SummaryCan a homeschooling mom find time and opportunity for working from home? Christina Patterson shares the lessons she has learned from her own experience.
Is working from home possible when you are a homeschooling parent?
Often, for a parent who stays home full time, each day seems like a whirlwind of activity, from the first moment your children wake up until the first moment after they drift off to sleep at bedtime.
As each busy day fades into the next, it might seem difficult to imagine even working part-time.
Some days, I find myself searching in vain for an extra few minutes, let alone an hour, to call my own. However, with a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of flexibility, I believe working and homeschooling can be quite compatible.
I realize each family’s situation is unique, and so I’ll first start out by sharing a bit about my own perspective. I am a homeschooling mother who stays at home full time, while my husband works full time outside of the home.
Unfortunately, we do not have family members who live nearby to help out with babysitting. Nor does our daughter attend any activities outside of the home unaccompanied by me.
My point in sharing these details is to provide a clear picture of my particular situation.
This will illustrate my own journey towards combining homeschooling and part-time working, and provide context for the lessons I learned along the way.
After I became a stay-at-home mom, I wanted to work from home right away. However, for a full two years it was difficult to find a position.
I ran into difficulties in two respects: first, I had to be qualified for the position, of course, but secondly, I also needed a job that was entirely remote (or virtually) based.
So, my first attempts at working from home included a direct sales venture (gotta love multi-level marketing!) and creating my own craft items for sale. Through the former, I gained experience firsthand of the old adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Regarding the latter, I have always loved crafting, and such activities have always seemed to be rewarding in and of themselves.
However, I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time and money on tasks that, while fun, were not achieving the primary goal of generating supplementary income to help our family.
For every product I created, be it a decorative item or a piece of children’s apparel, there were several other, more sophisticated-looking versions online made by those who, most likely, had more experience, and quite frankly, more time to invest in the development of these products, than I ever would have with my limited schedule.
The wisdom I gained from this experience was that it is not always possible to turn a hobby into a part-time business.
Ultimately, after taking a step back to evaluate, I realized that, as I was dealing with a limited commodity, time, I needed to simplify matters. What was my passion? What was my calling?
That answer came quickly enough: writing and education. Focusing in on these areas, I was blessed to find a job that allowed me to do both remotely.
However, prior to logging in my first work hours, I felt apprehensive as to whether I really would be able to fit the position into my stay-at-home mom schedule. This was especially a concern in light of the fact that my three year old had, ironically, just given up her nap.
Additionally, I would go on to begin homeschooling just a few short months later, though I hadn’t yet made that decision by the time I started working.
I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home parent who was mentally absent; I wasn’t going to place my child in front of the TV for hours, utilizing that as a babysitter, either—not that my active preschooler would sit still for that long anywhere, anyway!
While it varies from month to month, the amount of hours I must log on to work each day have ranged from one to five. Early on, I struggled to figure out my schedule, and I think it’s safe to say that the questions I asked myself are the same as those asked by any parent who works from home:
Should I wake up early?
Burn the midnight oil?
Try to squeeze in thirty minutes here and there while my child is occupied playing on her own?
The answer to all of these questions is yes—sometimes—and just as often, the answer is no.
You see, what I’ve learned ultimately is that a flexible, combination approach works best for me.
I realize that some days it may be easier for me to wake up early; other days, I’ll need to stay up late. Still other days, I’ll recognize an opportunity during the day to get some work done as well, or to work on a writing project or two.
Flexibility serves me best as a work-from-home parent, and I find that this approach also carries over into how I homeschool. While I recognize that this may change as we prepare for our family to grow and as my daughter progresses from preschool to higher grades, currently my homeschooling schedule is flexible.
I see each weekday as a possible homeschooling opportunity. The time of day that my daughter and I work together on her subjects varies.
However, structure is very important, as well, and so I make sure that we follow the same routine as we progress through her lessons in the same order. Currently, this works for us!
Currently. That word really sums it all up, doesn’t it? The most important lesson I have learned thus far about working from home and homeschooling is to be flexible in my scheduling and abilities now, realizing that it can and will change tomorrow.
And that’s OK—we don’t have to have all the answers now. We couldn’t possibly even if we tried!
Rather, no matter our situation, flexibility can help us to take—and enjoy—life’s blessings, one busy, whirlwind day at a time!