A Homeschool Working Parent: Is there Such a Thing?
by Desi Harley
As a single homeschool working parent, I get a puzzled look every time I tell someone I homeschool both my daughters. The question scrolling across their foreheads like a New York marquee is, “How?” My response is always, “The same way you run a household and pay and sacrifice your time for your children’s activities—with LOTS of planning.”
Even as I write this, I would not describe myself as a great organizer. There was a day when I was, but as I press deeper into my forties, my brain and body often work against me. Regardless, I have made it my mission to find ways to plan curriculum, scout out field trips, work a demanding job, and see that my daughters are socialized.
Discover the Right Job
Along the way, I have discovered industries that allow parents to work from home. When I first started this journey, home-based jobs were a dream, especially well-paying ones with benefits. Today with the technology we have, a career based out of the home is a true possibility.
Some industries to look at include website evaluators; freelance writing, including blogging; and medical transcribing. These types of jobs provide training, pay well, and some offer very good benefits and the flexibility of working whatever hours you can. Motivational speakers, services for the elderly, research, and companions for the disabled are just a few other ideas.
Remember there is another growing industry that you know well: homeschooling! There is a great demand for homeschooling knowledge because public school parents are becoming more and more uncertain about our national education system. I assist my community in this way, working with families who have struggled in their education and now want to homeschool. The families pay me a fee, and we talk over things like subject planning, effective teaching of multiple grades, and high school transcripts. For those parents who want to continue to work, I plan extracurricular activities during the day, while the parent creates the late-day and weekend teaching schedule for their students. Their students come to me while the parents are at work. This way, we assist one another in our endeavors to bring the best education to our children, with like-minded reinforcement of godly living and social activities like sports, music lessons, robotics, field trips, etc. Businesses like this are needed in our homeschooling community!
If you can’t find a job you like, maybe it’s time to create a business that serves a need. I encourage you to look at your talents and God-given skills and ask yourself in what ways you feel God is calling you to serve His body.
“Our children are more than ready to handle lessons of time management in every stage of their growth, so why not teach them? ”
Schedule Your DayI know what you are thinking: is it possible to teach your children and work within the waking hours of the day? I give you a resounding YES—albeit a long day. Most parents usually rise about 7 to 8 a.m. After they send their children to school, they work at least until 5 to 6 p.m. Then they come home, make dinner, work on homework, and maybe attend an afterschool activity or two. By the time they get their children in bed about 9 to 10 p.m., they may stay up another hour to just have some time to themselves or to clean up. They’ve just run a fifteen-hour schedule with their family. Here’s what my schedule looks like as a homeschooling working parent: 6 a.m. I wake up for Bible study; 7 a.m. I shower and dress, 8:30 a.m. the girls are up, and I’m making breakfast; 9:30 a.m. we start lessons—three lessons a day for each child (planning is done before school year begins or on weekends); 12:30 p.m. lunch; 1 to 2 p.m. each person gets to relax (recess); 3 p.m. afternoon activities; 6:30 p.m. dinner; 7 p.m. I start work (article writing, web evaluating, transcribing, etc.); 9 to 10 p.m. bed time for kids, and I work until 11 p.m. or after. Students who are not my own children are tutored in subjects they are having difficulty with or work on assignments from their parents. We also play memorization games and do Bible as a group, and I create trivias or games to assist all the students in math, spelling, and vocabulary.
Keep Kids Busy While You Work
There are some factors in this schedule I’m sure you haven’t missed, especially if you have little ones. Younger kids make this kind of schedule interesting. You have to be creative about how you manage them while you try to work. This is something you must work out beforehand and is individual to your family. As I have homeschooled my “busiest” daughter from eight years old, I have also worked jobs both in and outside of my home. I learned exactly what would keep her attention while I worked, and I made the rules about interruptions clear. And here we are nine years later. Although we haven’t all loved homeschooling all the time, my daughters have performed above their grade levels and have become skilled at managing their schedule well. They are more than prepared for college and handling the freedom of planning their own time.
Final Thoughts On Working Parents
One important thought that has sustained my efforts throughout the years is the understanding that all the hours of homeschooling and activities my girls and I share is family time. What a blessing to have so much! This appreciation, coupled with a rule that the hours between 9 and 5 p.m. belong to school, and all other job-related activities must stop, have made ours a good homeschooling family.
Every bit of what you experience while you try to homeschool and work will become a skill taught to your students for their future maturity. Our children are more than ready to handle lessons of time management in every stage of their growth, so why not teach them? Trust that God will surely lead you when you step out and rely on Him.
Desi Harley is a single homeschooling mother who has found the greatest joy in learning with her daughters. Her purpose is to assist parents and children in building strong foundations for their families and to have confidence in themselves and, most importantly, in what God will do. This article first appeared in the Virginia Home Educator, Fall 2017.