Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Teaching Tip: 

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together, when school and laundry seem to take up much of the day? I have trouble if I don’t have a plan in place for getting the evening meal on the table. So, here is my plan for avoiding the “what shall we have for dinner” panic!

Once a week, make a list of evening meals for each day of the upcoming week.

On Friday, I make a list of evening meals for the week. I list the days of the week on a sticky note. Then, I list the meal including side dishes for each day. I make the list in pencil, so I can change the day for the meal if needed. I always plan one easy meal my hubby or older sons can make for nights when I might be gone. It works best to make the list of meals for the week prior to making the grocery list.

Place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to a kitchen cabinet.

I place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to my kitchen cabinet. This way, I can easily refer to my recipes to see what to add to my grocery list. I also have easy access to the needed recipes as I am cooking or baking. As the week progresses, I love knowing that I have the ingredients for what I am planning to make! Even though it takes me a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, it is worth it to get organized for the week.

Place the list of meals on the refrigerator door.

I place the note with the list of meals for the week on the refrigerator door. This makes it easy for me to see what I am making each day. My boys also can easily see what is for dinner…which they love! This quick reference also helps me see what I could prepare ahead for the evening meal.

Lunch time is a great time to do a little dinner preparation.

My kiddos head outside for their recess after lunch. I find this to be a great time to get a bit of my dinner prep underway. If the evening meal has a crock pot part, I put it in during this time. If it isn’t a crock pot type meal, I might scrub potatoes or cut up needed veggies or fruit. Or, I might put ingredients in my bread maker or bake a batch of muffins during this time. I just make sure that the cooking prep doesn’t exceed my kiddos recess time. Otherwise, I find it hard to return to teaching after recess. By getting a bit of dinner prep out of the way, I have an easier time when the evening meal arrives.

Try planning ahead for a week and see what you think!

Planning ahead has become essential for me in feeding our family. As our 4 boys are growing, they are really getting to be big eaters! This makes the evening meal an important one in their eyes. Try planning ahead for a week and see if it helps you too!


A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

Teaching Tip:

Are you tempted to hibernate during this winter season?

This time of year in South Dakota can really be a time when we’re tempted to be on the couch and hibernate! However, with 4 boys in our family, movement is a necessity.

A scheduled recess after lunch gets the kids moving.

We’ve found that it really helps to have a scheduled recess right after lunch. This works well because lunch is a time when we are all sitting down together for a scheduled break already.

Recess can be outdoors.

If we are heading outside, lunchtime is usually the warmest part of the day. So, after lunch is an ideal time to head outside. When our boys were younger, we told them unless it was raining, they would be going outside for recess no matter what. This cut down on the discussion as to whether it was too cold (or in the spring/summer too hot) to be outside. We just made sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

Recess can be indoors.

As our boys have gotten older, we have also added indoor recess options. The boys play ring toss, beanbag toss, mini-basketball, bulzibucket, mini-frisbee golf, ramp shot, nerf guns, etc. Sometimes they play board games.

A recess makes the rest of the day go better.

A non-negotiable recess time really makes the rest of our day go so much better. Our boys look forward to being together for recess. Even our older boys enjoy the break from school! So, how about you? Do you make sure your kiddos have a recess break as a part of their day? Try it and see what you think!


Do you have scheduled breaks in your day?

Let the mother go out to play!

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favorite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed (without the children), life would go on far more happily for both children and parents.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 3, p. 33-34)

Sometimes life is the lesson.

Teaching Tip:

Sometimes life is the lesson.

As I write this tip from our hospital room at Mayo, I am struck by the thought that sometimes… life is the lesson. Through the years, we have had a chance to talk with so many families struggling with health issues. Trying to school through seasons or years of illness can be such an effort. Yet, in times like these… life is the lesson.

Are you struggling with trying circumstances?

Many families like ours are struggling with trying circumstances. Our son Greyson has been in and out of the hospital since last September. We often are headed on the 4 hour drive to Rochester at a moment’s notice. We don’t return home for days and weeks at a time. Our longest hospital stay was 30 days in a row. We know many of you have weathered trying circumstances too. You give us hope that we are not alone.

It is easy to despair that very little school is getting done.

At times like this, it is easy to despair that very little school is getting done. Yet, during this time of illness… life is the lesson. Our son Greyson has had to practice patience, self-control, and selflessness. He has discovered that he can walk through hard things with Jesus at his side. Grey has learned his joy comes from within and that it’s not based on his circumstances. He’s learned the power of prayer and the importance of having a sense of humor. Grey has learned to deal with frustration, pain, hunger, and fatigue by resting in Jesus. These lessons will help him all through his life.

Our boys left at home have learned life lessons too.

Our boys left at home have learned life lessons as well. They have learned the importance of flexibility, cooperation, and diligence even when no one is watching. They have had to set aside their own interests and work together to get things done. Our older boys have practiced parenting, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and teaching skills. They have had to balance work, college classes, and running a household. Our youngest son has had to adapt to a variety of teachers, while the HOD guides keep the daily structure for him. And most importantly, the boys have all learned to pray more than ever before. These lessons will stay with our boys all through their lives.

I have learned life lessons too!

As a parent, I have learned life lessons too. I have learned that I am not in control, but God is! I have learned to face each day as it comes and that God is sufficient for that day. I still struggle with worry and overthinking things, but over and over I lay those worries at the Lord’s feet.

Out of times of hardship much teaching naturally occurs.

If you are facing health struggles, remember that out of hardship much teaching naturally occurs. Your children will watch and learn as you go through struggles. You don’t have to do it all perfectly as you struggle. Just point your children to the Lord. He is enough for whatever comes!


Homeschooling = Freedom to Grow in Your Interests!

Heart of Dakota Tidbit:

Homeschooling = Freedom to Grow in Your Interests!

In one of our previous tidbits, we looked at how homeschooling has helped our kids explore new interests, such as making their first YouTube video. Since releasing that video ten years ago, thanks to the freedom homeschooling gives, our boys have had the time to continue to hone their skills in this hobby. This has recently culminated in an exciting way with them releasing their latest short film after three years of work! Their short film, “Remember Me,” tracks the experiences of a fictional Union sharpshooter during the American Civil War. You can watch their film below!

PS: Want to see more examples of how homeschooling gives kids the freedom to develop and pursue personal interests? Have a look at this blog article here:

Why homeschool? Free Time for Personal Interests, Hobbies, and Skill Development