Many families are now thrust into this new reality where they have to work AND homeschool or do virtual learning at home.
How do you balance it all? How can you get it all done?
Our founder, Andrea Hall, has been a working, homeschooling mother for several years now, and here she is sharing her tips to get started working and homeschooling (or virtual schooling at home) with you.
My name is Andrea Hall, and I teach online with Outschool as well as serve as the executive director of EPIC Homeschool Network, Inc. I am a busy, working homeschool mom who has been home educating my three children since 2012.
Working and Homeschooling is a juggling act, but I have learned that I can only do one thing at a time. I don’t try to hold both balls in one hand at the same time.
What do I mean by that?
It means I use a time-blocking system for my family. I work during certain hours and then teach during others.
Morning Work Schedule
I have had schedules where I work in the mornings like the schedule found here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1v9CPvm2BVbLw1sWZSFAzT5pGafun9EGTbqSRoU_EFgk/edit?usp=sharing
Evening Work Schedule
Then I have schedules where I work in the evenings like the schedule found here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ol-c8yOSuD_2xffp0YPyTxptLjSWsti6vZVBEQ5f6u0/edit?usp=sharing
I have also found that having certain days dedicated to a specific task helps. For example, Thursdays are always my EPIC Homeschool Network, Inc. days. This is when we meet with our homeschool group (EPIC Homeschool Network) or do our field trips. This is also when I work behind the scenes for my nonprofit, whether it is working on the website, looking for scholarship funds, meeting with our board of directors, or planning our next activities. This all happens on Thursdays. While there are certain tasks that are done every day, I use the focus days to help me decide where I need to spend my spare time.
How I Homeschool
This year (2020-2021) I will be using an online program called Monarch for my core curriculum for my two older children, along with Math-U-See. I don’t assign EVERYTHING to them in Monarch, but I like the structure it gives and the ability for them to start it on their own if I have an emergency work project.
My youngest will be doing Math-U-See, Apologia for Science (Zoology 1), The Story of the World (Volume 1) for Social Studies, and How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for Reading, Grammar Island for Language Arts.
My husband does help out with P.E., and I will occasionally enroll them in a class like swimming or a language class online.
The biggest blessing as a working, homeschool mother is having an online curriculum.
The second blessing is being involved with a homeschool group like EPIC. It has been a blessing because it allows my kids to have a day dedicated to fun learning activities and field trips every week. They know it’s coming, so it helps with motivation. It allows me to get a break from the ordinary (although I am still in charge of the co-op, it is still a different feel than working).
While I highly recommend joining a support group/co-op, I also suggest you dedicate one day in the schedule to help you streamline your life. For us, it’s Thursday. If it can’t be on Thursday, then most of the time, we don’t do it because it throws everything else on my plate off.
Challenges & Benefits to Working and Homeschooling
There are challenges to working and homeschooling. One main challenge is to know when to say no and get used to saying no so that you can avoid burnout. It is hard for my go-getter, type-A personality to realize I cannot do it all so saying no was a hard step for me. The other challenge is balancing it all so that your kids do not suffer. A schedule really helps to keep things in order and while your schedule might not look like everyone else’s, have one that works for you. When all else fails and you have to drop the ball, don’t drop the family!
While working and homeschooling has its challenges, it has been a blessing to my family and me in two ways:
- First, it has taught my children responsibility. As a working, homeschooling mother, I cannot do it all on my own. My kids take on a lot of household chores. My oldest can prepare several meals, washes the dishes, cleans the bathroom, and folds the clothes. My second oldest cleans the rest of the kitchen, the living room, and the playroom. The youngest helps clean up the living room and playroom.
- Second, it has taught me to trust in God. There have been several times when I felt I had no more to give, but then God would remind me of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
My Best Time Management Tips
So how do I balance it all?
First, understand the power of no. I am still learning it but if you can master that, you can conquer the world!
Second, I would implement a strategic planning block or power hour (whatever you’d like to call it). This is when you work on your business and plan your homeschool week without interruptions (like while the kids are taking a nap or having quiet time, etc.). I can get more done when I can focus. Schedule it the same time every week or every day if possible, to make it a routine. EPIC’s Weekly Accountability Group is great for this!
Third, I utilize both a written schedule and my google calendar. When someone wants to schedule something with me, I immediately open up the google calendar on my phone. Then, on Sunday morning, when I do my strategic planning, I open up my google calendar and write down my appointments and plans for this week in my passion planner.
I hope you find this to be helpful as you are looking to juggle it all as a busy working homeschooling mom!