Working Homeschool Moms – Are You an Engaged Parent?

If you’re anything like me – a working homeschool mom – I’m sure educating your children became a huge commitment the moment that you took that first leap of faith and entered into the somewhat intimidating world of home education. I can guarantee that all of us have totally turned our worlds upside down to make it all function smoothly…or at least we’ve designed some kind of organized chaos. Simply put, we make educating our kids priority, and we don’t let work limit us, stop us, or infringe on our kids’ educational potential. This last month I was stalking the web reading other working homeschool mom posts when I came across one which had a slew of comments. One of those comments has prompted me to write today and ask you the question, Are you an engaged parent?

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

working homeschool moms

In the post, the author, Jennifer, explains that she works at home with her freelance writing business while also homeschooling her children. She encourages her readers to be intentional and flexible while also getting enough sleep and facilitating a team at home. It was a breath of fresh air to read her post and also the comments. There are so many working homeschool moms that have done very well – even with all of the challenges that come with this rebel-like school and work setup.

And then I read this (paraphrased) comment below which caused me to pause…

I was homeschooled while my mom worked. It can be done, but I suggest using caution. I learned and I read, but I did not have an engaged mom. If working while homeschooling your children is what you choose to do, I can’t tell you it won’t work, but I can tell you what I experienced. I also suggest that you be wary of encouraging other mothers to make this choice.

Okay. Well….hmmm….

That’s kind of a downer to read, wouldn’t you say? Ya know…for us “working homeschool moms”…

At first glance at this comment I immediately became defensive. I’m human. I’m also highly sensitive to any critique to the choices I’ve made in my home when it comes to educating my kids the way I WANT. I know that I have put almost my whole life into my kids. I’ve made career changes and pauses for my kids. I continually sacrifice a whole heap of what I’ve wanted so that my kids could have a better chance at life. I’ve spent oodles of time and money to make this thing called homeschool work. Heck, I’ve even gained 10 pounds in the last year with all the sitting (and snacking) that comes with school. I spend most of my wakeful moments with my kids when I’m not at work or driving to work. I’ve spent much of my thoughts on my kids and how they are doing. I’ve done a lifetime of worry about how it will all turn out. I have put my all into this thing called homeschool.

How on earth can anyone tell me I am not being engaged?

And then there’s the part of that comment at the end….the part that urges caution when encouraging other mothers who want to work and homeschool. Does this commenter feel that I am encouraging other mothers to jump off a cliff? I mean, seriously. At first glance this comment is frustrating to say the least. What I do is encourage mothers (and fathers) to take charge – to not give up and to actually take ownership of their children’s education. How on earth can this be “unengaged?!”

After pondering over this comment for…a while…I tried to think about where this person is coming from. I don’t question that she may have had a difficult time with her mother and her school situation. I’m sure she did. However, I do question what the other dynamics were. Why was she pulled out of school? What was going on in the family at this time? Were there any learning difficulties or illnesses present? Was there a bigger goal in mind? Were there other things going on that she was unaware of? Ultimately, what were the extenuating circumstances that may have convinced this daughter that her mother was so utterly unengaged that prompted her to speak out on a stranger’s post that encourages mothers to not limit themselves just because they work?

It’s sad that this woman had such a negative experience with homeschool that she felt the need to speak out. I’m sure she isn’t the only one that has felt her parents were “unengaged.” But I think this is rare rather than common. I also think that a child’s needs vary as do the needs of life from time to time. The child’s interpretation of how a parent engages is super subjective and varies depending on the child. I for one feel that if a parent is actually willing to educate her own children, she is far from being unengaged.

But, for the sake of the warning by this commenter, let’s take a look at what it means to be engaged. Depending on what dictionary you are reading through, there are a slew of definitions.

  • involved in activity
  • greatly interested, committed
  • involved especially in a hostile encounter
  • being in gear
  • entered into conflict with
  • interlocked
  • to secure for aid, employment, use, etc.; hire
  • to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)
  • to attract and hold fast
  • to bring (troops) into conflict; enter into conflict with
  • to pledge one’s word; assume an obligation
  • to cross weapons; enter into conflict

Looking at the definitions above, I can actually relate to some of these more than I want to admit. Sometimes being engaged is more like entering into conflict rather than playing with pretty little wildflowers. I think all of us homeschooling moms can attest to that whether or not we work. As you can see, being “engaged” can mean many different things.

working homeschool mom

So what does this commenter actually mean to “not be engaged” then?

I am reminded of a zombie. I picture an emotionally disheveled mother aimlessly scuffling through life, with eyes glazed over staring at some distant place and with drool seeping out the mouth, completely uninterested in anything around her – like a zombie (that is unless this zombie is from The Walking Dead). Or maybe she is a couch potato engrossed in the latest popular TV show day in and day out instead of caring for anything else. Or maybe she is one who has a heart of stone. One who is uncaring, cold, unsympathetic, unloving, unfriendly – an unemotional nature down to the core. Or maybe she is the one continuously engrossed in her phone, the computer, or her own self. Or maybe being unengaged means that Mom is there but not mentally present at all — like a statue. Are you the statue mom? Do you have a heart of stone? Are you a zombie mom? Are you constantly distracted?

In all honesty, I can openly admit that I have definitely been “unengaged” at times. I’ve played that zombie role a time or two. Again, I am human. Aren’t we all? After a couple night shifts with hard cases…why yes, I’m unengaged…especially before I’ve gotten a couple cups of coffee in. Are you surprised? Life is hard. Winter is long. Hormones rage. Exhaustion creeps in. Anyone who dares to deny ever struggling with these things needs to think real hard on that. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Hopefully these seasons pass quickly and we can get on with life. Hopefully, if you are struggling with a “season” you can revive that spirit, life, and luster that will keep a sense of zeal in your homeschool and with your kids. God forbid you be accused of being unengaged.

Looking back at the commenter’s statement, I truly wonder if there was a deeper issue — one that involves relationship or a chronic distraction from her mother.

What being engaged means — what it truly means — is that you have relationship. You are involved at an emotional level. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you could spend an eternity with your children and still be accused of being unengaged. It takes more than just going through the motions. You have to be intentional. Spending time with your daughter does not just mean going to the grocery store together. Although I have been known to use this as “us time” with my 12-year-old on busy weeks. Personally, I get so much more quality time with my kids now than I ever would if they were at a traditional school.

working homeschool moms

Being engaged means opening our hearts up to our children routinely.  It means looking at your kids when they talk and really listening. It means putting the phone down. It means turning off that TV even when all you want to do is decompress. It means notching out some time on a dependable and regular basis to grow a loving friendship with your kids too. Talk with your kids in a real conversation. Go on walks with them. Laugh. Encourage them. Love them. Hug them. Explore with them. Be interested in their interests. Don’t make homeschool just a bunch of check boxes. Have fun. Enjoy life together. Pray together. Learn together. And ultimately, work on anything in your heart that is causing you to have distance or a heart of stone that makes you unengaged.

Because we are working homeschool moms, we are tied down by time. We have less of it, so we base our days on schedules, deadlines, and check-off lists. We need to make sure that we are truly being engaged the majority of our time. It is impossible to be 100% awesome all the time, but let’s try to be more than not! Life is more than check-lists. Put some heart and soul into your day and I assure you, it will make for a smoother path — one with pretty little wildflowers sprinkled about. 😉

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

 What do you do to be “engaged” with your kids?

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  1. Wow!! This one really hit home! I could easily be accused of being unengaged. Partly because I work, but partly because I’m just such an introvert. I have an Aspie as well! I am an Aspie too. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m sharing it with a LinkedIn community I belong to.

    1. Thank you! It’s very easy to judge us introverted people. People assume unengagement. It is something I have had to actively work on. When I am more outgoing then my daughter seems to follow.

  2. I am a mom of a toddler, and while my husband and I are still far away from making the school decision we are def thinking of homeschool. I have to be honest, one of my fears is that since I do a lot of freelance work I won’t have the attention to give my daughter for hours on end – I think it can be done but I also think it takes the right people, the right parents to really work, homeschool and run their family. It’s a lot. I had a friend who’s mother worked and this friend was homeschooled. She was really really lonely and went through a lot of… issues because she wasn’t really socialized. I’m not saying I think it’s a bad thing for a parent who works to homeschool, but I do think it’s probably not right for everyone…

    1. You are very right. It’s not for everyone. I do think that some children are more sensitive than others. I pulled my child because we didn’t like the quality of socialization she was getting…among other things. She is lacking in the friendship realm currently, but she has plenty of socializing. I don’t think this would be resolved with a school. In all honesty, I see my kids 10 fold more than I did when they were attending a traditional school.

  3. Well only other homeschool parents I’ve met consider me non-engaged. However, I was raised to be pretty independent, and so was my husband. We believe in ’empowering’ our kids to own their education also. So we found curriculum that teaches for us 90% of the time. We act as administrator, tutor, encourager and curriculum specialist. We do support our kids sports teams by either coaching or being ‘team mom’. However, we both work outside the home and have to give our kids some role in the learning aspect of their education. Within 2 years of homeschooling them, they are active participants in their learning and goal setting. Therefore, I think being somewhat ‘un-engaged’ has benefited all of us.

    1. What!? Oh Nita, you are far from unengaged. Those homeschool ladies need to look at your detailed planning. Seriously. My jaw drops every time I look at your plans! You are a great encourager too! You are a rockstar homeschooler. We are not supposed to hold our children’s hands indefinitely through this process and you have prepared your kids for their futures. They can teach themselves. That is the best gift!

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