As a parent, you’re already wearing a lot of hats from caregiver, meal preparer, chauffeur, concierge, housekeeper, and so much more. When you homeschool, you’re now adding the tasks of curriculum designer and teacher as well – as if you weren’t busy enough! If you work either out of necessity or by choice, this may add an extra dimension of chaos into the mix! The good news is there is a way you can do both, and I’m sharing all the details about how to work from home and homeschool like a boss!
I know when I first started homeschooling, I had the mental picture of teaching my children a few lessons, then having them practice independent work while I got some of my business tasks done. We’d have lunch together before we started our afternoon session block schedules of play, another teaching lesson, and more independent practice before dinner. Some family time and I would finish up any business tasks after they went to sleep. Yeah. . .that’s not quite how it happened. Anyone else?
Working from home with children can be a tough task if you don’t have a schedule and a plan for when and how you will work while also caring for the children. Now, add in the task of homeschooling and you can really have your hands full! If you’re like me, you’ve had moments when you feel like throwing your hands up and either screaming at your kids or wanting to QUIT IT ALL
How to Work from Home and Homeschool - and Not go Crazy
Believe it or not, it is possible. In fact, many people do it (and only want to quit once or twice a month, instead of daily) and you can too if you commit to the lifestyle choice.
Yes, it is a lifestyle choice. This is not just a decision you make lightly in passing.
Your entire family will be affected by this. It’s going to benefit you to do all the research you can beforehand. Talk to people who are homeschooling and working from home. Join some support groups and ask questions. This is how you will determine if it’s right for you and your family.
Here are some things you need to know about how to work from home and homeschool.
You Must Have a Schedule (or routine)
The daily schedule is the rhythm (routine) of your day. Even if you’re not usually the scheduling type, it will be essential you do so when working from home AND homeschooling. There are far too many things to do and to keep track of to just wing it.
When deciding on your routine for how to work from home and homeschool, some things to consider
* Leave wiggle room in the day (or week) instead of developing a rigid schedule. I have found this super helpful if the kids needed extra time to research something, had more questions about how something worked and we needed to investigate as a family, or maybe needed a little bit longer break before getting back on task.
Remember one of the reasons you (likely) started homeschooling was for more flexibility, so be sure to build this in to your day.
* Don’t forget siblings. Depending on the ages of your children, they may have different needs at different times. Some of their tasks may take longer or shorter blocks of time, so not everyone will be finishing in sync. Have something planned for younger or older siblings to do, if needed.
If younger siblings are not yet school age, make sure they are occupied or you have a playgroup co-op they can connect with. This will allow your older children (and you) to have some time they can focus on their tasks without a toddler screaming, climbing on them, or coloring on their projects with a crayon (not that it’s happened to me, but I’ve heard stories).
* Work in chunks. Research has shown that kids can stay on task only about 2 minutes for every minute of their age. That means a five year old has an attention span of only about 10 minutes, so you’ll need to be breaking up your lesson plans into small increments. An older child, like a 10 year old, can focus for about 20 minutes at a time.
And, even though you’re older Mama, remember that Pomodoro timers are set in 25 minute increments, so you aren’t really meant to work for hours at a stretch. Give yourself breaks as well.
Just like a schedule is necessary, you will also need to be organized when you are figuring out how to work from home and homeschool. Whether you use a planner, a digital organizer, posters on the wall, or some other system that works for you, the point is just to remain organized. This is how you will keep track of when projects are due, what your students are studying, and when you have appointments.
I love tech, so I am a digital gal all the way. I’m able to assign tasks to each person, set due dates, view tasks on a calendar view, and attach any files I might need for reference all in one spot without worrying about losing papers, or doing a bunch of erasing like I would in a paper planner if our plans or schedules change.
Some of my favorite digital planning tools are Trello and ClickUp.
Trello is a great Kanban-style board that lets you create different cards, lists, and tasks. So perhaps you might make a board for a child and some learning goals along with individual cards for to do, in progress, review, and completed. You can attach any files right to the cards. The kids, no matter what age, will love to see the columns of what they have to do shrink and what they’ve accomplished grow.
ClickUp is a more robust planning tool and allows for different views including list, board, kanban, and calendar. Much like Trello, you can have assignees, due dates, and add attachments. ClickUp is great because there is a chat feature built in, so if your children have questions about different tasks, they can ask right within that particular task card. Obviously, you may be right there with them, but consider the possibility if they are re-visiting this if reviewing an assignment at night or if you belong to a homeschool co-op and a parent who teaches a particular subject doesn’t reside in your household!
Trello and ClickUp are both great tools for keeping you on task with your work, too. While I used Trello for many years in my business as a Virtual Assistant and Pinterest Strategist, as my team and business as grown, I have moved over to ClickUp because I love the array of features such as assigning team members and dates to subtasks and being able to create documents, like SOP’s, right within ClickUp rather than simply attach them like I did with Trello.
Have a Support Network
It’s also going to be really important that you have a proper support network. You may already have close friends and family, but you also want to look for people who work from home and homeschool so you have support from people who also know what you are going through. To have friends that can understand when you have one of THOSE days is a saving grace and key to keeping you sane and giving you a pep talk when you need one most.
I have found having a support network is also really true in business as well. Collaborative relationships have been some of the best investments I have made in myself. Those a few steps ahead of me have been able to mentor me and give me advice in my business, those alongside me have been my accountability buddies and referral network for things like summits, podcast exchanges, and jv partnerships, and those a few steps behind me have allowed me to pay it forward through mentoring.
I encourage you to find a network of both homeschool friends and work friends in order to feel supported in both aspects of your life.
Set Clear Boundaries
If you’re constantly interrupted during your work time, your whole family will suffer in the long run. You need to get your work done so you can support your family financially. Determine when there are times that your family can talk to you and when there are “off-limit” times, such as when you’re in your home office, or when you’re sitting at your desk.
This is why it’s so important to have a healthy conversation in the beginning to establish the why’s around your decisions to homeschool and grow your business and lay the framework for what support will look like. It may come in the from of help around the house with tasks like preparing meals or cleaning up dinner dishes, getting children ready for bed and put down for the night, or maybe it will look like an arrangement where you agree to swap childcare with another homeschool family, or maybe you will be using some of the money you’re earning to hire a nanny a few hours a week.
Be clear and firm in your decisions on what you need.
With the ease of mobile, figuring out how to work from home and homeschool becomes so much easier. Smartphones or laptops with data plans give you much more flexibility in your schedule. This means you can work around doctor’s appointments, extracurriculars, work field trips into your schedule, and even take your work on the go while you take your kids to the park, for example. There will be some tasks you can’t do on the go but when you’re able to build a mobile plan into some of your work and some of your homeschooling, it will benefit long term.
Become a Minimalist - In Everything
There’s only so much time in a day. Do you want to spend time with your family, or do you want to cook elaborate meals? Do you want to spend your time cleaning your big house packed to gills with stuff? Do you want to teach your kids Math, English, History, Science, Spanish, Religion AND chauffeur them around to violin, soccer, and the debate homeschool club? Do you want to run your home business with 3 different email addresses, 15 different plug-ins, 20 different clients calling, and be on every social media channel?
Only you know the right answers for you. They may not be the same for everyone. In reality, when you become clear on what’s most important to you, and if you’re reading this article I’m assuming it’s homeschooling your children and working from home, then it’s not about being the Martha Stewart of elaborate meals, a huge home, and lots of fussy decorating details.
This is a no-judgement zone, but the more you can simplify your life the easier it will become to manage working from home and homeschooling without losing your sanity.
Give Your Kids Chores
From a very young age, you need to assign your kids responsibilities. Little ones can pick up toys, help separate laundry, match socks, feed the animals. Kids can help you make meals and clean up. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO IT ALL MAMA!
If you CAN, then you are a superwoman and I commend you. I for one, am not and cannot commit to all these things. When I said it was a lifestyle choice, it really is a lifestyle. You need to decide what is important to your family. Who is going to what chores, what can be outsourced if necessary, etc? And it doesn’t happen all at once. It is an ongoing conversation throughout the years.
So, if something’s not working, own it. Accept responsibility for the reason it’s not working, identify the problems, and then correct them.
Develop a morning routine
One of my last and most important tips for working from home: Become a morning person.
Before starting my online business, I would sleep in as late as I possibly could without children waking me up. Now that my children are a little older, and luckily are night owls, they are allowed to stay up a little later than most schooled children and sleep until 9:30 am. I wake up at 5:30 am, eat breakfast, help get my husband off to work, exercise, and then get ready to tackle work tasks without interruption.
The best book I can recommend on becoming a morning person when you really aren’t is called The Miracle Morning: The Not So Obvious Secret to Transform Your Life Before 8am by Hal Elrod. The Miracle Morning is so much more than just waking early, it really can transform your entire life and if you want to change yours, I highly recommend reading it. Listen to it in the car if you have to.
Sometimes there will be times when you NEED to get some work done. As I said, I have older kids, 14+ who understand completely if I tell them I need to concentrate on something for a while. They are usually good at giving me some quiet time. But if you have little ones, it can be challenging to keep them occupied. It will be challenging at first, no doubt, but once they get used to the routine of you working, things usually fall into place. If you are also looking for activities to keep your kids busy while you work, Rebecca, from Work at Home Mom CEO, has compiled this list of 10 activities.
Final Thoughts on How to Work from Home and Homeschool
Keep in mind that these tips are just suggestions for you. Every family is different, every home school is different, and you will need to tailor things to your needs. Tweak a little here and there, try something and see what works, experiment until you find that “sweet spot”.
One of the best parts of homeschooling is also one of the best parts of working from home: you have the freedom to plan your own schedule. And although there are those crazy days, I love being able to work from home and be home with my children. I don’t do it all myself either. I outsource what I can, from the dry cleaners and grocery delivery to hiring contractors to help with business projects.
I am not on all the social media channels either. I use Pinterest because it doesn’t require me to be on social media 24/7. I market on Pinterest in one to two hours per week which drives 70% of my website traffic. If you want to get started with Pinterest marketing for your business or if you have tried Pinterest but you aren’t getting the results from doing it yourself, check out my Pinning Foundations course. The course is all meat and no fluff because we busy mamas are short on time and if you need help with your business, see how I can help.
**I am sharing my list of homeschooling resources I have gathered over the last 16+ years of homeschooling. You can download it HERE .