Can you even do that???
When people find out that I work from home and also homeschool my kids, I start getting ALOT of questions on how I do it. The most recent recession has made it a necessity for many mothers to work from home. Some of them may have been in the workplace and job loss brought them home or they may have been staying home because they wanted to but financial losses forced them to look for ways to add income to their families. Many of those families are also homeschooling. I’ve decided to write a series sharing some of the tips I’ve learned through my many years of homeschooling and working. For Part 1, I want to give you some background. Coming up, in the next few weeks, I’ll give you suggestions on scheduling, curriculum, record keeping, organization, and more. It’ll be FUN! 🙂 (If you haven’t already subscribed to get my blog posts when they come out, please fill in your name and email address in the purple box over to the right. That way you won’t miss any of this series!)
I have always homeschooled my kids. I’m going into my 22nd year right now (that seems like such a long time!). For some of those years, I didn’t have any other job besides raising my kids….and it was awesome 🙂 That didn’t last long, but most of my jobs still allowed me to really focus on their schoolwork, making elaborate lesson plans, pulling from multiple sources to make unit studies, and even making up my own activities. I spent hours and hours, especially after I had the 4 boys all in school. But, job losses and financial hardship in the last 8 years caused me to have to make hard decisions. Do I try to go to work outside the home, with no experience other than raising a bunch of kids and playing bouncer to 4 rowdy boys while trying to make sure they didn’t use their baby sister as a football? Or did I try to figure out a way to work from home so I could still be with them and yet make money? I actually did both at different points, with varying degrees of success… or maybe it was varying degrees of failure, depending on how you look at it. Whichever the case, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.
I had to start working in some capacity when my oldest was in 2nd grade and my 2nd boy was in Kindergarten. I also had a 2 year old. Life with 3 boys was already busy, adding in homeschooling and working… well, it was crazy at times! We had found a travel agency that would allow you to work from home and make reservations through them remotely. This was before the time when computers were the source of all knowledge so I had to actually call the different airlines, hotels, and rental car companies to make arrangements. If you’ve ever tried to make a phone call with 3 kids (well, even just 1 kid), you have a pretty good idea of how those calls went. Most of them involved me making wild hand gestures and giving the evil eye to my boys while they wrestled and yelled in the background. How I got any solid information to give my clients is a testament to the awesomeness of Moms and our ability to think coherently with chaos in the next room…or at our feet. I did that job for about 10 years. Business was not that great so I still had time to spend making lesson plans and doing elaborate projects with the boys. Then that company went out of business, with no warning.
Thankfully, I had also started to work at our church as the Nursery Director so we still had extra money coming in. I oversaw hundreds of kids each week ages 2 and under. I also handled a lot of support for the parents and coordinated a team of almost 100 volunteers. The nice thing about this was that I could take my kids (and their schoolwork) with me when I actually had to go in to my office. I worked from home most of the week and on 1 day, I would go in and do everything that had to be done there. If we were having a conference or extra meetings, then I had to be in the building a lot more often. One thing I learned very early is that to homeschool, you need to be home. We missed a lot of school days when the church schedule was extra busy even when we tried to take their schoolwork with them. By this time, I had another little boy and my 3rd son was starting school. Homeschooling him was… a challenge. While the older boys could make up the work they missed, he just couldn’t handle it. So I tweaked his schedule a bit, which I will share more about later in the series so stay tuned. When we left that church, I desperately had to find work so I took the first job I could find as a merchandiser at Kroger.
If you don’t know what a merchandiser is, it’s someone who stocks shelves and moves the products around according to a special plan (planogram) set up by the company. That was probably the hardest time I had homeschooling. I only worked 2, rarely 3, days a week, but I often worked 14-16 hour days. The day before working was spent preparing to go to work and the day after working I was so exhausted I could barely move. I also tried to sell on Ebay at the time because the money I made at Kroger just wasn’t enough to help a family of 7 (at this time we had added our daughter). Less than a year into it, I broke my ankle in the dark at 4:30 AM while on my way to work and I was immediately out of a job with no benefits and no way to get off the couch for weeks. That’s when I learned how to sell on Amazon, which is what I do now, full-time as a single mom while still homeschooling these last 2 kiddos.
As you can see, I’ve had a lot of different work experiences while still homeschooling all these years, so I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot. It’s definitely not easy and, if I’m honest, sometimes I would love to have a peaceful house all day to work, but I wouldn’t trade these years spent with my kids for anything. That old saying “The days are long, but the years are short” is so true. I can’t believe that I’ve already got 3 adult children who are out of school and my 4th boy only has 2 years of school left. When they were all little, it seemed like forever until they were out of school, yet here it is. That’s why I’m so excited to bring you this series to give you some tips on homeschooling while you work from home because I know it can be done and I know you will never regret these years you invest into your kids!