It was such a pleasure getting to chat with Dr. Melanie Wilson, the woman behind the brilliant homeschooling blog and support group, Psycho With 6 (don’t let the curious title fool you, she is anything but crazy!) and author of The Organized Homeschool Life. I met Melanie several years ago on Periscope while searching for homeschooling resources, and stumbled upon her language arts curriculum, Grammar Galaxy. I was amazed at her ability to juggle homeschooling her six children while developing homeschool tools and running a successful business.
How was she able to get so much done, without things falling through the cracks in the process?
There was a time when Melanie couldn’t imagine herself providing organizational advice to anyone, thinking “I’m such a disorganized person!” It was eye-opening to learn that Melanie was not a naturally organized person, which gives hope to those of us who are not naturally organized.
Melanie began her homeschooling journey when her oldest entered the preschool years, and felt the Lord moving her down this path. Her initial thought was, “It’s just preschool. How hard can preschool be?” She overwhelmed almost immediately, finding even the shortest preschool lessons impossible to manage. Adding insult to injury, her household was in disarray: nothing was getting done, her husband was frustrated, and she was feeling like a failure. She was doubting her decision to homeschool, and was certain that she couldn’t manage more children (at this point, she had only three).
In her quest to becoming more organized, she read countless books and sought tips from every organizing “expert” she could find. But these women, well intentioned as they were, were seemingly born organized. They couldn’t imagine a person like Melanie (or many of us), struggling to keep on top of minor tasks (like folding the laundry or running the dishwasher), misplacing important items, or failing to remember obligations. Melanie found their strategies unhelpful at best, and disheartening at worst. She assumed there was something wrong with her, and admonished herself for being a lazy, undisciplined, and uncaring person.
She found the answer to her prayers in an unexpected form: routines. You might assume the importance of structure and routines would be obvious to someone with a PhD – but for Melanie, it was the missing link to regaining control. Before long, her house was tidy, homeschooling became successful, and she no longer felt discouraged. Melanie knew she’d reached a turning point when her housekeeper began commenting about how quickly she had become at cleaning the house – now that the house was picked up, it had become a breeze to clean.
Once she felt more in control, she felt the Lord calling her to share what she’d learned, to talk openly about her struggles, and provide encouragement and support to others who struggle with organization as well. Below are just a few of Melanie’s advice for those trying to get organized:
- Start with “15 minute missions”: Choose something that you want to improve – such as organizing a storage closet or clearing out the toy room – set a timer for 15 minutes, and get to work. You might be surprised at the progress that can be made in just a few short sessions! Focus on one mission at a time, see it through to completion, then move onto the next.
- Use a calendar: There are lots of different planners on the market, and most work well for keeping track of appointments, birthdays, and general reminders. However, Melanie wanted one that specifically addressed the needs of Christian homeschool parents like herself. She created one that still works well for general purposes, but includes prompts that are relevant to Christians (such as holidays) and homeschoolers (such as curriculum-related tasks). More information for Melanie’s homeschool helpers, such as her week-by-week guides, can be found here.
- Aim for improvement, not perfection: In the beginning of her organizational journey, Melanie would stall out on a project because she was afraid of failure – that the outcome wouldn’t match what she had envisioned. If you put off doing something until it can be completed perfectly, it is highly likely you’ll never start! Don’t expect perfection. Your goal is simply improvement.
- Stop criticizing yourself: No one is grading you, and it’s not a competition! Be flexible, kind and forgiving with yourself, and be your own cheerleader. You deserve it!
Those who attended the session got so much out of it, commenting, “This is very awesome – it combines taking care of your ‘life’ + ‘homeschool’ life. 🙂 I love this and need all the help I can get! :)” and, “I definitely struggle with delegation and handing things off to others… I tend to adopt this superwoman role which turns into burn out – LOL.”
Melanie has so much wisdom to share, and you’ll appreciate her uplifting, judgement-free approach to helping homeschool moms become better organized. If this is an area you struggle with, or if you’re searching for homeschooling resources in general, be sure to visit her website, https://psychowith6.com!
Also, as a reminder for all of you homeschool moms: Epic Homeschool Network hosts No Mommy Left Behind every Sunday at 8:30 AM EST. If you are looking for some support in your homeschool adventures, please come join in with this terrific group of ladies as we share goals, meal plan, brainstorm, develop schedules, and hold each other accountable (with lots of love, of course). We’d love to have you!