Salvation isn’t found there.


I had (have) a tendency to search for the answer. The perfect solution to life’s challenges. The one size fits all cure for clutter, chaos, and chores.

I just recently wrote out our day, and one thing I’ve learned through the process of living and learning at home with my children is that routines change. Good things come to an end. All my effort and discipline to match our needs to our nature and time things out in order to accomplish all the things works only for a season. And then it all fades and something new needs to take its place.

This happened to me the very same day I published that day in the life post.

My toddler stopped taking naps. And in its place, he picked up a nasty habit of coloring all over everything – couch, desk, table, floor, windows, chalkboard, himself…

Exhibit A:


And shortly before this, my older children stopped doing their chores. I fearfully ignored their failure to comply with the routine. I told myself that we were in a funk and that we would recover in due time.

But we haven’t recovered.

All roads point to a need for a new routine. Am I excited about this? Not at all. It doesn’t seem productive to have to keep switching up the time of day that we normally perform certain tasks. If I were left to myself in this home life thing, I would do everything at the same time – eat the same foods, accomplish the same chores, and take the same breaks each day. I would be perfectly boring and predictable. I would cling to the sameness as if it could save me from all things uncomfortable.

But I can’t cling to my old routine because salvation from the uncomfortable isn’t found there. I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend that our routine is working just fine. I can’t avoid the change-pains of trying new things. And I can’t believe the lie that hard things = bad things. This just simply isn’t true.

What is difficult can be far more rewarding than what is easy.  

So, here I am. Leaning into change. Searching for solutions that may only work for 3-5 months. I’m accepting that my beloved autopilot has quit and I must redirect the whole thing or we’ll really crash.

I’m embracing my responsibility and disciplining my mind so that the changes we make are thoughtful and practical – things we can actually follow through on.

Have you found a good way to reorder your days when the routine stops working? Share it with me in the comments or by contacting me. Or if you have a favorite blog, pinterest board, or book on the subject – please share those too.

Cara’s day in the homeschool life (ages 8-,6-,2-and 1-on-the-way)

a day in the life

My family has been officially homeschooling for 5 years. And the one thing that I’ve been striving for since the beginning is: how to have consistent, good homeschool days.

Here are some things I’ve learned so far about what the most important components to a good homeschool day are not:

It isn’t about the curricula. (I put all my eggs in this basket, and – shocker – the checklist didn’t do the work for me.)

It isn’t defined by times of day. (There isn’t something magical about getting lessons started first thing, middle thing, or last thing. There’s only magic in having it done.)

It doesn’t depend on sibling relationships (the presence or absence of squabbles).

It won’t be ruined by getting out of the house. (This one has to be in balance. It goes back to not thinking there is a magical time of day.)

It isn’t about feelings. (Even though sometimes it is.)

Last year when I wrote our day in the life, I started with our evening routine, and I still believe that our best days begin with a good evening and rest the night before.




In the evening:

I write out our lesson plan and schedule for the next day on our chalkboard. I have one kid who relies on this to be done and one who gives me less of a hard time because they can see it written down. 

I write who will take care of the puppy for the whole day. (This has put an end to a lot of squabbles.) 



And who will clean the kitchen. (This is a bonus for me. Since they are obsessed with everything being fair, I got to add a chore to their plates because of the arguing over caring for the puppy. Win, win.)


In the morning:
5:00-7:00 Personal time for me.

This time of day is when being pregnant really tests me. I know I need this time alone before my children wake up. I gain so many rewards for using this time wisely that I almost always regret sleeping in…but the baby growing inside me makes me feel so tired. Which is why I have decided that, for me, homeschooling isn’t about feelings. Consistency, personal growth, and doing the hard, good things add up to so much more than living by the standard of do I feel like it.

Popcorn for breakfast is not unusual.

Popcorn for breakfast is not unusual.

8:00 Breakfast and free time

Free time in the morning is vital for one of my children. It’s important for her to be able to warm up to the day slowly without being told 10 things she needs to do right away. She has no problem looking at the board to see if we have appointments or obligations first thing in the morning, but she doesn’t do well if she has to receive her instruction verbally. The writing on the wall saves our relationship. (Seriously.)

9:00 Get dressed and tidy bedrooms

The second most important thing for a good day for us is my with-ness. I’ve learned that I have to do most of the main daily tasks I require of my children with them. Not for them, and not holding their hand, but at the same time. If I ask them to get dressed, I need to get dressed. I’ve tried and tried to live on my own schedule while keeping them on theirs, and it never works well. They follow my lead 100% of the time.

IMG_1825 - Copy

10:00 Household chore

For at least 30 minutes, we all tackle one household chore. Laundry, bathroom, floors, whatever. Again, it’s important that we do this together.

11:00 Free time

When I didn’t write out our schedule in times of day, the kids would have their free time, but they wouldn’t realize that they were getting it. Or they would not use their time on what they wanted most to do and then be upset when I asked them to stop. So, now that we use hour schedule blocks, they plan for what they are going to do and have much better attitudes. They always got free time before they saw the words on the board, but now we all honor it more. I don’t bug them to do chores in that time, and they feel more fulfilled in knowing they can have that time to themselves. (And I use that time to do what I want to do too!)

Sometimes that looks like this.

Sometimes that looks like this.

12:00 Lunch and tidy kitchen

With-ness is important here too. I tend to eat “off schedule” to my kids. They graze in the morning while I eat a meal at 9:00am. I’m not always ready for lunch at the same time as they are and vice versa. But I’ve learned that this sit down time for us at the table is an important informal meeting time where they just naturally share what’s on their minds – about the day, the week, their feelings, whatever. So whether I’m ready or not, I sit down and eat with them!

1:00-3:00 Toddler lays down for a nap and the rest of us start our lessons

My current youngest still takes a 2 hour nap, and we have learned through many disasters (see this post for more proof) that it’s best to do lessons (history read-alouds, unit studies, lapbooks, etc.) while he is asleep or in his bed.

I just started having the kids make their own entries in their journals.

I just started having the kids make their own entries in their journals.

I write on the board all the subjects we need to cover for the day and what we will do. Then they have to copy that list into their Bullet Journals. (If you haven’t started keeping a daily journal for your kids, you should definitely try it. This has been the #1 key to our consistency this year. Read and watch how we use the kids’ Bullet Journals here.)

Vis-a-Vis is a handy tool. My kids love it when I write on the windows.

Vis-a-Vis is a handy tool. My kids love it when I write on the windows.

With-ness is important here too. While half of their lessons require me to read or teach, the other half does not, but that doesn’t mean I’m free to move about the house on other business. I usually do my Bible study while they work through their math, or I read a book while they read alone too. I want to be close so that any question they may have doesn’t become frustrated by having to track me down.

4:00 Kids finish their work or enjoy screen time while I prep dinner

I almost always listen to a podcast while preparing dinner. I love this time.

5:00 Eat as a family and dad reads aloud

We are doing the Read-Aloud Revival reading streak! We’re on day 59 and we are loving The Green Ember (afflink) right now.

Read-aloud time can look like this.

Read-aloud time can look like this.

6:00 This time is variable depending on the day

Mondays the kids have Bible study in the evening with my husband, Tuesdays we go to the library, Wednesdays we have a friend over from our homeschool program, and the other days are open so this time is again free time.

7:00 Prep for bedtime

Snacks, water, comfort items, books to read in bed, etc. The parade to get up the stairs can be quite impressive. I find it best to plan for this by starting early.

8:00 Bedtime

Once the kids are prayed with and sung to, the evening routine starts all over and I write the next day on the board. 

And that’s it! Our usual day. Like most families, we have many variables like errands and doctors appointments that get thrown into the mix, but for the most part I try to keep our routine simple, and home-based. This is what works for us. I hope you have found something encouraging or comforting by reading about our day!

This post is linked up with and the Day in the Homeschool Life series. Click here to see all the other amazing homeschool days. Do you have a great routine or questions about creating a routine? I’d love to see it – comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading this post. I had fun detailing our real day. If you want to learn more about how to create a solid routine that serves your family while honoring your personality - I would love to encourage you. Sign up for TheHomeLearner via email and get more information on my program: How to become your own, best accountability partner.

Homeschooling & Adult ADD: Building a Stronger Brain

Homeschooling & Adult ADD Building a Stronger Brain

Most moms agree, the work within the home is never finished. Even on our best days when everything has been clean, cleared, and decluttered – just wait until the next meal or snack time and there are more dishes, dirty clothes, and tasks that require more work.

The cycle of this work isn’t worth resisting. I’ve personally tried, and I can testify that the attitude of acceptance is the better mental path. Because I know from experience that even on a good day, I may have at least 6 things going on all at once:

  • Unloading and loading the dishwasher
  • Starting or switching a load of laundry
  • Supervising math lessons
  • Writing plans in my Bullet Journal
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Reading a recipe for dinner and/or baking a snack

There’s nothing wrong with this on days when I’m fired up and bouncing from one thing to another – productive, producing, and purposeful.

But then there are days when it feels like everything is wrong with this.

Those days when all the unfinished projects make me feel like I’m working in a dozen different directions all while getting nothing accomplished. Good intentions, starts in all directions, distractions, and burn out can make my home and my heart look and feel like a mess. 

Most times, even though I had checked a dozen boxes and started a lot of great projects, I still felt like a failure at the end of the day. Somehow starting a lot of good things didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t satisfied with my work. I didn’t feel accomplished. I wasn’t satisfied with myself – who I was or who I was becoming. I felt stuck in action mode, constantly starting things and rarely being allowed to finish them in one setting.

Feeling torn by distractions, demands, and disasters made my brain feel over stimulated and under rewarded. 

Adult ADD is a powerful thing, and I’ve learned that it is impossible to harness this power by ignoring the urges or by giving into each impulse. Instead I learned a way of life that both harnesses my impulse and embraces the way my brain works by making little good decisions in the same direction over long periods of time.

In building a stronger brain and embracing my ADD moments, the following 7 things make all the difference:

Learning to plan. Does it really matter if I leave the dishes half loaded into the dishwasher to run downstairs to throw a load of towels into the dryer from the washer? Nope. There are no “universal household chores laws” stating clearly that all household chores must be started and completed in singular focus and without any distraction. (If that law existed, then I would all be guilty of breaking it every day. I have a toddler. The end.) I know this to be true, yet I have lost my mind over too many things started (by me, I take the blame) at one time. I’ve beat myself into a shame-crushed-pulp for my lack of ability to get things done by the end of the day.

Have you ever started so many tasks in the day that you’ve stayed busy and even productive all day long but by the time you’re ready to go to bed – nothing is completed? I get so angry with myself when I live like this. I don’t want to lack self-control. I don’t want to bounce from one thing to the next – constantly pulled, distracted, demanded, or tempted to change course. So I have to physically write out a plan. I budget my time and choose only the things that I can reasonably finish while factoring in all the real life stuff that has to happen. Learning to plan well has been a life saver for me – not because I never planned my days before – because I have learned how to feel time by using a time budget and therefore I can set myself up for success. This success allows me vision and patience. The ability to see where everything fits and the understanding that I can’t get to everything in one day.

Exercising self-control in noticing the things around me. I wish I could turn off my brain for how much the things around me stimulate me, but since I can’t I have to learn how to talk to myself above the stimulation. When the little things around the house, clutter, dirt, kids toys, books, papers, etc. all scream for my attention, I have to choose to take control of the outcome of the thought before I become overwhelmed. Self-control is calm and allows me to think reasonably about the one thing I should stay focused on. It helps me to not spiral out of control because that’s how I feel when it seems like everything is coming at me.

Allowing interruptions to have a small place in my plan without spending too much time recovering from starting another task. Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I’m the one to blame for interrupting myself by noticing everything around me and deciding at random that now is the time to take action. A couple Saturdays ago, I was in the bathroom when I looked at my glass shower doors and thought today’s the day those things are getting clean. Cleaning the shower doors was not on my agenda, and I was in the middle of several other things. But even though starting a task like cleaning glass shower doors interrupted my plan, I allowed it only because I was committed to getting right back at my original task.

Learning how to enjoy real rest. This has been a long work in progress. I don’t think I would have been able to learn as much about hard work over the past few years if I hadn’t first learned to discern truth from lie with regards to rest. The ADD brain is a tired brain for all the distractions, demands, and decisions constantly coming at it, and a tired mind doesn’t make wise decisions. Without truth and wisdom, my mind is an unhealthy, unhappy place to be. Learning to rest from ADD is a discipline because rest isn’t just sleep. To be able to cease from work and just enjoy the company of my family or the leisure of a good book without my brain firing in all directions is another layer of self-control. One that brings great reward for my tired brain.

Trusting my inner creative to be able to accomplish what I want to without having to follow the set of “rules” that I normally try to follow. Often I feel like my ADD brain wants to attempt a task from a weird angle and my fear of failure also fires and tries to correct this attempt which causes me to feel at odds with myself. I’m learning that if I trust my gut in how I want to approach a task then the fruit will be not only productivity but also a greater sense of self within the task. And if I do indeed fail at my attempt because of the way I went about it, then I’m learning to own it and quickly start over without allowing for regret.

Seeing the bigger picture. Before I started to harness my ADD, I couldn’t see the big picture in my life at all. I thought that was just a personality limitation; I could see the details very well and assumed that not seeing the big picture was just a weakness of mine. But as I mentioned that making little good decisions in the same direction had a profound effect on my ability to make wiser choices and balance my ADD, it also allowed me to see real progress and gave me hope for more and more finishing in my life. I look back now and see that my lack of ability in seeing the big picture was mostly due to my lack of ability to finish anything. I couldn’t step back and get a view for where anything was going because I didn’t understand what follow through in anything really looked like. But when I began to practice follow through in the little things, over a long period of time, I eventually began to see how I could incorporate that same self-control in other areas and eventually over my ADD.

Staying off social media when my ADD is at its worst. When I start to feel like I’m losing my grip on the order and purpose of my actions, I need to avoid social media because I get lost in it. This “getting lost” feels like a break; it can feel like relief in the moment, but it isn’t. Social media is a tool not a replacement for rest. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the starts, projects, chores, and demands in my life I want relief but I need vision. And I’ve seen that when I have the other 6 helps for my ADD in check then I can enjoy social media in healthy ways and at appropriate times.

As a homeschool mom, I’ve desperately need to intentionally do what I can to strengthen my brain and harness the power of my ADD. My hope in sharing these helps today is to encourage other moms who are feeling lost in their starts, attempts, and tasks that you can make progress too. Homeschooling can exasperate my ADD and make my parenting purpose feel muddled, but homeschooling isn’t to blame. I can testify that all things in life are benefitted once I help my brain in these ways.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental conditions. Reading this post does not equate to seeing your doctor, counselor, or pastor if you believe you have the same struggle with ADD that I have. 

More Helps:












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Day 18: Chores, Grace, and Sales Announcements #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 18 Chores grace and sale 4

Yesterday I wasn’t feeling good, and my mom helped me out big time. She took my kids and allowed me to rest. When she brought them home, her being in my home helped me more than she knows. Her physical presence cast a different light on my priorities.

During this back to school series, I have intentionally spent more time blogging. I can’t believe that my daily word count has been in thousands! It truly has shown me how much I’m capable of writing, and has put to rest the fear that I won’t be able to finish what I started.

But when one thing receives more attention, another thing usually receives less.

In this case, it’s been my housekeeping.

B2S Day 18 Chores grace and sale 3

Writing this series is just for a season, and a short one at that. It’s a special situation taking attention and intention in order to accomplish. This morning, I woke up still not quite right, so I went back to bed.

I preached grace to myself that if I didn’t post today – the world would go on and my readers would understand (you’re great like that – thanks!).

While I think it’s important to be flexible; it is also important to recognize when a special situation has taken too much away from the normal order of priorities.

And that’s how my mom’s presence helped me yesterday. Seeing her in my space gave me the perspective that I need to slow down and reorganize my priorities in order to accomplish more housekeeping.

My focus on setting up the schoolroom for officially starting school has been getting more and more unbalanced and the rest of the house has suffered.

But that’s not all. I realized that since we moved into our house at the beginning of July, I haven’t had my children do any household chores other than clean their rooms.

So today that all changed, and boy are we are better for it.

Back2School Logo

The challenge for today in the #Back2School in #31Days series is to set up a daily chore list for the kids in addition to my regular chores.

Ironically, housekeeping came up in a conversation over swings with another homeschool mom this past weekend. I told my friend, I do one household chore per day. I don’t overload myself and I don’t do housework perfectly. One area per day is enough to keep me focused and consistent.

Here’s my regular chore list:

  • Monday: Kitchen
  • Tuesday: Bathroom
  • Wednesday: Tidy Bedrooms, declutter
  • Thursday: Tidy Main Areas, dust and declutter
  • Friday: Floors
  • Saturday: Catch up day

I also try to keep a steady flow of laundry – one load per day. The free videos from the last Ultimate Bundle Sale addressed this, and it really has helped me with creating and maintaining a better laundry routine (although writing this series has set me off that routine a bit).

B2S Day 18 Chores grace and sale 2

For the kids, I started them off today with household chores! I assigned jobs based on ability and interest:

  • My detail oriented son: vacuum
  • My collection and pattern friendly girl: fold laundry

The schedule for them will be flexible for a while, but I’m so excited to get little chore routine established for them that goes well with our block schedule.

Kids’ Chores Research:

B2S Day 18 Chores grace and sale 1

Now for the sales announcements!

Coming soon, the Ultimate Bundles team will release the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. It’s sure to far surpass expectations. And the pre-sale freebie is available now! Check out this link – 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families Audio Course – and get the course for free for a limited time. Think of this free audio course as a try before you buy sort of thing. If you like this, then you’ll certainly benefit from the bundle. (More on when it will be available soon!)

Crystal has announced the sale date for her course: Make Over Your Mornings! Mark this down: Tuesday, August 25th the course will be $7 OFF retail price! You can snag this course and change not only your mornings, for just $10. Also, if you aren’t sure this course is for you, she’s offering a sneak peek at the course for free – this week only.

This is Day 18 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!

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