5 Signs Your Homeschool Schedule Is Too Full

The frazzled mom looked at me, concern evident in her eyes. Her messy mom bun held a pencil and last night’s mascara was smudged beneath her lower lashes–not in a sloppy way, just a tired mom sort of way. 

But am I doing enough? she asked. I’m afraid she’s going to be behind.

In my ten years as a full-time homeschool coach, I heard this question often.

I understand the concern: sometimes, moms worry that their kids will need to transfer into public school, and they want to make sure the transition will be smooth. Sometimes, they have a child who is learning skills more slowly than his peers, and at some point, the difference becomes evident. Sometimes that child needs additional strategies and support, and sometimes he just needs another year or two.

Sometimes, moms are doing more than enough, and oftentimes attempting to add too much to their homeschool schedule.

The worried mom from my coaching days? She had her daughter in an academic co-op (with homework) once a week, an in-person writing class, an online math class, and was completing a full curriculum at home–all while running a family business and being very active in their church. 

Laid out on a daily/weekly planner, all of the tasks fit. Technically, there was time for all of the classes and the home time and the business tasks–but both mom and daughter were tired and annoyed, and no one was finding joy in the life they were creating with their homeschool schedule.

Do I have enough planned in my homeschool schedule?

How do you know if you’re overscheduled?

1. You (or your children) are tired.

Oh boy, I know. I’m tired all the time, too!

When we cram our day full of things, even good things, we miss out on rest, and rest is crucial to a joy-filled life!

Maybe your days are fine, but you have late evenings and a baby who wakes you early: if you’re exhausted, you must find time for rest, and that means doing less.

2. You (or your children) are overwhelmingly unhappy with your activities.

I’ll concede that sometimes a kid might push back on some academic subjects. Sometimes, I don’t wanna either. 

Maybe there’s a medical situation to explore (ADHD, ODD, etc), and you need to develop specific strategies to help.

But if you don’t have an obvious case of neurodivergence (and even if you do!), and you or your child are regularly resisting MOST or MANY of your daily tasks–perhaps there are too many “required” tasks and not enough time to do the things that fill you up. Perhaps it would be better to only make it halfway through the math books this year and, instead, play math games that bring better connection and joy. Perhaps you have an introvert on hand, who needs more time alone to refresh! 

Perhaps–I don’t like this one, either–screen time is taking up too much of your day and not allowing a needed brain break.

3. You (or your children) feel disconnected from the family unit.

Isn’t connection one of the primary benefits of homeschooling? Yes, you might have started for a million different reasons: freedom of choice, avoiding bullies, scheduling flexibility. But time is one of the gifts homeschooling provides. 

Time to connect with our kids. Time to let our kids investigate their own interests. Time to build a strong family. 

If you or your kids are feeling disconnected, it’s possible there is so much happening in your schedule that you’re unable to prioritize connection the way you desire.

Connection over accomplishment, almost always.

4. You’re not doing things that are important to you.

Yes, in a post about doing too much, I AM going to talk about what you’re not doing.

Because here’s the thing: when you’re so busy taking care of tasks and a checklist and classes and appointments and schedules, you might be neglecting some things that are even more important.

Do you stare longingly at the stack of board games in the corner, but never find time to play?

Do you have a stack of books you want to read but never have time for your own reading?

Do you want to attend midweek church services, but you can’t because you have to get your kids to practice?

Do you want to jump on the trampoline, ride your bike, or watch the ants rebuild their anthill? 

Checklists feel important. Schedules feel urgent. Curriculum can be demanding.

But when we aren’t truly living out our priorities, those checklists, schedules and curriculum can start to boss us around.

Are you doing enough in your homeschool schedule? If you can’t find time for the things you value most, it’s likely that you are actually doing too much and need to cut back on your schedule.

Pssst: Are you a little fuzzy on what your priorities are? Our Homeschool Refresh Workbook might help you align your life with your priorities and find joy in the kids you actually have!

And, hey, what goes for you goes for the kids, too.

Do they have the space to do the things that matter most to THEM?

I do personally believe that our affections can be shaped, so there will always be some material and experiences that I require of my children–but it is equally important to allow our children the time to develop and pursue their own passions and social activities.

5. You (or your children) are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and/or irritable.

Confession: there is approximately one week of every month during which I feel stressed, overwhelmed AND irritable.

You’re absolutely right: I should figure out my hormonal cycles and reduce the emotional ups and downs.

In the meantime, however, I find it best to admit my physical needs of the week and dramatically reduce my expectations. If I admit that I will be extra tired, extra grumpy, and extra low-performing with my executive functioning and decision-making skills, I can scale back our checklists and give myself the room I need.

Whether it’s your schedule causing your stress, overwhelm, and irritability, or just life circumstances causing your emotionally low state, you might try reducing your expectations for a time.

How can I simplify our schedule?

  • Look first at your values.
  • Consider the needs and interests of your children and yourself.
  • Examine your weekly commitments: what MUST be done?
  • Only after this, consider your curriculum. Is it realistic? Is it better to relax your expectations or outside commitments?

Unpopular opinion: if you’ve already committed to a co-op, I would almost always consider that a MUST DO for the year. As a co-op coordinator, I know how much it can strain a co-op when one or more families leave mid-year! I’d instead reduce our coursework at home, and reevaluate participation in the outside for the next semester or year. I know you, as a homeschool mom, are fiercely committed to doing what’s best for your family and will make the right choice that balances honoring your commitment and protecting your family’s time. 

If you need help considering your schedule, check out our Homeschool Refresh Workbook.

We hold your hand through the whole process!

Your schedule, like your curriculum, is a tool that you are in control of.

Make sure it is working for you!