Homeschooling Without Crazy Busyness

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Hey homeschoolers!

I've always dealt with busyness–even in high school. It got crazy in grad school and is the subject of one of the chapters in So You're Not Wonder Woman. But the last few weeks I've noticed it's gotten crazy again. I'm looking forward to telling you why and what I'm aiming to do about it in a few minutes.


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Teaching Tip of the Week

is the Homeschool Mom Life Binder. This product is one amazing *printable* binder to organize ALL areas of the homeschool mom life. Seriously- it includes absolutely everything {undated so that it may be purchased once and used year after year} :
~ weekly/monthly calendars
~ meal planning
~ cleaning schedules (daily/weekly/monthly}
~pantry/freezer/refrigerator inventory sheets
~ financial tracking/budgeting worksheets and trackers
~pet health records
~automobile maintenance records
~babysitting information sheets
~homeschool planning pages
~attendance and grade trackers
~curriculum shopping lists
~digital curriculum inventory
~reading logs
~field trip logs
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~hyperlinked table of contents so that you can easily navigate to the section you need
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Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week

Special Study Prep Challenge

How to Homeschool Without Crazy Busyness

One of the reasons I homeschool is so I won't be caught in the crazy busyness I see plaguing so many families. They hurry everyone out of the house early in the morning, fight rush hour traffic to work and back, get the kids to sports or other activities, often in different locations across town, hurriedly shop for something quick to make or they pick up takeout, have a rushed dinner — sometimes in the car — try to help with homework, help little ones with baths, maybe run a load of laundry and fall into bed to start the day all over again. That is not my life.

The truth is my routine is enviable. During the school year I normally get up and exercise, write, chat with my husband over breakfast, and have devotion time. The kids get up later, do chores, and then we learn as a family until lunch. Afternoons are open for me for home tasks, blogging tasks, appointments and more. I have occasional evening activities for the kids that my teen drivers often handle for me. Usually evenings are family time. I have all the modern conveniences — a dishwasher, washing machine, a separate vehicle to drive. My husband doesn't work long hours so is often available to run an errand or a load of laundry. My curriculum business is just getting started. I don't have a warehouse or a staff to manage.

It's true that I have days when every child and my husband need my help with something. Those are also the days when something else goes wrong. The wifi goes down. The washing machine won't turn on. And someone has stolen my credit card number. But most of the time, my schedule is light and flexible. That's why I was struggling recently. Why did I have the stress level of an air traffic controller working overtime? Because I did. I didn't feel busy. I felt crazy busy — overwhelmed, running on fumes, on my last legs. I prayed about it, asking God what was wrong. I clearly saw the disconnect between my circumstances and how I felt. He answered by leading me to the book Crazy Busy.

Crazy Busy is written by Kevin DeYoung. He is a pastor and father of five. He isn't a homeschooling mom, but he does have many demands on his time. He is also a blogger and author so I felt a connection. Here is what I learned that I hope may be of help to those of you who feel crazy busy.

#1 Crazy busyness is psychological.

I often have people tell me they would be crazy with six kids and crazy if they homeschooled. They don't understand how I do what I do unmedicated, or in reality, why I do it at all. But that's not the only thing about me that some people can't relate to. I want to have time for blogging, writing books, volunteering at church, leading a Facebook group, doing regular Periscope broadcasts, recording this podcast, staying fit, playing tennis competitively, and staying up to date with scrapbooking. That just sounds crazy, doesn't it? But for me this variety of activities is less crazy-making than having too little to do.

Busyness, then, is defined by the doer. Something about my current activities was creating stress and it wasn't the time devoted or the variety of activities. If you feel crazy busy and you aren't working two or three jobs to put food on the table, your busyness may be more stress-related than due to your time usage. The second thing I learned was a huge breakthrough for me. I learned why I was so stressed.

#2 Crazy busyness is often a result of guilt.

There are some people who rarely feel guilty or motivated to please others. I'm not one of them. When Kevin DeYoung talked about how he felt the weight of all the good things he wasn't doing, I was so happy. I didn't know that my approach to these opportunities was the problem. I was also glad to know I wasn't the only one who felt this way.

Kevin mentioned the impression we can get that if we really care about pro-life issues that we need to be volunteering at a pregnancy center. If we have any compassion at all about sex trafficking, we ought to do something. If there's a mission trip, we ought to stop being selfish and just go already. Right? If you pay no attention to television, the news, or social media, you may be less plagued by this kind of guilt. But even in church, we're exposed to good works we can participate in.

On a given Sunday, I'm confronted by a mission trip video (I should have gone if I really cared about missions), a prayer request for the youth trip and the leaders (those people are giving up a whole week this summer to go with the youth? Why didn't I do that?), and a request for volunteers for five different ministries in the newsletter. We are personally bombarded with requests for money via snail mail, email, and by phone from all manner of ministries and nonprofits. As a blogger, I receive dozens of emails and Facebook notifications a week asking for help with promoting a cause, a party, a new ebook, product, or course. The most stressful requests come from the many friends I've made online.

It doesn't matter that I don't agree to help with all these opportunities. I feel enormous pressure and stress because I don't give myself to all of them. Maybe you think that's crazy and I couldn't disagree. I just know that that's how I'm wired. I tend to put myself in people's place and think, “How would I want my request to be treated?” I take the Golden Rule too far. I also feel like I can't honestly say that I can't meet this or that request. If I made it a top priority, I know I certainly could. It's like the popular question: “If I offered you a million dollars to do it, could you find time?” Yep, I could. So what's the answer to crazy busyness that's the result of guilt?

When Kevin reminded me that Jesus didn't meet every need during his years of ministry and felt no guilt, I felt this enormous weight lifted from me. Because Jesus left some people unhealed, I wasn't being a bad Christian if I didn't respond to every need. God wasn't expecting me to. He wants people to depend on Him, not me. And now that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, Jesus can meet every need perfectly.

#3 Crazy busyness is often a result of serving the wrong god.

Hearing that I want to help everyone I can, you may think that I'm a really selfless person. I hope I have pure motives for some of the people I help or have a desire to help, but the truth is that I often do things to win others' approval. More specifically, I worry about what people will think if I don't help them. Will they think I'm selfish, lazy, rude? What's really ridiculous about this is that I'm often worried about what people who don't know me will think. The Bible calls what I'm doing making an idol of other people's approval. There have always been people who don't approve of how I spend my time and there always will be. I live as if I can please everyone. In the process I don't please the people who mean the most to me.

Another way of thinking of this is taking someone else's call. In our church, we issue a calls to new pastors. We called our senior pastor by congregational vote and officially issued an invitation to serve our church as its leader. Imagine how surprised we would have been had another man shown up to take the call. No doubt the man we hadn't called would have complained about how crazy busy he was in his new role. This is what we do when we take someone else's call. God hasn't asked us to take on the task, but we do anyway. We take an opportunity from someone else and then feel stressed.

Here is how I'm going to apply these lessons to my homeschooling life going forward.

First, I'm going to keep my perception of busyness in perspective. I may feel busy grading seven papers for our co-op class every two weeks, but I don't have 25 students' homework to grade most weeknights. I may have plenty to do, but nowhere near what I would have if I worked outside of my home. I have a full life, but that's by design.

Second, I'm not going to do things just because I feel guilty. How I choose to spend those precious minutes and hours needs to align with my priorities and passions. I won't apologize for not agreeing to every request with an explanation of how busy I am.

Third, I'm not going to take someone else's call because I'm trying to earn the approval of man and not God. I'm going to feel the fear of others' disapproval and follow hard after God anyway. That's what Jesus did. And He wouldn't have called Himself crazy busy.

Last week I shared some thoughts about activities in the podcast on minimalism. You may find it helpful to listen to that episode, but I won't be mad if you don't. I do recommend evaluating every activity with “Why am I doing this?”

Maybe you aren't as prone to guilt as I am. Then how do you feel about what other homeschoolers are doing? When you see the amazing crafts on Pinterest, the nature walks on Instagram, and the cool science experiments on Facebook, do you feel you need to be doing more even though that's not your call? If you're doing something simply because that's what you think good homeschoolers do, you can find yourself being crazy busy.

Today's Action Steps

Like Homeschool Sanity on Facebook, order your copy of the Homeschool Mom Life Binder. Reevaluate your your busyness. Is your activity required or optional? Stop doing things out of guilt alone. Sure there is good guilt. But if there is no other motivation, it's a reason to take a hard look at letting something go. Pray about making your calling clear. If you know you're called to homeschool, but not necessarily to run a ministry, let someone else who is called to take over.

Today's episode has been brought to you by Grammar Galaxy — an elementary language arts curriculum that says good-bye to busy work. Check it out at

Have a happy homeschool week!

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