In high school and college, I never really envisioned my life with children. I’m sure lots and lots of young women can easily picture themselves pushing strollers and warming up bottles, but those images never even crossed my mind. I was going to be a career woman. Possibly a magazine writer or television writer, where the only thing I would be warming up was my third cup of coffee in order to meet my latest deadline.
So imagine my surprise, when at age 30, I had two school-age children, both with special needs, who were now not only my kids, but my students. What twists and turns life can take! The first few years of homeschool were so overwhelming I couldn’t even begin to imagine adding a work load on top of my other responsibilities. But over time, my boys and I got into a nice groove, and I began to crave that stimulation that job and career can bring. It took more time than I hoped to pin down a stay-at-home position, but eventually it did come, and I have been a WAHM and homeschooling mom ever since.
This journey has left me bruised and battered, but oh so much wiser, and if I can help other mom’s find the balance between work and homeschool, then my adventure will be all the sweeter for it. Here are my five top tips for moms who work at home and homeschool their children.
1. It’s all in the curriculum. You can be a mom who creates all your own curriculum OR you can be a work-at-home mom, but you simply cannot do both. Finding a curriculum that lets your children work at least somewhat independently is crucial to finding balance. Computer based curriculums are good for independent work, especially if you have enough computers in your home that each child can work at his or her own computer. Our family uses the Time4Learning homeschool curriculum (www.time4learning.com) because all of the lesson planning, testing, and record-keeping are done for you on the computer. It also has the benefit of being multimedia and interactive, so my kids really enjoy their learning, and aren’t constantly grumbling about their schoolwork. Using an online curriculum can free up large amounts of time that you would normally have to spend in preparing for and overseeing homeschool lessons. If an online curriculum is not an option, spend some time investigating other types of curricula that are comprehensively designed, and don’t need as much hands-on attention.
2. Get with the program. And by program, I mean the schedule. I happen to love schedules, and don’t have any sort of bristles that stand up on my neck when I use one, but if you are a happy-go-lucky, non-scheduled sort of gal, it is time to repent. You simply won’t be able to make the working/homeschooling thing work without setting out your day into some sort of timetable. Fortunately, there are some great free tools to help you make the transition from ad hoc to planned out. A written or electronic day planner is a must. I use a free widget that sits on my desktop and reminds me at a glance what I need to get done each day. It even gives me the option of checking off those things I have completed, which is a real inspiration-booster. For homeschool scheduling, you might want to try a free tool called Homeschool Skedtrack (www.homeschoolskedtrack.com) which lets you schedule and track each child’s progress through every subject. And if you only work best under a deadline, you might just enjoy Hassle Me (www.hassleme.co.uk), which allows you to set up reminder emails which will “hassle” you at random times throughout the day until you get something finished!!
3. Delegate. Everyone wants to be supermom, but no one has yet to receive the golden tiara and spandex. That’s because we are designed to live in community with one another – – to need one another. If you have an extended family who supports you in your goal of working at home and homeschooling, then by all means jump up and down and celebrate. They will be invaluable as your emergency babysitters, errand runners, or housework helpers. If your spouse is behind you, then don’t be afraid to tell him when you need a helping hand. If you don’t have family to lean on, then you will have to create your own support system. This can include finding a responsible neighborhood pre-teen to act as a mommy’s helper on days when you need to get a lot done, enlisting a friend to switch off babysitting services with you, or finding other local homeschoolers who can take your child on field trips with them from time to time. And remember – – the more you ask for help, the easier it becomes.
4. Talk with your family about your goals. It took me a while to get this one. My boys used to have this crazy habit of getting into their worst arguments right when I sat down with my laptop to get some work done. So one day, I sat them down and explained that in order to continue homeschooling them, and also to be able to help contribute to the family income, I had made the choice to work at home. I let them know that I had specific hours that I needed to focus on my work, and that during those hours, I needed them to help me out by keeping the peace and keeping the chaos to a minimum. I also assured them that they were certainly welcome to fall apart at any other time in the day, and I would be there to pick up the pieces. Believe it or not, this tactic actually worked. The boys started solving their own squabbles during my work time, and saving their meltdowns for when I was available. Go figure!
5. Schedule time for yourself. This one seems the most impossible. For one thing, you just can’t seem to find another hour in the day to be selfish. And for another, you already feel guilty for splitting your time between your kids and your work. But that pressure and guilt are the exact reasons why you need to work in time for you. If you don’t, you will eventually reach your stress limit, and something will push you to the point where you either collapse from exhaustion or become difficult or even impossible to live with. For me, the hour after lunch is me time. I save something interesting from television to watch, or I will read a book I’ve been aching to get to. Occasionally, when the weather is nice, I will just sit out on the back deck and sip something fruity and decadent. I’ve also been known to call a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Whatever it is, I know that this is my hour to regroup, and let myself off the hook from all guilt or responsibility. When the hour has passed, I am fine with going back to my routine, because I know that same hour will be waiting for me the next day. It is crucial to my well being. If a midday time doesn’t work for you, then find some other time during the day when you can take off your mom hat and your work hat, and just be you for a while.
If you have been thinking about working at home and homeschooling, maybe it is time to take the plunge. With a few sacrifices, compromises, and adjustments, you can accomplish both. Believe in yourself, spend time researching your options, talk it over with your family, and then go for it! You don’t have to be Supermom to accomplish your goal, you just have to be realistic and ask for help when you need it. If I can balance the life of homeschooling and working at home, then of course you can too!
Kerry Jones is a freelance writer who works from home and homeschools he two boys ages, 12 and 14. She writes several blogs about the integration of homeschool and technology. To read more of Kerry’s articles or blogs, or to contact her by email, go to her website at: homepage.topsy-techie.com-a.googlepages.com/
Article Source: WAHM Articles