Working Homeschool Moms – Do You Need a Day Off?

Last month I shared with you in my article, “Working Homeschool Moms: Are You an Engaged Parent?” a comment I came across on another blog. This comment brought to light the concern that working parents may not always be engaged homeschoolers. While I disagree with this commenter, I still feel we should look at this further. If you’ve been homeschooling long enough, you should know that this is not limited to working moms. All parents are unengaged from time to time. That’s life. Instead of writing about the occasional unengagement, I want to focus on the long-term issues that may be present. Prevention is a good place to start. First, let me ask, Do you need a day off?

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 Mom, Do You Need a Day Off?

Working homeschool Moms need a day off

When looking back at last month’s article, I listed a few examples of what “unengaged” means. One of those examples was the distracted, busy mom. Not only are we busy physically but also mentally. We are trying to wrap our minds around all we have to do. While we may be masters at multitasking, sometimes the quality of our multitasking gets a little hazy.

When we aren’t accomplishing our list of to-dos, we are thinking of what we need to be doing next…or we are even stressing about it, and that can become a huge storm in our heads. This can be distracting, especially when we are trying to sit and do school with the kids. Once again, time becomes our major obstacle to beat. Between sleep, showers, eating, work, homeschool, and whatever else comes up, there isn’t always time for a lot of anything else – at least with the way things are going right now for some of us.

I’m sure we all would love to invent more time. I wish I could find a way to stretch time and then find some extra energy to go along with it. However, unless we happened to be the actual Time Keeper, we can only use the time we’ve got. We’ve got to make that time flow better….so we can stay engaged instead of being distracted by our busy selves.

One of the best ways to make things mesh better is to cut something out of the day for a planned amount of time. Some call this “decluttering” the day. Knocking stuff off the “need to get done today” list is freeing. It allows for other things to get done without as much distraction. It lets you focus on what you are doing, creating a higher quality experience for everyone. When you’ve taken care of business, then you can go back to your normal routine feeling like you’ve gotten what you need to get done, done.

What makes us busy? Work and homeschool top the list for most of us. This is what clutters our day.

With work, there are some options–but most aren’t always realistic. The obvious solutions here would be to decrease your work schedule, rearrange your schedule, or simply quit. But most can’t or don’t want to do this. So talking about work adjustments is not what I’m going to focus on in this article.

There is one other option.

That has to do with homeschool. To put it straight, schooling the kids is something that needs to be swept under the rug from time to time. Yes. You read that right. Yeah, yeah. I sound crazy. But seriously. Unless you have a clone, this has to happen sometimes or you will never get anything else done. We all need a day off. We also need a day to run errands and do chores. And if you have hobbies, you need time for that too…if you haven’t forgotten how to do your hobbies.

Sometimes we need more than just a day. Sometimes, we need several weeks to get a specific task completed – like moving, remodeling the home, traveling, or caring for a sick family member. Not having the time to do these things will most certainly cause us to disengage eventually. Summer break is great, but if you have a goal of schooling year-round (which is common among working moms), summer break isn’t always an option. Sometimes the unscheduled break is what you need–even if it is right in the middle of April.

This spring break, my family took two weeks off instead of one because of a home update including refinishing the kitchen cabinets, painting, removing wall paper, and redoing the floors. We are preparing to list our home on the market and will be doing it fast. With the kitchen a wreck, and then going to work, there was just no feasible way to sanely fit school in. Once school started back up after spring break, we only did the essentials including math, reading, and language arts because we still weren’t done with the project. Trying to squeeze school in during this “house thing” made me crazy. I came to the realization that school could be paused. That’s why we homeschool, right? So we can control the timing.

How do you actually incorporate this into your plan? 

Simple. You adjust. You flex. Up. Or down. There’s no shame in this.

Side note…I am blessed to have a nurse’s schedule which allows me to cram many hours into one shift. I also take a lot of call. My plan will look very different from a person who works 5 days a week. For me, some weeks I only get two days a week to school the kids. Others I get 5. My husband covers the other days I’m not available. But sometimes, we ditch school altogether. We flex down when we need to. Sometimes we do school at 8pm. Our days vary a lot.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Instead of school 5 days a week, do school 3-4 days a week. Make these power days if you have to to get through the curriculum. The rest of the week is a lighter schedule of passive, flexible learning.

2. Plan to take a real day off of a regular school time every other week to get shopping, planning, and errands done that you can’t normally get done. Include you time during this day. Make this day a fun day if you’d like.

3. Make your school time segments shorter or expect a greater amount of independent work from your kids. Many working homeschool moms slowly drift to a more independent based curriculum. This is very freeing. You don’t have to hold your child’s hand 24/7. Obviously, “littles” need more hand holding.

4. Or do like I did. Take a few weeks off to get a bigger project done. Put all the books away and try not to think about the school time your kids are missing. You will get more done not trying to cram school in. The school time you have during your big project is probably not going to be very good anyway. And besides, I’m sure they are learning real life skills anyway.

Giving yourself this time to accomplish life’s other needs and wants will start you on the path to staying engaged with the kids when you are supposed to be giving them your all.

Homeschooling is supposed to be freeing, not a prison. Embrace that freedom. Take a day off and do it regularly.

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

As a working homeschool mom, how do you flex down to get things done?

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  1. Heather,
    It is so refreshing coming across your blog. I’m brand new to homeschooling; still figuring everything out. I have a 2 and 4 year old so I know I’m maybe a little early, but I’m a planner. I work 30 hours a week outside the home and my husband works a full time schedule from home and watches the kids during the day when I’m at work. We both feel God is leading us to homeschool but frankly I feel overwhelmed and don’t know exactly where to start. We just finished a homeschool class but after going through it, I felt discouraged. The course focused mainly on the traditional idea of Christian homeschooling where the mom stays home and schools the kids from 8-3 while dad goes to work. I began to wonder if I was crazy to think I could homeschool my kids with both of us working. And even though it was an online course, it almost felt like I was being judged through the text and assignments for not fitting the ‘perfect homeschool mom mode.’ I was so discouraged that I asked God if I was crazy for doing this. Then I got the inspiration to Google working homeschool moms and found your blog. Your articles helped me off the preverbal edge. Thank you for your writing. And any additional insight you can share would be great. My husband and I plan to go to the WHO convention this year as well as we continue figuring out how homeschool will work for our family. God Bless

    1. Erin, be sure to look for more posts by Heather on the topic of homeschooling moms who work. Just type her name in the search box (in the right sidebar), and several more articles should show up. 🙂

    2. Hey there Erin!! You are not crazy. Seriously. Not at all. There are so many families who work and homeschool. It is very possible to do this. And you are totally right. Being a working homeschool mom will never look like the traditional homeschool set-up. That is okay. The challenge will be to find a curriculum that flows for you, your family, and everyone’s teaching and learning styles. You can see more of my life over at my blog, too. Here’s crazy for you…I work 24 hours a week most weeks and next month I start grad school too! Thank God my husband is so supportive. He works full-time as well.

  2. Fellow homeschool mom and RN here! I have two boys and we have been homeschooling for 3 years. Today I’m exhausted after a long shift yesterday so we are taking a relaxed day off. Boys are out biking and I’m reading. How do you get past the guilt/expectations of doing school more regularly? Like you our schedule varies a lot due to my shifts where some weeks we only get in 2 days and some 5. Would love to hear from you as we are living a similar reality!

    1. The author of the article no longer writes for us, but as a working mom myself (although I’m not an RN), I try to divide up my daughter’s lessons into whatever amount of work she needs to complete each week or month. Then, if we take days off here and there, we still know how much she needs to complete by the end of the week or month so that she gets the work done. We also homeschool year round, and that helps us to be able to get the necessary amount of work done over a longer period of time so we don’t feel so rushed and so we can take days off as needed without feeling guilty about it.

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