I’ve been working full-time for the past year. One full year of wearing slacks, and driving to an office, and balancing homeschooling and career aspirations. I love my job. Every day, I get to represent a mission that I believe in with my whole heart and soul. At the end of the day, I get to continue homeschooling, which I also believe in heart and soul.
I have no idea how I pulled it all off. I feel like I should have some sort of coherent “this is how you do it” post to share with you, but the simple dirty truth is that holding down a full-time job while homeschooling is difficult. Really difficult.
I can tell you what it looks like for me and my family, but every situation is going to be different. Every job will have different demands, every boss will have their own opinions, and every child will need something different from you.
If you’re considering balancing work and homeschool, there are some things you should keep in mind:
Who is in your corner?
I couldn’t work and homeschool without a whole team of people in my corner. My husband supports my career goals, and is happy to step up to look over school work, double check assignments, and teach lessons when I need extra support. He’s also willing to cheer me on and encourage me to keep pushing when things get hard. I have a boss who understands the demands of motherhood. Earlier this year, I had an amazing childcare provider, who supported the kids education, and was always there when I needed her. Now, we have grandparents living with us to keep everything running smoothly.
Having someone to stand behind you, and hold you up when you feel like you can’t fall down is (in my opinion) the number one factor in balancing work and homeschooling successfully.
Is telecommuting an option?
Working full-time works for me because I am able to telecommute about half the week. When I am home, I can work right at the table in the middle of our home, and play the role of cruise director. We have a fairly rigid routine which allows me to focus on my to-do list and keeps the kids on track. Remember that even if you are telecommuting, it’s not likely you can teach an in-depth lesson and complete your work. Programs that are not parent-intensive are your friend. Think workbooks, self-lead lessons, activities you can set up the night before and simply supervise, and computer programs.
Which leads me to my next point…
What can you outsource?
In my home, each year, I choose a priority for each child. That may be teaching a child to read, or something like spelling or math skills. I choose one topic which will get the most of my time, attention, and resources. For the younger kids, this often means I’ll teach Logic of English, or for an older child, I’ll invest in a teacher-led math class.
I have to decide where to spend my time, and what I can do more hands-off. I can have the kids do history, typing, science, art, and spelling on the computer without needing to do much other than supervise, encourage, and help when they get stuck. Then I can sit down and teach math, phonics, and writing myself after work.
The goal is to balance your time- figure out what to teach, and what to facilitate, and divide your time and resources accordingly.
What does the law say?
Make sure if you are going to work and homeschool that you are also following the law. You can school at night, you can have the kids working while you are working and grade after work- there are lots of ways to make this happen… but follow the law. If you need, consult a legal association to make sure your choices are valid under the law.
What do you do well, and what can you delegate?
Along the same lines of choosing where to spend your time and attention with lessons, you’ll need to do the same things with the household responsibilities, cleaning, grocery shopping, sports, doctors appointments…. the list goes on and on.
Remember how I said it’s important to have people in your corner? Make sure those people are ready to step up. Make sure the kids are helping with chores. Take turns with your spouse for grocery shopping and laundry day. Divide up cooking responsibilities. Maybe you are a fabulous cook and your spouse doesn’t mind grocery shopping- divide and concur.
Take care of yourself, and don’t burn out.
Are the kids ready?
You can be the most organized person in the world, but something is to be said about having mature, capable kids.
I do not have mature, capable kids. This has been a huge struggle for me this past year. My oldest kiddo is a great child, but he has struggled with lying about completing his reading, he’s complained to teachers that I am “never around” (not true), and he’s struggled with the change in routine. I feel like after a year we are finally on track to survive this new normal, but it has taken a year to get there.
If your kids are not ready, be prepared for an uphill battle. It’s not easy to make sure they get all their work done if they are used to you being the cruise director all day every day.
Are you ready?
When I went to fill out my yearly evaluation, I was asked what I struggled with most this year. I said getting used to working in an office, and working with a team. My boss said she thought I struggled more with balancing work and home.
And she was right.
More than once this year, I have sat at my desk, and cried. More than once, I’ve lost sleep trying to decide if I should stay home with a sick child, or attempt to head into work. More than once I have felt like a failure.
I am so fortunate to work for an organization that puts family first, and to be able to work from home when the kids are ill. I have never been asked to ignore the needs of my children. Not every job is going to be as flexible as mine is- but if you are looking to work and homeschool, try and find a job that will support your needs.