By the time I began homeschooling in 2005, I was already working part-time as a bookseller. In fact, except for postpartum breaks, I had always worked at least a little. Money was tight, so every dollar counted. For all eight homeschool years, I continued to work – first as a bookseller and later as a homeschool group teacher.
Choosing to work was solely a financial decision. Over time, however, I discovered that money should not be the only consideration. Other factors are also important, sometimes even more so. If you are considering a part-time job, consider these pros and cons first.
For a parent who isn’t able to socialize with other adults regularly, a job can provide a change of pace.
I am a homebody and don’t usually mind spending entire days at home. With five children and a to-do list needing constant attention, though, my days could seem agonizingly long. I didn’t always feel like going to work in the evenings, yet bookselling often helped recharge me for the next day. The intellectual stimulation, interactions with customers, and uninterrupted breaks served as much-needed mental refreshment.
If well-chosen, a job can boost a homeschool.
When I began homeschooling, I was familiar with lesson planning and classroom organization but had no idea how to teach children their “three R’s.” Carefully chosen curricula helped me the most, of course, but surprisingly, my part-time jobs helped, too. In fact, homeschooling and my jobs complemented each other, helping me improve in both. Bookselling introduced me to many homeschool-friendly resources. Teaching for homeschool groups helped me stay connected, as well as sharpen my skills. Other kinds of jobs might complement a homeschool, too. For example, some parents have their children participate in their home-based businesses to teach them useful skills. Not every job will benefit a homeschool, of course, but it may be worth seeking those that will.
A part-time job can help you prepare for a future re-entry into the workforce.
As hard as it is to imagine, your precious homeschooling years will fly by and eventually end. When they do, you may need to enter the workforce full-time. This could be a matter of resuming a career you enjoyed before homeschooling, or it may mean embarking on a brand-new adventure. Either way, a part-time job while homeschooling can help you build or maintain skills you will some day need for a full-time job. Although homeschooling helped me hone my teaching skills in unexpected ways, my potential employers are not likely to value that experience like they will my customer service skills, broad literary knowledge, and homeschool group teaching.
Saying “hello” and “goodbye” at the same time can weaken your marriage.
For some couples, including us at one time, the only way they can meet their financial needs and continue homeschooling is by having one spouse work in the morning, and the other work in the evening. I would suggest this is a last-resort solution. Although my teaching job was child-friendly and took place during the day, my book-selling was during evenings and weekends. Many days I had to hastily kiss my husband goodbye as he walked in the door and bombard him with a list of need-to-knows. Who could blame him for often succumbing to the ease of fast food for dinner? That, of course, was worth at least two hours of my bookstore labor, not to mention that we had little family time. Date night opportunities were rare, and the weekly evenings we spent watching a DVD together didn’t go far to nurture our marriage. Although bookselling helped ease our financial, it also strained our relationship.
Adding a part-time job to your full-time job may result in complete burnout.
Although you are not earning a paycheck for all you do each day, make no mistake: homeschooling is a full-time job. Add together homeschooling, house keeping, and caring for your younger children, and you may feel as I did – that you really have two full-time jobs. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to divide your responsibilities among other family members, but even then, taking a part-time job may result in more stress and exhaustion than you can handle. If you are the emotional barometer for your family, as I was, your burnout will effect everyone.
When you must choose between your job’s demands and your family’s needs, guess which is likely to suffer?
No matter how committed you are to putting family first, they can’t fire you like your boss or clients can. When you’re pulled in two directions, it’s much easier to rationalize that your family will be “fine” than it is to refuse your boss. I can’t tell you how many times I “had” to put my work before my family, which included our homeschool. Because I could spread myself only so thin, I began to cut corners with my children’s education – and it showed.
In a perfect world, homeschool parents could focus completely on their children each day. In reality, though, life is often more complicated than that. With the promise of extra income glittering in the distance, it’s easy to forget that a part-time job will affect more than just your bank account. Before you take the leap, spend time weighing the potential hidden costs and benefits, too.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.
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