Working and Homeschooling. This can be a challenging scenario for a homeschooling family when the parents have to work. Is it possible to successfully homeschool this way? Absolutely! But again, this requires evaluation of priorities and intentional time planning.
Whether you work out of the home or at home, juggling the needs of a job with the desires of homeschooling can be a tough one. Both require extreme demands on your time, attention, and commitment. You need to do some good planning to make it happen.
If you are working outside the home, I highly recommend that you check out the advice, experience, and resources from my friend, Jen, over at Practical, by Default. She offers so much to help working moms while they homeschool.
Since my experience is as a work-at-home mom, I will focus on that in this post. Here are my strategies for parents who work at home while homeschooling.
Find a time where you are able to focus on work.
Now, off the bat, you might be wondering why I’d put that. The “set your work hours” advice always frustrates me because our life is so flexy and fluid that setting rigid work hours, shutting the office doors, and hunkering down to work isn’t going to happen. For me, I get up early and attempt to work until 8:30 or so. I try hard to use that time to chip away with intention on my work to-do lists. BUT…. I’m still a mom. I still have parenting requirements (getting breakfast, handling sibling squabbles, finding new clothes when milk spills on the littles, changing the TV channel 1000 times until I can find the particular show they want, etc.)
My meaning here is that between all the parenting, I know what I’m working on. I have a list of work stuff at my desk and I sit down and I can focus on that. It’s easier to have a designated time frame that I know is intentionally set for working. Even interrupted, I can still cross off lots of things on that list.
School time is not work time.
Although it can feel like you should be able to multitask while supervising kids in their learning time, don’t do it. Dividing your attention means that your kids aren’t getting the best of you and neither is your work. Put the phone out of reach, close the laptop, block social media, etc. Focus on the kids and give them the best learning time.
If you can afford it, finding an assistant who can do some of the time-consuming, but non-essential tasks on your list can really help you. What tasks you can outsource will depend on the kind of business you have, however commonly outsourced tasks include things like social media management, graphic design and technical work, and answering emails. See if there’s any tasks that you can ask someone else to do.
In a flip, you can also outsource your kids’ education. Get someone else to be in charge of supervising their school time and helping with answers. This could be a spouse, or a friend, or tutor – for example.
Get the Kids Involved.
Teaching kids about business is always a good thing, so including them in what you do is an awesome learning experience. Some ways they can be involved could include labelling catalogues, packing orders, writing reviews, video editing, sorting shelves, setting up and taking down displays, helping to come up with product ideas, and more. Again, this will vary based on your business and what ages your children are. You can also just sit them beside you if you have to work on a computer – having them feel like they are important enough to be there is good too. And, if your children are young enough, you can even set up a special workstation so they can copy what you are doing.
Be Willing to Go Slow.
One frustration I’ve discovered as a homeschooler with a business is that although I’ve got big dreams and ideas, I can’t accomplish them all. At least not right now. Right now, I’ve got children to raise, teach, and parent. That is my top priority right now. I’ve got to be willing to take things at the pace that is possible, not at the pace I dream of.
Everything you can plan ahead and prep for, do it.
If you are a blogger, for example, use an editorial calendar and get the posts written ahead of time. Schedule your social media posts and your newsletters.
If you are a direct sales consultant, put blocks of free time on your calendar for the next month and only book your parties for that time. Then do all your prep work right away so you have it all set to go. Put your kit together and have it ready to carry every time you go out.
If you are a crafter, think of the holidays/seasons that are coming up that you might want to make products for and make them way in advance so you aren’t rushing at the last minute.
Relieving pressure off yourself because you have deadlines pressing in close will be a life-changer.
Make a list of everything that you need to accomplish and then just keep working. If you only have 5 minutes to do something while the kids are distracted, start on one thing until you have to stop. Then the next time you have 5 minutes, you already know what you are working on. Keep at it until that project is done, then onto the next. Chip away at the list – one thing at a time. It CAN be done, even if it’s not feeling as productive as a large amount of time to work.
Work Outside the Box.
Is there a way you can add work to tasks that don’t require full attention? For example, every evening, I snuggle with my littles and we watch TV together. But I don’t need to watch Paw Patrol for the one zillionth time, so I use my phone to listen to podcasts, watch videos, do social media planning, pin things to Pinterest, answer emails, and type up blog post outlines and ideas. I can be productive without being chained to my desk.
Want more tips on how to better handle the different parts of your busy life? Check out the other posts in this 10 day series: Homeschooling & The Myth of Balance.