Blessings of a Flexible Schedule

What time does school start?

How many hours a day should I  teach my five-year-old? What about my teen?

We’re so far off the schedule, I’m afraid we’ll never catch up.

Getting stressed over the homeschool schedule seems to be a common thread among homeschooling moms. In my own life, I spend about half the time worried that we’re behind, that we haven’t covered enough, or that I’m failing because we started our day at 10:30 instead of 8:00 am.

In reality, though, homeschooling is beautiful and perfect because of its flexibility. It can change to perfectly fit every family and can even change day-to-day – without losing one drop of success!

Work Schedule

Currently, my husband is working 60 hours a week on a 6pm to 6am schedule. At first I hated it. I cried, I yelled, I told him to please ask for a transfer back to days.

I thought the kids and I should still be getting up early and having school in the mornings like we used to (like normal people do). But on the weekends, we’d stay up later with Dad and sleep until mid morning. Constantly adjusting and readjusting our wake-up times was not working at all. Can someone say stressed-out, sleep-deprived mommy?

But wouldn’t we be messing up somehow, missing something very important if we stopped schooling in the morning? After all, that’s when the public schools do it. (Not to mention all the über successful homeschool moms who get up at 5am, pray, exercise, have breakfast on the table by 6:30, and keep a spotless house. Don’t I want to be like them . . . at least a little bit?)

Well, no! We won’t miss out at all by making our homeschool schedule fit our family. We’re now having school after my husband leaves for work – we start around 6:30 pm and finish by 9:30 or 10. Then we watch a couple of videos and go to bed about midnight.

I will say it proudly: My kids and I sleep until 11am most mornings and eat breakfast at noon or even 1pm. I let them play on the computer before school, sometimes even before breakfast.

And we’re doing fine. Our school time is going great – the boys actually love this new routine. Here’s a big secret: they’re still learning. 🙂

Sickness & Family Emergencies

Even with perfectly normal work schedules, everyone benefits from the flexibility of homeschooling. Take sickness, for example . . .

Can you schedule the next time a stomach bug hits your house? How about the next time one of your kids wakes up with a fever? Or Mom has a splitting headache?

Of course not.

But with homeschooling, those times of sickness can be taken in stride – as long as you keep an open mindset. For my own family, I purposely build extra days into our schedule to give us “wiggle room” for these times of sickness and any other situation that arises. A couple ways that I do this:

  • We have a full school schedule four days a week with Friday being a light day. We can use it to catch up on anything we’ve missed through the week (or last week . . . or the week before . . . )
  • We also continue homeschooling on all those public school holidays like Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, and all the teacher in-service days that our district has. This gives me at least a dozen “wiggle days” that I can take off when we need to.

We handle family emergencies the same way – whether they happen at home or at a relative’s house, whether they’re physical or emotional. Some time ago, when my grandmother broke her hip, the kids and I spent several days with her and did no school lessons. Instead, we just took care of her and spent time loving her. I wouldn’t trade those couple of weeks for any amount of official school!

When emotional or behavioral issues come up with my sons, we call off school and focus on the issue. This usually involves lots of talking and one-on-one attention or maybe an activity away from home to break the mundane. So we missed a day of lessons? In the long run, it’s truly not a problem.

Doing school wherever works.© Donnacuic | Stock Free Images

Doing school wherever works.
© Donnacuic | Stock Free Images

If you’re currently trying to match your homeschool days to the public school schedule, I encourage you to break out of the box and set your own routine instead. You deserve to benefit from all the flexibility that homeschooling offers – embrace it!

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Owner/Writer at Fenced In Family
Cindy and her husband, Jon, live in beautiful West Virginia with their three sons – Nick, age 12, James, age 8, and Robert, age 5. They homeschool with a relaxed, eclectic style and enjoy reading great books together as a family, geocaching, and visiting historic and scenic places. Along with knitting, baking, and working crossword puzzles, Cindy loves geography and is the author of Expedition Earth: My Passport to the World.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. My husband will be starting a new job in March. It will require him to be gone for several weeks at a time. I was sad about this, but this is such a great opportunity for him. He was the one who said, ” why not come with me? You homeschool the boys any way. ‘ duh! Why didn’t I think of that? :-). But yes the flexibility is beautiful and will allow me to homeschool in different cities as well.

    • What a nice opportunity to travel and see new places, Erica! I hope you guys are able to fully enjoy it and make the most of this time. 🙂

  2. Wonderful to hear you’ve arranged this schedule with your husbands difficult hours. I’ll be praying for all my fellow homeschoolers to think out of the box like this! Especially when it comes to schedules.

  3. I’d like to thank you for this post, also! Our schedule tends to be very flexible, and I SO love slow mornings. But I wonder if I’m not teaching disciple and self-control to the kids if I allow them to sleep in? Am I showing an example of laziness by still sitting in bed with my coffee cup, and it’s past 8am? I am honestly asking these questions – it is a balance I struggle with.. (We are stationary at the moment – travel most of the school year – so our routine here is to I try to be downstairs by 9 am and wake any sleeping kids by then, but I honestly would love to push it all to 10 or even 11 am:) And sometimes we do…

    • I’ve had the same thoughts, Sennie. However, this is the opinion I’ve finally formed … is it wrong to sit on your couch or at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee at 8pm? No, of course not. So what makes it lazy to do that at 8am if you have no other obligations at that time? Getting up early in the morning isn’t the only way to demonstrate (or teach) self-discipline – we do that by taking care of chores around the house, doing school consistently (no matter what time we do it), paying the bills, etc.

      • That is a good point. Thank you so much for answering, and not being offended by my question;-) I have a very laid-back personality, so I do struggle getting things done that need to get done. I’d much rather stop to smell the roses, and then blog about it, than get my basement organized, lol. I try not to feel guilty that we sleep in, as our schoolwork still gets done. We used to do early morning with Christian school, and now that we homeschool, it’s that one thing we appreciate most about homeschooling – not having to wake up at 5:30 (shudder):) Sometimes it’s hard to find that balance..

  4. melissa rice says:

    AMEN to this! i honestly wonder who we are comparing ourselves to when we think we are instilling discipline by getting up at the crack of dawn? i used to push myself A LOT to be the mom up by 5am, exercised quiet time done yada yada but not anymore. there are so little people, who when they reach adulthood, will have a mon-fri 8-5 job. my husband has worked shift work for the past 18 years, switching every three months, which is one of the main reasons we homeschool. i don’t know what we would do with weekends off 😉 schedule is good but more of a guideline as to what to expect for the day and leave room for the unexpected. that sometimes is where the real learning takes place!!

  5. This was a super post thanks for encouraging us with your words of wisdom. We usually start school whenever that persons chores are finished for the day.

  6. I think this is great. I currently stay at home with my 2-year-old daughter and I watch my 3 1/2 year old nephew a few times a week. I like to do early childhood homeschooling with them. Based on schedules and the fact that my daughter seems to be a night owl like me, I have adjusted our routines around what works best for us. Not everyone understands this, and they will argue why they think it’s a bad idea. It’s nothing crazy.

    We tend to get up in the morning anywhere from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., depending on what we have going on for the day. And at night, we go to bed between 10:30 and midnight. It’s what works best for us. My husband typically doesn’t get to spend quality time with her until about 9:00 at night, and then we all sit down together as a family to watch TV or a movie at about 10:00 or so. On work nights, he likes to go to bed by 11:00, but he’ll stay up later on weekends. My daughter and I have a bedtime routine that works for us. My mom lives with us, and she works nights. When she gets home in the morning, she appreciates having some quiet time in the house to herself before everyone wakes up. She likes that my daughter and I tend to sleep in a bit so she’s able to catch up on her TV shows, read a book, do stuff around the house, etc…all before we even get up. Our routines work for everyone in OUR household, but people outside of our household don’t seem to get it. I think it’s important to do whatever is best for YOUR family and not worry about what other people think.

    • I love to hear about your day, Jenny! It’s great that you’ve found a routine that works for you. I understand about people outside your house not understanding that, but I’m so thankful we can all still find a routine that works best for us.

  7. Thank you, Cindy, for speaking to what so many of us struggle with in home education. I have been homeschooling for also most 12 years, and I am really just now embracing the amazing flexibility we have in our schedules and how it’s FINE. You and the boys keep pressing forward!

  8. So good to read about someone else homeschooling”out of the box”! I know there are plenty of them out there just nice to hear about them. I am homeschooling my kids for the very reason of my hubby’s shift work. He works 6 pm to 6 am for two weeks then swaps around for two more weeks. So we start school at 9 am or so for a couple of weeks then we’ll start around 11:30 am or noon the next two weeks. Works great for us!

  9. Great post! Exactly what I needed to calm my mind. I use to like to go to bed early and wake up early. Now my husband does not get home until 10pm or later and leaves at 9am. So the only time the boys and I have with him is late at night. Family time is more important to me than keeping a tight schedule that begins at the crack of dawn. I love to hear that other people act the same as me. All to often I get caught up in thinking I’m the only one who thinks and acts the way I do. I love when God shows me that there are others like me and they’re doing just fine.

  10. Thank you so much!!! That was so helpful!! I’m homeschooling my two 7 yr old girls an a 5 yr old boy!! An I’ve got a 2 yr old an 8 month old!!! An I always feel pressured about when to start, finish an so on!! Thanks again:)

  11. Oh how I love your post. I’ve tried and tried for years to wake up with my kids early and have them ready to go by 9am. This has never gone over well, it results in arguments and makes home school feel like torture. Two of our kids are older now and have activities outside the house in the evening, so we have to do work a bit earlier. I’ve found that most days they can be up and ready by 10:30am or 11:00am. This time seems to work pretty well. But there have been days when we started after lunch. I’ve come to realize that my husband and I are very outside the box and we don’t do well with typical 9 to 5 jobs. Why would our children be any different? It’s nice to hear I’m not alone on this.

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