One of the myths about homeschooling is that the mother has to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother. I am here to say that is not true. For most of my children’s lives, my husband and I have both worked outside the home. I have also homeschooled. How are the two possible? For our family, we have made homeschooling and working possible by being committed, flexible, and determined.
Committed to the Big Picture
Putting my children in school is tempting at times, but I know that homeschooling will give them the type of education that is best for them.
Committed to Family
My husband and I currently work opposite shifts. We make sure to spend time together each night after I come home from work, even if I am tired. I also make sure to spend some time with the children before they go to bed.
Flexible in Scheduling
When my son was younger, we homeschooled year-round. Now we make the August-May school year work. I try to schedule three weeks for things that come up and for those days that we just need a break from school. When I have to work an occasional day shift, we do what we can before I leave.
Flexible in Extracurricular Activities
Even if I were a full-time, stay-at-home mom, we would not be doing a lot of extra activities. But, working afternoons makes even the few activities we are interested in difficult. If one of the children is interested in something, we will find a way to make it work. I may have to ask an extended family member to take them, rearrange my work hours occasionally, or use a personal day.
Homeschooling when one parent is home is difficult. Homeschooling when both parents work outside the home adds even more obstacles. Therefore, we are determined to be wise in time management.
We are Determined
We are determined to find reliable childcare. I began working the late afternoon/evening shift when my son was two years old. At the time, we could not afford a daycare center. We were blessed that our church’s nursery director was also an in-home childcare provider who kept him (and later our daughter) for a very reasonable rate and was flexible about drop-off and pickup times. We are currently relying on family members to help with childcare.
Yet our childcare situation is not solid. Our parents are getting older and may not be able to help indefinitely. With that in mind, we are beginning the process of training our son to babysit his younger sister for the time between when I leave in the afternoon and when my husband gets home.
We are determined in time management. I can currently homeschool both children in two to three hours a day. Factor in the other parts of our day, and there’s not much time left before I leave. As they get older and their workload increases, managing our time will become more important. I am beginning now to train both children to work more independently. I am also giving them more responsibility around the house. Knowing that they can get their own dinner if they have to, load the dishwasher, and clean up the kitchen after dinner, will go a long way towards lightening the load.
What other advice can I give those of you who are working outside the home?
Let go of the “Mommy guilt” because you cannot be with your children all the time. Let go of the idea that you have to be the perfect wife and mother. Let go of the idea that you have to have a pristine house. Let go of the idea that your students have to “do it all.”
Find a Support System
Find (and keep) a good support system, be it family or fellow homeschoolers, especially if you work daytime hours. Childcare centers that accept school-age children cannot accept them when school is in session. You will need someone your children can either stay with, check in with if they are old enough and responsible enough to stay home by themselves, or even someone to instruct them. A fellow homeschool mom may be willing to help with certain subjects, for example, or even let them work independently as she homeschools her own.
Take care of yourself. Find ways to unwind. Continue your hobbies. Keep in contact with friends outside of work.
Homeschooling when both my husband and I work outside the home has not been easy. However, with commitment, flexibility, and determination, we have made it work for us.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by Author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.