Homeschooling and Working: Tips on How to Balance Both
More and more families are considering homeschooling these days, but you may be wondering how in the world you are going to balance working from home and your new job of homeschooling the next generation of learners!
I’ve been a working single mom and a homeschooling mom for a while now, and while it is a balancing act, it is definitely doable! Here are a few things I have learned over the years that make our days much smoother!
1. Homeschooling is flexible which is a good thing!
The great thing about homeschooling is how flexible it is! It doesn’t have to take place at a certain time, or even in a certain location! It can be done at the park, at Grandma’s house, and in the car. Sometimes, if I have a lot of work to get done in the morning, we can do our school in the afternoon. Or if we get school done in the morning, I can use the afternoon and evening to work. And know that homeschooling does not need to look like regular school, and it does not have to go from 8-3 (in fact, doing all subjects, we are usually done in about four hours total!) This is good news for the working parent!
You can also use the time before and after the kids go to bed to get things done. I am a night owl so I get a lot of my work done after the kids go to bed, but some people like to wake up early and get it done then. Of course sometimes there are things that have to happen in the middle of the day, like a meeting, or when I have a sewing class scheduled, for example. You can plan ahead and have the kids watch a movie or documentary that goes along with what you are studying, or even assign them something to read or work on if they are older. I admit, I am not always good about planning things like this ahead of time, but it is an option! 🙂
There are some days during the school year where all we have time for is the core stuff (language arts and math) and the other stuff gets pushed to another day, but it is still ok! I have lots of books in the house (fiction and nonfiction with great pictures – we love the DK books!), the kids help me in the garden, we talk about things as they come up in everyday life, so we are always learning, even if we didn’t get as much done on the schedule as we would have liked. With a little creativity, you can find a way to homeschool that works for you!
2. Consider Homeschooling Year Round
One thing that will inevitably happen is you will have a crazy day (or week…or month). We school year round to hedge for this, that way if I have to take off a day here and there, or a week, we don’t end up getting too far behind. Right now, we are doing just language arts and math throughout the summer to get caught up for next school year, and it’s good to continue it for retention anyways! We have lots of breaks throughout the school year, and it just allows us more breathing room, so that I don’t feel like we are rushing through things.
3. Make a weekly chores chart
What I did is first I wrote out a master list of all the things that need to get done around the house. This was loooooong! But you can include things like vacuuming, clothes laundry, sheets and towels laundry, clean the bathrooms, etc.
Then I divided these chores up between the days. I actually have a biweekly schedule, so for example Monday is laundry day, but on Week A we do all the clothes laundry, and Week B we do all the towels and sheets, or Saturday we clean the bathrooms, Week A is the downstairs, Week B is upstairs (don’t judge y’all, at least the bathrooms are getting cleaned every other week and not like every two months…) This makes things so much more manageable!
Also, assign age appropriate chores for your kids to do too! And you can call it the Life Skills homeschool class! 🙂 As soon as the kids can reach the washing machine, I teach them how to do their laundry and they are responsible for folding it and putting it away. They help me clean up after dinner, they are responsible for straightening up the common areas and their rooms. Sometimes, I will have them help me with other things as well, and they are a big help!
Once you have your schedule, just remember it is only a guide, so if you need to do something a different day (or skip something entirely!) you can, but it’s nice to have the underlying plan there – kind of like when you have a meal plan, but you decide to go out for pizza instead. You have that freedom! Which brings me to #4…
4. Plan Your Meals
This is the thing that I don’t do as often as I would like, but when I do, it is awesome! When the meals for the week are planned out, I don’t have to spend mental energy when I am exhausted trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and then end up going to get fast food!
What works best for me is making a two week meal plan. That way I only have to go grocery shopping every two weeks, which is another time saver! I for the most part only plan out dinners (dinnertime is where I really struggle), and then I write out my grocery list, and I’m all set! It really is a huge time and money saver, and then we can sit down as a family and eat a nice meal together (though we do enjoy our pizza and movie nights too!)
5. Don’t Forget to Connect
Sometimes when you are balancing lots of different things, it is so easy to look at even homeschooling and doing various things as boxes that need to be checked off. I am guilty of getting so busy that I rush through school, or rush my kids along with it so that I can get the other things done that I need to and work in the afternoon, and before I know it the day is done and I didn’t really get a chance to really talk to them, listen to what they played today, cuddle with them. So I am speaking to myself as I write this: take time to connect with the kiddos. Sometimes it’s just reading a book together before bedtime, or talking with them at dinnertime, or sometimes, we skip morning lessons and go on a bike ride together to a nearby pond to check out the turtles. This summer I am trying to be more intentional about doing this, and I found this summer family bingo idea and loved it! We sat down and brainstormed 25 fun things to do together, from involved things like camping in the backyard to easy things like a family dance party or water gun fight, and we made a “bingo” chart and it gives us ideas of fun and unusual things to do together. I love it, and I kind of want to fit a version of that in the rest of the year too! But I guess I’m homeschooling for them, I’m working so that I can homeschool them, and so I don’t want them to get lost in the shuffle and I miss them.
So in summary, homeschooling and working at the same time can be a bit of a balancing act, but you can do it!!! Even through the hard times, I am so blessed to be able to spend that time with my kids and learn with them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
P.S. If you are looking for a little homeschool planning help, I started the Homeschool Learners Community, where you have the planning done for you, a “class” community for the kids, and support for parents in this homeschooling journey! Check it out! I’d love to have you join us!