by Connie Albers
As a working mom–or “mom-preneur, “I wish I could say I did everything right, but I didn’t. There were times I’d work too much and have to pull back. Missing games and being too tired to listen late at night were a couple of the things I regret. But, the worst mistake was not making sure I spent time with my husband. He got whatever crumbs I had left. This is especially painful to realize because I can’t relive those days.
But, here are five keys I learned along the way that helped me manage homeschooling with work. It is my prayer that what I learned will help you, too.
Set realistic goals and manage expectations.
If we don’t plan well, our families get derailed quickly. Often, we make plans that are not achievable even when everyone cooperates, and we end up frustrated at ourselves and the kids. The key is making our goals realistic and then managing our expectations.
When you make your schedule, think about how much you can really accomplish on a normal day. Notice I said normal. Because some days everything runs smoothly, and some days nothing gets done. By moving some plans to a section of “We’ll do this if we have extra time,” you’ll have a greater chance of not getting upset when everything doesn’t get finished.
If you have set work hours, be faithful to stick to those. Stop on time. Set a timer for yourself or get a time-tracker app. When you are doing the work you love or are trying to build a business, it is easy to lose track of time. Your kids will learn a lot about managing life from watching you practice this.
To successfully manage both work and homeschool, I found it critical to delegate effectively. As a working mom, if I tried to do it all myself, I’d get overwhelmed and fall woefully behind. What usually suffered was grading papers and completing subjects I didn’t like. Don’t let that happen to you.
At the beginning of every week, make a list of what has to get done, what you want to get done, and what you can add if the days go well. Then at the end of the week, make a list of what you did. This consistent practice will slowly reveal where you need help.
I carefully considered these three things:
- What do I need to do?
- What can my spouse or children help with?
- What are the consequences if I don’t delegate well?
When you are asked to take on more work, you must take something off your plate—either by delegating to someone else or laying something down. Knowing what to get help with will help you keep your sanity.
Find work that fits the homeschooling lifestyle.
Educating your child is a job in itself and one that must not get overshadowed by your work schedule.
If possible, look for work that has flexible hours, fits your skill set, and helps you stay current in the marketplace. If work flexibility isn’t an option, you will need to structure school around work. Either way, you will have to create a schedule.
Remember that volunteering is work and must be treated the same way. You might not receive payment, but it still takes your time, talent, and often your resources.
Evaluate your homeschool and workload often.
I can’t stress this point enough. How well life runs depends on how in tune you are with what is going on with each family member. What works for your friends will not be what works for you.
Keeping all the pieces moving requires effort on your part. If you start getting behind in school, you may have to pull back on your workload until you get caught up. If a child needs more of you, find out if he needs extra help or just desires your physical presence to help him work through an emotional struggle. Many times children just need to know they come first in your life.
Remember, the opportunity to homeschool affords you greater time to build close relationships. That is where the good stuff happens. Trust, friendship, and knowing what is going on in your children’s hearts is what builds lasting closeness. There is only a small window of time they will be looking to you for help, and if you aren’t available, they will turn to others who are. When that happens, you run the risk of losing your position of influence to someone else. Don’t let work get your best and your family get the rest.
“Educating your child is a job in itself and one that must not get overshadowed by your work schedule.”
Don’t be afraid to say NO!
Be prepared to say no. This might be your hardest part of juggling homeschool, family, and work. But, saying no is critical. Most of us think we can do a little more if we just manage our time better. I’ll say it right now… you only have twenty-four hours in a day. Though there are lots of people out there telling you can do it all, the truth is you can’t do it all at one time.
The writer of Ecclesiastes talks about a season and time for everything. There are seasons of life when you can do more and seasons when you have to pull back. This is when you need to say, “No, not now.”
Even if you are very organized, your family may have unexpected needs arise, so you need to set limits and resist taking on one more thing. Sadly, this is where I can speak from experience. I measured my hours down to minutes. I kept taking on more until I nearly lost my health and my family. I don’t want this to happen to you.
There will always be opportunities to serve, earn more money, or work more hours. One thing you will not get is more time for raising your kids and building a family. That time is limited.
In order to make it all work, you must set realistic goals, manage your expectations, delegate effectively, evaluate your time, and say no. When you focus on these priorities, you will experience more peace and success as you navigate these homeschool years.
Connie Albers is a consultant whose goal is to equip women in their calling by providing practical, relevant help. Visit her at conniealbers.com. This article first appeared in the Virginia Home Educator, Fall 2017.