Homeschooling | Me Time

/ 5:57 PM





Personally I've been "formally" homeschooling for 4 years now. My kids have been homeschooled their entire education so technically I've been schooling at home for 9 years. 9 years of spending all day, er'y with my kids. There's never been a season where they've gone to school, preschool or day care. That means we've put in some serious hours with each other!

In my adult life I have been consistently keenly aware of self care and my mental health. I don't want to just survive my life - I want to thrive. Very early on in having kids I realized that as a social introvert being with people all day drains me (even people I love so very much) and that alone time recharges me. When you homeschool - alone time has to be an intentional thing.

If I had to boil down the most crucial ingredient in our family's plan to make sure I get alone time I'd say it is my husband's dedication to fathering our kids and partnering with me in our children's education.

When we decided to homeschool it was a decision that both of us made with a lot of thought. There was never an assumption that it would only affect my life as the homeschool teacher. We were both going to have to invest in this.

Thankfully we started some of the routines early on and they have just become a rhythm in our life. From day one, my husband has be primarily responsible for the kids bedtimes. If I was nursing, I'd nurse and pass them off. It's been great as this has always been guaranteed time he has with them for bonding. This is especially crucial for us in seasons of life where he works until 5:30 pm and the kids were going to bed at 7:00 pm. Bedtime is their time. For me it means that I have a good hour where I am not answering questions, making snacks or directing my kids. It is a much needed break after doing that for the previous 8-10 hours. Sometimes I am just SO tired of talking!



I don't know about you but even with their dad 3 feet from them my kids will out of habit still seek me out. My answer in these times is typically "You have a dad. Use him." lol. It can be VERY easy for us moms to just continue with the flow of the day and without thinking just keep doing all. the. things. for our kids. I have to be intentional to redirect them to my husband so that it reinforces that we are a team and sometimes you just need to ask dad.

For me this is also the hour that I often leave the house. Not sure about your kids but even though they are 9 and 7 they still act like every bedtime is the first one we've ever done. Brush your teeth! Get your PJ's on! Wash your face! Get into bed! Stop coming out of bed! That's our nightly soundtrack. It gets old. So, I excuse myself and either hop in the hot tub during bedtime routine, head out for a walk or grab a decaf coffee and peruse the aisles of Walmart just cause I can. It's amazing what that hour does for my mental health!

On the topic of bedtime - that has been another sanity saver for us. We have enforced an early bedtime for our kids. For most of their lives up until last summer they were in bed by 7 - 7:30 every night and asleep shortly after. My husband and I are both night owls so that meant that we typically had from then until at least midnight of just us time. We can hang out, play games, work in the yard, work out, write, or just chill and watch T.V.  It also meant that for us we couldn't go out often in the evening as a family (as pushing them past their bedtime was not a good idea for us) but the long term benefits far outweighed the times we chose not to go out. Individually we can easily go out for a couple of hours and do so weekly. I play tennis weekly and attend a ladies connection night and my husband plays basketball weekly. We've even been known to hit up movies at the theatre on our own cause who talks to anyone during a movie anyways?

For those of you that are morning people I'm guessing that you can get up before your kids to have some alone time. I seriously wonder what that is like - my kids can sense I'm awake so I've never gotten more than 5 minutes on my own in the morning!

As soon as I felt my kids could manage I spent the summer teaching them how to make breakfasts. I wanted them to have a range of healthy food they could make independently and once they learned I left that responsibility on them. For me this means that I can take my time to have a cup of coffee and maybe read a bit while they make their own breakfasts and eat. I like it!

I'm pretty lucky in that my husband only works 2 blocks from home. This means he's able to come home every day for lunch. Since I don't love working out at night and I'm really not a morning person I've been working out over the noon hour for the past couple of years. I love it because my husband is there for them to field questions from the kids (read less interruptions for me) and it flows well with our homeschool day for them to have a break.

As fortunate as I am that my husband has a 9-5 ish job with lunch hours at home and all weekends off, this didn't happen by accident. We live in an industrial town where the majority of jobs are shift jobs. Because of the "yes's" that we have said to things like making daily family time a priority and having weekends to spend together it made it easier to be intentional and say "no" to job offers that didn't line up with our goals. My husband has turned down many jobs over the years (many that offered a lot more pay) that would have required him to work 12 hour shifts and thus greatly affect our schedule. We both decided that those jobs wouldn't work for our family and our personalities. On the flip side, I have friends whose husbands work shift and then have regular 4-5 day stretches off that work fantastically for their families. My point is not that one is better than another but that it pays to be intentional with your choices.



I have a lot of other passions and interests that are outside of homeschooling. I've found that making sure I have time for those things promotes thriving in my life. Alone time is great but being alone with nothing to do would be more annoying to me than not having the time at all.

I love photography and thus run a photography business. At my max I take 2 clients a week in the evening. It gets me out and using my creativity while also providing extra income. Sometimes I just need to build something. If my husband isn't around or we want to work on a project together, we'll hire a babysitter to hang out with the kids so we can work without being disrupted. Some of my friends have had great success in working out a childcare swap. They make an agreement with another family with similarly aged children and pick two nights a month where they swap childcare. They put parameters in place that work for them like set hours, and feeding your kids before dropping them off and it allows them to have a "free" date night once a month.

One practice that I'm terrible at keeping consistent is having a set quiet time each day. We've done it periodically and though it takes some effort to define the boundaries of it and get my kids accustomed to spending that time alone each day it was worth it when we did it. Even half an hour in the middle of the day where every one goes to their own corner can be a great "reset" for everyone.

Though I'm not great at staying consistent with quiet time I've found that now that my children are old enough for independent reading time that I really make use of that.

There's obviously no set way to make sure you're getting what you need. We're all wired so differently! My hope is that in some way this post can give you a few ideas on how to make time for yourself and at the very least emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself as a homeschooling parent. If one thing is clear to me, it's that getting "me" time is more about recognizing the value of it as family and being intentional to make it happen than it is about actually finding the time.

 I'd love to hear how you incorporate self care and "me time" into your homeschool routines! Please comment with them - then we can all learn from each other!

~ Monique

* All images in this post done by Crystal Lee Photography *







Personally I've been "formally" homeschooling for 4 years now. My kids have been homeschooled their entire education so technically I've been schooling at home for 9 years. 9 years of spending all day, er'y with my kids. There's never been a season where they've gone to school, preschool or day care. That means we've put in some serious hours with each other!

In my adult life I have been consistently keenly aware of self care and my mental health. I don't want to just survive my life - I want to thrive. Very early on in having kids I realized that as a social introvert being with people all day drains me (even people I love so very much) and that alone time recharges me. When you homeschool - alone time has to be an intentional thing.

If I had to boil down the most crucial ingredient in our family's plan to make sure I get alone time I'd say it is my husband's dedication to fathering our kids and partnering with me in our children's education.

When we decided to homeschool it was a decision that both of us made with a lot of thought. There was never an assumption that it would only affect my life as the homeschool teacher. We were both going to have to invest in this.

Thankfully we started some of the routines early on and they have just become a rhythm in our life. From day one, my husband has be primarily responsible for the kids bedtimes. If I was nursing, I'd nurse and pass them off. It's been great as this has always been guaranteed time he has with them for bonding. This is especially crucial for us in seasons of life where he works until 5:30 pm and the kids were going to bed at 7:00 pm. Bedtime is their time. For me it means that I have a good hour where I am not answering questions, making snacks or directing my kids. It is a much needed break after doing that for the previous 8-10 hours. Sometimes I am just SO tired of talking!



I don't know about you but even with their dad 3 feet from them my kids will out of habit still seek me out. My answer in these times is typically "You have a dad. Use him." lol. It can be VERY easy for us moms to just continue with the flow of the day and without thinking just keep doing all. the. things. for our kids. I have to be intentional to redirect them to my husband so that it reinforces that we are a team and sometimes you just need to ask dad.

For me this is also the hour that I often leave the house. Not sure about your kids but even though they are 9 and 7 they still act like every bedtime is the first one we've ever done. Brush your teeth! Get your PJ's on! Wash your face! Get into bed! Stop coming out of bed! That's our nightly soundtrack. It gets old. So, I excuse myself and either hop in the hot tub during bedtime routine, head out for a walk or grab a decaf coffee and peruse the aisles of Walmart just cause I can. It's amazing what that hour does for my mental health!

On the topic of bedtime - that has been another sanity saver for us. We have enforced an early bedtime for our kids. For most of their lives up until last summer they were in bed by 7 - 7:30 every night and asleep shortly after. My husband and I are both night owls so that meant that we typically had from then until at least midnight of just us time. We can hang out, play games, work in the yard, work out, write, or just chill and watch T.V.  It also meant that for us we couldn't go out often in the evening as a family (as pushing them past their bedtime was not a good idea for us) but the long term benefits far outweighed the times we chose not to go out. Individually we can easily go out for a couple of hours and do so weekly. I play tennis weekly and attend a ladies connection night and my husband plays basketball weekly. We've even been known to hit up movies at the theatre on our own cause who talks to anyone during a movie anyways?

For those of you that are morning people I'm guessing that you can get up before your kids to have some alone time. I seriously wonder what that is like - my kids can sense I'm awake so I've never gotten more than 5 minutes on my own in the morning!

As soon as I felt my kids could manage I spent the summer teaching them how to make breakfasts. I wanted them to have a range of healthy food they could make independently and once they learned I left that responsibility on them. For me this means that I can take my time to have a cup of coffee and maybe read a bit while they make their own breakfasts and eat. I like it!

I'm pretty lucky in that my husband only works 2 blocks from home. This means he's able to come home every day for lunch. Since I don't love working out at night and I'm really not a morning person I've been working out over the noon hour for the past couple of years. I love it because my husband is there for them to field questions from the kids (read less interruptions for me) and it flows well with our homeschool day for them to have a break.

As fortunate as I am that my husband has a 9-5 ish job with lunch hours at home and all weekends off, this didn't happen by accident. We live in an industrial town where the majority of jobs are shift jobs. Because of the "yes's" that we have said to things like making daily family time a priority and having weekends to spend together it made it easier to be intentional and say "no" to job offers that didn't line up with our goals. My husband has turned down many jobs over the years (many that offered a lot more pay) that would have required him to work 12 hour shifts and thus greatly affect our schedule. We both decided that those jobs wouldn't work for our family and our personalities. On the flip side, I have friends whose husbands work shift and then have regular 4-5 day stretches off that work fantastically for their families. My point is not that one is better than another but that it pays to be intentional with your choices.



I have a lot of other passions and interests that are outside of homeschooling. I've found that making sure I have time for those things promotes thriving in my life. Alone time is great but being alone with nothing to do would be more annoying to me than not having the time at all.

I love photography and thus run a photography business. At my max I take 2 clients a week in the evening. It gets me out and using my creativity while also providing extra income. Sometimes I just need to build something. If my husband isn't around or we want to work on a project together, we'll hire a babysitter to hang out with the kids so we can work without being disrupted. Some of my friends have had great success in working out a childcare swap. They make an agreement with another family with similarly aged children and pick two nights a month where they swap childcare. They put parameters in place that work for them like set hours, and feeding your kids before dropping them off and it allows them to have a "free" date night once a month.

One practice that I'm terrible at keeping consistent is having a set quiet time each day. We've done it periodically and though it takes some effort to define the boundaries of it and get my kids accustomed to spending that time alone each day it was worth it when we did it. Even half an hour in the middle of the day where every one goes to their own corner can be a great "reset" for everyone.

Though I'm not great at staying consistent with quiet time I've found that now that my children are old enough for independent reading time that I really make use of that.

There's obviously no set way to make sure you're getting what you need. We're all wired so differently! My hope is that in some way this post can give you a few ideas on how to make time for yourself and at the very least emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself as a homeschooling parent. If one thing is clear to me, it's that getting "me" time is more about recognizing the value of it as family and being intentional to make it happen than it is about actually finding the time.

 I'd love to hear how you incorporate self care and "me time" into your homeschool routines! Please comment with them - then we can all learn from each other!

~ Monique

* All images in this post done by Crystal Lee Photography *


Continue Reading




Thanks so much for your wonderful feedback on Part I! In case you missed it you can find Part I here. If you want the Coles Notes it can best be summarized in my sentiment "Homeschooling is the hardest and best thing I've done."

Most things in life that are worth doing are not easy. Homeschooling for us is very worth doing. I find that a lot of times when families are facing the choice of whether to homeschool or not, looking ahead can appear to be a series of hurdles. Many well wishers including myself might say things like "Oh, it'll all be O.K. You'll be fine! You can do this! You just figure it out." And, they're right! But I also get that it can seem daunting and sometimes it's just nice to have an honest look at the hard things and how other families have worked through them. It might not be how you would work through them, but at least you'll know that it can be done.

Onwards to the hard things!

Going Against the Flow

When you choose to homeschool you make a major family lifestyle choice that is opposite of probably 99% of the population. It can feel as though you are literally swimming against the stream. The reality for us however is that I feel more like we jumped out of the stream and are adventuring all over the place. Up hills, down some valleys, through forests, in the ocean and through the fields! Like I said in my previous post, I refuse to adopt an "us vs them" mentality. Our decision to school our children is not a rebellious act or some type of "rage against the machine". It is a lifestyle we chose because we felt it was the best use of our time and energy for these years that our kids are in our care.

That said, I run into a lot of families that feel very misunderstood and don't have a lot of support from people in their circle. Some homeschooling parents find themselves in a mode of constantly defending their right and ability to guide their child's education. I am subject to these types of interrogation occasionally and can see how it would be exhausting. Well meaning bystanders often feel it is their responsibility to keep homeschoolers accountable by grilling them on how they socialize their children, whether or not they have them in outside activities, on who tests them to make sure they actually know what they're supposed to know, and whether they put in the standard 6 hour school days because if you homeschool you better be keeping up with what the schools do.

Because I have an education degree I find that I get a pass from a lot of those conversations. However, I understand that they occur and that they are not valid. I love when people dialogue in an effort to understand, I don't love it when people use these conversations to push an agenda or to attempt to undermine a homeschooling parents ability.

When I do come up against a conversation that is more of an interrogation and I can see that the person isn't in it for understanding but rather to push their ideas on what I should do I have a few options.
a) I steer the conversation elsewhere. I don't actually OWE anyone an explanation for our choice or a daily itinerary.

b) If it's someone who I am in relationship with and this is a recurring thing I will lovingly create a boundary. It might look something like this, "I appreciate that you are concerned about our family and our children's education. We have given this a lot of thought and we are committed to doing this and doing our best at it. I won't continue to have this conversation over and over again though. So, if you feel you need to discuss homeschooling with me it'll have to be about ways you can support and encourage us."
Tough to actually say to someone you love? Absolutely ... but WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

c) I can still choose to answer their question out a place of sharing freely and to promote understanding all the while understanding that I do not need their approval.



One Income

When you choose to homeschool you are taking on a lifestyle that likely results in living off of one income or at least necessitates that one parent is home during the days (or some block of schooling time). We live in a culture where that is definitely not the norm. There can often be a pressure for bigger houses, newer vehicles, more stuff and constant entertainment and extracurricular spending. Homeschooling requires sacrifice. Sacrifice can be hard. I also believe though that sacrifice is good for us.

In my opinion, it is a very first world thing to believe that we can and should "have it all." Whether we are being intentional about it or not, we are all constantly making choices. I have found one of the most helpful principles for us that we live by daily is "I know the things I have said a big YES to and therefore it makes it easy to say NO to anything that does not line up with or competes with that YES."

So, for example, we have said yes to homeschooling. That means that I don't work full time outside of the home. It also means that we aren't in the market for a newer, bigger home because the added financial burden would require me to work full time and sabotage our plan to homeschool. It means we remodel this home.

It sounds so simple but it seriously brings so much clarity to our thinking and to our financial plan.

I'd love to share a few more strategies that have really helped us.



The first is that any time we have transitioned to less income (like when I went on mat leave), we gave ourselves at least 6 months of practice time before the transition date. So, for 6 months prior to leaving work we started to put my ENTIRE paycheque into savings immediately. Then, we would practice living off of my husbands income. The first month we inevitably WAY overspent. But that was O.K. We expected it. We would just draw from savings what we needed and tried again next month. By the end of that term we had learned to live off of one income and also ended up with a pretty large savings account!

Another piece of advice - get a financial planner. We preferred one that was not affiliated with any particular bank and thus we felt unbiased in regards to the investments and such that they would offer. We love the financial team we work with. They help us manage everything from our investments, our mortgage, our cash flow, our tax planning, our life insurance, etc. They understand our goals and do everything they can to help us meet them. (Message me if you want a recommendation for a great team.)

Because you homeschool also doesn't mean that you can not work outside the home. I myself am a photographer and it works great with a homeschooling schedule. It allows me to plan sessions for evenings and I can use my time at home during the day to deal with all the admin and editing. I have other friends who homeschool during the day and have an evening job. If you want to make it work - you can make it work.

Interestingly enough this post didn't really have anything to do with the obstacles involved in our actual day to day schooling of children but I think they are two hurdles that often seem really daunting to families.

I had wanted to go even further and tackle "getting time on your own" and what we do with that need to get out of the house as a homeschool parent but I think it'll require it's own post!

Again, if you have any more hard stuff you want addressed don't hesitate to comment!










One of the statements I hear the most frequently when people learn that we homeschool is "Oh, I could never homeschool..." followed by

  • it would be too hard for us to all get along all day. 
  • we would butt heads too much. 
  • my kids wouldn't listen to me. 
  • I need to get out of the house.
  • teaching is too hard. 
These are all perfectly relatable statements. I know that because they were all true for me as well. 

Homeschooling is HARD. 

I hope I didn't lure you in with that title question and you thought I was going to write a post about how easy homeschooling is. I wish I could but it just wouldn't be truth. I can't really think of much about homeschooling that is easier than sending my kids to school. Except that whole getting every body dressed, fed and out the door by 8:15 am EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don't know how y'all do it. What kind of sorcery is that?

The truth for me is that homeschooling is hard. But if there is one thing I've learned in life, it's that most things worth doing aren't easy. And for our family, homeschooling is very worth doing. 

I feel like this is a good time for a disclaimer ;). I don't think homeschooling is the best fit for every single family. I am a former public school middle years teacher - I love schools. I am a BIG fan of teachers! You should say "thank you" to your child's teacher tomorrow - seriously - just do it. I don't agree with every facet of how the education system is run, but I in no way ever adopt an "us vs them" mentality. I didn't agree with those same things when I was a teacher in the system and I know the majority of teacher's are doing their best for the kids in their care. 

That said... when people ask me how homeschooling is going, rather than launch into a 30 minute speech about the highs and lows of my week I typically answer with "Homeschooling is the hardest and best thing I've ever done."

Let's talk about some of those hard things shall we?

The Head Butting

I think some people assumed that I chose to homeschool because my children and I all were perfectly amenable and had perfectly complimentary personalities that made me think "We can absolutely be with each other 24-7 for years on end." Um - no. I am an assertive person who is strict (yet fun) and who is also a social introvert. My son is quick, efficient, doesn't like to waste time ever, likes to push boundaries and isn't a fan of anyone teaching him anything ever. My daughter believes that "more is more", loves to dawdle, loves to draw 17 pictures on her paper before doing any work and loves to talk non-stop and then freak out if you ask her to stop. There is plenty of butting of heads that goes on in our day. 

I get that it can be a bit much for my kids to have me giving them direction on all the things - every day! Brush your teeth, go get dressed, make some breakfast, get your math book out, let me teach you how to divide and so on and so forth. 

How we work through that is by spending time usually each day (and usually not planned) on character development. For all of us. As much as they need to learn to be kind, manage their behaviour and try to do their work without complaining, I need to learn patience, to talk less and to encourage more. Being with each other as much as we are necessitates that we rub off each other's rough edges a bit. Part of our homeschooling days are making ourselves the kind of people that we can spend all day every day with!






Blurred Lines

Mom ----> Teacher ----> Coach ----> Principal 
Child ----> Student ----> Athlete

Now, we don't assign official titles or anything in our home but each of us operate in many different roles during the day. When you're in public school those roles are a bit more separate and don't run into each other that much. When you're homeschooling you get blurred lines. It has definitely been a learning curve for us to deal with me being both mom and teacher and them being both my child and student as well as student and siblings. 

At public school you can't stomp off to your room crying if you don't feel like writing six sentences at that moment. In homeschool you can't slack off and hide in a corner shuffling your papers and hoping the teacher is too preoccupied with the 27 other students she's teaching to worry about whether you've even started your math. Your teacher is 2 feet from you and knows exactly what you're doing at all times. Your sibling being your classmate cane result in some epic meltdowns.

Kids will push back more with their parents. We've all seen it. It's a compliment really, we're their safe place. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that on more than one occasion I have slapped my teaching certificate on the table and stated "People used to pay me to do this. People used to send their kids to me to do this. Now, sit down and let me teach you this!" lol. 
Not my proudest moments. 

Though there are blurred lines, you settle into it. You realize that you get to be some sort of hybrid teacher/mom and student/child and you make it work for you. My kids can't slack off. They can't slip through the cracks. If they have a meltdown about having to revise their descriptive paragraph I can just grab a cup of coffee and say, "Let me know when you're ready to get back to work. I've got no where else to be." Or, if they're willing to talk we can get to the heart of the issue. I can speak life to the frustration that they're feeling and can reinforce our daily mantra, "You can do hard things." Being classmates with their sibling creates an environment where they learn to work through issues, build family relationships and develop strong bonds. My kids deep, joy filled friendship with each other is one of our greatest homeschooling rewards. 

And being teacher/mom is the best when you get to see understanding light their faces, creative ideas flow from their pen, when science is floating on the river sneaking up on turtles and getting to snuggle together on the couch while you read your historical narrative. 


What do I teach?

I get that taking on sole responsibility of your child's education is a daunting task. I may have been a teacher but I had never been an elementary teacher. Kids for the most part knew how to read by the time they got to me. 
I really had no clue where to start with my own kids in their first years of school. But like any new job you take on, there is going to be a learning curve. You figure it out. And you don't need to have it all figured out before you start. You will learn and grow with your child. It's actually one of the things I love about homeschooling. 

We have the freedom to pursue interest based learning. That means that in grade 2 my son spent 3 months learning about the Solar System (which was not in the SK curriculum for that year). We got so in depth and learned so much! I was just as fascinated as he was! 

I can't count the number of people who have said to me, "But surely you won't attempt high school right? Like, that stuff is hard. You can't do that." 

a) I don't do well with people telling me what I "can't" do. Ha! #Icandohardthings
b) If I wasn't teaching my kids those things I'd be teaching your kids those things. (My cop out answer).
c) If I can successfully understand things like Physics and high school maths as a 15-17 year old I can DEFINITELY understand and teach it as an invested 40 year old who has spent the last 14 years homeschooling their child. And so can you! Even if you didn't do well in public school, people change and grow and if you WANT to learn something, you can. 

There are more "hard things" that I'd love to weigh in on and give encouragement on. This post is getting a little lengthy (even for me) so I'll do a Part 2! I'd love to hear your comments (here or on Facebook) about what you'd like to hear about!

So whether you're a homeschooler, a public schooler or a mom of toddlers say this over yourself today - I CAN DO HARD THINGS. 


~ Monique








Our homeschool room has been a work in progress and a great learning curve for me in terms of function, design and utilizing our space to the fullest.

Willms Grove Elementary's (that's what we call our school ;) ) is located on the main floor of our 1913 house in the front "parlour". It was a space that was separate but very open to our main living room and one that we never really used to its full potential until we decided to put the school room there. Initially it was going to go in the basement but we gravitate to sunlight so that wouldn't work.

It was my mother who suggested that we just build cabinets in that room.



These cabinets are one of the key features that allow us to have school in this room. It would drive me crazy if we had open book shelves and school supplies everywhere in my sightline of the living room where we relax.




It's amazing how so much storage can take up so little space. We have ten foot ceilings and so we built a window seat/shelf along the entire wall and then eight foot cabinets on top. Almost the entire project is made from 1 x 12's which meant that we hardly had to cut anything and it's nice solid wood. The cabinet width is 11 1/4 " (which is what a 1 x12 ends up as) and the perfect depth for binders and books. We used plywood on the back and One Good Side Ply for the doors with a 1x4 trim. We like rustic around here :)

The cabinets are whitewashed even though you can't really tell. They're going to get another coat soon.



We kept it pretty simple on the inside. I used 3/4 " ply to make the shelves and wrapped them in fabric to make them cute. We have cork boards and magnetic strips on the inside of the door and hang our artwork and pocket charts there. The doors are often open during school while we use it as extra wall space and can close and keep everything neatly tucked away after school hours. 





It's amazing to me how much can be stored in a cabinet only 11 1/4 " deep! The only thing not in them are our story books which are in front facing bookshelves on another small wall. 





With a pre-k and a grade 1 student we find a table the most effective. It's a drop leaf and so becomes quite small if we don't need it for a while (like breaks or on the weekend). I scored vintage school chairs at the thrift store a few years back. I still love them. Right now the window seat is acting more as a shelf for library books and boxes of early readers. 




Our writing and colouring supplies always stay on the table so we just make sure they look cute. 




Right next to the school table is my desk and office hutch. Being that close makes prepping a breeze and makes it possible for me to work while they are working. We use the Mac a lot for educational videos as well so it's handy that they can view from their seats. 

(All of my photography business packaging materials are in the hutch next to the desk as well.)







 The view from living room.



The view of the living room from the school room. It's close!



 Ever since we started I have struggled with endless mountains of paper ending up all over the school room. Even though they all have binders they get filed into I didn't find it feasible to file each one as we finished it. That meant that I'd have a pile of handouts that we'd be ready to use that day and then a pile of finished work on the floor.

Recently I made it a goal to put a better paper management system in place. On a trip to the States we spent some time in Hobby Lobby and my good friend Ruth came across this beauty. Initially I couldn't figure out if I could fit it in the room but the tall one suggested this location. It's perfect. It also started black but I'm not really a black in my house kind of gal so I went all Midas on it and turned it gold.



Handouts for the day go in the top slot and then finished work goes in the appropriate subject slot throughout the day. At the end of the week I sort into subject binders and as a result we have NO floating papers! Mission accomplished. The kids know where their work goes and so we have found it to be super simple and streamlined. I love it. 

Also, I found that desk and another at Sally Anne last week. How could I not bring them home? The chair swivels!!! And both chair and desk adjust for height. Even though we still primarily use the table I brought one desk inside for times when they want to work on their own a bit. The metal parts are also going to turn a pretty vintage mint green as soon as I have the patience to tape off all the wood so I can spray it. 



So that's Willms Grove Elementary! In our years of owning this house that we love we have learned more and more about how to make the best use of our space. A homeschool space does not have to be huge to be effective. It just takes a little planning and some 1 x 12's!






The girl one started dance this year and she had been so excited about it from May until September. When it came time for the first class though she suddenly panicked and did not want to go in alone. This is so rare for her. She is second born and generally fearless.

After working through the first class with her we had many conversations in the week following.

Me: "Han, after your birthday there is going to be a big dance show. You will be on a stage, in a costume, there will be lights and lots and lots of people to watch you dance and they will clap. If you don't go to dance class, you can't be in that show."

Now, most people would assume that that would be a ludicrous thing to say to a little girl who is struggling to get over her fear to go to dance class with strangers but not with this one!

Han: "Well, I'm really feeling scared but I really want to be in that show. I guess I'll go to dance class."

And she hasn't looked back since!

This past week was their dance picture day and so before bringing her for her group picture we managed to squeeze in a 5 minute mini shoot outside on a loading dock - her own little stage.

When I do a shoot of my kids (especially the girl one) I try my best to let them take ownership of it. I want to capture their personality and their creativity. So, when she insisted on her red glitter "Mini Mouse" heels (that totally clash with her pink outfit) I of course said, "Sure. Whatever you want."

Not only do we get totally unique photos but I also find my kids 100% more cooperative when they get to have input.


All poses were strictly her own ideas :)





Fancy!



Definitely one of my favourites.

So random.


Throwing it down cause that's how we do ;)


Fierce.


FAVOURITE!!!



LOVE, love, love. This one is going big. Big, on a canvas and on the wall.


Ha ha. There has been much input for names of this pose:
The:
" Thanks but no thanks."
" Take it easy there mister."
"Wo -oh oah"
"Eas-y"


Somebody put their sassy pants on today!








This one she calls "Look at my little baby."


Is this how ballerinas do it?


Strike a pose - now Vogue.







Ah, life is a stage for this sweet girl.

Life is a Stage

by on 9:04 AM
The girl one started dance this year and she had been so excited about it from May until September. When it came time for the first class ...


The girl one has been making anything and everything into an Elsa costume since seeing the movie Frozen. If you've looked for an Elsa costume you'll know that Disney ran out and you have to buy one on the black market for like $1000. I'm not exaggerating. I've literally seen them on Ebay for $1000!

We decided that we just needed to make our own. I finally finished it all today and so we did a little Frozen shoot on the docks of Boundary Dam Arendelle.



This was our third option for an Elsa dress (I have 2 thrift store dresses that I refashioned). I managed to randomly find a teal lace shirt at Dollarama and then sewed the teal satin on it to make the Elsa dress. Much less expensive than buying it on the black market now that Disney has ran out of all things Elsa.

I made the awesome "ice powers bracelets" after seeing THIS cool idea. I opted to sew mine onto the stretchy crocheted elastic instead though.



The Elsa Braid. This is such an important feature. The girl one makes everything an Elsa braid. I wasn't in love with the Elsa wigs out there and the girl one is already blonde so we just needed some length. I ordered an inexpensive hair extension on Amazon.com, clip it under her hair and braid it into her real hair. I love the effect!






Freeze!




Now is the part of the post where we have our power ballad - Let it go!

She's actually singing the song on the docks. Such passion, such angst.












Being able to swish a cape at the end of the Let It Go is also very important and so we whipped one of those up today as well. Makeit-Loveit had a great tutorial for a no sew cape and I used that. Super easy. One recommendation though is not to use a bowl for the neck circle. It came out too big.



I LOVE this shot.









So there we have it. A DIY Elsa costume and photos that will make me smile for ages :)


Frozen Shoot

by on 4:06 PM
The girl one has been making anything and everything into an Elsa costume since seeing the movie Frozen. If you've looked for an Elsa ...

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