How to homeschool and work from home... Wondering whether it's possible? It is.
I started working from home as a freelance business and finance writer many years ago when my daughter was just a few months old. When I made the decision to homeschool her, I was nervous.
I knew I'd have to learn how to homeschool and work from home without losing my mind and cutting out sleep entirely. And you know what? I figured it out. Sort of.
I've been homeschooling and working from home earning a full-time living for the past nine years, and if I did it, you can too.
However, it isn't always easy. Here are five tricks I've learned to help my family succeed as we homeschool and work from home.
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1. How to Homeschool and Work From Home: Prioritize!
Every homeschooling family and work from home business is different. Learning how to homeschool and work from home successfully for your family takes time. Identifying your family's priorities is critical to staying sane, making money, and educating your kids.
Think about what is necessary and what is important to you and your family in this season of life. Consider your business and your homeschooling priorities.
In our family, my content development business (content strategy and writing for business and personal finance clients) provides all of our family income. So it takes the top spot for my "work time".
I'm also working hard on sharing what we're learning about our off grid life through this website, and I'm starting to earn some money through ad revenue, digital products in our online shop, and affiliate sales. Yet at this time, writing these posts is secondary to my client's work.
Our homeschooling priorities for our fourth-grade and first-grade children are always math and language arts. Getting math done first thing while little brains are fresh gives us all a sense of accomplishment. We move into the "not fun" part of language arts (also known as grammar), then break before social studies or science, depending on the day.
Like most families, there have been times where we've operated in "survival mode" for days (okay, sometimes for weeks). Usually, this happens due to illness, travel, or when our family had to move for my husband's work. Because we've prioritized math and language arts, the kids know that we're covering these subjects daily, no matter what.
When we're in survival mode, this means I'm only writing for clients. No marketing activities, pitching new clients or creating additional queries. No writing for my own websites. And on the homeschooling front, this means math and language arts are non-negotiable. Then social studies, science, french and music only if we have time.
2. Make a Homeschool and Work at Home Schedule
When you're wondering how to homeschool and work at home without burnout, start by creating a schedule for your work time. Add your homeschool time, then homemaking, and extra-curricular activities.
Over the years I've found some great online resources from other homeschooling work at home moms, like Marcy at Ben and Me, Jamerrill at Large Family Table, and Kim at Not Consumed. Reading about how other moms schedule their work and homeschool days was really helpful in creating my own.
I write best first thing in the morning when everyone else is asleep. My alarm goes off at 4:45 am, and I'm at my desk by 5:00 am to write for 2 ½ to 3 hours each morning. We homeschool from about 9:30 to 12:30 each weekday morning.
After lunch and chores, it's quiet time. The kids read or draw, and I spend a couple of hours working on our website. Then it's snack time, outdoor time, then dinner and evening activities. If needed I'll catch up on writing then too.
With so much on the go, I depend on lists, charts, and schedules to keep us on track for school and work. For the last three years, The Well-Planned Day Planner from Rebecca Ferris of The Well-Planned Gal has kept our homeschool organized. However, I'm a planner junkie! Right now I'm looking at a few other planners to help organize and manage my business.
Tip: Schedule your sleep first. When homeschooling and work at home moms get sleep-deprived, the whole household suffers.
3. Use a Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschooling using a curriculum saves time. Especially if you're new to homeschooling. Some parents balk at this and prefer to piece together or create their own. Yet it's very time-consuming. When you're learning how to homeschool and work at home, finding timesavers becomes a priority.
In our home, we've used Sonlight® (affiliate link here, just so ya know) for the past four years. It's a Christian homeschooling curriculum that covers our "Core" subjects - History, Science, Language Arts, Literature and Bible Study.
We also use Singapore Math and a variety of other programs for electives such as Rosetta Stone for French, Artistic Pursuits for Art, and eMedia music for Piano and Voice. These programs are all "open and go" so I'm not scrambling to find additional books, resources, etc. It's a huge timesaver.
As a working homeschool mom, I appreciate Sonlight's organized Instructor's Guide which allows me to just open it and work through the lessons each week. On Sunday evenings I take a quick look at the schedule for the upcoming week. Then I pull the books we'll need from our main homeschool bookshelves and move them to the kids' workbaskets. It takes about five minutes tops.
4. Schedule Daily Quiet Time
When you homeschool and work from home, you spend a lot of time, well, at home. And homebody that I am, that gets old. Especially here, in Canada's far north, where the winters are long, dark, and cold. Add in all the elements of childcare and homeschooling, and it's easy for a mom to feel overwhelmed. All the time. That leads to burnout (ask me how I know). That's why it's so important to schedule a daily quiet time.
Depending on the ages and stages of your kids, set a one or two hour period each day for naps or quiet activities. We have a quiet time after lunch. The girls usually read in their room. Sometimes they colour instead and listen to Adventures in Odyssey. They know that "mama needs a rest" and know not to bother me unless there's blood, broken bones, or fire.
During quiet time, I nap, read for pleasure, or get caught up on emails and administrative business work.
5. Get Out of The House!
Between working at home and homeschooling, we're at home together...a LOT. So I have to be intentional about getting out of the house.
Through the "traditional" school year of September through June, our children take part in extracurricular activities. Whether it's dance, gymnastics, swimming, or something else, they have weekly classes. Sometimes we get together with other local homeschool families as well.
And although we homeschool year-round, we're more casual in the summer and use a homeschool routine instead of schedule. This lets us get away for brief family vacations. And I always try to lighten my writing workload during this time too.
Whether we're away for a few hours or a few days, we come back to homeschooling and work refreshed and relaxed.
Yes, learning how to homeschool and work from home can be a challenge. It's also immensely rewarding. As the girls get older and my business grows, I'm constantly adjusting our schedules and work/study techniques. However, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to make it work. If you have any tips for me, please share it in the comments below.
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