I'm still sorting books and planning my homeschool year. I told you that it doesn't have to take all summer in last week's episode. But it obviously takes some time. As I've been going through things, I'm realizing that I have enough material to supply several homeschools. I wish you could stop by and tell me what you'd like. That brings me to the topic of the week: minimalism. Minimalism has held no appeal for me for a long time. It makes me think of sugar-free jello and decor-less walls. But lately my attitude has been changing. I'm looking forward to talking with you about it.
But first, I would love for you to check out the new site design at Psychowith6. I hope you like it! the free 30 Day Organized Homeschool Life Challenge is there for you if you haven't downloaded your copy yet.
Teaching Tip of the Week
Educents. Educents is a discounted curriculum provider. You can find special deals on the curriculum you love like Life of Fred. They also provide great freebies. If you click on my link, I'll receive a small commission that can help me defray expenses. I so appreciate you!
Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week
is the Bible Time Challenge.
How Homeschool Minimalism Can Save Your Sanity
I was recently reading an email from Allie of ThePurposefulHousewife.com. She shared how she was depressed and overwhelmed with three kids, ages three and under. She felt like all she did was clean, do laundry, and pick up toys. She said she went to the Lord with the problem. Essentially, He showed her that the reason she was spending so much time cleaning was because her kids had so much stuff. She spent that night sorting and purging the kids' toys, keeping only those toys that were beloved or engaged her kids in creative play. The difference her minimizing made in her home, her children, and in her were remarkable.
I wish I had read that when I had three kids three and under. I grew up with the idea that more was better. Anyone else? So when I had kids, I wanted to give them more. If a new cool toy came out, I wanted to get it. Allie kept a train set. I had many, many train sets. I had boxes of puzzles and shelves full of games. My children's favorite thing to do wasn't to play with the trains, puzzles, and games. It was to dump everything out and throw every small piece as far as they could. I never saw them do this, but I think that's what happened. My solution was to lock everything up. Invariably, the kids would break into the toy stash or I would leave doors unlocked because I was getting worn out from having to lock and unlock them constantly.
There are so many ways I failed. But I believe the primary way was by having too much stuff. Even if you limit your kids' toys, I believe it can help your homeschooling. But I started to think about how minimalism would operate in homeschooling. Let's chat about what minimalism isn't though, ok?
Minimalism isn't sticking to a ridiculously low budget or an unrealistic spending freeze.
Minimalism doesn't mean using the Bible as your only curriculum (though you certainly could).
Minimalism doesn't mean only using freebies. We covered how that can be a problem in the curriculum addiction episode.
Minimalism doesn't mean you have to get rid of things you love.
Minimalism doesn't mean trying to get by with an arbitrary number of things.
Once I realized that minimalism wasn't a miserable prison, I started to see the benefits that decreasing the number of things we have and do in our homeschool could have.
First, our school room wouldn't constantly be a mess. Even if books fell off the shelves, it wouldn't be an avalanche. Things would be so much easier to put away because there would be plenty of room for them.
Second, the kids would be more likely to finish their work. If they have to do work on ten different subjects, some of which have multiple curricula, they're less likely to do it. It seem so unmanageable. Just as importantly, the kids will be less likely to lose their materials. Someone is always claiming that missing curriculum is leading to missing work.
Third, I'll feel better about our homeschool. When I see the books, supplies, and curricula we haven't touched, I feel like a failure. I blame myself or the kids for not doing enough when the truth is we have too much stuff to begin with. It's hard to be a happy homeschooler when you're constantly down about what you're not doing.
There are many other benefits, but these are enough to motivate me. How about you?
How to Start as a Homeschool Minimalist
First, I recommend the book The More of Less by Joshua Becker. I listened to it as an audio book. That's a great way to limit the number of books coming into your house, but either way would be great. Joshua gives a very balanced view of the benefits of minimalism and how to start.
Second, as a homeschooler, I recommend that you go through all of your homeschooling materials. Set a timer for 15 minutes and quit if you feel like it. If you're raring to go longer, by all means indulge yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did I add this to my homeschool?
- Is the reason I added this to my homeschool still relevant?
- What does my past experience with this material suggest about my future use of it?
- Do I still need or love it?
- Would it give me more joy to make room by recycling or giving it to another homeschooler than to keep it?
Recycle, donate, or sell items that you feel convinced to remove to free up physical and mental space in your homeschool.
Part two of this second step is to go through your activities using the same questions. Are your classes and extra-curriculars still relevant? Do you and your kids still love them? If not, remove them from your plan for next year.
The third and final step is to recover. I just went through this process and I found it to be very emotional. I recycled piles and piles of paper from my college-bound son. I put books I loved reading with all six of my kids in a donation box. I'm a very sentimental person. I have loved each of my children's ages and stages and I had to acknowledge that I retired from teaching fourth grade and below. Except no one threw me a party or gave me a plaque. I need some mourning time, quite honestly. I'm getting through it by focusing on the new school year and the new stage of our homeschool. I'm not just letting go of things, I'm receiving new wonderful things. You will be too.
The second part of recovery for me is reassuring myself that I'm a good homeschool mom. I found all these legal-sized world maps that I was going to use to teach my kids to map the globe by heart. My oldest son's childish handwriting is on some of them. I was just sure that we would get to that someday. We haven't. I remember going to the office store to make all those copies that we didn't use and I feel like a loser. Sorry, but I don't know how else to say it. My attacks on myself for poor purchases and unrealized aspirations get mingled all together with mourning for what was. It helps to chat with my friends on HomeschoolScopes.TV. I learn that I'm not the only one who's spent hours prepping curriculum that went unused.
My husband took everything I put into donation boxes away immediately. I'm so glad. It's like not extending the good-bye because it's just too painful. You're probably wondering how I'm ever going to survive the end of homeschooling. So am I! I'm sharing this very personal part of my homeschool decluttering process with you because stuff always has to deal with emotions: always. We hold on to too many things for security, self-image, or for the memories. And just as we wouldn't expect someone to go on about their business after major surgery, a major removal of things from our homeschools requires recovery time. That may be particularly true of activities you've eliminated from your homeschool. For better or for worse, you won't be seeing some people or as often if you bow out of things. That's much harder for me than letting go of stuff is.
What I'm saying is that it's okay if you need to get used to minimizing in your homeschool. If you're just not ready, box things up and mark them with a date. If you haven't missed anything by then, remove them without looking at them again. With activities, you could commit to not participating in the activity for a semester or year. If you miss it dearly, you can almost always return to it.
Once you've minimized and recovered, start paying attention to how you feel. Are you less stressed? Do you have more time for leisure? Do you enjoy homeschooling more? How about the kids? Do they seem to be responding better to you, to homeschooling, to each other? If you pay attention to the benefits of minimalism in homeschooling, you will likely want to continue this process in other areas of your life.
Today's Action Steps
Check out Psychowith6.com and Educents. Listen to or read The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Go through your homeschooling materials and activities, minimizing them using some key questions to guide your decisions. Finally, recover.
Today's broadcast has been brought to you by The Organized Homeschool Life. This can be the year you finally get organized.
Have a happy homeschool week!