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If you're like most of my readers, you're committed to your family and creating the best home life possible. But the truth is, if you've given up one income to homeschool your kids, you may be struggling to make ends meet. That's why I wrote this special report, The 9 Best Business Ideas for Homeschool Moms, in which I help you design the best business to complement your family's goals. There's only one way to get it—by subscribing to my weekly blog updates here:
 
 

Parenting

burnout

Have you ever experienced bone-weary burnout?

Burnout has a way of creeping up on us. It begins with a quiet sensation of listlessness, followed by annoyance, accompanied by an occasional outburst of unexpected anger that you didn’t see coming.

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Great idea, huh? Well, maybe not!

Some homeschool moms may carry on for years before experiencing burnout, while others may experience it yearly, generally in the spring. Because, goodness, by then we are just plum worn out from teaching school all year long.

If you, like me, are feeling a sense of despondency, fatigue, or angst, it is time to head off burnout at the pass. This is the time of year that we can intentionally set up our children, routine, and schedule for success as we finish the year strong. Continue reading Help, I Feel Burnout Coming!

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The right priorities

And why am I always putting out fires?

Priorities… Everybody has them but everyone’s priorities are personal. While I cannot tell you what your priorities are, I can help you find them. And I can help you work on them more intentionally.

If I were to have you list out your top 5 priorities and then your top 5 time-consuming activities, they probably wouldn’t match up very well. Because the truth is that while we usually know what our priorities are, we struggle to find time for them.

Why? Because we are putting out fires, that’s why!

Let me demonstrate this to you using Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Priority Matrix. This is not new to you, but how we are going to approach it probably is. Continue reading How can I tell if my Priorities are Right?

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relationships matter - surprising

A week ago, Tuesday, I got the phone call no one wants to receive…

“Hello Terri, I’m calling to inform you that your mother collapsed. She is in a coma in the Cardiac ICU and her blood sugar is over 1000 (normal blood sugar is under 100). She’s not breathing on her own. Terri, your mom is on life support.”

Have you ever received a call like that? I’m sure you have. This is the kind of announcement that causes your knees to buckle and your head to swim. Suddenly, your day – once so planned out and organized – becomes a fog, a jumble of facts, phone calls, relatives, and swirling emotions.

And so, just like that, my day – correction, my whole week – became derailed.

What can you do when you become derailed?

Let’s face it, life is messy. It doesn’t always fit into our nice neat boxes like we want it to. As emotional beings, we can ride the pendulum from joy to despair and then back again, all within a single week, a day, or even an hour.

Here are 3 tips for getting through a rough day:

1. Connect with the ones who mean the most to you. Group hug your family, cuddle on the couch with your children, cry on your husband’s shoulder, laugh with your siblings, and listen to the ones who are hurting. Be an ear for those that need to process; be a shoulder for those that need to cry. Continue reading I was completely derailed…

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homeschooling and home business

Discover the Magic of Mapping out Your Week

Homeschooling is a growing movement. More and more parents are choosing to teach their kids at home for reasons that include individualized instruction, efficient use of time, the abundance of excellent curricula available, and the quality time they get to spend with their kids.

But for many families, to homeschool means to give up one parent’s income, which can become a financial hardship. What many families don’t realize, though, is that homeschooling does not preclude earning a second income.

Everyone is allocated the same 168 hours per week. The important idea to consider is how we use these hours. Let’s break it down.

Homeschooling takes less time than traditional schooling, because school time is more focused and intentional. You don’t need to use any of your time for assemblies, roll call, bathroom breaks, lining up, etc. Most families can be finished with their studies before noon, if they start around 8:30 or 9am. So, if it takes your children 3-4 hours per day to finish all their subjects, then you can allot 15-20 hours to homeschooling each week.

If you sleep for 56 hours (8 hours per night) and reserve 60 hours to “other” activities (such as errands, cleaning, meal prep and recreation), you still have 32+ hours left that you can devote to creating a second income. I spend about 20 hours per week running our two businesses from home (4.5 hours on 4 afternoons a week).

So, the time is there, if we use it wisely. But that is certainly not the only obstacle to working from home. As homeschooling moms, we are responsible for the care and supervision of our kids 24/7. All working parents need some type of child care, even those who work from home. However, public school parents utilize the school system, which provides built-in childcare. Homeschooling parents who wish to focus on work or building a business just need to get creative. That’s not a problem since creativity is our specialty!

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We are responsible for the care and supervision of our kids 24/7.

Here are some ways that creative homeschooling moms have carved out some uninterrupted work time: Continue reading Homeschooling & Home Business: A Match Made in Heaven

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How can balance be achieved through scheduling?

Being a homeschool mompreneur can get a little wacky, throwing our families into a tailspin, if we are not careful. Balance is important for everyone, but it seems to be particularly critical for moms.

Scheduling and mindfulness provide better balance

Scheduling and mindfulness provide better balance

I have not always been very good at maintaining balance in my life. I have gone through times over the years when I couldn’t stop working on my business and times when I didn’t want to work at all; I have endured a messy house for days on end and then went on a cleaning and decluttering rampage to rid my family of the mess once and for all; I have eaten perfectly and exercised faithfully month after month only to fall victim to a deadly combination of delicious home baked goodies and frightful weather that shook my resolve and dashed my good habits.

Through the passage of years and experience, I am learning balance. I am learning that planning and mindfulness are the keys to balance in my life. I would like to bet that this is true for you too. When I make an appointment with myself, I am likely to keep it. If I make something healthy, I am likely to eat it. If I have an audiobook or podcast on my phone, I am likely to take a walk to listen to it. If I schedule a day-off and plan something with my family, I am likely to show up. Continue reading Scheduling for Better Balance

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Do these results surprise you?

Last week, I asked my readers to take a survey about the direction of my blog. Hundreds of you were super helpful by filling out the 3 minute survey questionnaire here.

The answers were very revealing of this community. But in a good way!

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Most of my readers are married (but certainly not all) and are between the ages of 35 and 55. However, we have a good representation of youth and sage among us too.

51% of you have 2 or 3 children, 36% have more than that and 13% have fewer.

While 25% of you have been homeschooling for 3 years or less, 50% have been homeschooling for 8 years or more. That leaves 25% in the middle – homeschooling for 4-7 years. Wow, you all are amazing and dedicated teachers for your kids. Kudos to you! Good job!

Money is super tight for a small percentage of you; moderately tight for most and comfortable for some. It’s a classic bell curve. But if you had more money in the budget, these are the things you would do with it:

Continue reading Here are the Survey Results

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You’re a parent, so you know…A few hours after posting the 1st video in the FREE series, “3 Keys to Cracking the History Code,” I was in the kitchen with my two youngest kids. We were making lentil soup, which I haven’t made in a few years. But remembering that I like it, I convinced the kids to join me in chopping and dicing veggies for this delicious earthy stew.

My son, who is seven years old, says, “Mom, I am going to try this dinner tonight and I think that I am going to like it.”

I reply, “Okay, that’s good, honey. Why do you think you are going to like it?”

And this is the awesome part!

He says, “Well, lentil stew was one of Napoleon’s favorite meals. He also liked chicken and other ‘non-fussy’ foods. He was more of a soldier than a king in some ways.” He grins, sets down his knife and salutes.

Continue reading Out of the Mouths of Babes

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Are you wrapping up your school year or homeschooling through the summer? Because we live in the Pacific Northwest, we take a summer break to enjoy the glorious weather. There is no place lovelier than Oregon in summer. Well, that’s what we think anyway.

As an aside, when we lived in Texas, we schooled though the summer and took longer breaks during the spring and fall when it was more fun to go outside.

Anyway, we are thinking through our summer plans and the trips that we will take. We’ve got two trips up to Washington and a trip down to California planned. Plus, we’ll go camping at least once or twice.

In any case, it looks like we’ll be spending some time in the car. We don’t mind the kids watching a movie or two, but prefer that they spend the majority of their time in the car reading good books or playing games.

How about you? Do you have any road trips planned?

You may just need some great books and activities for all that time that you will be trapped (I mean, blessed!) with your kids in the car. Even a 2-3 hour car ride can get awfully long if you do not plan some activities or bring some good books for the trip. We have hand-picked our favorite KQ resources to make the time you spend in a small, crowded space for long periods of time… well, bearable!

In fact, there are only a couple days left to get some great resources for up to 50% off. You can check it all out here:

road-trip-sale

Perhaps you are planning now for the 2014/2015 school year already? Good for you! You can never plan too early. If you are planning / hoping to include any of these resources – What Really Happened, A Child’s Geography, Presidential Scrapbook, Star-Spangled State Book and more – this is the time to stock up! Many of these titles will not be discounted below retail prices again this year. Prices discounted from 25-50% off. Enough said… the prudent shopper will know what to do.

Here is the link to the sale again:

http://www.knowledgequestmaps.com/Road-Trip-Sale.html

Sale continues through Monday, May 19th at midnight. If you have any questions or need any assistance, write to helpdesk@knowledgequestmaps.com.

Bon voyage and may the wind be ever at your back!

Question: What are your best tips for making family memories on a road trip?

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We’re nearly there! Pat yourself on the back for reaching the finish line! You are a superstar – a champ! Most homeschooling parents like to take a summer break of some length even if it does not last a full 3 months. And we’re so close, we can almost touch it. But with the sun shining brightly outside and the weather warming up, it can be difficult to stay focused and finish the school year strong.

finish-race2

Here are 3 ideas to add some “kick” as you approach the finish line:

1. Change it up! Do something new to keep interest high as you compete for your kids’ attention. We asked our friends on Facebook what they do to regain their children’s attention or to stop fighting for it. Here are their ideas:

  • Go outside and run!
  • Turn up the music and dance!
  • Read aloud a chapter from an engrossing book
  • Do a unit study (like the free New Zealand one here)
  • Take a hike in the woods and collect something
  • Do push-ups or laps
  • Go to the park
  • Go to the library
  • 10 minutes on the trampoline
  • Play a board game
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Do an art project
  • Watch educational videos
  • Play educational computer games
  • Play Globalmania

2. Look Up! If you have been homeschooling your kids since August or September, then you might have your head down with your shoulder to the wheel. Sometimes we are just putting one foot in front of the other, homeschooling by rote, just to get by. Sometimes that is all we can do. But I encourage you to take a deep breath and look up!

Look into the faces of your children and truly see them. Take a hard look at your schedule and determine if it needs tweaking for your final weeks of school to make it work better for you (it’s okay to lighten it up). Open your eyes to the opportunities around you and make the most of them. Sometimes we are in so much of a hurry or so determined to accomplish something, that we lose the joy. Don’t lose the joy!

3. Throw an End-of-the-Year Party! We like to throw historical feasts 2-3 times a year, with one to finish up the school year. We dress in costume, cook period appropriate dishes and follow the social customs of the day. On our final day of school, we will also give out evaluations for our students up through 8th grade and updated transcripts with grades for our high school students. It is a fun night of recognition and makes for very fond memories. These memories last throughout the summer so that the idea of starting back to school is pleasant and doesn’t produce groans from the kids.

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Question: What are you doing to finish this year strong?

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If your home life is anything like mine, then you deal with chores and messes around the house on a constant basis. This is a fact of life for everyone, but for the homeschooling family, a messy and loud household with many opportunities for cleaning up is an ever-present reality.

How can we best manage our homes and maintain our sanity?

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Here are my 5 Best Tips for Keeping Your Home and Your Sanity:

1. Remember that this is a season!

I know that you hear it all the time, words like… “Oh, they grow up so fast!” and “This too shall pass,” and “It’s just a season.” It’s easy to just stop hearing these wise words and not really believe them anyway. As someone who has been raising kids for 20 years, I have now reached that place where I can say with emphasis, “Oh, they do grow up so fast!” But I am still raising little ones too, so I also know that 18-20 years of raising kids and helping them manage their life and messes is a long, LONG process!

Here is where I have landed on this issue… I like a clean house. I just do! But I also realize that living with children means that I will live with a little bit of a mess, sometimes a lot of big messes. My husband and I find ourselves looking forward to a home with less stuff, where everything is almost always in its place, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will miss the squeals and the fingerprints when we get there. So, we have resigned ourselves to a “lived in” look in our home, cherishing these years with all the mess and work that they bring with them.

But that doesn’t mean that we give up and decide that all is lost when it comes to keeping an orderly home. We have daily and weekly chores that must be done in our home both by us and by the children. Here’s how we tackle them and the big question that we ask ourselves when faced with an untidy or even downright messy house:

2. What Can You Do in 5 Minutes?

When I look around the house and I find it not up to my standards of clean and tidy, I try to ask myself this simple question… what can I do that would make a difference in the next 5 minutes? Sometimes, it’s doing a load of dishes or a load of laundry. Sometimes, it is clearing off the dining room table or the bathroom counter. Sometimes, it’s interrupting the kids and doing a quick 5 minute pick-up of the living room. If all you have is 5 minutes, you can make a measurable difference in one small portion of your home. Will your house be spotless in such a small amount of time? No, but you’ve made a difference.

When the children and I work together, we place bets on how long it will take us to accomplish a certain job. I usually hear the kids shout out anything between 2 and 10 minutes. We then work as quickly as we can, timing ourselves by the clock and see whose guess came the closest. We are always surprised by how quickly we can get a job done when we work together.

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This shot was candid and not staged!

3. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

You are not the housekeeper of your home, you are the homemaker. Big difference! Teaching our kids how to work is one of our primary jobs as “homemaker” and “parent”. In our home, our children have pets that they care for, daily chores to accomplish and weekly cleaning that usually gets tackled on Saturday. They also have to clean their rooms on a regular basis, but are encouraged to keep it tidy all the time (some children do a better job at this than others, that’s for sure!).

Draw up a chore chart so your children know what chores they are responsible for on a daily and weekly basis. This will make your job so much easier as you can just check the chart if kids need reminders. Better yet, they can check the chart and not even need reminders. It seems to take maturity and diligence to get them to this point of responsibility though.

4. Shoes Make You Feel More Energetic

I learned a long time ago from the Flylady (is she still around?) that wearing shoes make you feel more ready to do work. You feel more like you are “on task” with shoes on your feet. I don’t always obey this rule. I find myself wearing slippers quite often during the winter months. But I do keep this in mind if I have some significant house work to accomplish in a given hour of my day. If my husband takes the kids on a field trip or out for a hike, I will get jazzed up by the idea of an empty house, lace up my shoes, tackle extra housework in record time and then enjoy some much deserved R&R in the solitude of my empty home.

5. Get Help

After 24 years of cleaning my own home with the help of my husband and children, I did something radical (for me!). I asked my husband if I could hire a teenager to come over every other week to clean the house. We actually argued over this one because Todd felt like we were “giving up” or not managing our home well enough by employing help. He also felt that it would make life too easy for our children if someone else did so much of the heavy cleaning. After I pleaded with him for a few weeks, he gave in and allowed me to give it a try.

We now have a young lady come over twice a month to deep clean our house. I must admit that I love it! We still clean thoroughly on the off weeks that she doesn’t come, but it gives me the breathing room that I need to focus on some other things, like school and our business.

Many people cannot or would rather not hire a maid, but it is working really well for us in this “season” of my life. She does a fantastic job and she works for a smaller fee than the large housecleaning services available. So, if you find yourself drowning in housework, employ some of the tips above. I’d rather give up some of my housekeeping duties and focus more on other things that seem more important right now. Besides let’s face it, a family of 8 will always keep me plenty busy with cooking, teaching, driving, piano practicing, and listening.

Question: What are your best tips for maintaining your home and your sanity?

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