Tips for Healthy Meal Planning Around Your Busy Homeschool Life


Meal planning around my busy life, or just being in the kitchen in general, isn’t one of my favorite things, unless I’m preserving the bounty of my garden, or making a new batch of sauerkraut. It’s just not my passion. It’s not my “blue flame” as Jennifer Fulweiler might put it. I get that people enjoy cooking and that it’s a creative outlet for them. I get that people enjoy showcasing this skill for their friends and family. I even have friends who do this and who say, Cooking for my family is how I show my love for them. I don’t get that. If that applied to our home, my meals would say, Dear family, eh, you’re okay, and here are some chicken nuggets to prove my lukewarm feelings for you. Luckily, I stumbled upon some pretty good tips for healthy meal planning around our busy homeschool life, and they will help you, too. I’m kidding, of course. I do love to feed my family healthy meals, it’s just that I have to follow these tips and more in order to bring my family healthy food, instead of chicken nuggets.

Good Planning = Extra Time

We eat gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, and a lot of other-things-free, too. We are  mindful of eating healthy foods, but the hard part is that it’s just so time consuming making sure that we have these healthy meals and snacks ready for when we need them. And it makes me want to cry if we don’t. The key is to follow a few tips in order to provide you and your family with healthy meals.

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Do-Over Day!

 


This blog post was taken from our original site and was published in 2009. Even though it’s an old post, and many of my life circumstances have changed, the content is still relevant.

Please comment and let me know if you can relate to this first-day-of-school scenario!

​Today was the first day of public school. Even though I have been gone from the classroom for long enough not to feel the usual excitement and anticipation of new beginnings, and even though my daughters did not go off to school today, and even though we’ve been into our homeschool rhythm and routine for months now and did not take the summer months off, I still can’t help but perceive this day as somehow new and different.

 

Many of my friends’ children and my daughters’ friends went off to school today and I could not help but think of them all day.  I wondered how the kids were doing, what activities they engaged in, whether they were having fun, how they enjoyed the bus ride.I wondered how the moms were doing, did they take a lot of pictures, did anyone shed tears, what cute things did they pack in the lunch boxes, and mostly, how does it feel to experience the <em>freedom</em> that comes from having someone else care for you children for a large part of the day?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love homeschooling.  For thousands of reasons.  But some days I wonder what it would be like to have a quiet house for the day.  I like to fantasize about what I would  do.  Would I relax and read?  Would I write?  Would I go back to teaching and actually make a real salary again?  Would I go get a different job?  Would I take riding lessons again, get another horse?  Would I finish this Ph.D. in half or a quarter of the time it’s been taking me now?  Would my house be cleaner?  Would I be more organized? Would I just rest?

A friend once told me that she felt that one needed to “be called” to homeschool and I believe this is true.  I have received that calling but sometimes wish I hadn’t.

Today we began our Monday morning like we always do with snuggles, breakfast, a short play time then our circle time, story and learning time.  By 9:45 this morning it was already clear that we were not having a smooth flowing morning.  My eldest was already lying on the floor tantruming, her sister close behind, and I was ready to quit.  I threw up my hands, walked out of the room to regroup and suddenly it hit me: we can have a Do-Over Day!

So I returned to our learning area and explained the concept of a do-over.  This was met with enthusiasm and smiles and we continued on.  What else could we do?

I can’t say that the rest of the morning went smoothly right away.  It didn’t.  We actually needed three do-overs today; but that’s okay because we homeschool and we CAN have do-overs!  We can regroup as many times as we need to during the day.

Oh, and I burned the dinner just now as I was absorbed in my writing.  Some days are just like that.  Time for yet another do-over I guess.

Top Three Things to Help Avoid Homeschool Burnout

I don’t know about you, but by the beginning of May, you can stick me with a fork because I’m done. I’m tired. I’m worn out from all the curricular AND extracurricular activities. I’m barely hanging on, and the words you’ll hear most often from my mouth those days are, “just skip it!” My homeschooling mojo has left the building. My inspiration lies wet and soggy somewhere underneath a pile of once shiny-new ideas. I need a pick-me-up, and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with almond milk just won’t do. I’m experiencing homeschool burnout.

I’ve been through this before. Many times. Here are three things that have helped me avoid homeschool burnout (in order).

Stop Feeling Guilty

I know you feel it. You can’t deny it. We homeschool moms are the ones who begin each year with our polished new ideas and clean schedules and high hopes. When we get to May and are reminded of all the ways in which our ideas didn’t pan out, we feel awful. It’s to be expected. But guilt (or remorse or regret) just don’t serve us. Throw those feelings away and replace them with a mind open to learning why those ideas didn’t pan out. For me, it’s usually because of one of these three things: (more…)

GIVEAWAY: A New Year, Your Best Year: 2019 Conference for Moms

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A New Year, Your Best Year

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Goals

Are you looking to set new goals for the new year? Do you want to learn a new skill? Maybe your goal for the new year is to be more consistent with meal planning, be better at organization, crush your fitness goals , stop yelling so much, or to simplify your life.
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Why You Need New Year’s Resolutions for Your Homeschool

Why do you need New Year’s resolutions for your homeschool? I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, several years ago I resolved not to participate in the seemingly pointless, tradition of sharing with friends all the ways I was going to make my life better in the coming year. What a set up for failure, right? I mean, all these ads and sales for healthy foods, supplements, weight loss products, exercise equipment is enough to prove that resolutions don’t last; otherwise all these things would be in your face all year long.

But today I’m not talking about exercise and diet resolutions; I’m talking about resolutions for your homeschool. Are there changes you’d like to make? Things you’d like to do differently? Do your kids have ideas about what they’d like to add to their schooling? Now is the time to regroup, recharge and resolve! Making New Year’s resolutions for your homeschool is important and here’s why: (more…)

Five Simple Things You Should Know to Help Your Young Child Become an Amazing Writer

​I am often asked the question, How can I teach my child to write?  Since reading and writing go hand in hand, the best way to start “teaching” writing is by reading.  Teaching a love of writing at this early age is so important for future successes a writer. There are a few things you should know about the early stages of writing.

Scribbles Are Important

Early writing really begins with drawing or scribbling. These random marks on the page are very important beginnings to the writing process. If you watch your child, you will see that these “scribbles” soon turn into long wavy lines resembling writing. This usually happens between the ages of 2 and 4.Next in the development of writing at this age, you’ll likely see your child making letter-like markings. These won’t really be true letters, but represent them.

Recognize Letter Strings

Around age 4 or 5 you’ll start to see real letters in strings on the page. They may or may not make real words.  More often than not, they are simply the letters your child enjoys making in non-phonetic blocks and lines. Don’t be alarmed if many of these are backward. This is totally normal.

Inventive Spelling is “Real” Spelling

When inventive spelling emerges on the page, (usually around age 5 or 6,) the fun begins! Now your child is using his or her own spelling according to how he or she makes the letter-sound correspondence.  This is my very favorite stage of writing and children are so excited to be able to put their sounds to paper and have others decipher it! One thing you can do to celebrate this success is read your child’s stories aloud. I promise, the more you read this inventive spelling, the better you will get at being able to decipher it. Hint: “speak” it as your child speaks; try to talk like your child. When my daughter was young, she had trouble with the “bl” blend and her writing at this stage reflected this.

Have Your Child Share Their Work

Children love to share their writing. Ask you child to be an author and sit in an “author’s chair” – a special chair designed for the sharing of the written word. Ask your child to sit in this chair (or wear a special hat, or other special thing to signify author’s time).  Be an active listener.  Invite the whole family. Ask questions about the story. Comment on what you enjoyed about it.

What Not To Do

It is very important not to correct a child’s spelling or grammar right now. Let them enjoy the free flowing feeling of writing without worry whether it is “right” or not. Spelling is one of those skills that is best acquired over time and does not come by rote memorization, constant correction or practice writing words correctly over and over again. (I’ll have much more to say on this subject in later posts.)

Later On

Around age 7 is when children begin to use more and more conventional spelling in their writing and spells most words correctly. Now is the time to teach simple grammar rules, which we’ll talk more about later on.

Useful Books:

This is an oldie but a goodie. It is hard to get a hold of, but if you can find it, it is gold:
Using Word Walls to Strengthen Student Reading and Writing at the Emergent Level

​Playful Writing: 150 Open-Ended Explorations in Emergent Literacy

Literacy-Building Play in Preschool: Lit Kits, Prop Boxes, and Other Easy-to-Make Tools to Boost Emergent

Reading and Writing Skills Through Dramatic Play

The following books are excellent books for teachers and are a must-have when you are teaching little ones during these early years:

Soaring with Reading and Writing: a highly effective emergent literacy program 

Teaching Beginning Writers

Curriculum We Recommend

All About Spelling

If you have an older child who is struggling with writing, we recommend our “How to Write the Perfect 5-Paragraph Essay” course. At Our Happy Medium Academy, we believe that learning should be fun!

Helpful Websites

Get Ready to Read (GRTR)

International Reading Association (IRA)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)

Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Reading Rockets

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