I have a confession to make. I have spent the last two years counting down the days until my five-year-old daughter started kindergarten.
At ages 3-4, she did preschool two days per week from 9 am to 2 pm. My now-two-year-old son, also napped for two hours every afternoon. Since the kids wake up around 5:30 each morning (I know, I know), they go to bed around 7 pm.
I’ve had a lot of free time to blog during preschool, naps, and after bedtime. But I was really looking forward to having even more time with one kid at school every day. Until we moved and our new school only offered full-day kindergarten from 8:20 am to 3:50 pm each day. With only two 15-minute recesses.
And if she took the bus, she would leave at 7:20 am and return at 4:20 pm. Yes, that’s 9 hours! That’s how much time my husband spends at work! Ridiculous, right?
After a lot of thought, soul-searching, research, and prayer, I decided to homeschool my daughter for kindergarten. Oh, and did I mention that my son has decided to outgrow naps the same week?
Is it wrong of me to be mourning the loss of my free time?!
I knew this decision was going to make it difficult to keep my blog profitable. I’m a coupon/deals blogger, which means I usually write anywhere from 10-25 deals posts per day, in addition to “evergreen” content on frugal living and lifestyle.
In order to keep my blog alive and competitive, I had to buckle down and become a lot more frugal with my time (no longer just my money!).
Here are some of the things I have learned about how to have a profitable blog while also being a homeschool mom:
Set a Schedule With Breaks
One thing many homeschoolers try to do is avoid having strict schedules. After all, that tends to be one of the pitfalls of public education. However, what you can do is set a loose schedule that allows for breaks in between!
For example, we typically spend 30-45 minutes each day on math. However, our schedule shows one hour of math. This gives us a window of time to complete that day’s math without rushing, and then whatever leftover time is free play for the kids and work-time for me!
Sort Your To-Do List
To help make the most of the breaks in between subjects, I have a to-do list that is sorted by time. Each item is sorted into 5-minute increments; all of the things I want to accomplish are sorted and/or broken down into segments of 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
This allows me to use my time as effectively as possible! For example, if we complete our math for the day in 35 minutes, then I have 25 minutes to get things done. I could do a 5-minute project and two 10 minute projects in that time. I don’t waste time thinking, “What can I fit into this time?”
This is also the most helpful if I only have 5 minutes before the next activity. I can use it productively instead of wasting time, thinking that there’s no way to get anything accomplished.
I also like to keep an ideas list to the side of 1 minute and 3-minute ideas. These include things like responding to emails, update a Pinterest board description, etc. These are also things I can do on my phone while sitting in the car at a drive-through (don’t judge!) or even while in the bathroom.
Find Independent Curriculum
I was blogging before I decided to homeschool, so I knew that I was going to be giving up a lot of free time that I had planned on enjoying!
To that end, I tried to find a curriculum that would allow my kindergartner some independent learning time. (This also fits well with her personality: she doesn’t like to sit and learn directly from me.)
We ended up choosing four different programs! I wasn’t able to find a curriculum that had everything I wanted for each subject. Instead, we use a mix-up of Easy Peasy, Time 4 Learning, DiscoveryK12, and Playful Pioneers.
Each of these has some time that needs to be led by an adult but also includes a lot of time where she independently works on activities and practice.
Supplement With Educational Shows
One way I find some extra time during homeschool hours is by supplementing with educational television shows. Now, I am kind of a snob when it comes to the TV my kids can watch. PJ Masks? Forget it. Sesame Street? Even that’s pushing its bounds. I mean real education.
Some of our favorite educational shows are:
- Curiosity Stream (science, history, social studies – similar to National Geographic shows)
Team UmiZoomi (math)
Magic School Bus (science)
Daniel Tiger (for social skills)
Little Pim (foreign language)
Schoolhouse Rock (science/social studies)
Liberty Kids (history)
Super Why (reading)
Make use of Meals, Mornings, Exercise, and Nights
Since my son is no longer napping, the kids sleep in a bit longer now. (And by sleep in, I mean they now wake up at 6:30 am instead of 5:30 am.) However, I am still waking up at 5:30 am to get in a good hour or so of blogging before the kids get up.
I then bring my laptop to the table while we eat breakfast and lunch (but never dinner). In between bites, I do a few 5-minute activities.
Probably my most effective time to work is when I’m on the treadmill!
A few years ago for Mother’s Day, Phillip bought me this treadmill shelf attachment (it fits on most treadmills). I can blog while I walk on the treadmill! I have a couple of special TV shows, games, and toys the kids are only allowed to use while I exercise. (This also motivates them to motivate me to stay fit!)
Since our kids go to bed early, I am able to use another hour or so after bedtime in order to wrap up anything time-sensitive that I wasn’t able to accomplish that day.
One of the biggest things I have had to do with this new way of blogging is to change my priorities.
Before homeschooling, I was able to blog at my leisure and also spend a lot of good quality time with my children. With that mindset, it’s easy to tell your children to wait “just one minute” while you finish a thought.
However, now that my primary role is as a teacher, not a blogger or a playmate, I need to adjust the way that I think about my time.
It's more important for me to use that hour of math as first a quality math lesson and second blogging time.
Before, I could easily wrap up playtime even if the kids weren’t finished playing with me. Now, I need to make sure the math concept is understood and then I can work on the thought bunny that’s hopping around in my mind.
I still have the same priorities, but they have been rearranged in order of importance in my head. When I use that approach, my blog seems to do better.
This is similar to an object lesson that I used to teach my students about volume (back when I was a middle school math teacher).
If you have a jar that you want to fill with rocks and with sand, then you need to put the rocks in first, and the sand will fill in around it. If you try to put the sand in first, the rocks will sit on top and won’t fill in.
Similarly, the size of my jar has changed. In the past, the “rocks” (time with my kids) and the “sand” (blogging) had plenty of room in the “jar” (how much time I have each day). It didn’t matter what order I put them in.
But now, I have more “rocks” (homeschooling) and those have to go in first, otherwise, the sand will take up all the room. I can only make it work if I put my kiddos first!
Make Time for Yourself
Just listing all of this out is making me tired! Don’t forget, in all of this busyness and schedules, make sure to write in some time for yourself. I personally schedule about 30-60 minutes each night before bed that I can read a book, take a bath, do a pedicure….whatever it is that I need to feel like “me.”
This is the time I put away my laptop, put away the lesson plans, and just let myself do whatever it is that I want to do. It helps keep me sane, and it refreshes me for the next day. It gives me the rejuvenation I need to keep going strong.
We may be moms. We may be bloggers. But we are also ourselves! And that side of us needs to be cared for just as much.
About the author:
Tiffany is a former math teacher and SAHM who loves finding good deals! She and her husband, Phillip, who is an engineer, work together on The Crazy Shopping Cart. They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.