There’s no doubt about it. Taking on a job can be one of the biggest life-changing events that a homeschooling parent ever faces. How badly do we need the money? How important is homeschooling to you? Is it possible to do both and come through for everyone that will need you?
The good news is that the answer to that last question is yes, as long as you go into the situation with both eyes open.
Here are some basic steps and reminders to help you find your sea legs as you take on a new job and start to balance the suddenly more crowded schedule that this rather busy lifestyle can entail.
Accepting the Job
The first thing you’re going to want to do is accept the job itself, of course! While this may sound as easy as simply saying yes on a quick phone call, parents who have been manning the home-front for any length of time know that it can be easy to forget the proper etiquette involved in business world interactions.
For example, it’s okay when accepting a job to ask questions regarding what needs to be done before starting work. On the other hand, when you have an actual offer on the table it’s not the time to start haggling over salaries or work hours.
It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to ask for a little time to consider the offer before responding with an answer.
Once you’ve accepted the job, it’s time to start sorting through your brand new schedule, figure out how to structure your time, and make sure that you’ve got a strategy in place for long-term sustainability for both your job and your homeschool.
Don’t Try to Fit Into a Mold
While there are certain ways that the majority of people do things, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything that way. It’s a lesson that most homeschoolers know by heart. After all, if you simply recreate a public school classroom in your home, you might as well have them go there and save yourself the trouble, right?
The same goes for your career.
While some jobs will have very rigid, structured elements that come with them (e.g. arriving on time, putting in certain hours, etc.) there are a lot of jobs that allow a great deal more flexibility in scheduling, remote working options, and so on. Don’t be afraid to inquire about and utilize these flexible benefits to your advantage as you set up your new lifestyle.
If you find that your familial responsibilities don’t give you the flexibility needed to do full-time work, weigh the pros and cons of doing side jobs. The growth of the gig economy has resulted in a wide variety of opportunities for freelancers of all interests and skill levels. This can be a good compromise when trying to bring in extra income while maintaining your child’s educational experience.
It’s critical that you address your schedule on a regular basis, making sure that everything has its proper time and place.
When scheduling, stay aware of how you allot your time. Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week?
If you were to:
School your children for 20 hours a week (remember, a full school day in a public school includes things like lunches and transition times, which don’t need to factor into your homeschooling time
Work for 40 hours a week
Sleep for eight hours a day (which, in reality, is pretty generous for any parent, working or not)
That would still leave you over 50 hours of time in a week to attend to other things. Fifty hours!
The point isn’t to belittle the size of the commitment to homeschooling and working a full-time job, but rather to highlight that it really is possible
to fit both into your week.
Once you have your new work schedule in hand, sit down and purposefully go through finding the best way to meet the needs of work and school throughout a typical week.
Don’t be afraid to let your schooling schedule bend to accommodate a more rigid work schedule when necessary, too. It may seem like you’re underprioritizing your child’s education, but as long as you keep a healthy attitude towards the importance of both work and school, neither should suffer.
When it comes to the school side of things, taking the time to organize your space by subject can be an excellent way to keep everything in their place and on track, even on the days when you just don’t have that much left to give.
Maintaining That Work-Life Balance
Remember, introducing a job into your lifestyle has a dramatic effect on everything, even if you work from home. It can be beneficial to make a concerted effort to keep work, school, and life all in somewhat defined and respected spaces.
While this doesn’t have to be a make-it-or-break-it kind of scenario, the benefits of letting work time be work time and school-time be school-time can play a huge part in helping keep your sanity.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
When working a job and homeschooling, there are going to be points where you just want to throw in the towel.
It’s a natural reaction to the ups and downs of life. When those down times do come, though, remember, the choice to homeschool isn’t made on a whim. We homeschool our children because we want what’s best for them.
Of course, finding ways to homeschool and work a job are not easy. On the contrary, the journey can be very challenging. But that doesn’t change the reason that we do these things. When it comes to ensuring the safety and education of our children, the effort is always worth it.
Keeping Our Eyes Pointed Up
An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to balancing your new career with a homeschooling lifestyle is the fact that your actual day-to-day life won’t be all sunshine and roses.
There will be unpleasant days spent teaching subjects that you remember loathing in school. There will probably also be uncomfortable days when you’re processing a heavy workload or below-average performance review. And that’s okay.
The important thing to remember is to keep a big-picture mindset as you navigate the challenging times ahead. Roll with the punches, utilize things like work benefits and scheduling, and remember to be grateful for the blessings of both having work and the opportunity to educate your child at home.
After all, it’s God who gives us the grace to do things well, regardless of our circumstances. If He leads you into a work-homeschooling situation, He’ll give you the strength to do it well.