More times than not, when parents first decide to homeschool, they fall into the stuff trap. We have so accustomed ourselves to needing stuff to do anything. I, like so many others, went overboard collecting books that they will "need" to do schoolwork. I bought books on every subject, for many grades and now am finding myself struggling to remain organized. Unorganized stuff, usually isn't used. If it is used, precious time is spent looking for it. Since my memory is fairly good, I do know what we have and will spend time looking for it if I need it. However, for the most part, I have used about 25 percent of what I have bought.
As a parent who is beginning to take a class to help me finish my first book, the wife of another who is going back to finish his degree and the parent of a 16 year old who will begin taking classes at the local college in the fall--my time is getting increasingly hard to manage. With work and homeschooling, something has to give. That something is usually housework. I am almost always behind on laundry. Very behind. Books taken off the shelf in the school room stack up waiting to be put away. Toys in the toy room are always a mess.
All this is changing. I may have fallen into the trap of buying stuff--much of it at garage sales or the library's used bookstore--whenever I thought there was a great book or deal, but I am rethinking my strategy. It isn't working for me. I am continuing to pull myself out of the trap this weekend. We use the computer for so much of our work. However, I will not teach my kids calculus. Calculus will be taken at the college. Why keep it? Why keep reshelving it when we have to get it out of the way? This may be obvious, but our society as a whole really struggles with the stuff concept--a concept that is being rethought by many for many reasons.
Homeschoolers need to rethink what supplies they truly need and will use on a short term basis. I have some things that I am very grateful that I have--lots of other stuff, not so much. I always got very good deals on the stuff--but the money that could have been saved could have been used for things we use more...like museum memberships we rotate annually. As we prepare for our busy summer, we are culling everything and being ruthless on keeping it or not. The hope is that some great charities--the library's store, Goodwill and the Salvation Army will all get some great stuff to sell to new homes--giving new life to it with someone else and keeping it from the landfill. Me, I get time, organization and sanity.