Tag Archives: Back to School

Back to School Supplies for Homeschool Moms

Nothing says back to school like a package of Crayola crayons for 25 cents.

But I didn’t buy those. (Maybe you don’t need to either.)

I already went back to school shopping for my kids’ supplies and I bought one measly package of pencils. Because, as it turns out, that’s all we really need.

As a homeschool mom, I get to design our back to school supply list. And boy am I glad I do.

I don’t have to buy washable markers, glue sticks, and a hundred #2s. I don’t have to buy anything we don’t need or won’t use. Sure, I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t use crayons (last year’s box of crayons – bought during “Back to School” – is still unopened).

I can wait for the crazy Amazon deals on Prismacolor and stock up in October because that’s when we will need them.

Also, we don’t have to worry about buying uniforms, Under Armor (or whatever other brand is currently “the coolest”), 2 pair of new shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, or whatever else is now “last years” and therefore insufficient for this fall.

I can buy clothes when we need them, cater to our tastes, and use last year’s (or even many years ago) because it still works!

All of this not buying leaves a lot of room for the things that really matter to me.

Here’s what I bought for my back to school supplies:

A nice journal – for my Bullet Journal.

Sharpie pens – for writing everything because I don’t like to use ballpoints or gel. (I prefer blue ink simply because I think blue looks happier than black.)

Prismacolor Markers (Just $5.95 right now! Check the price before you click; subject to change.) – for writing titles and creating other little designs in my BuJo.

Great coffee – for the beauty of it! I love coffee, and I simply adore drinking coffee from a pour over like this one.

A Happy Life Planner – for my calendar and school planner. (More about why I’m using a Bullet Journal and a Planner in my BuJo Series!)

A book that is just for me. I know this season will get busier than I will be able to handle. It will be easy to fly through my days checking boxes and showing up for appointments. But I don’t want to lose touch with my inner self through this season. So, I make sure to pick a title that deeply speaks to me me – not mommy me, wife me, or educator me. I want to make sure that I leave room in my days for at least 10 minutes to pour inspiration into my heart and soul or none of this whole “back to school” thing will be very fulfilling. (This book is also in addition to my daily Bible reading! I simply can’t emphasize the importance of being spiritually healthy!) **See my 2017 list of books here.**

YL SM Savvy Verb

Savvy Minerals – for the perfect mixture of self-care and dignity! I am more prone to be productive when I feel put together for the day. I just recently switched to Young Living’s makeup line because they are chemical free! It’s seriously the best makeup on the market – for you and your daughters! Watch this super short video to learn more about Savvy Minerals. Your health may thank you for the switch. Sign up or browse Young Living’s website now.


Products to help me feel as comfortable as possible during “that time of the month” – for goodness’ sake!!! After four kids, I have ample reasons for needing support for this time. Watch my video to learn more about what I’m using!

The whole line of KidScents Oils – for my peace of mind and my kids’ comfort and health!

So what’s your Back to School plan?! Whatever you need, want, buy — don’t forget to take care of YOU. Because a healthy mom will be a better homeschooling mom than one who neglects her own care.

Cheers to the new homeschool year!


Day 28: First Things and A Recipe for Rest #B2S #31Days

Photo credit, words added

Photo credit, words added

My family attended our “Meet the Teachers” night last night at the private school where my daughter and son will attend the homeschool program.

The simple surge of excitement to see friends, find desks and lockers, try out the recess equipment, and check off a list to earn a popsicle was enough to rattle me. I’m not ready for this, I said.

I like to take things slowly. This is why I’ve been preparing for almost a whole month to go Back to School, tackling items on my list that seemed more intimating this year than ever before.

Learning how to break tasks down into bite sized chunks has totally changed my life.

And it has changed my attitude too.

When I feel rattled in more than one area of my life, I lose my place of rest – and I don’t always know how to get it back.

I’ve lived entire years rattled. Constantly over stimulated by my surroundings and unable to steady my feet on solid ground.

So this little rattling, while uncomfortable for me last night, carried with it a renewed passion to stand firm on the things that I know must come first. I’ve banked my life on these first things. These are the things that are far to valuable to let go of just because the energy of a bunch of people together threatens to make me feel undone.

My first things:

Inner spiritual strength: raising my children and committing to the path of home education is admittedly hard. Sometimes when meeting someone new, they will comment, “Oh, I could never do that.” And I say, I can’t either. It isn’t in me to patiently train my children day-in-and-day-out. If left to myself, I would’ve thrown my hands up years ago and said “I can’t do this.” But He equips the called, and He strengthens the weary.

Home comes first: I’ve finally accepted that I cannot be a Yes Woman. My first few years of home education were compromised by saying yes to every good thing. If there was something at church, Yes! If a friend wanted to meet for coffee, Yes! If a child needed babysitting, Yes! Being home on purpose for the priority of education, training, and doing life together was not prized – and so being home came in second. Like knowing I should buy organic produce – it was always what I knew I should do, but couldn’t because of all the other good things I thought we needed.

Personal discipline: nothing replaces the hard work of personal discipline. I have not found a single thing on earth that can replace or mask a lack of it. When I lacked personal discipline – I felt thin, transparent, and guilty all the time. Like for all my worth, talent, gifts, and value (from just being, not from doing) wasn’t truly enough. I constantly felt like I was trying to fool everyone into thinking I was a respectable person. Instead of focusing on being a respectable person and then not caring if others thought so or not. Hard work, integrity, strength, and healthy thoughts have guarded my mind from even caring what people think of me – this is the worth of personal discipline. So when I feel tempted to slack or compare, I quickly correct my sights to my current goals and priorities remembering that my first things are what matter most to me – not whether my first things are like your first things.

It’s a real battle for me to overcome the temptation to seek after fitting in or the easy life, and a real test of faith in the Way of Jesus and the upside down logic that the way up is down.

I’ve learned that when I feel like fighting against the rattling of my soul, it’s really time to rest. True rest helps me not only prioritize my first things, but it also enables me to recognize my rattled feelings for what they are and stand firm from a position of peace.

A Recipe for Rest

Recipe for Rest for the Home School Mom:

For every activity, decide in advance when you’ll stop. This may seem a little overkill on the planning side, but it helps me budget my time well. {Here’s more on how I use a time budget.}

Know your limits. I get overwhelmed easily, and if I start to feel overspent on an activity then I want to give up. But when I know how long a task will take me, or I know how much energy it will cost me – I can plan for how to better accomplish the task. And if I need to I can choose to break the task up into smaller parts.

Take notes so that you can pick up where you left off. This goes hand and glove with #2. When I need to take a break from writing, but I’ve just gotten to the good part – I jot the idea down quickly. Or when accomplishing the “to-do” list that is my life, I’ll write down progress on a task that’s started but not yet finished. (Using my Bullet Journal for this has been very helpful to keep everything in one place and in context.)

Develop self-control. No one can do it all. No one can be in two places at once (and yelling down the stairs to answer a child’s question doesn’t count). Everyday we make thousands of choices with our time. The “no’s” are just as powerful as the “yes’s.”

Identity. No one else can rest for you. Know your needs and commitments. Untangle what you do from who you are and make peace with rest.

Keep your heart and mind focused on the truth. Rest is commanded for the believer, and we find our rest in Christ. True rest must originate from a relationship not simply relaxation. Meditating on scripture has allowed me to rest even in the middle of chaotic circumstances. I have known the deepest rest when my trust has been in the Right Person and not in myself or my circumstances.

Set goals for the future wisely. One sure fire way to burn out is to fail to factor rest into your routine. So make sure to have anchors in place that allow for consistency without having to reinvent the wheel each week.

Rest is a sacred and wonderful blessing to be enjoyed, but as a busy mom I’ve missed out on it for the sake of “getting more done.”

It wasn’t until I listened to a message on rest and work that my heart began to change. I realized I wasn’t honoring God with all my “gotta work harders” and my “no rest for the wearies.” I couldn’t find rest in my own strength (I was believing these  7 lies that keep me from rest) and I wasn’t enjoying my work to the fullest either because my efforts were out of balance.

If you’re feeling out of balance, may I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course? You may be delightfully surprised to find out that the first area she makes over is rest. It’s so important to living a purposeful life, and it comes before setting goals and getting the To-Dos done.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

This is Day 28 (only 2 more posts!) in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 22: How I save money during back to school (& an honest word to my readers about this series).

We are almost done with #Back2School in #31Days! I know a lot of you have tuned me out already, I get that. So if you're curious, I'll list the topics for next week at the bottom of this post - that way you can decide which posts you'll want to read and which ones to skip. This series has produced a lot of content! When this series is over my subscribers are going to breathe a sigh of relief that their inboxes aren't being overrun. (I'm going to breathe a sigh of relief!)

How I save money during Back to School:

I have to satisfy your possible curiosity or skepticism right off the bat – this is not a post on coupons or free printables.

(There is another great site for this and if that’s what you’re looking for – then click on the link and type “Back to School” in the search bar at the top right side of the homepage.)

When I was in retail sales, I was told that the Back to School season was higher for revenue than Christmas. And I believe it! The shoes, Crayola, and backpacks alone can put you into the hundreds range per kid, and for a home schooling family we have many other needs than a normal supply list.

B2S Day 22 How I save money

Photo credit; words added

So here’s my secret bite size way of lowering expenses:

I separate curricula purchasing from supply buying :: This is my number 1 (and only) suggestion to everyone who home educates. Back to school is this huge crash of summer and fall, recreation turns to routine, and there are so many choices to make. Commitments, activities, clothes to buy, shoes, etc. all needs to be ordered, selected, and purchased at the same time (or so they say).

I do things a little bit differently.

For the past 3 years, I have looked forward to going to the Great Homeschool Convention (GHC) for the primary purpose of choosing our curricula for the next year. The one we attend is usually scheduled in April. I have found this to be the best time to decide what to do for the following fall because I’ve spent 7-8 months using our current resources and I have a feeling for what’s working and what isn’t.

At the convention, my heart is ready and my mind is fresh to find what I need for each child to grow to the next level in areas where they are interested and I can barely keep up and in areas where they are struggling and I don’t know how to help.

Choosing our curricula at this time feels peaceful. The whole trip to the GHC is one big gift of grace. Lectures and speakers, continuing my education, and getting to meet the creators behind the curricula has been life changing for me as a woman.

So, if you’re up to your chin in choices right now during the big Back to School rush, and you’d rather crawl in a hole then sit down and research what you should teach this year – may I encourage you to just pick one thing to focus on for now and then come back to the research and decision-making by the middle of September.

Go get your great deals on Crayola and Sharpie now – these things won’t go on sale like this again until August 2016 – and put your mind at ease that not all things need to be purchased all at once.

Even if your mind is screaming that you need to buy things now, and you need to decide.

Just tell yourself a polite no, set a date in your calendar to sit down and review what you need.

Until then just focus on all the other things that matter – the things that don’t cost a thing.

When you do sit down in September, would you consider going to the next Great Homeschool Convention? You may be delighted to know that Ann Voskamp will be a keynote speaker.

And I know from experience that going to this convention does not have to be wildly expensive – I was able to attend my first one for $250 total, including registration, food, gas, and hotel because I went with a group.

Check out the dates for 2016:


An honest note about this series:

If this post, or even this whole series has left you feeling less or behind because of the topics I’ve covered or by the way a blog post has the magic of making everything in my life look nice and settled – all put together – then let me assure you that these posts have not been easy for me.

Sure, it looks easy to read, once I’ve added my pictures and tidied (most) of the grammar. But sometimes my actions have been too far ahead of my words, or worse – behind. This series has forced me, pushed me, and challenged me to finally address the laziness deep inside that tends to get hoarded up until some major change comes and I’m crushed by the weight of all the things that I have to do. All the things that can’t wait any longer, or cannot be delegated out to anyone else. After all, this is my home, these are my people, and I’ve chosen this path.

My goal for this series really wasn’t about my readers. The point of writing all this was to keep myself accountable for the mass of change and work that needed to be done – and my hope was that in each of the posts you would find just one thing  encouraging or inspiring. This has been a whole lot of imperfect progress (I need to listen to Unglued again. Amen?)

So, if you can stay with me for one more week, here’s the list of topics I hope to cover:

Block scheduling, lapbooking, choosing anchors, facing down panic, future planning, creating uniforms (plus a little note about decision fatigue), and possibly a video tour of our schoolroom. But I’m thinking I may make the video available only to my subscribers. They deserve a little special treatment. (If you’re not a subscriber, I highly recommend becoming one now – Click here to read more.)

Back2School Logo

This is Day 22 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!

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 19: Color-Coding to Save Time and Money #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 19 Color coding 1

I was with my 3 kids in the Dollar Store over a month ago. We were shopping for birthday party supplies.

This was during our major move in and settle season – trying to only bring into the house the things that we need, to live simply and holistically with our life’s purpose.

So buying a bunch of cheap storage bins wasn’t on the list. (Always shop with a list in that store or you’ll end up with a total over $40. That’s 40 items! Everything is $1.)

But as we walked in circles, my daughter being the ring leader of our little band, I noticed multiple different organizational bins and containers all in the same colors.

B2S Day 19 Color coding 4

Color-coding has saved my sanity so many times that I immediately began thinking in code. I started to formalize what bins I would need to contain everything from markers to stuffed animals. I imagined where the “home” for each bin would be in our home and realistically (as much as I could for imagining) thought about my routine and whether I would use a bin for the purpose I was imagining.

B2S Day 19 Color coding 2

All systems were go, so I asked my kids – which color do you want to be your color? And the rest is history.

Here’s what I color code:

  • Water bottles
  • Lunch containers
  • Bins on the stairs for items that belong in their rooms
  • Containers for craft and school items

B2S Day 19 Color coding 5

  • Notebooks for school work
  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Bullet Journals
  • Toy and personal item bins

I found an amazing deal at Walmart (which I only shop in 1-2 times per year, so I think this was miraculous) in the check out aisle for glass water bottles for less than $4 each and silicone containers – in their colors! (You’ll notice the green water bottle is missing in the picture. We are also working on not losing things – also why a $4 water bottle is my happy place.)

B2S Day 19 Color coding 3

Caution: Do not pick a child’s color and then buy all the things in that color. Have a place and purpose already picked out for any item before bringing it into your home.

5 suggestions for color-coding:

  1. I love my colorful cart for color-coding my children’s work and subjects (seen here). Last year, my color code wasn’t per kid, but per subject. This system worked well, and we will continue with it for this year – changing the items inside the drawers to reflect our new work.
  2. Towels. This has been on my list of things to color-code, and I already do it to the extent that I can with the towels I already own. I would like to be able to purchase new towels (who doesn’t like new towels?) eventually to reflect their color within the house.
  3. Count the cost up front before even beginning to code. For me, this color-coding only cost an additional $6. I was already buying school supplies, so making sure I had “green, blue, and red” pencils wasn’t a matter of buying extra.
  4. Use Washi Tape to code things that can’t be a specific color. I have black notebooks for my kids that I was sad wouldn’t be coded, until I remembered that I have blue and green Washi Tape – just measure a piece that will run the length of the spin and I’m all set. Proof that you don’t need new and fancy to establish a color-coded system.
  5. If you’re going to be collecting items for your color system over a period of time, then choose colors that are always available. I chose primary colors because they are usually available at the Dollar Store.

I couldn’t find many articles to refer you to on this topic – so please share with me what you find helpful in color-coding!

Other helpful things:

  • Today on Simple Homeschool there is a giveaway for the Teaching from Rest bundle – the book, journal, and audio conversations on the topic with some spectacular experts. From the post: I’ve been down this new-year-of-homeschooling road a few times, and I want to tell you the secret for setting out for a new school year with mindful intention that has the staying power to carry us through the year– that will get us through that November slump and even the February burnout that threatens us year after year. (You should click here to read the rest and enter to win! Good luck! Or maybe just buy it here and then give away your freebie to a friend and keep each other accountable.)
  • Don’t forget to mark your calendar for August 25th! This is the one-day-sale of Crystal’s course Make Over Your Mornings. In review of this course, I would say that this course will do more than make over your mornings it will make over your thinking. I needed a major help in my processing and decision-making – this course was that help. Read my full review here.

This is Day 19 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!

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.