Raise your hand if you think one of the benefits of school is it keeps us organized. If you raised your hand, you aren’t alone. One of the biggest fears and frustrations about homeschooling is the daunting task of staying organized. Here are 5 tips to help you get and stay organized in a deschooled home education.
1. Pick 5 things that are the most important, then let the rest go. One of the problems with homeschooling is we have this idea that we have to do every little thing. And that everything we do has to be in order, on schedule and in compliance with the invisible homeschooling perfect mom criteria. All of this gets overwhelming, and then we either end up giving up altogether, or we kill ourselves trying to keep up. The truth is, very little matters so much that if we didn’t do it, our world would fall apart. And among those things that matter this much, our own fears are usually far worse than the reality of not doing what we “are supposed to.” So, pick 5 things that are the most important to keep organized, and then focus on those 5 things. If the other stuff gets done, excellent. It’s icing.
2. Get everyone involved in the organization program. Often times, homeschooling moms work super hard to get organized, only to have it all messed up by someone who isn’t on the same page about the organization system. When we get everyone involved in organization, we all have a vested interest in keeping things organized. My son’s room was a big mess. When I cleaned it myself, it got unclean again very quickly. At first, my way of getting him involved was to ask him to keep his room clean enough that I could make it to his bed in the middle of night to save him from a fire, without tripping over his toys or slipping on his clothes. He had a vested interest in me saving him in a fire, so he kept a path to his door clean. Then, one day, he had a sleepover with two of his cousins. I told him that his cousins wouldn’t be able to sleep in his room if his room wasn’t clean, and there wasn’t enough room in the living room for them all to fit. He really wanted them to sleep in his room, so he was motivated to clean it. We worked together (actually, that was mostly my husband and my son working together), to make his room more organized so the things on the floor would have a place. Overall, his room has stayed relatively organized, because he was voluntarily involved in the process of getting it together.
3. Make it a game. Instead of being a chore, organizing and cleaning can be a game. It can be any kind of game from “who can find the most Polly Pocket clothes” to “let’s see if we can find anything to sell at the garage sale this weekend ” to “Did you know we still had this?” (it becomes a game of who can find the most off-the-wall thing that we didn’t know we had.) I also make organizing a game for myself as well. My game is, ‘How much of the stuff on my desk can I throw away, give away or put on my husband’s desk?”
4. Have less stuff. The less stuff we have, the less we have to organize. If the idea of being organized is overwhelming, maybe the problem is that there really is too much to have to deal with. Reduce the amount we have to deal with, and suddenly, it becomes easier. Have a garage sale, give away books to the library, or give away to the local charity. If you’re having trouble organizing the “school” stuff in your lives, same thing holds true – maybe you’re doing too much. Do you REALLY need to have every single detail of a child’s learning be recorded? Does it matter exactly how often or how much time is devote to math or science? Are you putting too much importance on numbers and quantities, and how it might look from the outside? If we’re talking about not being organized enough to remember when to go to classes or forgetting about play dates, again, think about doing less, and let the kids help keep track of the stuff that they are interested in. It’s funny how the stuff we really want to do, we don’t have any trouble organizing that.
5. Get away from the house and do enjoyable or relaxing activities. Everything we are doing can seem very overwhelming when we are in the midst of it all. Toys, books, clothes, schedules, have-tos, dishes, everything… all that stuff is in the house. It’s daunting, taunting, and all around annoying. Getting away from the house gives us space to think about what’s really important. It also re-fills our energy tanks, so when we come home, we’re able to see our problems with new eyes, and renewed motivation. If you find that going out makes you tired, and not wanting to do anything when you get home, you still win, because at least while you were out, you didn’t make your house even less organized than it was before.
Everyone has a personal organization style. What’s your style? How do you get organized? What was your bigged issue? Did you figure out a way to get through it? If so, how?