If what I’m seeing on social media and the news is any indication, there’s going to be a lot of new homeschooling moms this year.
Thanks to all the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, many parents are choosing (or being forced) to homeschool for the foreseeable future.
Many moms are left wondering – how on earth can I homeschool while I’m working from home?
I myself was in this very position several years ago.
While my husband and I certainly weren’t forced to homeschool, we discerned that it was best for our children for a number of reasons. At that time, I had been working for about 6 years as a freelance writer from home.
I was excited about homeschooling, but I was also apprehensive.
While I always had little ones at home, I admittedly got a bit of a break when the older kids were in school. I usually found I had at least a few hours of complete peace and quiet to work, especially when the toddler was napping. Homeschooling meant that peace and quiet would go out the window.
How would I find the time to do homeschool, and get my work done?
Four years in and I’m happy to say, things worked out pretty well.
It is totally possible to work from home and homeschool!
It might mean you have to adjust your thinking a bit though.
If you want to know how you can work from home and homeschool, here are some things I’ve learned as I’ve done both myself.
Remember That Homeschool is NOT “Regular” School
Many people assume that homeschooling will naturally take just as long as being in a regular (brick and mortar) school, but this is rarely the case! One of the best things about homeschooling is that it doesn’t take six or seven hours a day.
What this means is that you have a LOT of flexibility as a homeschooling mom. You’re the one in charge, and you call the shots. If your morning is typically full of meetings or other work, don’t start schoolwork until after lunch!
Also, when you homeschool, you have the freedom to make learning a part of your everyday life. This is especially true if your kids are on the younger side.
We all have a vision in our head based on what we think school is supposed to look like. Kids sitting at desks, working on worksheets and reading out of textbooks. This is certainly one way of learning – but it’s not the only way.
Want to work no math? Cook dinner together. Ready for science? Head outside for a nature walk.
This kind of learning is ideal for moms who want to work from home, because it gives you the space to adjust your learning in a way that makes sense for your family.
Adjusting your vision of what school looks like can be very freeing and give you a lot of time to work on your business that you might not otherwise have had.
If I didn’t have a routine, I’d never be able to get anything done. Routines are so important for making sure that everyone stays mostly on task. While I don’t stick to closely to firm schedules, I do like to put routines in practice..
When you have a good routine, everyone knows roughly what to expect every single day. My kids wake up, eat breakfast, complete their chores, and we start on schoolwork. It’s become like clockwork for them, and I’m not wasting a lot of time or energy harping on them to do the next thing. The same is true with my work schedule.
They know that every afternoon I need several quiet hours to get things accomplished while my toddler naps. The routine is kind of a daily system that offers a rhythm to our days and allows us to be as productive as possible.
Think Outside the Box
In keeping with that idea, you don’t need to follow a traditional school schedule in order to succeed as a homeschooler.
In fact, if you’re trying to juggle work and schooling, you might want to try a slower approach and school year-round.
Schooling through the summer (especially when it’s super-hot outside and you’d rather be indoors anyway), gives you the freedom to slow down during the traditional school year.
This often allows you more time in the day to work on your business.
Use a Ready-Made Curriculum
Homeschoolers come in all shapes and sizes, and the curriculum choices are no different!
I have friends who LOVE to personalize the curriculum details for each and every child. They find an English program they like, match that with a Math book that looks promising, dive deep into their own Science thing, etc. etc.
While I think this is a great idea, I quickly learned it is not for me. As a work at home mom, I just do.not.have.the.time to develop a whole curriculum plan for my kids.
I really don’t want to have to sit down every Sunday afternoon and curate three different lesson plans for my three school-age children. I need something that tells me and my kids exactly what to do and when to do it.
Most boxed curriculums are GREAT for this. These are complete, all-in-one packages that give you everything you need to do, and the lesson plans with it. No stress, no hassle, and no major time commitment on my part!
Get Dad Involved
If it’s at all possible, get your spouse involved in the homeschooling. When he takes over, you have time to get some work done.
This, of course, requires good communication between the two of you and some flexibility on your part. If he works late during the week, maybe save one subject or activity (like science experiments) for him to take over on Saturday morning.
This might take some trial and error to figure out what works for your family.
Look For Ways to Involve Your Kids in Your Work
Depending on the work you do and the age of your children, there may be valuable ways in which they can help you with your business.
Don’t overlook how important it is for them to see an entrepreneur at work. In my case, there isn’t much they can do to help me with my writing business, but if you have an Etsy shop or something similar, I’m sure there are ways they can help.
Show them how you type up invoices and get them involved in packaging customer products. They can even help you with filing or take photos for social media posts.
There are really a lot of ways your kids can help you get work done. And, the more you involve them, the more they’ll understand why you are so busy at certain hours during the day.
All of this great business learning is educational too, so you can mark it off as a homeschooling win!
If you want to homeschool and work from home, it’s important to keep things organized.
In my case, I can not function when things are a mess and my house is filled with stuff.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated school room, make it the home for all your school related stuff. If you’re schooling at the kitchen table (like me), make sure everything is put away at the end of the day. When schoolwork is finished, all the school-related stuff goes back to its proper place so it doesn’t take over the kitchen.
This can really do wonders for your productivity.
I also regularly declutter our home and get rid of items we don’t need. With four kids (and a dog) who are home all day, the mess piles up quickly. Keeping our material excess to a minimum helps us maintain a more peaceful environment and makes the housework a less stressful job for everyone.
Streamline and Simplify
As a work at home, homeschooling mom, you’re juggling a lot of balls. Figure out those areas in your life that you could streamline or simplify to make run more smoothly.
For instance, could you arrange for grocery pickup or delivery each week so that you don’t have to go shopping?
Is there someone you could hire to do some light cleaning every two weeks?
Could your son carpool to soccer practice with a neighbor?
If you have a little money to spend, don’t hesitate to splurge on grocery delivery, housecleaning, or babysitting services. These all simplify your life and help it to run more smoothly.
If you’re on a tight budget, look for other ways you can simplify. Maybe that means each child is only allowed to participate in one extracurricular activity. Maybe that means you ask a friend for help getting a child to and from something.
If there are ways you can simplify your life, you will find that it is easier and less stressful to fit both work and homeschooling into your day.
It’s super important that you figure out a way to stay organized within your day.
This means a good planner for both work and school, a loose schedule/routine you plan to follow, a cleaning routine, and a regular meal plan that you update weekly.
Putting all of these systems in place may take a little time to implement, but they will be well worth it in the long run.
When you don’t have to guess what’s for dinner at 5:00 each evening, you’ll find everyone is a lot happier and you’ll feel more peace about what you’re trying to accomplish.
As a work at home mom, you need a lot of flexibility. As a homeschooler, you’ll need double.
No amount of planning will ensure that things will get done as they should. In fact, you can depend that they won’t. But that’s ok, because you’re going to be flexible enough to go with the flow.
Some school days will feel like they’ll drag on forever, and others you’ll find that you didn’t fit any schooling in because you were working on a major deadline.
Recognize that these days will happen, and don’t let them drag you underwater.
Instead, remain thankful that you have the opportunity to both work and school at home, and remember that being flexible is all part of the way that this works out successfully.
Make Time to Just Be Mom
When you’re working from home and homeschooling, it’s tempting to try and fill every waking hour with doing something productive.
I urge you to let go of that idea. It’s so important that you leave space in your day for your kids to see you as just MOM, and not homeschool-teacher-mom or busy-at-the-computer-mom. I really try and leave weekends free and open for this purpose.
Your kids really need a time when they know you won’t get upset because they didn’t finish a math page, or your shushing them because you have to do a conference call.
Leave space for fun and free time as a family, and you’ll also find your batteries recharged.
A Final Word About Homeschooling and Working From Home
Neither homeschooling nor working from home is always easy, but it is so worth it! This is hard work you’re doing mama, but it often pays off huge rewards for your family.
Make sure to read my other work at home tips to find ways to implement strategies that make caring for your kids and keeping your business on task just a little easier.