Real Life Work

Struggles of a Working Homeschool Mom

When I started homeschool this last year, I knew it would be tough – real tough. I knew there would be challenges, especially as a working homeschool mom. As I entered into this new lifestyle I questioned if it was truly possible to do this. How would it REALLY work? Some complications and stressful times I totally expected–while others I did not.  Today, I want to share with you the struggles of working homeschool mom.

Do you work and homeschool?  Check out our working homeschool moms resource page that contains more articles about how to balance homeschooling and working.

Struggles of Working Homeschool Moms

Struggles of Working Homeschool Mom

In general, homeschooling takes great strength and commitment. I get that. I expect that. This unique position is loaded with stereotypes to deal with, laws to know, overly-opinionated family to convince,  “social hour” to schedule, curriculum to choose, plans to create and stick to, plans to dump and start over, “fun” to be added into the plan, and juggling of other family responsibilities! And all the while I try to stay mentally sane while working through the dynamics of the family. Phew!

Now…. add employment.

I know many mothers who work outside of the home who either deeply desire to homeschool their children but hesitate, doubting themselves, or who have already begun their homeschooling mission only to be blind-sided by trials they never even considered. Not only must these moms handle all of the stresses listed above, but they (we) must handle them with less time, less energy, and—honestly—less motivation.

Plus, at times, working homeschool parents can feel a bit out of place. It can be difficult to “fit in” among other homeschooling families or even with coworkers. There have been more than a few co-workers who think I am an absolute crazy person for homeschooling my kids. Maybe I am. 😉 And that is why it is so important to find other homeschool families to connect with who share the same experiences.

Today I want to be transparent and bring to light a quiet struggle—conflict between homeschool moms who work outside of the home and moms who don’t. Why am I bringing up this topic? Because by acknowledging this conflict, we can work to change it! We can improve our homeschool experiences and our mom-to-mom friendships. We need each other! We can learn from each other!

Of course we know that ALL mothers work. In fact, we all work hard. We all care greatly. We all want what’s best for our kiddos. God has a will and a path for all of us. For some of us, that plan includes working outside of the home. For others it does not. I think some of the tension between these moms may have to do with a lack of understanding. But that’s something we HIP homeschool moms can remedy, right?! So let’s talk about it.

I’m suggesting that moms who work outside of the home and moms who work at home or who don’t have a “job” should work together and support each other. I’m suggesting that we focus on being friends and doing what we can to help each other. I’m suggesting that we allow God to work out any other details that need to be ironed out.

Working Homeschool Mom

I want to hit on 4 areas in which we can work to mend and build our mom-to-mom relationships:

Have an open mind

The truth is that, whether a mom works outside of the home or not, the decision to homeschool is an important one. You can be sure that moms who work outside of the home very carefully considered this option just as all other moms did. Many moms who work outside of the home would rather not have to work so much. Some would rather not work outside of the home at all. Others enjoy their jobs and enjoy homeschooling their children—so they choose to do both because they want to do both. And that’s ok.

All of us, though, can lean on God for guidance, wisdom, and support. God provides a way and a path for each of us. Having an open-minded view of this is vital to improving our relationships with each other. And I truly believe that God would have us do just that—improve our relationships and help each other.

Have understanding and empathy

Sometimes we moms who work outside of the home may seem a little spacey or tired or stressed. Of course moms who stay at home may seem spacey or tired or stressed too. We know that ALL moms work hard and have these problems from time to time. But moms who have outside jobs may have had an extra measure of stress on the job. We may have had a difficult day (or night), and we may simply not be able to attend that play date or that field trip. Or we may forget because we’re so exhausted!

But then again, a stay-at-home mom’s day (or night) can be crazy and frustrating and tiring too! There are still so many struggles to work through no matter which camp you fall into.

So what am I suggesting? That we simply stop comparing and start empathizing with one another. We need to stop ourselves from making comments that might hurt another mom and just show compassion for each other whether we do or don’t work outside of the home. We need to give each other grace.

Sticking to the plan

And this is where I have to advocate a bit more for those who are held hostage by a work schedule.

Most of my homeschool friends don’t realize that I get my work schedule at least 6 weeks ahead of time—sometimes even several months ahead of time. If I know far in advance that I need a certain day off, I can request it. (I’m thankful to have more freedom than most.) Once a work schedule is written, though, it’s pretty much set in stone except in the case of a true emergency. (You may want to read my last post, 7 Scheduling Tips for a Working Homeschool Mom for more information.)

This means that homeschool field trips, play days, and activities for my family must be put on the calendar far in advance. This also means that sometimes we must miss out because I’m simply not able to be free on a certain day/date. This means that I’m often forced to stick with a more rigid schedule. I will admit that many working homeschool moms need to work on flexibility and be cool if the plan changes, but most of the time sticking to the plan is very important for us, and it will help us build trusting relationships if we know that you know this is a difficult area for us.

The friendship part

Sometimes because of life — or even because of conflicts between us — different “kinds” of homeschooling moms may not be close to each other. We may not be friends.

I can only speak of working homeschool moms concerning this issue. Sometimes because of self-doubt or busyness, we work-outside-of-the-home moms tend to pull back and not be so quick to reach out to make friends. Sometimes others pull back from us because they may think we’re too busy to have friends or that we don’t need homeschool-mom-friends since we have friends at work.

No matter the reason, let all of us remember that fellowship with other homeschooling moms is important! Very important! God has gifted us each other. Nobody other than another homeschooling mom can truly understand what we do—who we are—why we’ve made this decision for ourselves and our children. So let us be true friends with one another. Let this not be a quiet struggle that we have to deal with.

What kind of homeschooling mom are you? Do you work outside of the home? Do you have a work-from-home job? Or is your family and your homeschool your full-time job?  What are you struggles of working homeschool mom?

 

Do you work and homeschool?  Check out our working homeschool moms resource page that contains more articles about how to balance homeschooling and working.

About the author

Heather

Heather is a Christian gal who lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she married her high school sweetheart in 2001. She has 3 children ranging in ages from 4-12. Asperger's and sensory processing issues are also in the mix. At this time, Sonlight is their main curriculum which Heather and her husband find nice for the working homeschool family. Heather juggles the responsibilities of being a part-time RN and police officer's wife. She has a reputation of creating kitchen disasters, but loves collecting new recipes and learning about natural, holistic living. Also in the family is a bunch of animals like chickens, goats, a few dogs, and cats....

30 Comments

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  • I am also a working home-school mom and full-time nurse. I work 3 midnight shifts per week, and home-school the other 4 days. I do sometimes feel left out from the activities and such, and would love for our group to schedule things ahead of time. (The previous group I was a part of did this). Thank you for your well-written post.

  • Since I have 10 kids at home, it’s kind of imperative that I stay home with them, which I love. Having said that, finances can get pretty tight, so I have offered to work part-time, but my husband won’t hear of it. He works in a steaming hot foundry all day, so coming home to be in charge of a houseful of kids, admittedly, isn’t the ideal situation. I would love to see a post about ways to earn money in the home.

  • I am an rn work prn fulltime nights also school 4 days per week. We do unit studies math u see, Bob Jones reading comp, rod and staff, a homeschool coop for grammar/English taught by a teacher. I let the kids learn about science and art in summer. History we do Bob Jones and current events and Bible. You can’t teach everything we homeschool year round with several breaks.

  • Heather, I especially agree with the “Friendship Part”. I’ve been working as a mental health counselor as well as homeschooling for the past 18 years. My homeschool mom-friends have been my biggest support system. It is difficult to stay active in the homeschool community but the payoff is worth it for my kids as well as for me. Blessings to you!

  • Thanks for this post! I am a homeschool mom of 3 and work as a night shift weekender-friday, sunday nights in a NICU. It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one trying to do both. I would love to hear what other peoples schedules look like. I am doing ok with getting school done but having a hard time finding time to clean the house and do laundry! Would love any tips and suggestions. Thanks again for the encouragement! By-the-way, We just started using Classical Conversations too this semester and it has taken a huge burden off of me as far as school goes! We are loving it!!

    • Stephanie, I bet NICU is such a challenge but so rewarding too! I could never do that. As for school, we are moving towards a year round school year. There was just a post on HHM about this. I feel this will give us the time to take breaks when we need it and not feel so pressed for time. As for the house…um, yeah…I pay someone to clean my house every other week. It’s glorious. I only pay for 3 hours of cleaning twice a month so its specifically for the deep cleaning – which the kids mess up with in hours. Hey, but at least I know it WAS clean at one point! I have a very supportive husband which probably does more laundry than me. I tend to wash the same load 10 times before I remember to put it in the dryer so he’s taken it over. We also expect our kids to do chores and I’ve started getting very firm with messes. We are simplifying life and that means simplifying stuff. If it is left on the floor it goes to one place – the trash. This is helping. 😉 Classical Conversations is a life saver! I hope you enjoy it! Good on you for homeschooling your kids! I also have a scheduling post you can find under my name here at HHM. I do not work full-time but am per diem and take a ton of call which balances things out.

  • So relieved to have found this! I am a mom of 2 girls 7&10, and we will be starting homeschooling in the Fall with CC. I also work weekends, 3-11 Fri-Sun at our local hospital on a gen surg. unit. My plan is to do year-round school and have 4-day school weeks. I am a little overwhelmed right now in the planning stage but I’m encouraged that there are others pretty much in the same boat.

    • That’s awesome that you will be started school in the fall! CC will help a lot with keeping you on track. If there was one thing I would say about feeling overwhelmed and planning is this: Don’t over plan. I wasted so much time planning every single detail of our first 12 weeks and more than half of what I planned never got used. We changed plans, tried other curriculums, or were just too busy. The benefit of Classic education is that the goal is to link all the subjects together. This will save you time. I would make sure you have a sound plan for math and english concepts and then only have a general idea of the other subjects. It took me almost a year to figure out this worked better for us. Some moms will only have a general plan for the year but then do a more focused plan either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. It will take a while for you to figure out what works best for you. I wish you the best! I would also check out the newest year round school post that popped up on HHM.

  • Wow,
    I found your blog by fate, looking for some hope that other moms like me exist! I work part time weekend nights in the ER, and my husband who is a police officer does corporate security during the week. We have 3 busy children; two of which are special needs; one with ADHD that is unmedicated, and one with Dandy Walker Malformation; a congenital brain malformation. They are amazing kids, and actually teach me every day how sacred and gentle life really is. Because our oldest is struggling so much in school and has completely shut down, we have decided to homeschool. I originally wanted to start homeschooling from the beginning, but was encouraged by her pediatrician and family to try public schooling. I’ve prayed and researched diligently, and feel a sense of nervousness, but also a peace about our decision to homeschool. I plan on following your blog to help continue to give me hope! Thank you for this article, it was what I needed!

  • Christine,
    It was very nice to hear about you and your family. Your situation sounds similar to mine. I want to assure you that you CAN do this. God gave you the children he knew you could raise up…that includes teaching them. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Will it be challenging? Yes. Might you need some support or helpful resources at times? Definitely. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable. There are tons of moms like you and me. God will pull you through this! It sounds like you have a pretty busy family just as I do. You can always email me over at my personal blog for prayer and support! 🙂 There is also a “Mentoring Moms” live feed through Hip homeschool moms on Tuesdays and the Facebook page is another place to ask questions. You got this! 😉

  • This is our first year homeschooling. We have a 3rd grade son with ADHD, a daughter that will be K level next year, and added a baby in late Fall. My husband works a fulltime and part time job, and I work two 12 hr day shifts as an ICU tech. My hubby is working diligently to change careers to allow me to stay home (or switch to prn/casual) so we are patiently (or at least trying to be patient!) waiting for God to guide us. I chose to have little to no expectations for this year with all of the changes we were facing. We joined a CC group (actually CC was what tipped me over the edge to choose homeschooling) and completed a math curriculum. Aside from that, we were sporadic with spelling, grammar, writing, but I’m planning to dive back into that in June while we are just maintaining math skills and not doing daily lessons there. Sometimes a math lesson can take my son 3 hours to complete… other days 40 minutes… just depends on how focused he happens to be! We are fortunate to have grandparents who will work on school on their childcare day as well as a babysitter who does the same on her day. My son loves homeschooling and being with his family all day. He used to say things like, “I didn’t get to see you at all today Mom” or “I didn’t have anytime to play.” He wouldn’t get home and settled until 4:00 pm from school, and then we’d be out the door for activities for a couple hours later in the day so there just wasn’t any down time. He needed a change, and his activities are important for his physical and mental needs, so the school had to change! It’s very challenging to get it all done, and there is no day where it all gets done, but that’s OK. I’m pretty confident that if I didn’t work those two days, it still wouldn’t all get done. And the laundry? I’ve been contemplating joining a nudist colony to avoid it. They have something going there…. Ok, not really. I actually really appreciate modesty, but… no laundry would be a-ma-zing!

    • Sarah…LOL, you are funny. 😉 Who needs nudist colonies when we just need a magic wand instead? 🙂 Sounds like you are figuring stuff out. It is nice to hear your son is happy to be homeschooled. I’m sure you get so much more time with him too!

  • I am in the process of weighing all of the pros and cons of homeschooling vs public school vs private school. We are a military family and I love my job. I have been able to continue working through 2 duty stations and have been offered a position at our next station. My son will be starting kindergarten this fall. It is enlightening to read an article about other moms who have made it work with jobs and homeschooling. Most of the time when I mention homeschooling, most people assume I am planning on leaving my job. I feel I have found hope in the possibility of being able to do both. My biggest question is who have you found to care for your children while you are working? Do the caregivers also participate in home-schooling? One mother who has been very supportive of me homeschooling highly recommends the Classical Conversations Curriculum. I am looking forward to researching this curriculum as I have heard many positive reviews of it.

    • Diana,

      You definitely have a hard decision to make. You will find many who will not support you decision and then you will find the occasional one that will be super stoked about this. Most people just don’t know or understand what homeschool is all about.

      I’ve written about my experience with public, private, and homeschool in this post, http://anurseswildflowers.com/homeschool-giving-up-and-trying-again/. It’s a bit long but will help give you some perspective of what I went through when I quit homeschool the first time I tried. There are MANY who work and homeschool. At times it is a huge juggling act but it is rewarding. You may not see the rewards right away though. It is not easy either.

      As for me, I do not work full-time. My schedule is very weird. My husband works long shifts with a police department every weekend and then some. I work every saturday for sure which overlaps his sleep/wake hours. I go in at 7 am. My 11 year old keeps an eye on the littles while my husband tries to sleep a little bit more. I rush home when I’m off so he can make it to work on time for his next shift. I also typically pick up another 12 hour shift on a week day (some times more or less). Either my husband or my mother in law have the kids then.

      On top of that schedule, I take a heavy load of “on call” shifts every month during the week. This means I have to keep my phone and go to work if called in. My second job is a SANE nurse (or sexual assault nurse examiner). I don’t typically get called in though. When I do, it’s at very weird times. My husband or mother in law covers this call time too. Both my husband have court time to deal with too.

      I do know other moms who work 40 hours a week. One works swing shift and gets school done in the am. I know another nurse who works sunday -tuesday. Her mom helps with some homeschool on those days. Both, this nurse and I, do Classical Conversations. It is a great resource and keeps things a bit simpler. My friend’s mom is the one that takes the kids to CC days while my friend works.

      Another work and homeschool blogger is, http://homeschoolandwork.blogspot.com. There a others out there too. You just have to dig a little harder.

      You will have to let us know what you decide. I’m glad you have found some hope in the matter. 🙂

  • Hi! Just saw this. Thanks for posting. I am also a pedi nurse. I teach 4 days/ week and work the other 3 days. It’s not easy but I’m so grateful!

  • I currently work 30 hours out of the home and my husband does as well. My dd, who is only 8 (almost 9) is a gymnast so she is at her gym four mornings a week for 4 hours. My ds, who is 13 ( almost 14) is home for 4 days a week 4-5 hours at a time, alone. I pray a lot over this as it burdens my husband and myself to have him home alone. I fear the temptations he could face. He is a very good kid but let’s face it, we can all be tempted. School gets done in the afternoons and I have them do chores every single day. My husband helps out a lot with laundry and the rest, just gets done when it can. I desperately want to hire someone to do the deep cleaning about 2 times a month. We are hoping to have our parents moving closer to us in the future so they could a help with just getting him out to do stuff. We don’t do any field trips, etc. We just don’t have time but my son is quite active with his church youth program. I would love to find a co-op he could be a part of but the one we were hoping for didn’t get enough to register and the other requires parent teaching involvement. So..I just keep plugging along. Doing what we do and prayerfully facing each day as it comes.

  • I’m so glad I found this blog. I definately feel more confident now to have read about even the possibility of pulling off homeschooling whilst working!! Thank you all!!!

  • Great post! I loved this: “We all work hard. We all care greatly. We all want what’s best for our kiddos. God has a will and a path for all of us.” Yes, that’s so true! God always knows what we need and when we need it the most. Thanks for sharing this!

    Cheers to working homeschool moms!

  • Thank you so much for this post! This is the first page I found doing a search for “nurse full time homeschooling.” I thought surely I’m not the only (soon to be) RN who also homeschools her kids! I just have to figure out where the resources are!

    We’re fairly relaxed homeschoolers, especially as I’ve gone through nursing school, but I’m graduating this December, by God’s grace, and I’m looking forward to figuring out what our new normal will look like. So many times I’ve contemplated enrolling them in public school, even just for a short season, but I can’t imagine having even more structure and restrictions on our time and finances than we already do. Heading off right now to check out your blog – thanks again!

  • Thank You for the post . I am employed full time and also a homeschooler . I am able to work 4 /10 day shifts with two of them from home . Which leaves two days a week that i am not at home with my daughter,. My husband gets home considerably early 9(around 1 p.m. ) and i have an adult daugter at home during the day . So those two days are extremely relaxed for my daughter .I too feel left out when it comes to alll the daytime homeschooling activities even though we do have three free days .

    But a bigger problem is defending my homeschooling decision . my daughters biological dad is questioning my decision , that makes me question myself. Putting her back in public school will be an easy fix but not the right thing . I am expecting court papers any day now .

  • This will be my 9th year of home schooling and over 7 of working 40 hours second shift outside the home. This is the first year that I am not ready to start our new year in August. We started the routine today, but I do not feel ready or excited at all. I am so tired. Also, I do feel like I am alone most of the time although I do have a couple of good friends that help me out often (take my kids with theirs on field trips, etc.) and that really helps, but at work I have NOTHING in common with any of them. Thanks for this post, it helps.

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