Tag Archives: Homeschool Manager

7 Easy Steps To Simplify Your Life Today

**This post may contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

I had originally written this series of posts in honor of National Simplify Your Life Week, which falls during the first week of August, I decided to make a short list of 7 easy steps that almost anyone can use to simplify their life starting today. With the New Year fast approaching I thought it might be helpful to post this again for anyone looking to simplify their life and have more FREE time.

Now I’m not talking about anything drastic like selling everything you own and moving into a small secluded cabin with no electric. This actually sounds like a really good idea to me right now but my kids wouldn’t really like that. The tips below will not only help you to simplify your life but they will help you to be more efficient.

Click on each link for more information and helpful tips.

  1. Take Care of Yourself
  2. Reduce Your Screen Time
  3. Learn to say NO without feeling guilty
  4. Declutter your closet (and your house)
  5. Get Organized
  6. Set Up Routines
  7. Pay Off Those Debts and Bills

I wish you the best of luck with getting your life simplified! Let me know, in the comments below, of any tips that you have used to simplify your life.

Click here to get started on Step 1.

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Homeschool Manager Giveaway

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If you read my post ‘Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.‘ then you can only guess how excited I am to be announcing this giveaway! If you haven’t read that post I encourage you to go check it out ASAP.

Click Here to Enter To Win One Year of Homeschool Manager for Free!

The only requirements are that you need to signup for Homeschool Managers Free 30 day – No Card Required – Trial  and comment below to let me know that you have done so. Also please be sure to enter your information in the Rafflecopter form in the link above or the one below!

Click Here to Enter To Win One Year of Homeschool Manager for Free!

Deadline to Enter is 8/18/18 @ 12:00am!

Good Luck!

Be sure to share this awesome giveaway with your friends and on your social media also keep an eye out for another giveaway coming soon on one of our Facebook pages.

Kirby’s Kids: Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Curriculum Reveal

*This post does contain some affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

Ohhhh! I am so excited to be sharing this post with you. The kids are pretty excited about it too! My fingers are going faster than my brain as I am typing and somehow or another they are managing to put into words what I want to say. I did show a sneak peak of some of the items we’ve received in this post here but now I am going to show you everything we have right now.

If you haven’t seen my latest posts about homeschooling check out the links here but if you are only interested in what we have planned for this year, please keep scrolling.

I’ve been talking about how excited I am for our next homeschool year and I just can’t wait to get started. I have actually talked about this curriculum before but its been awhile. My kids are finally at the age that I think this will work out really well for everyone. Continue reading Kirby’s Kids: Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Curriculum Reveal

Weekly Routines

I hope you have had a chance to read through my other posts on routines. If you have then you are probably wondering what Weekly Routines are.

For me these are tasks that need to happen on a weekly basis. I have divided these tasks up by certain days but sometimes I may complete them ahead, or behind, schedule. These just help to keep our house running smoothly and keep the cleaning from becoming such a chore.

Sundays are more of a resting day for us here. The only things I have listed to do on Sundays are:

  1. Check for newspaper coupons
  2. Empty all trash

I will go to Couponmom.com to see if there are coupons in the current week’s newspaper and then I will either make a quick trip to get 2 papers or ask someone else to pick them up for me. (I will need to do another post on couponing.)

Then I will also have the kids check the various trash cans and empty them. Our trash collection runs on Monday morning so we try to get it all ready ahead of time.

Mondays here can be a little hectic just like they are for everyone else. Monday is normally the day when I try to do our ‘house blessing’, another FlyLady term. I have actually divided these tasks between Monday and Tuesday but will try to get as many finished on Monday as possible.

  1. Take the trash to the road
  2. Wash clothes — Ds3 & DS4
  3. Scrub & Shine the sink
  4. Wash coffee pot in the dishwasher
  5. Dust*
  6. Vacuum*
  7. Purge magazines*

So the first one is pretty self explanatory but sometimes I forget so it helps me to remember. Someone usually has to help the boys to get their hamper to the laundry room but they can load/unload the washer and the dryer. You can see our Laundry Routines for more info on the second one.

Third is to scrub and shine my kitchen sink. I try to wipe out the sink every night before bed but it does seem to need a good scrubbing once a week to keep it nice and shiny.

I rinse the coffee pot out each day but by the end of the week it starts to look a little dingy. A quick run through the dishwasher takes care of that and it is ready to go again.

The last three marked with an * are parts of our ‘house blessing’ which I learned from the FlyLady. Each of these tasks can be completed in 10 minutes or less at my house.

The weekly dusting I do is not the pull everything off the shelves and dust each piece individually dusting that my Mom-mom had me help with when I was little. This is just taking a feather duster and quickly dusting through the house. I also dust the blades of the ceiling fans once a month. We live on a dirt road so dust builds up rather quickly.

Same with the vacuuming, 10 minutes or less, just vacuum the main areas. I am fortunate enough that my vacuum has a long enough cord that I can pretty much plug it into an outlet near the kitchen and be able to reach my bathroom, my bedroom, the playroom, the living room and most of the other bedrooms. The kids are responsible for vacuuming their rooms at least once a month. We don’t move the furniture or anything like that, unless we are rearranging or deep cleaning, as there will be a day that is designated for that with our daily missions from FlyLady.

To purge magazines doesn’t take long at all. I have a stack of magazines and only keep a set number. Once we reach that number I will either pass them along to someone else or throw them away if they are in bad shape. I do keep a few of them to use for art projects as well.

Tuesdays have another set of tasks that are completed each week. These include:

  1. Wash Clothes – DS14
  2. Clean room – DS14
  3. Polish*
  4. Mop*
  5. Clean out fridge
  6. Clean out microwave
  7. Meal planning
  8. Mow the play yard

OK. The first one is just something we do everyday, and the second is something I have recently added. DS14 is special needs and sometimes his hygiene practices are questionable. While I am trying to teach him to be as independent as possible his room often needs attention. He will sometimes spit everywhere or lick the walls, I know it’s gross, or do other things that cause his room to smell funky. So I get him to strip his bed and we thoroughly clean his whole room, wipe down the walls, shampoo the carpets, etc. every Tuesday. I have a system to my cleaning and can usually have his room cleaned in about 15 minutes. This helps everyone in the house and is just something that really has to be done.

Again the ones marked with an * are parts of our ‘house blessing’. These take 10 minutes or less to do. I grab a rag and a bottle of Windex and run, maybe not run as running isn’t allowed but I do move quickly, and wipe off all the shiny surfaces first. Shiny surfaces would be the mirrors, glass, TVs, computer monitors,etc. I also try to wipe all the light switches,remotes, and kitchen appliances like the stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Then I do a quick wipe of the tops of my coffee tables and end tables. I will also wipe some of the newer cabinets that we have as they seem to be a magnet for sticky hands.

When everything is all nice and shiny we do the mopping. I use a steam mop but a regular mop is just fine. This is not a get down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor either. I will fill my steam mop with water and set it to ‘scrub’. Then I first use it on my kitchen table and benches. It helps to get any of the ‘stickies’ that DD8 may have missed. After I finish with that I will do the kitchen, laundry room, and entry ways. I save the bathroom for last. Then the mop pad goes into the hamper for the whites. This is normally 10 minutes or less as the cord for my mop reaches to every room except the back bathroom.

The key is to keep it under 10 minutes for each task. The house blessing is not the time to do a major detail cleaning. That can be added to your To-Do list for another time.

I will try to put a cup of water in the microwave before I start mopping. I set it for 2-3 minutes and leave it. By the time I finish mopping I can open the microwave and just wipe it out really quick. If I didn’t get the outside of it when I was polishing I will give it a quick wipe also.

Same with the fridge. I don’t take everything out. I quickly grab anything that needs to be thrown out and empty it. Then I just wipe off the shelves and clean up any obvious messes. There will be another day to do a major deep cleaning of the fridge. I will also polish up the outside if I missed it earlier.

Once the fridge is clean and I can see what we have and don’t have or what may need to be used I will review my menu plan and start a grocery list.

Sometimes I have DS21 here and will have him mow the yard. When he mows he will mow everything that needs mowed. If I am mowing I just break it down into smaller segments that I can do quickly. The play yard needs the most attention as the kids are out there almost every day.

Wednesdays are more of an errand day here:

  1. Change sheets
  2. Wash whites
  3. Make grocery list
  4. Clip coupons
  5. Grocery shopping
  6. Drop off donations
  7. Get gas

I have the DD8 & DD9 change the sheets on their beds. (I keep an extra set of sheets for everyone’s bed so they can remake the bed after they strip it down.) Then DS3 & DS4 will also bring in their sheets. I also strip my bed down and remake it as well, as Momma needs to lead by example. I know everyone has different opinions on how often sheets should be washed but I like to do them every week. If the weather is nice I will hang them outside because it makes them smell so good!

I keep a hamper in my bathroom for the whites. When anyone has anything that needs to bleached they put it in that hamper. DD8 & DD9 are responsible for gathering up any used/dirty towels, bath rugs, and wash rags and bringing to the laundry room to be washed with the whites also. After the sheets are washed I will throw in the load of whites.

While the kids are doing their school work I will start working on the grocery list again. I will check the sales and print off lists for each store that I plan to visit. Then I will pull the coupons out and clip what coupons I need and put them in my binder. I also try to check for ecoupons if I have time.

Once the kids are down for naps and DD17 is up and ready to babysit I will head to the grocery store(s). While out I will drop off any bags or boxes or donations that we have accumulated the week before. There are many different drop bins in town so I will stop at whichever is closest to where I am going. I will also try to fill up with gas while I am out.

Once I am home everyone helps to unload the truck and put away the groceries.

Thursdays are usually kind of slow here. The kids are ready to be done with their school work for the week and Momma is usually ready for them to be finished also.

  1. Wash clothes – Momma
  2. Restock the bathrooms
  3. Carry shopping bags to the truck
  4. Vacuum
  5. Call Mom

Again we have laundry, Thursday is my day to wash clothes. DS3 and DS4 like to help with restocking the bathrooms. They know where to put the toilet paper and are always to eager to help. I check the bottles of soaps and such. I will refill the soap containers, if needed and bring new shampoo, conditioner, and/or body wash to each bathroom, as needed.

The next one just helps me to remember my reusable grocery bags. Sometimes I just throw them on the bench at the back door and forget about them. Then when I go grocery shopping I can’t find them so I just have this as a reminder for myself.

We will do a really quick vacuum through the house. We are surrounded by sand and there are many feet that walk through our house on a daily basis. Everyone takes their shoes off at that door but the sand still finds its way to the carpet. Not to mention the other little things like the paper bits off of notebooks and such. This quick task just keeps the house looking freshly cleaned.

Last I have ‘Call Mom’ on my list. Sadly I admit that I do not talk to my family as much as I probably should. We text but that isn’t the same connection as actually talking to someone and hearing their voice.

Finally Friday! Yay! Who am I kidding? I don’t get the weekend off. As our week is winding down we have a few more things that we do just to keep everything under control.

  1. Wash clothes -DD8 & DD9
  2. Clean out vehicles
  3. Clean out purse
  4. Clean out work boxes
  5. Mop
  6. Pick up in the yard

Not too bad, we have laundry as usual.

I will grab a grocery bag and one of the kids to help me with cleaning out the truck. It isn’t usually too bad as we try to pick up our messes as we go. I will change out the trash bag I keep in the truck too. I try to do a quick wipe down of the seats, dash, , steering wheel, and console while I am in the truck as the dust is really bad. (I should probably get me a small duster to keep in the truck.)

Then I try to clean out my purse as we all know how receipts and things can pile up in there. Also kids will always hand you things to keep for later and then never reclaim them.

I have the kids clean out their work boxes. Our work boxes are just simple plastic containers that hold their pencil pouches, notebooks, and workbooks for school. During the week the kids manage to accumulate massive amounts of paper and trash in their boxes. By cleaning them out once a week I can try to help them tame their clutter monsters.

Again I do a quick mop as it is usually needed by Friday. I don’t do the table and benches though unless they are super sticky or something.

The kids will also grab a grocery bag and run around the yard to pick up trash that has blown in and get rid of broken toys that may be laying around.

Saturdays are pretty simple:

  1. School planning
  2. Check oil/fluids in vehicles

I try to find a little time on Saturdays to get the following weeks lessons planned out and entered into our Homeschool Manager app. I will also check to make sure that I have entered grades and checked off the completed assignments. I try to go ahead and make printouts or copies of the things we will need and put them into my file organizer.

Vehicle maintenance is important and as I don’t have anyone else to do it for me I have to remind myself to keep a check on everything.

This is the basic run down of our day by day weekly schedule here. I know it may seem complicated or seem like a lot of things to do but its not really all that bad. These tasks and routines are what keeps our house running as smoothly and stress free as it does.

When you first start your routine it will take a bit of time to get used to it. Start simple and basic and slowly add things to it. Pretty soon it will come as second nature. You will immediately start to see the results of doing things on a regular basis. I wish you all the best of luck!

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly Routines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Homeschooling Beginning

Original Blog Post April 14, 2016
When we first decided to start this homeschooling adventure in January of 2015 it was overwhelming! I was nervous, excited, scared, and eager to be the best I could be. I just knew that this was the best thing I could do and that I would be the perfect teacher. Well that last thought was short lived.
I thought I would plan for a couple of weeks and then pull my special needs son out of public school. He had a couple of fun outings planned and I didn’t want him to miss out as he was looking forward to them. Well one thing led to another and he had a couple of medical issues that led to him being pulled out earlier than I had anticipated. The medical issues had also prevented me from ‘planning’ out anything. So there I was with him at home and 2 toddlers too. Crazy? Yes!
So I quickly joined a couple of special needs groups on FB. Only to be criticized and put down by my apparent ignorance of his condition and lack of knowledge about his educational programs at school. (I didn’t want to go into details with them about the fact that he was recently adopted and that I really didn’t know a lot about his history. I had broke down crying at the first IEP because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do and they had revealed a lot of things about his history that I had not been aware of. It was a completely heartbreaking experience. I also didn’t know that there were resources out there to help me through the whole process.) I was a wreck.
Then I had emails and calls from the school system and they just confused me more. I had submitted the necessary paperwork but I was constantly worried. This constant worry made me exhausted. To top it all off I couldn’t get him to ‘keep up’ with his program that we had signed up for. I was afraid that I had made a huge mistake and that I was failing him.
The FB groups had given me a little direction about online programs. I enrolled him at Kindergarten level and we got started. He was excited at first and always wanted to do ‘school work’. The problem was that he would only do the activities that he liked and he would absolutely refuse to do anything else. If I left him unattended he would be playing games or such and not doing actual work. Well in less than 2 weeks I was frustrated, he was frustrated and so was everyone else in the house.
We were spending 8+ hours/day on kindergarten work! The house was really showing it. Dinners were made but not anything to brag about in any way, shape or form. I was trying to keep a smile on my face when others asked how our homeschooling was going. Inside I felt like they were just laughing at me and saying, ‘I told you so.’.
I prayed and prayed and asked God for help. Guess what? I should’ve been more sincere in my prayers in the beginning. I was using google (my best friend) and researching more resources when I found Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. This has been such a blessing to our family and it has lifted so much stress off of me that I want to shout it out to the world. This site is also absolutely free. (There are optional materials that you can buy and you can also make donations.)
I started out using this with just my one son but then the 2 little guys joined in. Wow! Can it really be this easy? Are they really learning? Yes and yes! Once I was able to feel a little bit more comfortable with the homeschooling process I was able to let go of some of my ‘school’ mentality. This is our home, not a school, and this is where we learn but it is also where we live. In short I had felt ‘pressured’ to make our learning are look like school. Once I let go of most of that then our journey really began.
Then as the end of the school year approached I started feeling the stress creeping back up. A lot of talk about evaluations and I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to ‘prove’ what he had learned. He was 12 and working at Kindergarten level. I could see the progress he was making but would this evaluator? Who would I use that would take his special needs into consideration? A million questions and no answers. Again I turned to God and prayed that he would show me an answer. He did. In one of the new FB groups I had joined I read about Florida Unschoolers . It is a completely free private umbrella school in Florida.
Hmm… This was new. I had another million questions. What was an umbrella school? Would I qualify? Can it really be free? Will I need evaluations? What the heck is unschooling? The site will answer all of those questions and more.
There is also a FB group which has been a very valuable resource for me. I researched a bit and then enrolled my son. Shortly afterwards I pulled 2 of my other kids out of public school and enrolled them. I had planned in my head to let them finish the school year out but plans changed. One of my girls, who was in 2nd grade, was having a horrible time keeping up with her schoolwork and she was stressed out by the upcoming end of the year tests. One was in Kindergarten and she was stressing over evaluations and coming home saying she wasn’t ‘smart enough’.
There were also some bullying issues. We had also had a couple of close calls at the bus stop when people ignored the flashing lights and stop signs. They were in elementary school! The stress was causing my 2nd grader to act out and I found myself going to school several times to pick her up because of mysterious illnesses. Then I got an email from her teacher stressing how important it was for her to do her best. She needed to be reading at a higher level (3.2?) and she wasn’t there yet. That was enough for me. I withdrew them from school that week and they were private schoolers the next week.
Last summer as school preparations were being made my high schooler made the decision to become a private schooler too. Yes, we still ‘homeschool’ but technically they are enrolled with a private school. We haven’t looked back. Life is so much calmer. Yes, we have tough days, and sometimes tough weeks. We rarely have a ‘perfect homeschool’ day… actually today has been pretty close… but perfect doesn’t matter because we are learning. I say ‘we’ because I am learning too.
I am learning about my children, each individual soul, and how they learn best. We are all learning better ways to communicate and relate to others. This whole experience has brought us closer together and made our lives so much better. I am able to spend more individual time with each of them, time that teachers in a 30+ student classroom simply don’t have. I also worked with our family doctor and both of my special needs kiddos are completely off their medications. This was an unplanned benefit. With the kids at home I was able to help them learn their triggers and by setting up routines we all know what is expected and when it is expected. When there are changes we deal with them and we learn how to handle them in appropriate ways.
There are also cons to this. I NEVER get a break from my kids. Ok, I do go grocery shopping once a week, but other than that someone is usually always with me. There is a lot of planning involved, which this is mostly my own stubbornness to let completely go of ‘school’ mentality. I like to have everything planned and scheduled so I can keep track of progress. I am also a little paranoid sometimes that someone will show up at my door and ‘demand’ proof that my kids are in school and learning. I was also stressing a bit about high school transcripts. I had never done them and I had researched several sites but I was still a bit confused. I just didn’t have the time to invest in figuring it out.
That brings me to another really important resource that I have recently found. Yes, I had been praying that God would help me get this homeschool stuff more organized. I had a few different things here and there. I was working on my own spreadsheet/calendar system but I really didn’t have the time I needed to get it the way I wanted. We did use a notebook system at the beginning of this school year. It worked wonderfully except that when I had to write down everything for each child it was a lot of work. Again on FB I found an app called Homeschool Manager . This is not a free app but they did, and probably still do, offer a free trial. It took me a bit to set it up because I have so many kids. But within the first week I had signed up and paid for the membership. This site is amazing and they are constantly adding new features. They also have a FB group for support and advice.
With this app I can almost instantly print off reports for attendance and grades. I can print off schedules and the kids can check off the tasks as they do them. I enter grades into the system and it will keep track of everything. It will even print off transcripts when I need them. Well, its about lunch time for us here. I really hope this might be a helpful start for anyone considering homeschooling. I know I don’t have a lot of resources in this post but I will work on future posts that will include some resources.
I want everyone to know that I am not ‘bashing’ public school and I know that it works for some kids. (I have 3 who graduated from public school and are wonderfully, normal young people.) I am also not saying that homeschooling is the answer to every problem but this is what is best for our family at this time. I also want everyone to know that I have not been, nor do I expect to be paid, for naming any of the sites in this post. I just want to be a help for anyone out there with the same struggles that I have been through.