I initially drafted this post over a year ago, but I think now is the perfect time to share it. Homeschooling and working is indeed very possible; but it isn’t always easy and it does take some patience from everyone involved.
Home educating while working is definitely tiring and trying, at times, particularly when work ebbs and flows. And you find yourself working on projects that take up more time.
However, many of us do absolutely need to have an income and where there’s a will, there’s usually a way to do it. It will not look the same for everybody.
I’ve been working from home for about 5 years in the evenings after the kids go to bed (though I will soon have to expand and work during the morning a little as well), and my husband is currently working from home full-time (previous to the current Covid-19 arrangements he was working from home 1-2 days a week).
We are fortunate that although we live in a semi-rural area, we have very good broadband compared to other areas of the country. That helps immensely. I couldn’t have started my business without good internet service.
Working From Home
You may want to consider whether working from home, or working away from home is better write a list of the advantages and disadvantages of ease of each. You will have to consider things such as commuting time, costs of commuting, even eating out or buying a different wardrobe when you work outside of the home.
Does your home have the space needed to work from home? Is there a place free of distractions or noise when needed?
Before working from home you need to consider whether you are going to be an employee or self-employed. You need to consider things such as a pension and tax implications as well.
When to Teach
Just like work, home education can take many forms, and you may have to try out a few variations to find out what is the best fit for your family and circumstances. This applies to those who home educate full-time, as well as those who are distance learning, crisis schooling, or other forms of education.
Home education needn’t be confined to the traditional school hours of 9-3. Depending on your work hours, the ages and abilities of your children, and your resources, you may find that homeschooling after work, on evenings or weekends may work better.
The younger the child, the less time they will likely need for official ‘learning.’ For preschoolers it may only be an hour or so, and for early elementary, a couple of hours, and so on. Often as the content becomes more difficult as children age, the longer they will need to study and process all that is required.
Younger children, of course will need more supervision and interaction and for parents to be more focused. Middle schoolers and high schoolers will be able to work more independently in most subjects, but some may require more time of you for marking, observation, and participation.
Time management is probably the most important and most difficult thing to manage when homeschooling and working.
Be realistic with your time. Be sure that you don’t overwork yourself, because it will come back to bite you – you aren’t a super hero and you cannot do everything well all the time.
You do not need to be stressed about fitting everything in, and this is perhaps one of the hardest things to do. Be sure to build time into your schedule for relaxing and for catching up. Things will not always go according to plan, but if you plan for this, you will be much more relaxed. One way I do this is now is to school for 6 weeks and then give the kids a week off for any catching up they may have, as well as a break to do other things. During this time when they’re doing their own thing, I catch up and plan ahead for their lessons, as well as spend some time on things that interest me, and also I tend to fit in a little extra paid work during the day on these weeks.
Plan your meals ahead, and this is where a slow cooker or instant pot can be your favourite friend. I love to make freezer meals which means it’s easier for me to plan ahead, or if I haven’t, I can just grab something from the freezer and throw it in the slow cooker in the morning. If you have an Insta pot, you can throw it in when you get when you’re done at the end of the day. You can also prepare meals for cooking in the oven or on the stove. Spend a morning, or a day, putting your freezer meals together so that the rest of the week or month things run smooth and fast.
The children can even help you with this; home economics, budgeting, meal preparation, cooking and clean up are all essential life skills.
You will need to assign and delegate chores to every member of the household. If you live here, you must contribute in some way, which is appropriate here, age, and ability.
If you can, post your schedule up and if necessary, have tick boxes for everybody. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and dusting are all life skills that need to be learned and too many children today are not learning them. The physical health of the nation is suffering because children are growing into adults who cannot make a healthy meal.
You may have to implement some sort of reward system to encourage or bribe your family members, but do what is necessary for you.
One system that now has both a downloadable chart and an app that we’ve been using is Motivated Moms. It comes pre-loaded with tasks daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, and you can customize it and add/delete what is needed for your home and family.
Bring in Help
If you are able, you may want to consider bringing in a little help either on a regular schedule or from time to time. This could take various forms. Perhaps a babysitter to watch your younger children while you work, or a tutor to help your older children. Hiring someone to come in and help with the cleaning while you’re at an extra curricular activity would be great. Or use a laundromat to take care of the never-ending piles of laundry that accumulate so quickly. Many people who have children in school while they work at the office use such tactics, so why can’t families who work and educate from home do this as well.
Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you get enough sleep and rest, maybe take a nap during the day along with your children, or if they are old enough, perhaps you can grab a quick nap or they are doing something else.
When the kids have their week off after every six weeks of lessons, I also take a few days to keep the laptop turned off, schedule a couple of days off work, and just do ‘nothing.’
Working at home, while homeschooling is hard, but you also need some downtime, even if you need to schedule it in. For me, this is date night. Something I look forward to, because I know, I do not need to think about anything else on a Saturday night. Once the kids are into bed and tucked in I turn off my laptop. Phil makes two of us dinner and I just sit and watch movies with him for the rest of the evening. It’s the one time of the week I know I don’t need to think about anything else, and I love it.
Let me know if you work and home educate, how you make it work for your family.