Category: Home Management

Word of the Year – 2019

word of the year

I’m sure you’ve heard the idea of choosing a Word of the Year. If not, basically it means choosing a word that represents what it is you would like to focus on for the year. This directly relates to some sort of goal in your life. And in some cases, the word can even be turned into a phrase.

I’ve heard about this trend for a couple of years now but was a bit skeptical. I usually prefer to wait it out to see if it is something that lasts (thus verifying its usefulness). I also want to make sure something is biblical or at least doesn’t go against God’s Word before jumping into it.

But this trend not only seems to be hanging on, I would even venture to say that it is growing. So this year, I decided to join in. But in my typical overachiever sort of way, I’m choosing two words. One for my personal life and one for our homeschool. And in order to keep my goals in God’s framework for my life, I’ve chosen a Bible verse to go with each of these words.

Now, I could combine them both under the same word and verse. However, the way I see it, the goal I have for my life can be vastly different from that for my homeschool. This is mainly because I have to consider others’ goals as well as my own when planning for the homeschool year.

If you are curious about trying this but aren’t sure how, here’s a rundown of how I did it. It’s not too late. And it just may help you achieve those goals you’ve spent time creating.

Personal Word of the Year – Intentional

The first thing I did before even thinking of potential words, is to review my past year. I looked at everything I had been through both as a mother and wife but also as an individual. This is necessary to know not only what worked but also where I struggled most.

On the whole, last year was a pretty good year. But there were some things I had not achieved by the end. On top of that I added to my list of responsibilities.

Review of Last Year

First, I wanted to lose weight and get in better shape by eating healthier. I started learning about herbal remedies and was beginning to apply them to our daily life. But I couldn’t seem to shake the bad habits I had acquired with eating.

Because we are such a busy family and are quite isolated with no real family or friends in the area, we would often be too tired in the evenings to make a healthy meal. We often fell back on the classic and easy meal of sandwiches or casseroles made from processed goods and sometimes even take out.

I tried to implement a meal plan. But we never truly followed it. Instead, after activities were over and it was late, we’d be so tired from the long day of running around. And we needed to eat quickly so the kids wouldn’t be going to bed too late. So, sandwiches it was. Or pizza. Or something equally fast and easy.

Then, in September, I added another child to the homeschool schedule, one that would need a lot of hands-on. My second daughter would need to be taught to read and need the basics of math (and every other subject). Because she could not yet read and was just starting out, I needed to be present for every single subject we worked on. Especially the French.

And in November, I made the decision to finally launch this blog after years of wishing for it. I just jumped in with both feet and said, “Let’s do this!” But of course, this added a huge responsibility and demanded even more time. Time that I barely had enough of as it was.

My word and verse needed to take all this into consideration.


The one thing that all these struggles had in common was my attention. I needed to be physically and mentally present for each and every one. But attention wasn’t a strong enough word to help me grow.

After much deliberation (and just as much prayer), I found the word intentional. This was exactly what I needed to succeed in all aspects of my life. I need to be intentional. Above all, this reflects God’s purpose for me as well.


The definition of intentional is stated (on as:

  1. done with intention or purpose; intended; and
  2. of or relating to intention or purpose.

I then looked at to get some related words to clarify it even more for me. The first four synonyms clinched it for me. Calculated, premeditated, voluntary, willful. Let’s break it down some more.


The only way I am able to not only keep up with all my responsibilities but to also thrive on them, is to calculate the time necessary for each task. I need to give each task it’s own place in my daily and weekly life. Things need to be planned.


Obviously I need to be aware of each task. I can’t just waltz through my day and hope that I’ll hit some targets accidentally. I need to think ahead to each month, each week, each day and (as stated above) plan it all out.


All my responsibilities are ones that I have chosen for myself. I choose to homeschool my children. I want to try to feed my family more healthily. Plus, I choose to start a new blog and to try to make it as successful as possible. I could just put my kids in school and then focus on my blog while they are gone. Which would also give me time to plan and make better meals. But I want to teach them at home. I think it is important that their education includes more than the public schools can offer. And I feel God has called me to do so.

I volunteered for each and every task on my list. So I have the drive to succeed at them all. Which brings me to the last word:


Because these are all my choices and I truly want to do them all, I have the necessary will to see it done. I have already made the hard decisions to add more to my day. Now I just need to see it through.


All these words and ideas can be tied up in one word: intentional. I need to voluntarily plan each day in a calculated and premeditated manner. And then willfully execute those plans. I need to be intentional to get it all done. My only caveat is that even though I am being more intentional in the choices I make this year, ultimately my success depends on God. So the Bible verse I’ve chosen to reflect these two things is from Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (KJV)

Homeschool Word of the Year – Consistent

This time, when looking for the word I would focus on for our homeschool, I looked back at the previous two years. Basically, I went back to the beginning to see what worked and what didn’t.

And what I found is that every time we got off track or didn’t complete something or struggled through a schedule, it was because we were not remaining consistent. We worked hard one week, then took of the next one. We let our attentions get diverted to other interests and fun projects. In fact, we did not follow the schedules that I had so meticulously planned at the beginning of each school year, term, month and week.


Though I consider myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler and am drawn to the classical methods of education, in practice, I am much more of an unschooler. I love the freedom of going where our minds take us. I love following a whim and I know that my kids do this as well.

A lot of this comes from having a first child who was high needs. I had to learn to let go of schedules and just spend time getting to know her and respond as she needed. Once I saw the value of attachment parenting, I used this same process with each successive child. Even though none of them demanded quite like the first had, I had gotten into a rhythm of following the child.

This has bled over into our homeschooling. I prefer working at the child’s individual rhythm, not some preordained schedule of what they should be doing and when. Since this is especially difficult to do in France with our yearly inspections, I looked for (and found) a method that did this as much as possible. But the daily work was suffering because we had gotten into the bad habit of following our impulses without tempering it with the discipline and control needed in growing children (and adults).


And one big aspect of this discipline and control is consistency. Creating a schedule or program and sticking to it (as much as possible).

The definition of consistent is:

  1. agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory;
  2. constantly adhering to the same principles;
  3. holding firmly together; cohering; and
  4. fixed, firm.

These all sounded like something our homeschool was lacking. But, again, what really decided me were the first 5 synonyms: dependable, logical, persistent, rational, and steady.


We were not dependable. If I told someone to come join us for a class at 10:00 Monday morning, there was no guarantee we would be actually in the class. (This is an exaggeration. Of course, if I told someone to come, I’d be there. I’m not that flighty.) But our homeschool was not dependable. The kids were not learning that school was happening when it was scheduled, rain or shine. They were instead learning they could get out doing their work if they presented a more enjoyable learning activity. This is not what I wanted them to be learning.


How could I be such a fan of Charlotte Mason’s methods but completely disregard the training of habits? It was illogical to be a classical educator with such inconsistent routines.


And when we started struggling to stay on track, instead of being persistent, we gave in. We followed our base desires to take the easy course and put the books away for more enjoyable things. Again, I didn’t want this for myself. But much more, I didn’t want my kids growing up to follow their every instinct. That has never worked for anyone and would only lead to trouble and heartache down the road.

More importantly, it would most likely lead them away from God since we are commanded to be disciplined in our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us quite clearly that we are to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of of the throne of God.” (KJV)


This ties in with being logical. It was irrational to choose a Christian life, a homeschool life, that professed to follow the Bible and the methods or Charlotte Mason but at the same time, choose to follow our own “rhythms” before everything else.


And this is really where I want us to be. Steady. Unwavering. Not just in our studies but in our faith. In order to teach my children to be steadfast in their faith, they need to learn to be steady in other parts of their life as well. It needs to become an ingrained habit.  As we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of  the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (KJV)


These ideas all come together to create my homeschool word of the year, consistent. In order to logically and rationally follow God’s intentions for our learning, we need to be dependable, persistent and steady in the work we do. The Bible verse I’ve chosen to reflect this is Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV) We have a goal and a purpose. And with consistency, persistence, and God’s will, we will achieve them.

To help you create your own Word of the Year, I’ve created a short worksheet that follows these steps to lead you to the word that best suits you. To receive your copy, subscribe below. If you are already a subscriber, you will find a copy on the Subscriber Freebie page.


February Doldrums – How to Overcome Them

rainy boring day

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It’s that time of year again. We’ve been in winter mode for at least 4 months and it will probably last for another 3. The fun holiday period is over. And the excitement of working on new goals has started to wear off.

My daughter just finished reading the book Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling and has fallen in love with a new word – doldrums. If you don’t know what that is, in nautical terms it’s defined as “a belt of calm and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” In business or art, it can be “a state of inactivity or stagnation.”

But for the homeschooling mom, it simply means trouble. It takes longer and longer for the kids to get to work. They have a harder time focusing. Complaining becomes our constant companion. And everyone fights more.

We’re all going a little stir-crazy from the short moments outside. And it’s months before the next big project or activity. Even I start to lose motivation.

Last year, it didn’t hit so hard simply because we still had our inspection coming. So I knew we had to maintain our rhythm. I couldn’t let anything slide unto they had come to see our routine. And we were all just stressed out enough to keep working despite the doldrums. But this year. Oh boy, that is a whole different story. Our inspection is over AND we already heard officially that we have been approved for another year. So… no one feels much like doing any schoolwork.

It is much easier to give in to the blues with nothing to keep us motivated. So we have to come up with our own ideas. Here are three things to help you get through.

Fake It Til You Make It

The first thing is to just simply do. Even if you don’t feel like it. Or you start school late every day. And even if you don’t finish everything, just do it. The most important thing is to just keep the momentum going.

I’ve noticed that if we stop completely, it makes it so much harder to get back into it. Especially when the weather is already making us feel a little down in the dumps. But just getting the next chapter read or the next math assignment finished does wonders to morale. We keep going, acting like everything is normal and we are having fun.

Because you know what? Eventually it will be back to normal. And we will be having fun with our work again. We’ll be spending more time outside in the backyard. Our energy will grow as the sun stays out longer. We just need to keep moving towards the goal of finishing out the year, no matter how long it takes us.

Try Something New

The other thing that can sometimes get us over the hump is to change things up. Here’s where I will vary the schedule as much as possible. We’ll do morning time in the afternoon and our afternoon work in the mornings. I’ll move Composer Study from Mondays to Thursdays. We’ll drink hot chocolate instead of tea for poetry tea time. Anything to switch it up while still moving forward.

We’ll start rearranging the house. This is a great time to start decluttering as everyone decides to switch it up a bit in their room. We’ll move the beds closer to the windows. I’ll put their desks facing each other in the schoolroom. I even let the kids build a huge fort in the living room and sleep in it for over a week. A change of scenery can do wonders to cheer up all the gloominess.

This is also the time when I will try to fix what’s broken. So when math is taking so long because they are having a hard time switching from French to English every other day, I’ll do French math one week, then English math the next. Or we’ll drop a book that no one seems to enjoy and try something new in it’s place. We’ll pick out a new handicraft or try to find a different nature spot to study.

The trick is to find that one thing that arouses interest in learning again and pushes us back on track.

kindness challenge

Do a Monthly Challenge

This is a new trick we’ve found to put some excitement back into our lives. We do monthly challenges alongside our regular schoolwork. We’ll pick a theme each month and try to complete the challenge as many days as possible. And this is something everyone can get involved in, including the toddler.

This idea was sparked by the Read Aloud Challenge we did in January with Read Aloud Revival. The kids really took to this like fish to water. Every day they woke up ready to pick the next book they were going to read. And if I hadn’t found time to listen to them before bed, they would not let me read the bedtime story to them, instead reading one to me. It was lovely. And they were so sad when the month was over. I had to tell them we didn’t need to stop just because I took the calendars down.

So I decided to start the month of February with another one. This time we are doing a kindness challenge in coordination with Valentine’s Day. Every day, they have to choose one kind thing to do for another, either in the family or out. So far, they have written nice letters of encouragement to each other, cleaned up each other’s messes, and even finished a couple of chores without my even asking! (I may have just found the secret to get them to do chores). I haven’t even offered incentives to keep it going this time around. They are just happy to do it for it’s own sake.

We’re Still Learning

The beauty is that even if we aren’t doing what is written on our schedule, the kids are still learning. They are using their creativity to come up with new ideas. Sometimes it’s practicing their spelling and writing in those little notes. Or they use engineering skills to figure out how to create a tunnel out of blankets and string. And they are reading with much more pleasure. The bored little faces that used to look outside at another day of rain are now looking inside with smiles at each other. Most of the time. Because let’s face it. They are still kids.

What are you doing to combat the February doldrums? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below, on the Facebook page or by email at

Making SMARTER Goals

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We all need to make goals if we want to progress in life. Whether it is something personal like losing weight or family oriented like buying a new house, we need to take steps if we want to achieve them. Many people have taken to using a method known as the SMART method. But based on past experiences, I think we need to take it two steps further and make it a SMARTER goal.

making smarter goals


SMART is an acronym for how to set up your goal to make it more attainable.

A goal needs to Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound. Now what does this actually mean in terms of goal writing?

Let’s take the example of my goal to read more using the Back to the Classics challenge. A classic goal would simply be stated, “I will complete the 2019 Back to the Classics challenge.” This is actually not too bad of a goal. But it can be stated even more clearly and planned out more. By doing this, I will have a better chance of succeeding.


First, a goal needs to be specific. What exactly am I trying to achieve through this goal? What category of my life does this fit in? Work, Personal, Family, or Faith? Can I do this alone or do I need others?

This is a personal goal. I want to read all the books for a reading challenge presented on a blog Books and Chocolate. This is so that I can get back to the classics that are often overlooked in my reading. It is a solo project. So I do not need anyone’s assistance.


Next, a goal needs to be measurable. How will I know when I’ve achieved this goal? What are the criteria necessary? Is there a time limit? Is there any other limit?

For me that would be easy to answer. I need to read twelve books, one for each category. And I need to have read all these books within twelve months. Or by the end of 2019.


What actions need to made for me to succeed? Can it be broken down into smaller daily or weekly actions?

Another easy answer for this particular goal. Since I need to read twelve books in twelve months, I need to average a book a month. I could count up the total number of pages (4,314 pages) and then figure in the average by month (360 pages per month), week (83 pages per week), or even day (12 pages per day). It all depends on how closely you need to monitor your progress.


Is this project or goal able to be achieved realistically in the time allotted? Am I able to do this in my normally scheduled day or is it a new skill that may take me more time in the beginning? Is the season of my life amenable to this type of goal?

Since I have always devoured books, this is something that I should easily be able to accomplish. Even in the busiest year of my life with a new homeschooler and a newborn in the house, I was able to read almost 100 books. Granted, those books were all fun and easy. The books on my list are more challenging. Like War & Peace, at 1225 pages. But 12 books should still be doable for a reader such as myself.


How much time do I have to accomplish this goal? Is there a specific end-date? Are there any other rules to limit my time during the year?

This particular goal is exactly one year. It is to be finished by midnight on December 31, 2019. Technically, I can read all day every day should I want to. Realistically, as anyone with children knows, I am looking more at one hour per night. More if I forego sleep.

So now my new SMART goal can be stated, “I will read 12 books averaging 360 pages per month for the Back to the Classics challenge to be completed by midnight December 31, 2019.”


Now, I could stop here. I would probably even succeed. This particular goal is not too difficult. But let’s say that the goal is a little more complicated. And that there are multiple steps that need to be taken at specific times. Like starting a new blog or business. Or buying a new house. Adding on these last two steps may actually increase the likelihood of succeeding. You will want to Evaluate and then Readjust, possibly several times during the year.

Let’s continue with my example of the reading challenge.


Create a schedule to periodically review your progress. It can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even just at the half-way point.

I will probably check quarterly to be sure that I have read at least 3 books during the last quarter or averaged a minimum of 1000 pages read. I want to make sure that I’m not leaving War & Peace for the last month and making myself finish over 1000 pages in just one month.


Change your plan or schedule as necessary.

By checking occasionally to see what I have already read and what I have left, I can give myself more time to finish or force myself to find more time. I won’t be caught a few weeks before the deadline with half the books to complete and not enough time.

making smarter goals

This method can be used for each and every goal you make. It applies to yearly goals as well as something with a shorter time frame. It may take a little more time to plan and set up. But chances are you will be more successful.

To help you create your own SMARTER goals, I’ve made a chart that you can fill out. There is both a full-size and a half-size (to fit your bullet journal). You can use this in conjunction with the other Goal planning sheet where you can jot your quarterly evaluation results or adjustments. Just sign up below to receive access to the Subscriber Freebie page where all these resources are available.


A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. While purchasing from any of these links will not increase the price you pay, I do receive a small commission.

Boy, this year is really ending in a frenzy! Between our homeschool inspection the week before Christmas and all the birthdays in our family, I am overwhelmed. There are so many wonderful things happening between now and the new year that I just can’t seem to keep up! Luckily, one of those things will help me get focused right off the bat. It’s the 2019 Conference A New Year, Your Best Year.

a new year, your best year

This conference is starting just days after the new year. From January 4th until January 10th, you will be able to attend over 175 workshops from more than 90 speakers. The categories for these workshops include:

  • Faith
  • Family Life
  • Finances
  • Goals/ Planning
  • Health/ Fitness
  • Household Organization/ Homemaking
  • Marriage
  • Meal Planning/ Prep
  • Parenting/ Motherhood
  • Planning/ Time Management
  • Self-Care; and
  • Simplification/ Minimalism

So, a little something for everyone.

Who’s speaking?

If you’ve checked out the blogs by some of the more well-known homeschool moms and Christian moms, you will recognize their names immediately. People like Arabah Joy, Tauna Meyer, Heather Bowen (who is hosting this event), Hal & Melanie Young, and many more! You can read more about each of these speakers on the event page A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference for Moms Speakers.

Personally, I could use some help with my time management and homemaking. I saw multiple workshops that could help me out. My favorites include How Busy Moms Can Stay Connected to God by Kerry Beck, How to Ensure You Have the Best Financial Year Ever by Kati Kiefer, Declutter Toys Parts 1 & 2 by Tauna Meyer, and Mothering With Grace, Even Amidst the Chaos by Angela Taylor. There is even a workshop by Monique Boutsiv entitled Bullet Journaling for the Busy Mom! You can get a list of the workshops being offered with a description on the event page A New Year, Your Best Year 2019 Conference Workshop Descriptions.

With so many great topics to choose from, there is no way you could possibly get through all of them during the time of the event. And since we are all so busy, I doubt any of us could get through even a fraction. I know that there is no way I can.

How do I sign up?

The good news is that when you buy a ticket, you will get lifetime access to all these events. So you can watch those you are most interested in now. And those that aren’t relevant for the moment can be saved for a later date. Since I don’t have any teens in my house yet, I won’t be rushing to check out any of those workshops. But based on some of the titles, I’m sure I’ll be glad to have them when my kids get that age.

Early Bird tickets priced at $15 go on sale today, December 26th until January 3rd. After that, the prices will go up to $20.

Included with the lifetime access to all the workshops, you will receive a Swag Bag of freebies and discounts valued at over $800. I can’t wait to see what is included in mine.

a new year, your best year

I’ll be getting my ticket as soon as it opens up for registration. In order to better prepare for the event before it starts on the 4th, please enjoy the free worksheet I’ve created which lists all the speakers and workshops by category. There is even a space for you to mark the dates they are playing (when that information is released) and a place to check off those you’ve seen. Just to help keep you organized.

You can receive this free printable list when you sign up below. You will receive an email with the password to the Subscriber Freebies page where you will have access to all my free resources, including the master list of workshops for the conference A New Year, Your Best Year.


Setting Attainable Goals for 2019

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Though you will not pay any more for any product, I may receive a small commission. 

The new year is fast approaching. And I’m starting to think about setting all those goals that I want to accomplish. We used to call them resolutions. But the problem with that is the word “resolution” has taken on a connotation of something we will probably never achieve. So now we say “goals” in the hopes that we will be better able to attain them.

Some of you may have already decided what you want to accomplish. With my busy schedule and recent homeschool inspection, I haven’t really gotten around to it before now. And I have to admit that I’m a bit stuck in terms of finding just one thing to shoot for. So what do I do?

setting attainable goals

The Basic Layout

Well first, I need to narrow down which areas of my life need the most attention. The main categories that I have seen in many goal planners include Family, Finances, Work and Personal. I’ve changed this for my own use. I still use the categories Family, Work and Personal. But I’ve replaced Finances with Faith. First, because if I don’t want my relationship with God to suffer, I need to be more intentional with how I live my faith. Second, because I feel the finances can fit into all the other categories.

In each of these categories, I pick three main things I want to work on. For example, in Personal, I have the goal of completing two reading challenges, the Back to the Classics challenge and the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. In Faith, one of my goals is to be more intentional with my prayer life. For Family, I want to be more consistent with our weekly nature walks and nightly read-alouds. And in Work, I would like to complete a bilingual Nature Journaling program to be used year-round.

When I’ve chosen three goals for each category, I then break those goals up into actionable items on a quarterly basis. Basically, what I need to have achieved by the end of each quarter in order to accomplish the goal at the end of the year. In some cases, if the goal is complex enough, I will even break those actions down to a monthly or even weekly agenda.

Using the Bullet Journal

And this is where my bullet journal really comes in handy. I’ve talked a little about how I got into bullet journaling in my post Staying Organized for the Busy Mom. Since using this system, I have been much better at completing my to-do lists and in keeping up with the countless activities of my children. But this is the first time I will be using it to create goals.

In the final pages of my 2018 journal I am envisioning what my next year will be. I’ve dedicated a page to each category where I can brainstorm goal ideas as well as what I actions I need to take to achieve those goals. This is also where I’ve noted the different resources I’m using. For example, the websites with my reading challenges or the prayer group I’ve joined, or any pdf documents I might use.

I like using these last pages as brain dumps because then I feel like I’ve released some of the clutter in my head onto a paper that I won’t misplace. I can use these brain dumps to organize better in my new journal. I’ll narrow down the goals that are more urgent while saving others I still want to achieve for later.

As the year progresses, I can update each month or each quarter with items accomplished or actions that still need to be taken. I can even change my goals mid-year. This is important, because even with the best of intentions, sometimes life happens. Sometimes we just need to change direction. That doesn’t mean I am not serious about achieving my goals. It just means that I am realistic enough to know that I am not in control. God directs my paths and I want to be able to follow where He leads.

setting attainable goals

Setting Attainable Goals

I have lofty goals running around in my head, and if I try to complete all of them, I may end up finishing none of them. I tend to narrow it down to four categories: Faith, Family, Personal, and Work. Many people make a category for Finances but I figure that this can fit in just about any of the other categories. I create 3-4 goals for each category. I break those down into shorter goals to be achieved quarterly or every twelve weeks

The important thing is that the goals are specific enough to be able to break down in manageable steps. The entire goal sheet goes in my bullet journal for easy reference. I can then check back as often as needed to make sure I am on track.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of creating a good habit. For example, I want to be more intentional about reading classics this year. My goal is to finish the Back to the Classics challenge in its entirety. Since there are twelve books on this list, I must read at least one book per month to achieve this goal. If a create a habit of reading nightly, it will set me on to the path to success without constant maintenance. If you can make goals achievable as a result of new habits, you will be setting yourself up for an easier win.

In order to help you set up your goals for this year, I’ve created a Goal Planning worksheet that fits perfectly in any average-sized bullet journal or even in a half-sized planner. Sign up as a subscriber to receive the password to the Subscriber Freebies page for this worksheet as well as any other resource that is of interest.


Daily Homeschool Schedule in a 4-Day Week

As anyone with children knows, trying to keep a clean house is next to impossible when they are all at home. Add homeschooling to the mix and you are guaranteed to fail.

homeschool schedule

Here are my basic rules.

Well, first of all, there are some seasons in life where you just have to accept a dirtier house, unless you have help like a maid. I’m talking about when the kids are all under 5 years of age. Sure, they can help with some of the chores. But there is no way you will have as clean a house as you did before kids or at least before they started crawling.

The older the children get, the cleaner the house will be as a result. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. And I still struggle some days when I’ve spent an hour cleaning up the schoolroom only to see it looking like a tornado went through it after the mornings work.

Secondly, make a schedule. Now, I love schedules for myself. But my kids? Not so much. And I don’t like to tie them to any particular activity. Especially when they are young. So my schedules tend to be loose. We try to find a balance between what is needed and what is wanted.

The younger kids are not beholden to any schedule other than when to eat and when to sleep. The rest of the day is free for them to do as they please.

This works because my house is mostly kid-friendly. So just about anywhere they want to be, it is safe for them to be there. But here is where my tolerance has to be high. I have to expect that whichever room the toddler has chosen to be in will be slightly less put together than when she arrived. (Please note: This does not mean my child has run amok. I do know where she is at all times. And any place that is unsafe for her is also impossible for her to access i.e. locked.)

In the event of a meltdown or during a rough day, I have been known to put on a video. But I try to make this an exception and not the rule.

Thirdly, allow the child as much independence as possible. This sort of ties in with the last section where I give my littles so much freedom. By trusting them with the majority of their day, they learn how to be bored but also how to work alone. They are not dependent on constant guidance throughout the day.

This helps when they get older to regulate their own school day based on the day’s lessons.

And last, be willing to change what works every year, every month or sometimes even every day. This is essential. Life is constantly changing. Your schedule should, too.

How does this work for us?

When I first started homeschooling in 2016, I had one child “doing school,” one preschooler, one toddler, and a newborn. Plus, it was my first year dealing with the French inspections.

I had lofty goals.

Which were quickly dashed by life. You know what I’m talking about. Kids don’t care about your theories or methods or plans. Especially newborns. So within weeks, I had to trash my carefully planned year for something more fluid.

Our basic outline was this: morning work in French, afternoon work in English. We worked for about 2 hours in the morning and another 2 hours in the afternoon. Though we changed subjects often, I still found it to be a bit much for her attention span. So we varied the time spent depending on how well she paid attention. Or whether I needed a nap with the baby. Or if the others needed some attention. And so on and so forth.

It needed to be hands on as much as possible. Not only was V learning how to read and write in English but she had to read and write in French as well. To be clear, she didn’t learn to read in both languages at the same time. We started in English (her first language) and when she could read a short “I Can Read” Level 1 book with ease we started French lessons.

We continued this basic schedule, French in the morning and English in the afternoon, in her second year. I also started backing off a bit with helping her for every step. That’s not to say I wasn’t available. On the contrary, she could always come to me for help or clarification. And I guided her when to start the next subject. But V was doing much of the work on her own. At 7 years old. I know, right?

However, when I added my second daughter, I knew that things had to change. I couldn’t do her first year exactly the same way as V. For one, I now had a very lively toddler who always wanted my attention. But I also had V, a 3rd year student who still needed guidance, if not actual help. In addition to the very real feelings of “why is mommy spending all her school time with L and not me anymore?” Her mind may have understood why not, but her heart, not so much.

So I changed again.

morning time schedule homeschoolOur current schedule

With the addition of another child (and with it the number of activities “after school”), I have had to change the French/ English split. I wanted to include V as much as possible while still giving her time to do independent work. Moreover, there were some subjects they could do together.

So, as of this moment, we now have Morning Time where both girls work on subjects that can be done together. In the afternoon, V does her independent work while I work with L. French and English are now combined in morning and afternoon work.

This may seem counter intuitive. After all, when they were younger we made a clear division of languages. Mommy spoke English; Daddy spoke French. I continued this division with V during her first two years of schooling. But this was no longer possible with multiple kids at multiple levels.

But actually, by having them switch from English to French, subject after subject, all day long, we were just replicating our real life. I speak English with my kids but when we are out, will switch to French to talk to someone else. Their father does the same. He will speak English with me then switch to French to speak with them. This is our reality.

A good education prepares a child to function in society. Thus switching between English and French helps my children to function better. Plus, we get lots of giggles when I am helping L with an English lesson but V comes to me for help in French and I respond in English but then go back to L’s English speaking French. It can get confusing. But it’s so much fun. And a great way to connect.


So, I know I’ve been talking a lot about the homeschooling aspect of our day. Let’s get into how we fit activities into this.

First of all, a short explanation of the French school system. In the grade school years, school is only four days a week. There are many reasons for this but one of the main ones is because of outside activities. In the US, sports teams, music clubs, art lessons and other activities are connected to the school. So if you want to play soccer, you just stay after school and play on the school’s soccer team. Or if you want to play an instrument, you join the school band. Of course, you can join clubs outside the school, but since most schools are finished for the day around 3pm, it is not a problem to join a club and practice after school.

This is not how it works in France, however. School is for school. All other activities must be practiced in an outside establishment. To make this possible, most activities are scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Regular school hours are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The day is a bit longer, ending around 4:30 (depending on the school). So evening activities tend to start after 5pm. But Wednesdays and Saturdays are wide open.

My girls are involved in ballet, music, and art classes. My son takes a combined music and art class. That means that we are busy four days of the week. Monday is ballet for V from 5:15-6:15. Tuesday is viola for V from 4:00-4:30 and ballet for L from 5:15-6:15. Wednesday is for music classes at the Conservatory for L from 10:30-12:00 and V from 3:30-5:00. Thursdays are art classes for V and E from 5:15-6:15 and L from 6:15-7:15.

So we “school” only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Obviously, Wednesdays are busy in the morning and afternoon making lessons difficult.

daily homeschool chores scheduleChores

We’ve now covered lessons and activities. What about housework and chores?

I don’t expect any formal chores before six years old when they start formal “schooling.” I still expect the littles to help with clearing the table, picking up toys, putting laundry away and taking out the trash. But it is not enforced.

But at six years old, I include life skills in our lesson plan. It becomes part of the school day. They become active participants in the upkeep of the house.

So here is how our schedule plays out with approximate hours. (Again, I have a loose schedule so we may change hours based on activities or appointments or just “hard days.”)

The kids will wake anytime before 8:00.  I do not set alarms. I feel it is important for kids to feel their natural urges. We’ve lost that ability as adults forced to conform to society rules of schedules. But if kids learn in childhood how their body feels after a good night’s sleep as opposed to a short night, they will naturally know how to regulate as adults. They also need to learn how to be flexible.

Whatever time they wake up, chores begin around 8:00. They are responsible for dishes, putting laundry away, and the cleaning of one section of the house. Evening chores consist of cleaning off the table and a 15 minute tidy in their bedroom before bed.

School schedule

Between 9:30 and 10:00 we begin Morning Time. This includes our devotional, Bible reading, read-aloud (currently Pilgrim’s Progress), Artist Study, Composer Study, Handicraft, Drawing, Composer Study, Folk Music, Hymn Study, Poetry, Recitation, Copywork, Book of Centuries and in French, Handwriting, Science, Géographie, Règles de vie, and Histoire. The only morning time subjects we do everyday are the devotional, Bible ready, read-aloud, Poetry, Recitation, Copywork, Book of Centuries, and Handwriting. Everything else is spread out over the week.

Lunch is around noon. “School” begins again at 2:00 and finishes around 4:00. This is where we do History, Biography, English, Français, Geography, Literature, Math, Nature Study, Reading lessons, and music practice. Again we don’t maintain this everyday. English, Français, Math, Reading lessons, and music practice are the only daily lessons. The rest are spread out over the week.

As mentioned before, most of the activities start around 5:00 pushing dinner to at least 6:30, if not 7:30. Bedtime routine will begin after this with the actual bedtime fluctuating between 8:30 and 9:00 depending on the day.

Do I expect this to be my magic schedule?

No! Of course not. It works for this year because that is where we are at. I expect this to change yearly as I add children to the school mix and as the activity schedule changes.

And if we ever return to the United States, the schedule will probably return to a 5-day one.

But if I’ve learned anything about homeschooling, or just being a mother, go with the flow. Expect the unexpected. And, most importantly, keep God at the center of everything.

With this you can’t go wrong.

To help you plan your child’s day AND learn a little French, here is a Student Planner/ Cahier de texte in English and French for a 5-day week. Use the pages you need. (Psst. I don’t use Wednesday.)

Freebie cahier de texte

Staying Organized for the Busy Mom

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. While purchasing from any of these links will not increase the price you pay, I do receive a small commission.
I LOVE planners!

As a homeschooling mom with 4 young children, planners are a life saver. Literally. Between the appointments, activities schedule and to do list, there is so much going on any given day. Without some way to track it all, I can easily get lost.

But here’s the problem. Planners are generic. Planners are created to satisfy the masses. They are either extremely detailed or so basic even the months aren’t labeled. But no matter the type, they are static. Unchangeable.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the features you can find on some planners. And I love the ease and practicality of having something all ready for me to just fill out. (I’m one of those Lego builders that always has to follow the directions.) But let’s face it. Life is not so cut and dried.

For years, I would look forward to buying the new planner in December only to be frustrated with it by February. Or when living on a school year schedule, I would buy the planner in August in excitement only to see all of its flaws by November. The final straw was when I moved to France and had to start using a planner (or agenda) here. It’s not that they were of a lesser quality. On the contrary, I found some great family agendas that had some wonderful features.

But I’m an American. I’m still more comfortable making notations in English than French. I like being able to see my content in English at a glance.

Buying a planner in English didn’t solve these problems. I was living in France, after all. The beauty of the French planner was having the calendar set up in the manner of the French. I needed a combination of the two. French content written in English. Aside from creating my own planner, I just did not see that happening.

Bullet Journaling to the Rescue

Staying Organized for Busy MomsAnd then I came across this book, Brainbook: Bullet Journaling Your Way to a More Organized Life by Kalyn Brooke. This was a game changer. I finally found a system that could work for my own unique life. Using this method, I could have a planner set up like the French agendas but written in English. AND I could add personal content.

No more sticky notes or papers pinned to my bulletin board. No more planners bought and only half-filled (or less) at the end of the year. I had everything I had always wanted in an organizer. And the beauty was that I did not even need to be artistic or a professional designer! The planner could be as simple or as complex as I wanted. If I started a month with a simple layout but decided I wanted to change half-way through? Done. As simple as that. Every page was a new beginning.

I’ve been using a bullet journal (or bujo as it is known in the community) for about a year now and I love it as much now as I did the first time I opened up my simple store-bought notebook and tried it out. I’ve even changed the layout about 5 times! I haven’t found the perfect fit for my life but what is fantastic is that I don’t even need to. Life changes constantly, especially in a family with small children. And so can the bullet journal.

Plus it was so easy to start! Brainbook did such a fantastic job of explaining the whys and hows. I finished reading it in one sitting and by the end was ready to start my own bujo. This shocked me because I am usually a perfectionist and need things to be just right before starting anything. But Kalyn did such a great job explaining all the positive aspects that I had no fear starting my first one in just a simple school notebook. I did use a pencil for the first 3 months though. You can’t cure perfectionism completely, after all.

Modern Commonplace Book

But the bujo is more than just a tool for organization; it is also a record of what my life was like at any given moment. They are worth keeping because I’ve put my life into those pages. Not just what appointments I had but collections of things my kids said and what books I read among other things.

And this reminds me of what is often referred to as the commonplace book in Charlotte Mason circles. We use this book as a journal of thoughts, quotes or other gatherings of words. It can be as simple or as fancy as you choose. And this concept has been around for a long time. It’s been used by such people as Thomas Jefferson and Charlotte Mason herself.

To me, the bujo is our modern version of this. Not only can we write the quotes and thoughts that delight us in these journals but we can keep track of our increasingly busy lives right alongside without missing a beat.

Can your store bought planner do this?