7. Take a few minutes to plan your meals.

This might sound silly, but it will go a long way toward helping you feel more on top of your day. There is something about already knowing what's for dinner that makes the day feel more do-able! I work on my meal plans on the weekend, posting my list on a write-on/wipe-off board on my refrigerator. I also do my shopping during the weekend so that all the ingredients I will need are in the house for the week. This is a big time saver during the week and is definitely worth the effort I put forth on the weekend when I don't have schooling responsibilities.

8. Get outside. Go for a walk. Go to a park. Look for bugs and rocks and leaves. If you want to make it educational, then use a guide to identify what you find and let your kids take turns sketching these things—or just take a photo and keep an inexpensive photo album of your findings. Getting outside and appreciating God's vast creation never fails to give me a fresh perspective and a renewed energy level. If nothing else, just carry a blanket out to your backyard and do schoolwork outside, or read aloud on the deck, patio, or in the hammock!

9. Take time to be alone. It's okay to need, as one friend put it, "just a few hours where nobody calls me Mama!" from time to time. I like to have a nice leisurely lunch all by myself with just a good book for company. Or join other homeschooling moms at my church group's moms' night out. Or venture to a bookstore with my planning notebook for some time to plan and read and pray over what we are doing for school.

10. Don't forget to laugh! Don't be so teacher-oriented that you forget that you are first and foremost a mom. Enjoy your kids. Laugh when they say funny things. Make jokes and be silly. Appreciate the sheer joy that can be found just by looking into their eyes and hearing the sweet things they say. Recently I wrote across the top of my goals for this year: "Be joyful! Motherhood is a gift, not a burden!" Why is it that sometimes I forget that simple truth? "He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord." Psalm 113:9My hope is that some of these ideas will infuse you with new life, new perspective, and new hope for your homeschool!

*First published on July 20, 2009

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Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children, ages 14 to 1. The family has homeschooled for ten years. Marybeth is the author of For the Write Reason, a speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and a freelance writer. Learn more about Marybeth through her blog at www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/marybeth.

Copyright 2008. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Spring 2009.
Used with permission. Visit them at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com.
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