How in the world can I find the time to read a book – I’ve got a garden to plant, dishes in the sink, baskets of laundry, I’ve got to plan and cook supper, take the dog to the vet, not to mention help my son finish his Bible timeline for Royal Rangers AND try to finish another year of homeschooling, even if it kills me (or I kill the student)…and so on and so on. Every have a day/week/month like this? You’re not alone. Want some advice on dealing with it all? Might I suggest The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight . The author, Heidi St. John is the homeschooling mother of seven so she might know a thing or two about scheduling, cleaning, cooking, etc. and fitting it all into the 24 hours that were all given (actually less than that because this is a guide to DAYLIGHT). In addition to this title, she offers several Bible studies, a guide to romance, and a lapbooking how-to book through her company Real Life Press.
I received a PDF download version of this book which I loaded on my Kindle, but she has a paperback version available on her website. The 199 page book is divided into eight chapters…
- Intentional Daylight~~Let’s face it, none of us started homeschooling by accident. We didn’t wake up late, miss the bus, and say “Oh well, I guess you’ll have to be taught at home from now on.” We planned to keep our kids home and now we need a plan to deal with our day to day life. The plan may change as we reach new seasons in our lives but there still needs to be a plan. Our goal is to keep it flexible and build in margins.
- Organized Daylight~~Not only does our time need to be organized, our space does as well. Much to my chagrin, this wasn’t tips on how to keep from spending your school day looking for the pencil, the workbook, the library book that was due last week. Rather the subject is clutter: defining it, learning to let it go (both emotionally and physically) and how to tidy what is left and prevent the space from being overtaken again. Then Heidi moves on to tackle the laundry pile, the office, and school records.
- Scheduled Daylight~~There are several examples of hour by hour charts, but the author stresses the point that you have to find what works for you.
- Hungry Daylight~~I believe it was Franklin who said nothing is certain but death and taxes. Were he a woman he might have added “and somebody asking what’s for supper.” This is the area I’m currently struggling with as I get used to working outside the home in the afternoons. I can’t say I found anything I didn’t already know about: slow cookers, pressure cookers, freezer meals. I did appreciate her say I didn’t have to feel guilty about opting for take-out every now and then.
- Discouraged Daylight~~I’m going to sum this up with a quote from the chapter..”We need to say it when we’re struggling and we need to be grace-filled listeners!” Somewhere in life we’ve been trained to just answer “fine” when someone asks how we’re doing. The truth is we’re often anything but fine. I don’t know if it’s pride or embarrassment that keeps us from reaching out when we need help but we need to get over it.
- Consolidated Daylight~~This chapter deals with homeschooling multiple children of varying age: what they can learn together and what showed be taught separately. Since I only have one I perused it lightly.
- Wasted Daylight~~Pick up your feet, as a few toes are about to get stepped on. Fairly early in the chapter Heidi shares about getting absorbed in Facebook and then being crabby with her kids when she finds they hadn’t started school or done their chores when she finally snaps out of her social media stupor at 10:30. The only difference between the two of us is that I’d have to leave the “s” off kids in my version of the story. It’s not just the computer/internet/TV either. We all need to prioritize what needs to get done vs. what robs us of our time.
- Surrendered Daylight~~I probably got the most out of this last chapter. As the ranks of homeschoolers has grown we’re finding we’re not all cut from the same cloth anymore. Just like the Church has factions that disagree on issues like baptism (sprinkle or immerse), communion (symbolic or transubstantiation), homeschoolers are becoming divisive: dating or courtship, delight-directed or teaching 6 year olds Latin. I can remember finding a mom in the restroom of co-op crying over comments made to her for allowing her teenage son to attend public high school. She was still homeschooling 5 younger kids, but suddenly she wasn’t one of the club anymore, she’d caved.
I’ll be frank and say this isn’t a book I’d give to someone just thinking about homeschooling—you might just scare them off with the honest look at what it’s like behind the homeschool doors. I do think it would make a great book club reading for co-op or homeschool support groups, especially if we could learn to take off our armors and reveal areas where we’re struggling.