As I sit down to write this post, it occurs to me that I should title it, “The Things I’m Going to Attempt to Do This Year to Homeschool and Work from Home Successfully.”
Because honestly, I’m not quite there yet. There are some things I do well. Some things . . . well, let’s just say they need a little work. But truthfully, I think it’s not so much that I don’t know what to do than I just don’t always do it. So, today I am sharing with you the things I know to do, even if I’m not always great at doing them myself.
How to Successfully Homeschool and Work from Home
It’s not easy being a work-at-home-homeschooling-mom. Even when you only have one child. Especially if you desire to it all as unto the Lord. Which I do. On both accounts. This summer, God has been gracious to whisper some things on my heart that I believe will help me balance life and home and work. These are the things I want to share with you today.
Make a Daily Schedule and Put First Things First
This is a struggle I have had for some time now. Not putting homeschooling and general wife and mothering ahead of work. There have been a few consequences of this error. First of all, it means that I have taken on much more work than I ever should have. I have put some stops into place so that does not continue, but for awhile anyway, I will still be a little busier than I need or desire to be. In the meantime, I have a lot of catching up to do around the house and in homeschooling Ben. To help keep things in check, I have set office and school hours for Ben and me as follows:
8 am-10 am — office hours
10 am-3 pm — homeschool hours
3 pm-5 pm — office hours
Because Ben doesn’t actually require my full attention for 5 hours a day to homeschool, I can also use some of that time to accomplish things around the house.
Having a set office schedule will hopefully serve to keep me accountable for the time I spend working and online, and will allow me to available and focused on Ben whenever he needs me. No more, “just a minute honey while I post/share/repin/tweet . . . ”
Simplify and Organize
Whatever that means for you, make things simpler. For me, it’s making concentrated effort to declutter — not just the school room — every room of the house. I have begun with the schoolroom though because at this time of the year, a cluttered school room causes me the most stress. I write curriculum reviews. And before I started writing reviews, I bought a lot of curriculum. I have enough stuff here to homeschool been all the way through high school if I never bought another thing (except math). And because Ben suffers from a serious lack of organization, I am constantly saying, “where is such-and-such a book,” to which he generally responds, “I don’t know.” It’s frustrating and causes so many delays. Time is wasted that we just don’t have to waste.
Right now I am in the midst of a master declutter and reorganization as we prepare to begin school the week after Labor Day week. It is my hope that investing this time now will help our every day go smoother. I also need to figure out some ways to help Ben stay more organized. What ideas do you have?
Other areas in which I’m trying to simplify — meal planning, household chores, errands, and blogging. That’s right. My office hours above do not include blogging time. So I am trying to set aside a 4-hour block of time on the weekend to blog for the following week. Right now, it’s 12:45 am on Tuesday night, so that’s not going so well yet. Baby steps.
Things are going to happen smack dab in the middle of office and/or homeschool hours. An important phone call, a field trip, a friend in need. My goal is to stick to our schedule if at all possible but to also realize that we are not living life in a bubble. Things are going to happen; we just cannot allow those things to completely derail us. One way I am planning for the unplanned is to go back to homeschooling on a year-round basis. This will hopefully build in some extra days to make up for those that just don’t happen. In order to successfully homeschool and work from home, flexibility is key.
Add Some Structure
For Ben — I am working on a few ideas to help him become independent AND trustworthy as we embark on this transition year to high school. We are not completely abandoning our delight-directed approach, but there is much more structure in this coming year than he is accustomed to. I expect I will need an extra measure of patience as he balks a bit, but in the end I am hoping that we will both benefit from the changes.
For Me — In addition to my office hours, I am also using this cool Blog Buddy business blogger planner to help structure my everyday. I may end up writing a full review on it, but for now, suffice it to say that it is the first planner-type tool that has excited me. It’s doable, not overwhelming, and very beneficial in helping me organize my time so that I am more effective. Because most of my work involves income from or through my blog and social media, I am excited to have a place to record everything I do with Ben and Me. This is one of the most thorough blog/social media planners I’ve ever seen.
For my social media and book launch clients, I use this handy dandy 7-Minute Life Daily Planner. It’s not a social media planner, it’s a life planner, so a few adjustments have been made. Nothing a little Washi tape can’t fix though. For someone like me who is not terribly organized, these tools have become invaluable.
NOTE: The Blog Buddy is no longer available. I have switched to the using the customizable Circa SmartPlanner from Levenger for all of my planning needs.
I have not yet figured out if it’s worth investing a lot of time planning homeschool for Ben. I’m thinking we’ll just take the “do the next thing” approach there. I can always change if that doesn’t seem to be working out.
While being flexible is important when you homeschool and work from home, so that you don’t miss out on the important things of life, setting boundaries is also important. I don’t have a lot of people in my life trying to take advantage of the fact that I am at home, but occasionally it happens. Honestly, sometimes it’s my sometimes-he-works-from-home husband that causes the biggest problem. So I even have to set boundaries with him, especially in respect to Ben’s homeschool hours. It’s easy to see a chore that needs to be done and expect Ben to stop what he’s doing to complete it. Or it might be my attention he’s trying to get for something that can wait until later. I find myself having to remind him that school (or work) is in session and these things can be completed later.
Whether it’s your husband, mother, best friend, neighbor — it doesn’t matter who, if boundaries need to be set so that your work and homeschool hours are respected, it’s important to do that. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself either not accomplishing all that you need to, or finishing up late in the evening when you should be having some family time.
Strive for Balance Between Your Homeschool and Work from Home Time
Don’t forget about life as you are homeschooling and working from home. Your relationships still need to be nurtured, people still need to be served, and you likely will still have responsibilities outside of your home — whether that is teaching a class at church, meeting with accountability partners, exercise, hobbies, and other things that make you who you are. Don’t neglect yourself and those important to you in the process of homeschooling and working.
Remember that all you do should be done as unto the Lord and for His glory. However that looks for you, as long as your ultimate goal is serving Him, you’ll do great. But hopefully, some of these tips will help you (and me) do that well.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
A couple of books that I have found invaluable in guiding me to become more balanced and organized as a homeschooling, work-at-home mom are Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate and Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom by Tricia Goyer. If you’re struggling to homeschool and work at home effectively, I think you’ll find them invaluable as well.