Yes, you can work and home school.
As with most things, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If it’s important to you, you find a way.
Homeschooling was something I became passionate about once I understood that it is what is best for my kids and my family. Circumstances led me to have to work at least part time, so I did childcare when possible. I started a business to sell my art, but with such young kids it was hard to put enough time and effort into it, so that fell on the back burner for a while.
Now, however, it’s no longer an option. I need to make an income. I have even considered putting my kids in school so I have time to work and because it pains me that I can no longer give them as much of my time. We haven’t been able to go on many field trips or do science projects that involve much, if any, prep. But, after pouring over all the pros and cons, I have concluded that homeschooling is still our best option. It is very important to me. It’s working well for my kids and I don’t want them to be discouraged in any way with the pressure schools put on learning.
I have to work.
The past few years have been very stressful trying to balance it all, and at first frustrating, overwhelming, and discouraging. But, I have a new outlook on it now.
I have managed to find work that I care about, that I am driven and passionate in doing, and that is flexible. I have found multiple ways to bring in income that allow for flexibility and freedom to be my own boss, for the most part. I freelance, both writing and medical billing, and I care for children where I can bring my own when needed. My own kids can see my love of what I’m doing. They watch as I not only work hard to make sure our family is taken care of, but also that I am following my own personal goals and dreams. They see that we are all a part of caring for this family, so they help in ways that they can, cleaning up, being patient, understanding that I can not play during the times when I am focusing on my work.
I am lucky enough to be able to work most of the time from home, often writing in the early morning and at night when the kids are asleep, but…
What about when I need to work outside of the house?
I have enrolled my kids in a homeschooling program through the public school system where I can drop them off a couple times a week. They are also in a few other classes that allow drop off, such as a 6 hour nature program. Also, a wonderful friend was willing to take them into her home and include them in her children’s home school day once a week. None are full day classes, but I have put myself out there in the homeschooling community, reaching far out of my introverted comfort zone, and have made some good friends who understand my homeschooling lifestyle and my need to work. I have forced myself to be honest and open and ask for help when I need it. This is not easy for me! I would much rather appear as if I’ve got everything under control at all times. But, I push myself to express my need for help and admit to myself that I just can’t do it all on my own. I need community. I don’t have a lot of family nearby and none who could care for my kids on a regular basis. There are many others in similar situations, needing to have kids away from home at least some of the time. We can work together and figure out ways to swap while providing rich learning environments for each other’s kids.
Often friends who don’t necessarily need me to swap are willing to ride share, watch my kids a couple times a week so their own kids can have friends to learn with, do projects with, etc. That alone can sometimes be enough, or we may work out an exchange, when I can take the others’ kids another time during the week.
As I said, where there is a will, there is a way. If it’s important to you, you can find and create ways to make it happen.
Perhaps you will have to take a pay cut and adjust your lifestyle, downsize and simplify, but it may be truly worth it to do so. Weigh all the pros and cons for yourself. Each family is different and it is hard, very hard, so it has to be completely worth it to you. Find your homeschooling community if you’re not already familiar with yours. My town has a co-op, resource library, plenty of charter and other homeschool schools, classes, yahoo groups, and Facebook groups to connect and find programs that may work for your situation.
5 Ways to Find Time to Work
while still providing a great learning environment for your kids
- Look for drop off classes or programs for homeschoolers
- Get to know your community
- Ask if any other families are struggling to find ways to homeschool while working
- See if those people are interested in an exchange
- Ask them for tips on how they manage to work and homeschool
Where do you find flexible work?
That depends on your skills and experience, and sometimes your connections, but a good place to start is by thinking about the skills you have and what drives you. What do you really love to do? Is there a way you can make a freelance or entrepreneurial career out of it? Is there something you can do from home or are there people who are willing to swap with you often enough to give you the hours you’ll need to be away? You may find yourself doing something you never thought you’d be doing or something you never had the courage to start. Go for your dreams. If you need to work, I hope you can find a career that can work around a homeschooling lifestyle. There are as many ways to do it as there are homeschooling families.
I know a homeschooling family where both parents are writers and they alternate hours. A single mom I knew who homeschooled was a landscape designer and brought her kids with her on the job. Her clients understood ahead of time that her kids would be along and the kids were used to what was expected when they were on a client’s property. Many have in-home daycares while their own kids are little. A group of homeschool moms who are credentialed teachers got together and started a co-op type of program for kids with paid elementary classes. There are tutors who offer classes out of their homes for music, math, art and more. There are so many ways. You may have to think outside the box and allow for unconventional work, but there are definitely ways.
Don’t compare your family to other families
That goes for any parent, but you need to realize you won’t be able to participate in all the things you used to or want to. I have slowly, very slowly, come to terms with the fact that I don’t have the time or energy to do all the projects I would love to do with my kids. I can’t sign up for every field trip that our homeschooling friends are going to, unless I can arrange for someone who is willing to take them along who has room for more kids in their car. I can’t be at every co-op meeting or volunteer as I desire to. I no longer have lazy mornings where we can cuddle and read with the kids for an hour or take a long walk. Every day we have limited time. I’ve had to strive harder to plan what I want to fit in to those hours as I don’t have the luxury of taking my time to think about what learning activities we might want to do that day. It’s more like, okay I have two free hours, lets get busy kids!
But, I’ve become good at juggling, scheduling, and making time just for family. No matter what deadlines I have, time with them is important, so I won’t budge on my family time. And though I more often have to say “no, thank you” to that awesome field trip, that amazing sounding class, that fun day at the park or beach with a bunch of friends, rather than a sinking feeling, I am okay saying “no, we can’t go today”. The kids have become familiar with allowing me work time and they know I will give them my undivided attention at other hours of the day.
Let go of schoolish ideas
Let go of controlling every moment of your child’s lessons. If you spent hours planning curriculum, prepping projects, and running a tight schedule with a time for each subject every day for your children, you may have to let many of those expectations go. Your children will learn. The more they have to rely upon themselves, the greater their problem solving, creativity, and ingenuity.
Think about what you remember from elementary school. Not much? If they learn to read and write and can problem solve basic math before high school, they’re doing just fine. They will learn so very much more if they have the opportunity to follow their own interests. Provide them with lots of tools and suggestions, be their mentor and guide, not so much their “teacher”. They will see you learning new things for the career you want. You don’t always like what you have to learn, but you do it when it’s leading to a goal you want. Same with your kids.
Let go of perfection
For anyone who homeschools, you’ll need to let go of the idea of having a sparkling home with magazine worthy rooms. Your home is your school, your office, your studio, your playroom, as well as your living space. You’ll have projects, piles of books, paperwork, art supplies, and more around your house and for them to get use, they need to be accessible, not locked away in a cabinet so your home looks prettier. Kids grow up fast, will they remember their amazing experiences and freedom to be creative or mom nagging them to not make a mess all the time? Think about what is more important. Some day your kids will live out of the house and you can have spotless rooms for the rest of your years. My bet is you’ll miss the signs of life, laughter, and love that are currently sprinkled all over your home.
In my family, we are all doing what we need to to be able to continue this journey. Hopefully someday things will change where I can work less, but until then, we all need to be content with where we’re at, what we have, and what we can do in the time we have. It’s been a learning process for all of us and we’ve all had to work harder, but I think for the most part, it’s been a wonderful character building experience for us all.