel.
For obvious reasons I won’t be providing our exact budget figures, so here’s a sample version of how to use this planner insert for your home management binder.
11. Business Receipts
As business owners, keeping track of important receipts is vital. I place the receipts into a plastic pocket folder made for binders. This way they are easily accessible and we don’t have to go looking for them when we need them. I also place my warranties in this folder.
12. Important Documents
I currently have three pocket folders in my binder labeled the following: Medical Records, Homeschool Records, Important Records. This is where I’ll keep vaccination and health records for my boys, homeschool DOI’s and registration info for programs and sports, family membership info, birth and marriage certificates, and other legal documents. This is especially convenient when I need to register my child for something and I need their birth certificate, vaccination records, and so forth.
13. Vision and Mission Statements
You must have a vision for where you’re going and a plan to get there. That’s why I chose to write a vision and mission statement for our homeschool, businesses, and family. It’s helpful to refer to these statements often to keep me on track with my life goals.
Below are our actual vision and mission statements for homeschool. They change every year.
14. Inspirational Quotes and Scriptures
This is a new addition this year. I wanted to compile a list of inspirational scriptures so that I can read them every morning before I start my day. I thought it would be helpful to print and laminate them so that I can keep them in my binder for easy reference.
Here’s one of the pages. I currently have three pages worth of favorite scriptures. I’m working out filling out my favorite quotes page.
Other things in my home management binder that I find extremely helpful and convenient?
15. Birthday Reminders
16. Important Numbers (Pediatrician, Dentist, Contact Persons, Etc.)
17. Address Book
18. Password Log (Use password hints rather than the actual password)
19. Business Log
20. Shopping List & Notes
21. Weekly At-a-Glance
Here’s what they look like at a glance! Get a real preview, here.
I must say, this home management binder is a real blessing to me. It makes life so much easier and cuts down on the time I have to search for things. What’s also great about it is my husband, or any family member, can use and refer to it if I’m traveling, sick, or out of town. They’ll know everything from our daily schedule to our favorite recipes and where to find important medical info for the boys.
Today, I’m sharing three FREEBIES from this awesome collection of planner inserts! Click the image below to download and get a great start to the upcoming school year!