How to Balance Homeschooling With Working at Home
Working at home–whether you run an online business, freelance or have a side hustle–can be a great way to boost the family budget. And it can also give you something else: the freedom to build a lifestyle that includes homeschooling your children.
Homeschooling and working at home? It might seem impossible to do both but it’s a realistic option for many moms (myself included).
That doesn’t mean working at home while homeschooling your kids is always easy. Some days can definitely be more challenging than others!
But having a plan can be a life-saver. So, if you’re a homeschooling, work at home mom (or you want to be) these tips can help you find the right balance for doing both.
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1. Choose a Homeschooling Style That Works for Your Family
The great thing about homeschooling is that there’s no one right way to do it.
You might model your homeschool on the typical public school day and follow a set curriculum. Or you might be an unschooler who lets your children direct learning, without a lesson plan in sight.
Your homeschooling style is completely up to you. And once you figure out what works best, you can come up with a plan for structuring your days while working from home.
Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to shaping your homeschool. Test out different schooling methods or different times of day for a week or two. Keep a daily journal where you recap what worked (or what didn’t) for each day.
Find your ideal homeschooling groove. This can help you tackle the next step: creating a work at home schedule.
2. Build Your Work at Home Schedule Around Homeschool
Having a work at home routine when you’re homeschooling can make your life so much easier. Routines can make the days go by more smoothly because everyone knows what to expect.
For example, when my children were younger, we had school time in the morning. In the afternoons, they played while I worked.
Now that they’re entering tweendom, we’ve flipped things around. I work in the mornings until lunchtime and we school in the afternoon.
Look at your typical homeschool day. Where are windows of time you can use to get some work done?
If your kids are early risers and you school in the morning, then afternoons might be your prime work time. Or if you’re the early bird then you might be able to knock out a chunk of work-related tasks before breakfast.
Don’t get hung up on the idea that you need hours of dedicated time to fit work in either. There are plenty of tasks you can do in 15 minutes to get ahead. So look for those smaller pockes of time and use them to your advantage.
3. Prioritize Your Big Three Tasks Every Day
I’m a huge fan of to-do lists and I use them for everything. Keeping lists can help you stay on track and focused when you’re switching back and forth between homeschool mode and work at home mode.
Here’s a simple way to approach your to-do list for school and work.
Write down everything you need to get done for the day for each one. Then create a second list of everything you want to get done. A bullet journal works great for this but a planner or a plain notebook will also do the trick.
Pick the three most important tasks off the need-to-do list for homeschool and work. Don’t worry about anything else besides getting those things done.
If you finish each of your big three’s, then head to your want-to-do list and see what else you can check off.
This kind of system works because it helps you focus your priorities. And having a to-do list that’s manageable can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed when you’re homeschooling and working at home.
4. Encourage Independence
Balancing work with homeschooling means becoming a pro at managing distractions and interruptions.
You’ll be in the middle of a call with a client and one of your kids suddenly realizes they’re starving and needs you to help them make a snack. Or you’re trying to wrap up some last-minute emails and a crisis erupts because the toilet paper roll is empty.
It can be frustrating but it’s also a learning opportunity when you can teach your kids to do simple things on their own so you can get some work done.
How you approach it depends on your kids’ ages and what you’re comfortable with them doing. For example, you can teach younger kids how to make their own snacks. Older kids could handle laundry duty or other chores.
It’s a win-win because you can focus on work and they’re learning life skills they’ll need as adults.
5. Find Ways to Super-Charge Your Productivity
Productivity is everything when you’re a work at home mom who also homeschools. When you have a set amount of time each day to do both, you have to use that time wisely.
There are different things you can try to boost your work at home productivity that can carry over to homeschooling. For example, there’s time blocking and task batching.
Time blocking essentially means dividing up your day so that you’re doing your most important tasks (remember the big three’s) when you’re most productive. With task batching, you’re grouping related tasks together and knocking them out in one go.
If you’re not sure where your time goes each day, try a time audit.
Keep track of how you spend your time each day for a typical week. Then go through to see where you can free up extra time or use the time you have more efficiently.
Consider building a planning day into your schedule each week. Sunday evening is a good time to do this.
Write down your most important work and homeschooling tasks, then assign them to a specific day. Then each night, look over your list for the next day so you’re already mentally ready to dive in when you wake up.
6. Be Flexible
Homeschooling while working at home practically demands that you be flexible. Because let’s face it, every day isn’t always going to go exactly as planned.
Try to stick to your routine as much as possible but know that sometimes, you might have to bend.
One of your kids will get sick (or you will) and school will be a wash for the day. Or you might have a client that asks you to handle a last-minute assignment so you have to work past your regular office hours.
These things happen. So just take a deep breath and roll with it the best you can. Then start fresh the next day.
7. Make Time for Self-Care
You might be thinking, who the heck has time for self-care when they’re homeschooling and working from home? But it’s something you absolutely need to make time for.
Here’s why. When you don’t put yourself on your to-do list as a priority, you end up physically and mentally exhausted.
That does nothing for your productivity and it can make homeschooling feel like a dreaded chore.
So go back to that weekly plan you’ve hopefully made. Where can you find an hour, a half-hour, 15 minutes just for yourself?
Find that time and mark it on your calendar in big red ink so you can’t ignore it. Then commit to showing up for your self-care time each week.
Use that time to read, take a bath, just lie down with your eyes closed and breathe. Give your mind and body a moment to rest so that when the time is up, you can pick up where you left off feeling refreshed and focused.
Do you have an awesome tip for how to balance homeschooling with working at home?
Bio: Rebecca Lake is a freelance writer, blogger and homeschooling single mom of two. She owns the Boss Single Mama blog, where she teaches moms how to start freelancing, launch side hustles, be more productive and master the work from home lifestyle.