Scheduling is the piece of the working-mom-homeschool-puzzle that I think is probably the most complicated.
I am very fortunate to have found a position that will allow for telecommuting twice a week. Another factor that will make this work for us is that the job is in Social Media, which basically means I have the flexibility to get the job done day or night. Of course, I still need to be available to my co-workers during standard working hours and I need to be able to attending meetings and other events, but I am not working 8 hours a day straight. For now, I am in the office 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and work the remaining 10 hours over nights and weekends. Soon, I’ll be working 3 days a week in the office (6 hours at a time) and the rest of the 40 hours a week at home.
A flexible work schedule, I think, is key to making this work.
The other important element is a care provider who is willing to support the kids in working. Now, in my state, I am the only one legally allowed to homeschool the kids, so I couldn’t say to my sitter “here, do school with them.” What I can do is expect Bug, who is old enough to work independently, to sign in to his online classes, complete his reading, and even do some workbook type work while I am not home. Right now, Bug has been doing history, literature, math, and a couple other educational programs on the computer while I am gone. In the fall, he’ll do even more with online classes and programs (if you missed them, here are our plans).
Mr. Man is a little more complicated. He is still quite squirrely and not as compliant, so I can’t say “go to Time4Learning” without it being difficult for the sitter. It’s not her job to teach him, and I am not willing to put extra pressure on her shoulders to try and talk him into computer time. I am hoping soon, with a lot of encouragement (and sticker charts) he’ll work some when I am gone, but I have accepted that for now, it probably isn’t going to happen.
The sitter has also been wonderful at encouraging the kids to read each day while I am gone. I am sure she is doing a ton of fun things with the kids that I don’t even know about, and I am so grateful. I can’t tell you how important it is to find a sitter you can trust and count on to love on those babies while also supporting your families decision to keep the kids home.
Right now, the plan is that I go to work early, and the boys do what they can without me. Bug will do most of his classes alone, and then when I get home around 3, we’ll do schoolwork together.
First, I will do reading and math with Mr. Man which takes about an hour of my focused attention. During this time, Bug can sit next to work on his writing or math assignments, and I can help him as needed. After that hour, Mr. Man can go work on the computer for an hour, and I can work with Bug on spelling, and go over any other assignments or lessons he struggled with while I was gone, check the things he doesn’t need help with, and make sure he’ll be ready for his classes the following day.
On the weekends, I’ll do a three hour history block, and a one hour block of music/art. My husband will do a two hour block of science. We’ll also take the time to make sure we checked all the work from the previous week, and organize our materials for the coming weeks.
When I am home telecommuting, things will be about the same, only I’ll be able to sign Mr. Man into the computer so he’ll be able to do a little more work then when I am not home. I can also direct the kids to do things like handwriting and health, things where they really need to show me the work as it is completed and be supervised (for example, if I am not watching, they will skip health!) and possibly fit more things into the work day just by being present to tell them to move from one activity to the next.
On days I telecommute, I plan on continuing to wake up at the same time as I would if I still needed to drive an hour into the office, starting work at 7 am instead of 8, which will give me even more time to work while the kids are asleep, which will make things even easier on me.
Right now, my day looks something like this:
5:30 Alarm goes off
5:30-6 Check in with Blog Social Media, tweak scheduling for blog social media, take care of blog emails
6-645 Get ready to go to work
645-8 Say hello to the sitter and get to work
8-1130 Work time!
1130-1230 Lunch, check in with the kids, check in with the blog on social media, take care of blog emails
1230-2/230 Work time!
3 Time to be home!
3-6 School work with the kids, dinner prep (lazy, easy things!), monitor work for things that require an urgent response
7-8 Dinner, chores, bed for the littles
8-9 Work Time! Reading and bed for the bigs
9-10/11 Blog Time (printables and posts)
10/11 Bed Time, check in one last time with work
6 Alarm goes off
6-8 Blog Work from Bed (printables and posts)
8-9 Breakfast, chores
9-10 Work Time (or blog time if I don’t have work hours to complete), Husband does Science
10-12 History/Music/Art block
The rest of the day, I turn off the computer as much as possible, and just monitor email on my phone for things that require an urgent response. In the evenings, I do sometimes work on blog posts or printables if I am really behind or have a huge printable to work on, but I really do try to spend time with my husband and kids.
I am pretty good with routines, and so far, this is working really well for us. I think it’s important for a “real-life homeschooling” series to show our schedule, and to really point out that no, I don’t have a lot of free time. Homeschooling is a full-time job in itself. And when you add in work outside the home, it’s even more imperative that I figured out a plan to fit everything in.
If you’ll notice, I really don’t have a lot of time on the schedule for housework or cooking. I have to confess that my husband is a HUGE help and does a lot of those tasks when he is home. When he is not home, I miss out on sleep because I have to get up earlier in the morning to get work done. My sitters also are a huge help, because they are willing to do some housework while they have the kids. They have done an amazing job at helping me keep the house more than nice despite not being home all day- I really don’t know what I would do without them.
I have a lot of help.
Not just with the house either. Recently, I hired a couple virtual assistants to help me keep up with the administrative tasks of blogging. This way, when I do sit down to work on the blog, I can focus on creating content and printables, instead of doing other (important) but less creative tasks. This has enabled me to cut the time I spend working on the blog in half, while still maintaining the quality and quantity of posts y’all have come to expect.
Basically, the whole point is I could never do this without a team of people who understand and are willing to chip in and keep me standing when all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep.
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