Everyone has habits, good ones and bad ones. Sometimes the bad ones get the upper hand and we feel the need to weed them out. We don’t need to blame and shame anyone, we just need to replace those bad habits with intentional habits.
When you set intentional habits, you are taking action on what is important to you and get clear upfront on what you want to achieve. You live with purpose and set yourself up for success.
Being a homeschool mom of eight, I unfortunately have had to learn the hard way. I hate confrontation and I am pretty laid back, but this has bit me in the behind more times than I care to admit.
However, it is never too late to get your homeschool back on track. Actually, it will benefit from a check-up every now and then to look at what is working and what is not. I have come up with a list of 20 intentional habits that will make your homeschool life better.
- Set boundaries and learn to say no – Children need boundaries and they need to hear the word ‘NO.’ When children know the ground rules and know what to expect in terms of what is acceptable and what is not they are less likely to challenge you. When they think they might get you to change your mind, they will come after you like a wild animal and nag until you give in.
- Know your why – Do you know why you are homeschooling? Do you know what your goals are for this year? Make it a habit to write down your why so that when you have a tough day you know what you are working for. I use the Rule of Six to work through my why.
- Focus on what matters – Sometimes we feel like we are being pulled in a million directions as a homeschool mom. It helps if we focus on what matters at the moment. This will look different in your homeschool than in mine, but it will also look very different from one year to the next depending on the ages and stages of your children. I use the Daily Mindset Journal to keep me focused on what matters.
- Make health & wellbeing a priority – I feel like this one always feels so overrated. I know that if I don’t drink enough water, I end up with migraines. Let me tell you, I don’t handle anything well with a migraine. If anyone in our house doesn’t get enough sleep, it ends up less than productive. When we eat better, sleep better and consciously make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle, we feed our body and our brain. It sets the stage for being able to learn well and cope well with the challenges we daily face.
- Take time for self-sare – Above and beyond just taking care of the basics, we need to make a conscious effort to recharge our battery by taking good care of our mind, body, and soul. Self-care is more than just a bubble bath, although that is quite nice. It actually means that you care for yourself. Instead of asking yourself, “What should I do for self-care?” ask yourself, “What do I need?.” You are a professional. You are your child’s teacher among a million other things. Ask yourself, “Would I drop my child off at school to a teacher who looked like a hot mess?” Probably not. The consequence of not taking care of yourself can be resentment, impatience, jealously, and burnout. I ignored self-care and hit rock bottom. Believe me, you don’t want to go there.
- Declutter regularly – Oh boy, can kids cause a mess. They don’t always do it intentionally, it just happens. When you declutter regularly, you reduce stress and overwhelm.
- Spend time wisely – Make a schedule that works for your family. Cut out the stuff that derails your day and do what’s important first. You will feel like you have accomplished more. Your brain needs to feel success and it helps when you have goals, action plans, and planned leisure time. Chances are that you are homeschooling because you like to have the freedom to do fun things. Schedule in the fun and breaks to help increase productivity and peace.
- Go out into nature – This is a big one. Being out in nature is so healthy and helps brighten everyone’s mood. It has been shown to reduce stress, blood pressure as well as increase our immunity.
- Spend time doing something you love – This one is not just for the kids. All homeschool moms should spend time doing something they love. It not only helps you feel like you are more than ‘just a mom,’ but it is inspirational to your children. When you learn something new or do something you love, you model lifelong learning, perseverance, patience, creativity, and your children see that you value yourself.
- Limit screen time – Intentional habits sometimes require some tough boundaries. By limiting your own screen time, you are able to say yes to other things. Children love to spend time with screens, and while they can be used as educational tools, they can’t replace real human interaction. Studies show that screens can have negative effects on children.
- Practice gratitude – When you practice gratitude, it actually alters your brain. People who write in a gratitude journal and make it a habit to practise gratitude experience more joy. My kids really like to use these Gratitude Journals for Kids.
- Prioritize relationships – Your homeschool will make everyone happier when relationships are more important than academics. Children learn better when there is a strong parent-child bond and when they feel connected. If you find yourself engaged in too many power struggles, or bickering has become a problem, take a time out and work on the relationship.
- Replace negative self-talk – This one is such a tough one. We live in our heads so much of the time. Listen carefully to what you say to yourself and what your children say when they encounter struggles in their school work. What do you say? What do they say? Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I’m not good at Math, English or enter the subject of your choice?” Has your child ever said, “I’m too stupid” or “I can’t do this?” Did you know that you can rewire your brain? You can train your brain to use a growth mindset when you replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk builds confidence and cuts down on the crying and frustration.
- Slow down – It is so easy to overload your homeschool schedule. It is a conscious choice and increases awareness of your surroundings. Taking time to recharge and relax can benefit your homeschool in so many ways. Enjoy reading aloud together, watch a documentary, enjoy poetry, tea time, or simply enjoy the outdoors; feeding the birds or going on a nature walk. Children will teach you how to do this. They will notice things and show you things and turn over every little rock and pinecone from here to Nebraska.
- Focus on what you can control – There are so many things out of our control and we shouldn’t waste our time and energy on those. We can’t control the weather, but we can dress for it. Shifting our energy focus away from the things we can’t control takes the pressure off you to perform. Consider the six-year-old child that isn’t reading yet. You could stress about it, but nothing you can do will make your child read faster. You can, however, read to your child, present your child with plenty of opportunities to practise reading skills and play games that encourage phonetic mastery. Think of the things you have control over like your emotions, your enthusiasm, your self-talk, creating a positive learning environment and work on those and watch your stress levels decrease.
- Set goals – Successful people use intentional habits to set goals and plan out how to achieve them. Make realistic goals, like working towards mastery of a skill, or a certain amount of time spent doing something instead of meeting a certain page deadline by a certain date. Help your children set goals. When kids are allowed to be involved in the planning process, they are more likely to meet their goals. Use rewards at certain milestones and celebrate successes.
- Buying on purpose – The intentional habit of buying on purpose can go a long way. When you know your why, and what your goals are, then you can plan your homeschool budget accordingly. It is easy to want to try out the latest shiny curriculum. Only buy what you need and sell what you don’t. It can be stressful when you feel like you don’t have the budget to homeschool. I buy a lot less now than I did in the beginning. I thought I needed all of the things to homeschool well, but the truth is that you don’t need as much as you think. Try to borrow or buy second-hand if it is a larger purchase and really only try to buy what you think you will need.
- Have something you look forward to – Everyone needs a break from the monotony of the everyday. Having something to look forward to can raise morale on the homeschool front. Plan field trips, art & crafts, picnics, playdates, visits with family and outings to get ice cream or a special park. Plan some days for you too, mom. You need to go on a date with your husband or get your hair done once in a while. Go for coffee with a friend and leave the kids with dad.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people – Nobody likes to have to defend themselves or their decisions every time they are with people. Be sure to find some like-minded folks to join you on the homeschool journey. This will make homeschooling a whole lot better.
- Pray together – We like to begin and end our day in prayer together. They say that a family that prays together, stays together. It can be as formal or as informal as you like. It became an intentional habit one year when we were praying together during Advent. It anchors the day and takes the focus off of us and gives praise and gratitude towards God, our creator.
Intentional habits don’t happen overnight. Don’t try to do everything every day. Instead, come up with a framework that works for your family. Try a few things on the list and add more as you feel comfortable.
You will see that over time, your good days will outweigh the bad days and that the bad days won’t seem so terrible after all. Everyone is a work in progress and your homeschool is the same.
Even after almost 15 years of homeschooling, I trip up and have to refocus on a regular basis. What intentional habits are you working on in your homeschool right now?
Is there anything that I haven’t mentioned that you feel should be on this list? Leave a comment below.