Let’s talk about a challenge that parents are experiencing in greater numbers than ever before: working and homeschooling at the same time.
It used to be that homeschooling was only associated with families who had at least one parent staying at home– usually the mom. However, an increasing number of parents find themselves working in some capacity while also facilitating their child’s education at home.
The need for two incomes, a desire to stay in a career, the virtual schooling phenomenon that is now a new normal in our post-covid world– all of these factors have brought more parents into this juggling act.
Whether you are thinking of homeschooling with a part time job on the side or continuing a full time career while pulling your child out of school, you are not alone.
*Note: Some veteran homeschoolers seem to feel that virtual public school at home doesn’t count as homeschooling. While there are certainly differences between the two methods, I want you to know that no matter how you are learning at home, you are welcome here!
How does working and homeschooling work?
As detailed in this article from Fast Company, there are enough hours in the week to work and homeschool too:
“You can work 40 hours and homeschool for 20 hours, sleep eight hours a night, and still have 52 hours for other things.”
Read that again.
There are 168 hours in a week, and if you’re willing to be creative with how you arrange the puzzle pieces of working and homeschooling, it’s possible to fit in both undertakings.
Flexibility is key.
Remember that school doesn’t have to take place from 9-3 each weekday and it doesn’t have to perfectly fit the school model. You can homeschool on nights and weekends, mornings or afternoons, with one parent or two, with aunts and uncles or neighbors. You can have your children do their schoolwork on paper, online, outside, at the library, coffee shop, or office.
Homeschooling can look very different than school, and those differences can help you to be more flexible.
School doesn’t take as long as you might think.
Teacher after teacher bemoans how much instructional time is lost in classrooms due to classroom management issues, assemblies, logistics like collecting papers and lining up, and other learning interruptions. What’s more, one-on-one instruction is shown to be more efficient than classroom instruction because the lessons can be tailored to the individual student’s needs and abilities.
This means that academics can be completed in much less time in a homeschool than in an institutional setting. There are less people involved, fewer logistical challenges, and the time spent on schoolwork is generally more effective.
Spending less time on school equates to more time for other things- like family time or working, for example.
Scheduling for working and homeschooling.
While everyone’s schedules may be different, there are lots of ways to fit both working and homeschooling into your family’s lifestyle. Here are some examples of how it could look:
- Mom works 9-5 daily, her partner works 6-2. The kids stay with a family member from 8:30-2:30 and do a couple online programs for math and typing, and then do read-alouds, history, and science from 3-5 or 6-8 each night.
- Dad works full time Monday through Friday, Mom works part time on Thursday- Sunday nights. Mom does the bulk of the schooling Monday-Wednesday, does housework Thursday and Friday mornings and gets some childcare to cover the overlap until Dad gets home, then Dad does a little more schooling on the weekends.
- A single mom works 12 hour night shifts 3-4 nights a week and homeschools in the afternoons and on days off. She trades childcare with another homeschooling family nearby to help her meet her sleep needs.
- One partner works day shift, another works evenings, and the two trade off childcare and education responsibilities.
- Both parents work full time day shift, but facilitate an unschooling experience for their children with safe childcare, rich fodder for learning, and memorable experiences like hikes and field trips on their days off.
- Dad works from home and uses independent online schooling options for the kids.
The logistical solutions are as varied as the challenges, and you may not be able to find something that works perfectly right away. However, with some persistence, it’s often possible to arrange the pieces of your busy life to find an acceptable solution for everyone.
The challenges of working and homeschooling
Just because there are technically enough hours in the week doesn’t mean that working and homeschooling will be easy. The challenges of working and homeschooling can be overwhelming at times. However, once again, you are not alone. A multitude of parents have gone before you and you are certainly in good company now.
The good news is that for every challenge, there are also many possible solutions. Let’s take a look at how so many parents have made this work.
For some lucky parents, they are able to work from home, take their child to the office, or otherwise involve their kids in their work somehow. However, there are many more who are left struggling to find childcare for their kids while they are working out of the home.
Many working homeschool parents are able to take opposite shifts or enlist local friends or family to help them cover childcare. However, if that’s not a possibility, you could try one of the following solutions:
- Hire a homeschooled teen or a stay-at-home mom to watch your children.
- Look into day programs that accept older children.
- Set up a childcare swap with a local homeschool co-op.
Check this more extensive list of child care solutions for the working homeschool mom for more great ideas.
Let’s say it once again for the record, loud and clear: just because a kid is homeschooled doesn’t mean he or she can’t have a social life.
However, I am an advocate for creating intentional social experiences for your children. Just because socialization opportunities are plentiful for homeschooled kids, it doesn’t mean that they happen magically. Parents need to seek out and facilitate meaningful connections for their kids.
Unfortunately, this can prove to be a challenge for parents who are working and homeschooling. When they are already strapped for time between their job and their child’s education, finding time for their kids to volunteer, attend sports, or hang out with friends can be exceptionally burdensome.
In this case, I recommend pairing a social experience with another task or event. For example:
- Trade childcare with another homeschooling family. Your kids get to hang out with their kids while you are also meeting one of your needs.
- If your children are old enough and your job allows it, bring your kids to work once a week and get them involved with age-appropriate tasks. They will learn from and work with other adults in your workplace.
- If possible, work remotely while your child is at a sport or co-op activity. Drop them off and use wi-fi to answer emails or plan errands for the week.
- Sign your children up for a group class that covers a school subject and gives them a chance to make friends and learn how to act in other situations.
- Have your teen run simple errands that teach life skills and provide interaction in the adult world.
- Ask your spouse, partner, family member, or babysitter to take your child out of the house to spend time with other people while you’re at work.
Remember that socialization doesn’t only refer to making friends and spending time with peers. A proper socialization also indicates that a child knows how to behave in a variety of situations (cashing a check, eating out, working in a team, talking to adults, interacting with an opponent in his or her sports, etc.).
While it’s not always easy to facilitate outings as a working homeschool parent, it is possible. Check out this article for more ideas on helping your kids find friends when you’re working and homeschooling.
Let’s get real for a moment. Every. single. parent. is susceptible to burnout.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay at home mom, a single dad, a working parent… parenting is probably the most formidable challenge you will ever face in your life. Period. Kids have a way of stringing you out, exhausting all your resources and still needing more. Of course we love them with all our hearts and would gladly give our life for theirs… but that still doesn’t make it easy.
That being said, working and homeschooling places a unique set of demands on you. You are bringing in finances for your family, you are in charge of your child’s education, you have a house to clean and mouths to feed, a schedule to keep, and you’re supposed to sleep somewhere in the middle of all that.
I humbly submit to you that self-care is not selfish, and it doesn’t always mean pedicures and lattes. My friend Jen reminded me recently that self-care is literally taking care of yourself.
You need sleep. You need good food to nourish and strengthen you for the tasks ahead. You need healthy movement to energize your body and help it to keep going for years to come. And yes, sometimes you need to get out of the house by yourself, doing something that recharges you.
However it needs to happen, make a plan. Ask for help. Put it in your schedule and don’t feel guilty about it or push it off for later.
I have worked and homeschooled too.
This picture is from one of my jobs. My husband and I co-teach a summer music camp every year. One of our children was in camp with us, and another was in the baby carrier when I took this shot.
Things have quieted down since covid-19. But in my “real life,” I am a music teacher and performer, and my kids are often involved in my work and my classes. Rarely am I at a rehearsal without them, and often they are in the audience (and occasionally on stage) at my performances. Many a lesson have I taught while nursing a baby or wearing a toddler in the backpack. I’ve convinced several bosses to let me bring a child to the studio when I get in a pinch.
Is it easy? No. Do I wish I could simplify everything and just think about one thing at a time? Certainly.
But overall, I wouldn’t trade the way we do life.
I have found that working in some capacity is part of my personal fulfillment. I am proud to show my kids that moms can be mom and pursue something they enjoy and something they’re good at. And besides that, homeschooling makes me happy.
It’s not for everyone, and I firmly believe that everyone needs to make his or her own decisions and find what works best for them. But for us, I hope we can keep this lifestyle up for years to come.
Resources for parents who are working and homeschooling
Are you interested in hearing more about working and homeschooling? Do you need support in your journey? Here are some articles and websites that I have found helpful in my own journey over the years. I will be sure to update it as I am able.
Please share your tips and ideas for working and homeschooling in the comment section below!