Here on the blog, I love to share, not only our family’s life homeschooling, but “our life” collectively as homeschoolers. That is why I regularly post interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you! I hope you will be encouraged by reading Homeschooling In A Small House: An Interview With Bridget.
Hi, I’m Bridget. My husband, Adam, and I have been married for 15 years, and we have six children, ages 14, 12, 10, 7, 4, and 18 months. We married right out of college and had our first baby by the time our first anniversary rolled around. We didn’t expect to have six children or to homeschool, but God has and continues to lead our family down an exciting path.
What attracted you to homeschooling?
Although my husband was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school (and I also homeschooled for a few years in high school) neither of us thought we would homeschool our children during elementary school. I was worried about “socialization” and thought it would be better to bring them home later – if needed. I started to change my mind as my son (our oldest) got closer to kindergarten age. We lived in an all-day school district, and I couldn’t imagine my very busy five-year-old sitting still and managing such a long day.
I also was inspired by the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, which I read when my son was a toddler. I wanted to give my children the rich, classical education that Bauer so expertly laid out. While I have become more eclectic (and laid back!) in my educational style over the years, the desire to expose my children to beauty and truth in their education drives me to continue. This year marks my 9th year as a homeschooling mom.
Homeschooling in a small house
Nearly four years ago, my husband and I sold our 1,800-square-foot home and moved into a 1,200-square-foot rental to be closer to community. While we expected this to be a short transitional phase (we expected to buy a much larger home after a year), God had other plans. He has taught me much about contentment, comparison, and vertical storage in the past four years! Perhaps, like me, you struggle to manage housekeeping and homeschooling with many children in a space that can sometimes feel confining. These five practical tips have kept me (mostly) loving my little house.
Tips for homeschooling in a small space:
#1 Buy furniture that works in your space
Before living in a small house, I would accept any hand-me-down furniture for our home regardless of whether I liked it or even if it was functional in our space. Living in a small house has forced me to think about our space and pick functional furniture that I know will be useful. For example, loft beds allow my kids to have more floor space for playing in their bedrooms, and the KALLAX cube shelves from Ikea have been lifesavers. I use one in my dining room for dishes, platters, bowls, glasses, and ALL of our school books and supplies. I have another in the living room that holds our record player, vinyl, books, and many kids’ toys hidden in bins. It might take a bit of research to find the right setup for your space, but having pieces you both like, and that work for your space is really important when you have a small house.
#2 Get creative about storage
As a homeschooling family, we have a lot of…stuff. Despite my constant purging and donating, there are things that I don’t want to get rid of but that I don’t need on an everyday basis. These things need to be stored away in various places. We store everything from extra books to small appliances, board games, and pantry items on our basement shelves or under-bed roll-out storage bins. Many of the larger bulk items I buy from COSTCO I keep under my bed. The same is true for seasonal clothing, jackets, shoes, boats, etc. We have hanging closet organizers in multiple closets that are the perfect size for baby clothing, diapers, wipes, and kids’ stuffed animals. My children’s extensive lego collections are stored under their beds in large, roll-out-storage bins.
#3 Limit kid’s toys and clutter
It is tempting to justify having a lot of toys and activities available for your kids when you homeschool. The kids are always home and need things to entertain themselves, right? It’s easy to believe that your life will be easier if they have plenty of the right toys/educational manipulatives/craft supplies to keep them busy and learning. In truth, I have found that my kids are more happily occupied when I limit their toys to 2-3 types of toy collections per child. What I mean by that is that I try only to buy gifts that fit in with my child’s pre-existing types of toys each birthday or Christmas. My sons have mostly legos, nerf, and plastic army men. My daughters have mostly legos, dolls, and stuffed animals. By limiting the number of toys each child has, we can save space in their bedrooms (very important when you have three to a room!) and help our children become more content and creative.
#4 Buy yourself some noise-canceling earbuds
Airpods are one of those items that I’m not sure how I survived without before I had them. I can put on a podcast or audiobook and do dishes or fold laundry with my kids in the same room and not feel overstimulated by all of the noise. My oldest son does his math lesson online in the dining room, but thanks to earbuds, the rest of us are not disrupted as we attempt to do school only a foot away. Although we may not always be able to get actual physical distance from one another, being able to get lost in an audiobook, podcast, or music via earbuds does help create some mental space away from others when we need it.
#5 Acceptance and gratitude
Accept that you won’t have the type of homeschooling rooms you see on Instagram. Your homeschool (and your home) won’t look like all the other homeschoolers you know…but that’s okay! At the heart of homeschooling are relationships between the mother and child and between the child and learning. You don’t need a big house for either of those. You need love, perseverance, and some great books. If you struggle to feel content in the home God has placed you in, spend time in prayer. Ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to help you be grateful for the home you have and the opportunity to teach your kiddos in it.
My favorite books on parenting/homeschooling:
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman
Podcasts I like:
Looking for more?
Enjoy some of these other recent mom interviews.
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!