Many people believe that working moms and homeschool don’t mix. I’m here to tell you this is totally not true! You CAN work AND homeschool your children. You can also do it without ruining your children or going insane! Don’t limit yourself because you don’t fit the typical image of a homeschool set-up. What is “typical” anyway?
Whether one works in or out of the house, being a working homeschool mom is a completely different ball game. There are many aspects of homeschooling that have to be different to function well. I homeschool and also work part-time. I know many moms who even work full-time and still homeschool their kids. Things are actually going well for these families!
To have a rockin’ homeschool while working, you have to start by developing a functional schedule. One of the biggest stereotypes of homeschooling is that you have to be at home, schooling your children from 8am-3pm, Monday through Friday, to get it all done – meaning, follow the traditional school schedule. If I homeschooled Monday-Friday with set hours I wouldn’t be homeschooling anymore. The fact is that every single homeschool is different – working homeschool moms just have to be a bit more flexible. Homeschool can be done by whatever schedule you want it to be, and it can change whenever you want it to.
There are some things to keep in mind though…
1. Assess your schedule
- The first step to homeschooling and being a working gal is that you must assess what is actually going on. What is your schedule? Do you work Monday through Friday on bank hours or do you work long 12-hour shifts with more days off? Are you a full-time, part-time, or sporadically scheduled gal? Don’t forget to assess your spouse’s schedule. It takes two to tango, and you are going to need your spouse’s participation too – at least a little. Write this all down so you can see the bigger picture.
2. Brainstorm changing it up
- Now that you have a good understanding of what you already work, brainstorm ways to manipulate your schedule to function in your favor. Look for the times you can use for school. Are you able to tinker with your budget to drop a day a week or come in later in the day? Can you and your spouse move the schedule around so one is off while the other is at work? Do you have family with open schedules that can help out a day or two a week?
- **** I do not suggest going completely opposite of your spouse’s schedule. You must keep your marriage first and you can’t do that if you never see each other.
3. Do not limit your self to the norm
- It is imperative that a working homeschool family acquire a great amount of flexibility. Monday-Friday, 8-3 schedules are pretty much not going to work with a working mom unless you choose to work every weekend or have some kind of help. Limiting yourself to this will end up burning you out and making you feel like a failure. My advice is to get that Monday-Friday idea out of your head all together. You must take advantage of the time you have no matter when it is. This means you should be considering year-round school as an option. This will give you a greater amount of time to work with.
4. Don’t shy away from creative finagling
- Creative scheduling goes hand in hand with flexibility. For instance, on days you work, your kids are doing online work. Or when they are at the sitter, they have a list of “homework” to do that you know will be easier than the stuff you will be working on during one-on-one time. Do you have an older kid or two? They should be doing lots of independent work. They can also learn many life skills by teaching what they already know to their younger siblings. There is nothing wrong with recruiting them to help out. There are also homeschool co-ops to get involved with to take some of the load off of you and charter school services to check into.
5. Stay organized but don’t get crazy obsessive
- Because of the need to be creative and flexible, you must devise an organizational plan that is functional and simple…but don’t obsess over every little detail. You will only burn yourself out and then be disappointed when things don’t go as planned. You need to be okay when it changes or when things are delayed. Trust me, eventually this happens to everyone. You need to be willing to change as the needs of your children change. Right now, I am re-organizing my own schedule and plan, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. The only thing I regret is planning out every single math lesson for the last 3 months. We skipped about a third of them and I totally wasted my time planning all the details.
- I have since stopped planning every little detail, which is totally opposite of many homeschoolers. I have more of a general idea of what I am doing, and I don’t do things that require a profuse amount of planning. I have dumped the curriculum that does not allow for flexibility and ease of use. I have worksheets and other resources sectioned into subjects in boxes and filing cabinets that I pull out as we need them. I also use a workbox method where I have one drawer per day of the week. I don’t exclude weekends in this since we do things on “off” days too – there’s no such thing as a routine off day in my house. The computer is also a great resource for us. I have a master plan of things I want the kids to accomplish, and we knock things off as we go. We also use an eclectic, classical approach to education, which makes things much simpler.
6. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all.
- Every homeschooler’s time is valuable, but as a working homeschool mom, your time is even more valued. You must do things that will have maximum benefit in the least amount of time. Don’t waste your time with meaningless little things. Focus on the bigger picture and on things that will cover multiple areas of learning at once.
- Don’t try to match what you see other families doing. It just isn’t feasible, and truly, and it isn’t what your children need. Our forefathers, who are well known for their wisdom, did not learn with a classroom full of Pinterest projects and field trips. They learned from very simple and straightforward teaching that held maximum value. Don’t let the stress of doing it all burn you out. I allowed the stress of doing it all get to me last year, and I temporarily gave up on homeschooling – what a lesson.
- Acknowledging that YOU can’t do it all also means that your kids must have responsibilities appropriate for their ages. You should not be the one doing every little thing. If your children are old enough, they can be doing chores, grading their own math, sorting their finished work, and keeping their own logs for grades and portfolio stuff – with you keeping a close eye, of course. Don’t take this all on by yourself. You are only one part of the homeschool team.
7. Most importantly….
- Plan in a way that gives God priority, followed by your husband. Next, put yourself on that priority list…before your children. Yes, I know this is different from some advice which says to put your kids first, but I have good reason to say this. Being a working homeschool mom is not for the faint of heart. You must care for yourself or you will burn out mental, physically, and spiritually. That means you may need to cut homeschool short for the day and relax. Or take a week off from school every now and then for a mental break. It also means giving yourself “you” time and making sure you nourish your body in a way that will keep you energized for the days to come. This is so important to keep everything going smoothly.
As you can see, Whether you work full-time or part-time, you can homeschool your children. It just takes creativity, flexibility, and commitment. I know you are capable of this! Every family is different, and some of us moms have to work, or we choose to work a little because we feel that what we do is important. God will provide a way for you to teach your children whether or not you work. 🙂
Are you a working homeschool mom? What are some of the things you struggle with? I would love to hear how things are going!