Plan, Prep, Pray (with Wendy Alcime)

Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

I loved my conversation with Wendy Alcime! She is a queen of helping homeschool mamas learn how to be more productive, plan and prep their homes well, all while focusing on Jesus as our top priority. And although we didn’t know it would be so at the time we recorded this episode, Wendy and I are now colleagues in the new online homeschool community Made2Homeschool! So if you want more Wendy goodness in your life, come hang out with us over at M2H.

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

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Who is Wendy Alcime

Wendy Alcime is a homeschooling working mom of 5 children. She loves all things planning, prepping and praying. Her ultimate goal is to help moms find more peacefully present moments by being good stewards of their time. On her YouTube channel and Instagram at Plan Prep Pray you will find all things productivity for moms. 

Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

Watch my Homeschool Conversation with Wendy Alcime

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Amy: Hello, friends. Today I am joined by Wendy Alcime, who is a homeschooling working mom of five children. As we record this actually behind the scenes, we haven’t met the fifth one yet, but by the time this episode goes live, he will be a part of the family, and outside the womb, and we can’t wait to see pictures. Wendy loves all things planning, prepping, and praying. Her ultimate goal is to help moms find more peacefully present moments by being good stewards of their time.

On her YouTube channel and Instagram at Plan Prep Pray you will find all things productivity for moms. Wendy, there’s like the little official bio, but I always like to ask my guest to tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and how you guys got started homeschooling.

Wendy: Well, I am– I was actually born in Haiti, so I came here when I was three years old, so I don’t remember anything about it. That’s where I was born. I came here when I was three years old. At around 11 years old, my father passed away. My mom became a single mom. When I was in the, I want to say, sixth grade, I told her, I said, “You know what mom, I think I just want to be a mom when I grow up. I think I just want to be a daycare center teacher maybe for a little bit, until I find the husband and then I’ll just be a mom.” My mom said, “No.” She said, “No, you’re going to school,” and so I did the next best thing. I became a nurse and I worked with NICU babies for the longest time until recently. Then I’m back in it again.

I stopped for about five years and just recently, I am back to working, which is new because I’m transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to a working mom. That has its own things and scheduling and all the things because we are still homeschooling.

I want to say it was by accident. It wasn’t necessarily like, “Oh my goodness, we are going to homeschool.” It was actually, “No, Wendy, we’re not going to homeschool.” It was what I was told, and so at one years old, we put our baby in school and he bit everybody, he bit them all, all the kids, to the point that they’re like, “Yes, we’re going to give him a little break for about a month and then we’ll try again.”

I got him home and I started teaching him. Hubby was like, “Well, you’re doing a good job. Let’s just wait till kindergarten.” By kindergarten, he was already like at a first-grade level with education, but then when it came to like, you’re a real boy, you can’t go in the first grade. Then it was like, you know what, let’s take it year by year, and here we are. He’s in the sixth grade, he’s still home and I’ve got all the homeschool portfolios to prove it

Amy: I love that story. I just can relate a little bit to that. I had a child and we would go to playgroup and everything and we were the family that was supposed to be coming in and serving the other people in the community and being a good example and pointing them to Jesus. There’s my kid over there biting and hitting and like,-

Wendy: Biting everyone.

Amy: “I’m sorry,” I got to grab him under my arm again. I’ll see y’all next week. I’m just thankful that I was able to have that time to really focus on character in those early years.

Wendy: Oh, my gosh. I was just like like, “I swear we don’t bite him. We don’t fight him at home, I promise. We feed him good.”

Amy: Yes, I had someone say like, “Well, where has he learned that?” I was like, “I don’t think anyone had to teach him this behavior.” Oh me. For those listening, and you’ve got that kid who is sometimes a little energetic or has their own challenges, you are not alone and it turns out okay.

Wendy: I promise at 11 years old, he is not biting anyone. We are good. We made it.

Amy: What a relief. You can take him out in public now?

Wendy: We’re good. I can leave him with other kids.

Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

From school-at-home to relaxed homeschooling

Amy: Oh, my goodness. Wendy, from those early years where you brought him home and were seeing, oh, let’s just see, wait until kindergarten and then I guess this is going okay, and now here you are all these years later. How has your approach to home education and your philosophy about homeschooling grown and changed over the years?

Wendy: Man, it has. It has changed. You evolve and you grow as a person. Your knowledge, and then the child grows and the child changes and all the things. For me, I went from like, okay, we’re going to do school at home. It’s not homeschooling, it’s a school at home. I got the desk, all the supplies, everything out, a board. It was a big board. I got a board I could have taught like 10 kids. I had the curriculum table of contents and my homeschool portfolio checklist. I was set up and ready to go to like, okay, go do your school on the bed, somewhere on the couch. Sometimes they’re outside, everybody’s doing school wherever. I’ve gotten more relaxed. A lot of people would say, I’m not that relaxed because I’m Plan Prep Pray, but definitely more relaxed than I was when we first started.

Then I would say that as my relationship with Christ has grown throughout the years, that has manifested itself a lot within our home, in our homeschool. We used to sprinkle in Jesus, but now, it’s like He’s the reason why we do anything, especially homeschooling. He is our everything. We can see Him in everything. We can see Him in the math and in the reading and in just everything that we do. It’s not like, oh, we do Bible time, it’s like He’s everywhere.

Amy: I love that. Sometimes I think that with Christian education or Christian homeschooling, it’s almost like you just baptize the math book, and okay, now that’s Christian math or whatever.

Wendy: Yes, yes.

Amy: Just like you were saying, you just sort of sprinkle Jesus through, and that’s not really a distinctively Christian approach to education, but when we see that all of truth and all that is good and beautiful comes from the character of God and it’s this foundation, everything else, it’s so exciting. I’m actually getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it. That’s such a different approach to education and such a joy that we can teach our children that way as homeschoolers.

Wendy: It’s so amazing. It’s absolutely amazing, and it’s a benefit that I didn’t see coming.

A few of Wendy’s favorite parts of homeschooling

Amy: Well, what have been some of your other favorite parts of homeschooling?

Wendy: I love teaching my kiddos to read, sort of. I don’t like the actual process of teaching them to read, but when they get it, when they’re like, “Mommy, I read my first book,” This is my third child that I’ve taught how to read and I’m just like, does this ever get old? I love the excitement of them just finally being able to read for themselves and finally being able to open up that book and they’re just so excited. I would say the teaching to read has been–

Other part has been the connections, seeing them make connections with certain things in life. Like, “Mom, that’s what we were just talking about in this. Look, it’s right there.” They can see life as we’re educating them outside of the books. I love that aspect of it.

Then watching their walk with Christ. Does that ever get old? Seeing your children love God, but have their own deep personal relationship with God, I feel like the level that my kids are at as a child who went to public school myself, there’s just no time. There wasn’t that time to just live and breathe and just be in God all the time, and they are, so their level of understanding far surpasses my level of understanding at their age. That’s the best part out of it all.

Amy: Such an encouragement as a parent to see your kids growing in Christ right there in front of you.

Wendy: That’s so crazy. To me, it was just like an every Sunday thing, but for them, it’s like a life thing. I don’t know. I think that’s absolutely amazing.

Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

The challenge of finding balance in our homeschool

Amy: Oh, definitely. Well, those are all really great parts of homeschooling, but you and I both know that sometimes there are days, maybe we’re not biting people anymore, but- things can still be challenging. What have been some of the maybe harder parts of homeschooling, and how have you sought to overcome those challenges?

Wendy: I would say the hardest part of homeschooling is the balance. I came, I was like, “God, you placed this calling on my heart. I’m here. I’m doing all the things. Why am I so bad at it? Like, why can’t I do it all? Like why am I so tired all the time? Why is everything just not working out and falling into place?” The balancing, the home and the school is by far the hardest part of homeschooling for me.

Amy: You haven’t even added in there like your marriage and friendship and serving at church and all the life things. Back in January, I did a day-in-the-life post. I’ve done this since 2018 actually, so I guess this was like my sixth-year recording just an ordinary day. In fact, this year was a very boring day. I almost felt embarrassed to share it, that I was like, hey, I always say I just pick a random day, and then I just say what we actually did, but as I was putting it up on Instagram, and I have a highlight there and then writing up my post, someone messaged me and they were like, “So how do you balance? Like, okay, I see you have younger children and then you have these older teens you’re driving around to their classes. How do you balance it out?”

One of the things I said about balance is I often think about that advice you get as a mom of like a toddler who’s just learning to eat solid food.

If you just fixate on what they eat at that one meal or that one day, you can freak out because you’re like, they’ve had nothing, but a banana all day today, or like, did they eat anything other than rice? Can you live off of carrots? That one day or that one meal can feel very unbalanced, but if you look over the course of the whole week, you start seeing, okay, generally speaking, over that week, we balanced everything out. We got some proteins and berries and veggies, all those things.

I think sometimes as a homeschool parent, I think about that analogy all the time. Like, this one day maybe was very imbalanced and maybe one kid got more energy, or I had to spend more time on dealing with a broken washing machine and I couldn’t spend time on this academic thing. But if I think about the big view of the week or the month, it all does balance out. Just thinking about that topic of balance, that analogy helps me sometimes.

Wendy: Yes, I love that.

Simple and effective planning for homeschool and life

Amy: One of the things that can help with all the stuff, the life and the school, is a plan, which I know is something important for you. If someone’s like, that’s great, Wendy, I want to set up a plan for my homeschool family, but I have no idea or where to start. What would be your strategies for setting up simple and effective planning?

Wendy: I would say one of the most important things is that your home affects your school. At least for me and most people that I know, your home affects your school, your home life or your life affects your schooling and how you do it.

I tell everybody all the time, homeschooling is a part of life. It’s just a part of our life. It’s not something that we can just take apart and move, it has become who we are.

Focusing on dinner while you’re schooling, you just aren’t going to be able to get it all done. I just find it so important to be present where you’re at, and so having a meal plan and having it laid out allows you to be present where you’re at.

One of my major advice and I say it all the time, is that you have to do what God has called you to, that you can’t be Pinterest homeschool life or Pinterest home management life, have the very best meal plans, or you can’t do what she does or what he does, or whatever the situation is. You have to focus on what God has placed in your hands and be a good steward of that.

I’m like my house to be clean minimal, which is how I accomplish it, clean and organized because my brain can’t focus, and my kids can’t focus with the mess and the clutter and all the things. But I have a friend who her house, it’s not that it’s a pigsty, but bare minimum. She’s like, we picked up, the baseboards don’t have to be wiped down. The fan doesn’t have to be clean. We picked up the house is not unsafe, but it’s not polished to the nine, where you see sparkles and shine everywhere, but she had to let that go. She had to let that idea go, so that she can be successful within her home.

I always say, the first place to begin is to focus on what you are responsible for and figuring out what is your biggest stressor within the day and attacking that first.

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Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

Amy: That’s really smart. That gives freedom for differences in personality and priorities. For someone who’s like, I can’t focus when the counter is cluttered or I can’t focus when my bed is unmade, that’s going to be on their top priority list. Then for someone who’s like I can’t focus if we didn’t do math first thing– like there’s just different things and it’s not like the best thing to do or the right and the wrong way, but if you don’t stop and think first and make that plan, and really think about your own priority, you’re just going to flounder and wonder why every day feels all confused enough in the air.

Wendy: 100%. I remember looking at somebody’s Pinterest-worthy life and was like okay I’m going to start with whatever they tell me to do. I did that and I’m just like, but why isn’t it working? Why is everything still chaotic? It’s because that wasn’t the priority that I needed for my home. It’s very important to identify what your biggest stressors are.

Amy: Do you have any tips or suggestions for identifying what that would be?

Wendy: I have a whole course on this because it’s that serious.

Amy: I will link that up in the show notes. Please send that to me.

Wendy: My biggest thing and this is the part that people don’t like to do, because everybody wants to jump right in and just let me fix my life, but my biggest thing is you need to do a survey. You need to allow things to run how they normally run, but be a fly on your wall and be focusing and paying attention to, oh, that’s where that went wrong today. Oh, that’s what happened. You know what I mean?

You need to be your own personal fly on the wall and you need to interview multiple people in your home. Like, let’s go ask dad, “Daddy, what is your biggest stressor?” Let’s ask the kids like, “What’s going on?” Like, “Mommy, I’m hungry, there’s never any food,” and he’s like, “Every time I come home, I keep stepping on this car and I keep tripping.” There are different things that will help your family function. Just being able to identify what is their biggest stressor.

For me, for example, I thought my house– my husband wanted the cleanest house in the world. I thought he wanted to come home for me to be in like one of those dresses with the little peplum hanging out, and you know what? He just wanted a clean house. When I sat down and I’m like, “Babe, I can’t do it all.” Like, “What is your most important thing?” He’s like, “I just want my bed to be clear when I get home. That’s it. I just want to walk in and see a nice clear bed.” Guess what was the one thing that I wasn’t doing, Amy?

Amy: Clearly not the bed.

Wendy: You don’t understand, my bed, you wouldn’t even recognize me because my bed is like a desk. It’s filled with stuff. I love sitting on my bed and writing notes and just leaving everything everywhere. Not knowing that that was the simplest thing that would make his day, if I could just have the bed just nice and made and ready to go when he gets home, I could do that. I could do the bed.

Amy: Because that’s actually not that complicated. It’s a lot easier than being all dressed up and having a fancy dress on, honestly. This is also some bonus marriage counseling, make sure you are loving your spouse the way they actually hear love. Have some conversations about, what actually is meaningful to you?

Wendy: I’m telling you. The first place I would say to identify your stressor, is to be a fly on your wall. It takes the longest time because you have to continue to live in this state of like, I’m freaking out, but I would definitely say survey. See what’s actually going on because what you think might be going on is not what is actually going on.

Amy: That is so smart and so much better in the long run, than trying to just jump in and change everything. Let’s just change everything and not actually being able to sustain that or make the changes that are-

Wendy: You might find a lot of things that are working good, like, oh, I didn’t even realize that that was working well. You know what I mean?

Amy: Yes. Oh, that’s great. That is such a great tip. We’re being the fly on our wall and we’re starting to notice the things that are working and aren’t working, and then we’re remembering. All right, we want to keep our house clean. We have to feed people, and we have to do ordinary life stuff and then we also are supposed to be educating people because that’s the whole homeschooling thing.

Wendy: Oh, boy.

Prepping for life and keeping up with the homeschooling

Amy: How do we do all the life stuff and keep up with the homeschooling?

Wendy: I would say that a lot of times how I find for me to get all the life stuff done and the homeschooling stuff, is that second P and it’s that prepping. I find that being one step ahead has helped so much with the flow of everything.

I have a prepping day, I have a day where we are prepping breakfasts and we are prepping lunches and we are looking over our school and making sure we have all of our supplies and ready to go. I have a day dedicated to just preparing myself for a successful week.

I would say taking that time to make– I say make everything like McDonald’s, where you can just grab and go. How can you make your life as grab and go as possible? What different ways, and that will help your routines be able to actually function.

Amy: Are you prepping once a week or once a month, or does it depend on what thing you’re prepping?

Wendy: Some things are just you prep it one time and you’re done. I’m to the point now where I have a prep morning face basket and so it’s all the things that I do for my face in the morning. It’s got my face wash in there, my moisturizer, everything. When I get up in the morning, there’s no thinking, I grab my basket and then I just pull out one thing at a time and I put it back in my basket and I put it away. It’s nice and neat, and it’s ready to go and that’s just how I function with that. But that was a one-time prep.

Now when it comes to breakfast, we prep breakfast once a week, so it’s different depending on what you’re prepping, it depends on how often you need to prep.

Amy: That makes sense because you’ve taken out that decision fatigue because I think those things that you kind of know that are a regular thing you do, like eat breakfast or wash your face, but these are things you need to do regularly. If you have to go back through the process and figure out again, what do I do for this every single time, that’s exhausting, and take so much energy and wasted time.

I know that sounds very similar to what I do with our Morning Time routine. Everyone has their printed out pages, I’ve given to everyone. They have them in their notebook, I have one place for the books that we’re reading aloud. All we have to do is show up as long as we’re sitting there with our notebooks and I’m by my basket with the books in it, we’re all good to go because especially I think in the morning, that’s the hardest time I think for me. Because in the morning just getting started, once I’m started, I seem to keep going, but it’s that first getting started thing. You just have to make it as easy for yourself as you possibly can.

Wendy: Awesome. Exactly.

Plan Prep Pray Wendy Alcime Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast

Routines and Hacks for the homeschooling mama

Amy: Wendy, do you think there are any other particular routines or hacks that moms may be overlooking that could really make a huge impact in our daily lives?

Wendy: One thing that I think is, I guess a lot of people feel like they can’t do it, but for me, I feel like it’s a must have is a Mom Morning Routine. I think it is vital. I don’t know how to function without a mom morning routine, mostly because I find that it’s so important to have that time in the Word, as well as have a moment to think your thoughts without other people in them, if that makes sense.

Amy: Oh yes.

Wendy: My goodness, it’s just like for you to wake up and first thing it’s like people making requests and doing all the things. It’s just very overwhelming. I have found that a mom morning routine is a must have. I say all the time, it’s how I turn 24 hours into 27 hours. I get all the things done in the morning. I got my Bible time in, I try to put a load of laundry in, I take all the dishes out, get that ready. When they wake up, it’s like, “Wow, mom always wakes up on the right side of the bed.” It’s like, “No, I’ve just been up for three hours.”

I know it’s hard, I know it’s difficult and there are definitely seasons where it is not much of a mom morning routine. It’s about a 30-minute, let me just wipe this off my eyes before the kids get up type of situation, but I truly cannot recommend enough of doing a mom morning routine.

Amy: I love that. I would assume, do you have a video about your mom morning routine?

Wendy: Yes.

Amy: Okay, I’m going to make sure I get that link from you too, and I’ll put that video in the show notes.

Wendy: Definitely.

What Wendy is reading lately

Amy: Wendy, here at the end, I’m going to ask you the questions that I ask all my guests and the first is just what are you personally reading lately?

Wendy: Right now, currently almost done, I am listening to The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. Oh, it’s so good, it’s so good. If you haven’t heard of it, which I didn’t, find it, read it. It’s so good. I feel like every Christian needs to read that book.

Amy: Oh, that is a really good one. I think it was my high school Sunday school went through that or maybe it was my Junior High Sunday school did a series using that book, and I remember that being just really impactful as a teenager. It’s excellent.

Wendy: Oh good.

Wendy’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly

Amy: All right, Wendy, while we’ve talked about this a lot already, but we had to distill it all down, what would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Wendy: I would say, my best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly. I would say if you have littles, plan for your littles, plan for them and your day will run great. Make sure that they have their things ready, that they are good to go because if you can account for the little ones that are going to get into everything, you’re going to be good.

Amy: Yes, oh, that is such good advice. Sometimes it feels like you’re going to be like, guys, guys, we’ve got to do school. Just wait, just wait. I’ll read that book to you later, and then you just spend the whole homeschool morning putting them off and if you just focus on the little ones first, sometimes that then they’re like, “Okay, I had my mama cuddle time, I’m going to go play with my blocks now.” I have found that even actually with older children, my youngest now is seven almost eight, I still prioritize youngest to oldest and it seems to work with the day’s schedule more easily.

Wendy: Oh, I do those.

Find Wendy Alcime online

Amy: Oh, Wendy, where can people find you all around the internet?

Wendy: I am everywhere @planpreppray. That’s not true. I’m on Instagram and YouTube. I have a TikTok, but I feel real old there, but it’s planpreppray there too and Facebook is Plan Prep Pray as well.

Amy: Great, and I will have all those links to the places you can find Plan Prep Pray in the show notes for this episode over www.humilityanddoxology.com. Thanks Wendy, for chatting with me today. This was lovely.

Wendy: Thank you for having me.

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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