Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella recently sat down for a discussion on time management for homeschooling families. While Yvette finds her self chronically challenged in this area, it is second nature for Aby. This made for a lively discussion on the topic.
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone, welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am back with Aby Rinella and we are doing another Q&A episode, and these are so much fun. We love getting to encourage you and just having the opportunity to serve you, homeschool parents, and answer some of your questions. And so, if you have questions for us, be sure to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know how we can encourage you. Aby, welcome. Welcome back to the podcast.
Aby Rinella: Hey, it’s good to be here.
Yvette Hampton: I love this, I love doing this with you. It’s so much fun, and I love getting to answer these questions that we’ve gotten from our listeners. And so, we’re just going to jump in with this. And this first question, so funny, when I first saw it, it’s two simple words that have a gigantic meaning in the world of homeschooling, and I looked at it and I was like, “I think I’m going to have to let Aby answer this one.” And those two simple words with the big meaning are,
Aby Rinella: Oh. Double question mark.
Yvette Hampton: Double question mark, and I’m not great at time management. I’m not a very “type-A” person, and so I’m just one of those people who I don’t really fly by the seat of my pants always, but I kind of do. And I’m starting to realize more and more that I need to have better time management. As a matter of fact, we recently did an episode with September McCarthy and, oh, she was so fantastic. And after that one I was like, “Okay, we’re going to change some things this year, going into this new year, and we are going to do a morning time, just a more concentrated morning time basket.” So, I actually got a basket and I’m actually putting it together, I’m assembling it right now, and I need to be more intentional with time management. And so, since you’re good at this, Aby, I would love for you to tackle this question and help me and help those other time management challenged to moms like myself. Just know, how can we get better at this? What do you do? What does it look like for you?
Aby Rinella: Well, I am super “type-A.” I thrive on schedules and planning and all of that stuff. So, I think what works best, at least for my family, is blocking out my day rather than every… You can pick, 15-minute blocks, 30-minute blocks, but really just blocking out my day and then deciding what are my priorities? Like you were saying, we do a morning time, we do an hour actually, I chunk out an hour for our morning time and we can hit all sorts of things during that time that we can all do together. And then I have the next chunk or block of time where my kids go off and they can do their independent work, and that allows me to work with my little one. And then the next chunk of time is our lunchtime and then reading, read-alouds, so I can read aloud to the kids. So, I think the best plan that works for us is really just blocking out my day chunks, and then deciding what is most important.
Aby Rinella: I think also, or I know, that when you do that, what ends up getting pushed to the end are all those fun and exciting “I really wish I would have done that” Things. So for our family, I leave Fridays as open for all those extra fun things that we want to do, all those extra read-alouds that didn’t get really planned in, or the game schooling, which is so much fun, or all those extra things go down on Fridays, and that way, I can really focus on my Monday through Thursday and work in those chunks of time. The other thing is, is when that chunk is up, whether my kids have finished their work or not, they can put their stuff away. So, I just require that they work their best for that chunk of time, rather than just get it done, get it done, or it helps them to not rush through it, they know that they have this much time and they’ll get that done.
Aby Rinella: For homeschool moms, we also have to cook, we also have to clean, we also have to manage the laundry. So, in those chunks where my kids are doing their independent work, that’s where I’m prepping dinner. Or in the chunks where they’re reading aloud to one another, they can read aloud and I can listen while I’m also doing laundry. So, you can work your daily stuff that you also have to do into those chunks of time, and that works really well. One huge thing that really helps our family is menu planning, because then that gets taken off your daily list. I do it every other week, so I do a two-week menu, but you could do one-week menu, you could even do three days, but if you’re doing it every single day, that will take a huge amount of time. So, that’s a huge help for time management.
Yvette Hampton: So, what you’re saying, let me just get this correct, [chuckle] is that it’s not good time management to stand at the refrigerator at 4 o’clock in the afternoon…
Aby Rinella: And decide what’s for dinner.
Yvette Hampton: And figure out, “What are we going to have for dinner tonight?”
Aby Rinella: You know what, some people can do it.
Yvette Hampton: I’m not saying I do that. I’ve just heard of other moms.
Aby Rinella: And my way would only work, it worked for us, and it could help a lot of moms who need something. Some people do fly by the seat of their pants and it works really well, and if they try to chunk out their day like I do, it would make them absolutely crazy. I couldn’t do that. I would end up starting at 4 o’clock looking in the fridge, and by 4:15, I’d be on the floor crying, calling pizza. So, yeah.
Yvette Hampton: Well, that’s basically how I feel every day.
Aby Rinella: [chuckle] Every day?
Yvette Hampton: I want to curl up in the fetal position every day at dinner time.
Aby Rinella: So, for us, because I have it planned out, I know the night before what I need to take out of the freezer, because I know what comes tomorrow. I get up in the morning, if it’s a Crock-Pot meal, I throw it in and I’m done. I don’t have to think about it and dinner’s done. It just, it takes it off my plate that I already know what’s going to happen for food the next day, that I don’t even have to think about it, it’s just done. And then I can plan according, when I make my menu plan, I can say, “Okay, that day we have co-op.” So, it’s not going to be a five-course meal that takes three hours to make. It’s not going to work on that day. Not that I ever do those, but… And so, you can plan according to your activities that you have going on, and so that it just takes a lot of the stress off of things.
Yvette Hampton: Yes. Are you for hire? [chuckle]
Aby Rinella: Am I for hire?
Yvette Hampton: I want to have Aby plan my meals.
Aby Rinella: I love to time manage so much that if you want to reach out to me, I’d love it. It’s strange. I thrive on it. It’s a stress relief for me. Is that weird?
Aby Rinella: Maybe it’s a disorder, I don’t know. [laughs]
Yvette Hampton: Not at all. I think, like everything else, there needs to be a healthy balance between the two. Especially for someone like myself, because I I like order, and I like cleanliness, and I like… I like my towels to be folded a very specific way. There are certain things, but when it comes to scheduling our day out, I just have a hard time. And one of the things that I struggle with the most is when a wrench gets thrown in it. Like if there’s a doctor appointment in the morning, I feel like it throws off my whole day. Mornings seem to be a little bit better, because I feel like we can come back and pick up school later in the day.
Aby Rinella: Right. See, that’s so funny, because I’m the opposite. If I have something in the morning, the whole day is done.
Yvette Hampton: Well, yes. That often happens with me too, but I’m saying, if there’s something in the middle of the day, at like lunch time, then there’s no chance that anything is going to happen. And I cannot tell you how many times the girls and I have said, “Okay, well, we’re going to just do this one thing, but when we get back, we’re going to get back on track with school,” and then we get back, and then the neighbor kids come over, they want to play…
Aby Rinella: Totally.
Yvette Hampton: It’s a lost cause.
Aby Rinella: But I think that’s too why we need to schedule in margin, because it’s not good to have such a tight schedule that the schedule is ruining the freedom. Part of the reason we homeschool is we have freedom. We have freedom to say, “Hey, there’s an opportunity, let’s go do it,” or, “Hey, we got a call and a neighbor needs help, we can throw… We can skip our school and go help that neighbor,” or… Honestly, we just work in that sometimes we just have really bad days, and no one’s going to learn anyway, so working in margin is really important. And for someone like me, the type A, we can be owned by our schedule, and that’s not good at all. So, when you… And that’s also why these blocks are nice. Work in a couple chunks, a couple of those blocks in your week for nothing. So, if you get derailed on Monday, you can bump it to that empty block on Thursday. So, you’ve got to schedule in margin also, or else you’re going to lose your mind. And don’t let the clock and the schedule run you.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: You have freedom.
Yvette Hampton: So, you do yours in chunks?
Aby Rinella: Yeah.
Yvette Hampton: So, you don’t necessarily say from 8:00 to 9:00, you just say for the first hour that we can do school. So, if you have a doctor’s appointment at 9:00 in the morning, you can bump that chunk of time to 10:00 or 11 o’clock.
Aby Rinella: Right. You could bump it, yeah. Yeah, there’s lots of different ways to do it. I usually chunk out my day in two-hour chunks. And so, if there’s a doctor appointment, it goes in that chunk. And that might mean we don’t do morning basket that day, and that’s okay. It’s okay. You need to go to the doctor.
Your kids are going to learn at the doctor too. So, that really helps. And I’ve done the loop scheduling before, and that’s really nice. That has worked well for our family, so that I’m not owned by our schedule. I make it work for me. So, if we… We just… We do the next thing; we just do the next thing the next day. And that works in margin, so…
Yvette Hampton: Loop scheduling is great. I know Pam Barnhill has loop scheduling forms, and she explains it. I’m sure you could find a video somewhere on YouTube or somewhere of Pam Barnhill talking about loop scheduling, for those who are like, “What in the world are you talking about?” Or on her website, PamBarnhill.com. But I’ve heard her talk a lot about that. And I’ve actually… I have the print-out of her loop schedule.
Aby Rinella: It helps because you can be scheduled and yet you aren’t owned by your schedule. Like if one thing goes wrong, you’re not completely derailed.
Yvette Hampton: I know you’ve briefly touched on it, but explain what loop scheduling is, how it works for those who are like, “What in the world are you talking about?”
Aby Rinella: Okay. So rather than, “Monday, we do this, Tuesday, we do this, Thursday, we do this. Lesson 121 on Monday, 122 on Tuesday,” And the worry about that is, “What if I don’t get to 121 on Monday?” Now, everything’s a mess. So basically, loop scheduling is just, you write down what you’re going to do without dates, without times, and you just do the next thing. So, you just do the next thing. And you need a visual, and maybe we can link to some stuff with visuals, but you basically, you loop through it, if that makes sense. When you get to the bottom, you go back up to the top. And you just keep doing the next thing. So, for example, if you need to do math five times, and language three, you intersperse it and you just… You do the next thing, rather than saying, “On Monday at 11:00, I must do this.” It just… It opens you up to a lot more freedom, but it also keeps you on track, if that makes sense.
Yvette Hampton: Yes. And you keep some things the same.
Aby Rinella: Yes.
Yvette Hampton: Like you have your morning basket time.
Aby Rinella: Always.
Yvette Hampton: Every morning…
Aby Rinella: Yeah.
Yvette Hampton: But then as far as… And when you’re talking about scheduling stuff, you’re talking about history, science…
Aby Rinella: Math, science, yeah.
Yvette Hampton: Math, right.
Aby Rinella: Exactly.
Yvette Hampton: Those things you have to do.
Aby Rinella: And you can budget your time to make it work for you. I kind of do a modified loop scheduling. You have to do what works for you. And that’s the beauty of homeschool. What works for you, what works for your kids, what works for your schedule. And it’s different year to year. It feels sometimes different week to week. But just get some sort of time management in play, don’t let it own you, but make it work for you, so that you have a smooth-running home.