Many families are surprised to learn that you can both work from home and homeschool. The reality is, many of us do it. You just have to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make it work.
I work from home and homeschool, but because I have my own business, I have control and flexibility over my schedule. I can choose when I work and when I don’t work. The reality is though, there are a lot of moms out there, especially since the pandemic, who work for an outside employer from home. They simply don’t have that luxury.
You’re employed by someone else and you’re in your home all day. This means your schedule, while possibly flexible, is not totally within your control. You have appointments and deadlines that are determined by your employer. How can you make this work?
5 Systems You Need To Survive As A Homeschooling Working Mom
1. A Planner
The first thing you need is a planner.
One reason for this is that you need a place to track your working hours when you’re going to be working. When working from home for an outside company, there are times where you need to be live, need focused work, or need to talk to a client. Then, there are also times when you don’t.
You need to know ahead of time when you need to do those things, because you’re going to manage home, homeschooling and work in different ways for different situations.
This planner doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to work for you. You need a planner that you are comfortable with. Whatever you use, you should be able to glance at it and see exactly the information you need. I can’t tell you how many times in my life that something as simple as a notebook or an index card has been a very, very effective planner. Don’t run out and start a new planner system! Use what you’ve got to help keep track and keep it simple.
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2. Constant Communication
Second, you need to communicate to your friends, your family, and your children when you will be working.
For example, one working homeschool mom texts her husband every Monday, while he is at work to remind him not to call, text or otherwise interrupt during specific work hours. She does it every Monday. It’s the same message. You will need to tell your family not to call you, not to text you, and that you are not available. Let your children know, repeat it, write it on a big calendar, stick it on the fridge, but don’t rely on them to look at it. They need to hear you say, “I’m busy. I can’t be interrupted”
You need to clearly and consistently communicate your work schedule and set those boundaries.
3. Set Expectations
Part of communicating with others is also setting expectations. When you’re busy, you can’t be interrupted, so let your kids know what to expect.
What do you want them to be doing? When can you be interrupted?
My kids, when I started working at home, would run into the room and start talking to me in the middle of typing a letter. I’d be writing and all of a sudden, I would start typing about Minecraft because that’s what they were saying. I had to teach my kids when you come in the room and see that I’m busy, don’t talk. Just put your hand on my shoulder. This let me finish the sentence to get the thought out of my head. Then I would stop and turn and say, “Okay, what’s going on?”
Sit down, have a family meeting, and make sure to address when and how to interrupt you if necessary. Our kids want to do what’s right. They want to please us. They want to do what we ask them to do, but they need us to lay it out for them and provide constant reminders.
4. What Can Your Kids Do?
Kids usually don’t like to guess what they’re supposed to do, especially when you are working and not available. In our family, we have foods that they can eat, on their own, when I am working. Otherwise they need 322 snacks and they will come and find you no matter where you are in the house when they’re hungry. Have a snack box, and establish for them what they can eat. “You can eat these snacks and fill up your water bottles without asking when I’m working.” If you have smaller kids, choose items that are non-spill and reachable.
If you have homeschool work that you want them to work on, give them their own little to-do list. List out the lessons they can complete on their own, the books you want them to read, and show them the games, toys, and crafts that they can play with in your absence.
Another point to address is if they’re doing homeschool work and they get stuck, should they keep working? Should they keep trying? Should they set it aside? My youngest struggled with math. She would sit and try and try and try. Then, she would end up in tears and frustration. To help, we put in a time limit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, if she was still stuck, she knew to set it aside.
Do what you can to address the barriers that come up for your children during the day ahead of time. It decreases frustration for the entire family.
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5. Plan For Interruptions
One of the largest obstacles in working at home is that people know you’re home.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked to babysit, to pick up groceries, and to run errands for people. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to help, but I am working.
I am working is because it’s a job, and it’s paying for food, clothing, and shelter. I can’t just get up and leave.
This mindset can be tricky for family and neighbors. You may find they will call you, they will text you, they will email you – all during work hours. You need to figure out how you’re going to deal with these interruptions and try to minimize them ahead of time. It’s important to set up those boundaries, and let them know when you’re working.
One thing I do is if I’m not using my phone, I’ll put it in the other room. That way, when it rings or they text message, I can honestly say that I didn’t hear it. Then, I set a time in my day, usually on my break, after I connect with the kids, and answer those messages. I offer to help or spend time with them on the weekends, letting them know that I am working during the week.
You have to find a way to say no and get comfortable with it. It’s not easy, but it is necessary to successfully work from home. Otherwise, you’ll never get any work done and you’ll never get any kind of peace for yourself.
More Resources For Homeschool Moms Who Also Work At Home
Homeschool Planning Support
I just want to invite you to come on over to freehomeschoolplanner.com, one of the things you’re absolutely going to need, whether you work or don’t work is a flexible homeschool plan. This free planner has everything you need to create a solid plan for your homeschool.
Working Mom Support
Jen McKinnon from Practical by Default has a wealth of information available. She also has the Working Homeschool Mom Club, which is her free group on Facebook and then the Working Homeschool Mom Coffee Club, which is her paid membership that supports working homeschooling moms.
Check out Jen’s FREE Ultimate Checklist for Working and Homeschooling.