Can you actually work and homeschool 6 kids? How is it even possible? Everyone will demand my attention—kids, clients, schoolwork. Is it possible to reasonably do both without losing my mind?
Mom, these were just some of the questions that plagued my mind when I started my virtual assistant business almost 10 years ago. Along with running my two businesses (I am also a digital creator), I’ve been homeschooling my 6 kids for about 7 years now. Yes, sometimes I think I am crazy too.
My Work and Homeschool Mom Credentials
I am a mom of 6 kids, ranging in age from teen to toddler. Yes, I birthed them all. Needless to say, it can get a little crazy around here. Every day is a precarious balance of managing kids, clients, and life. So how did I end up as a mom entrepreneur, homeschooling 6 kids (ok, the toddler isn’t actually homeschooled, but she still wants to do everything that the big kids do)? This is a huge leap from high-powered suits and working on Broadway.
Living the Best Unimagined Life
In all the essays growing up about what you want to be, I would never have imagined the life I am living. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I could imagine what my life would be like now, I probably would have said, “Teaching three kids to ride the New York City subway while working in Manhattan.”
That was our life 15 years ago. I was pregnant with our second child (but I knew we would have a third), and we were commuting every day for work. And I didn’t like it. I wanted to be able to be home with my kids and take care of them, but I didn’t see a way out. New York is as expensive as you hear. (You can read more of my story from corporate workhorse to momtrepreneur).
I was homeschooled, so I wanted to give that same opportunity to my kids when they reached school age. My goal was to be homeschooling my kids by the time they reached middle school. Fast forward a few years (just a few because I refuse to acknowledge that I can be that old), and that goal has been reached.
This is not an easy journey, but anything worth doing is going to be hard. I think that’s what makes the rewards so sweet.
How Do You Actually Work and Homeschool
I’ve picked up a few things along the way that have helped to make this work and homeschool a bit easier…or at least not so overwhelming. I love to share my knowledge of how to work from home and homeschool my kids with other moms.
Here are my top 3 tips on how to work and homeschool
1. Let Go of the Perfect
I think this is one of the hardest things for moms to do. We want our homes to always be guest-ready, and our meals to be perfectly balanced and Martha Stewart-approved.
If you have more than one kid in your home, this just isn’t going to happen. I’ve been exploring the idea of work life balance for me, a mom of 6 running 2 businesses, and I’ve reached this conclusion. If you want to have a work-life balance—a serene and peaceful life—then let go of the perfect, so you can embrace the good.
It is hard to settle for good enough, but if you are actually going to accomplish anything, then you need to let go of the perfect. It is ok for the kids to make a frozen pizza. I know, I know we need to maintain the image of perfectly healthy meals three times a day. But I won’t tell if you don’t tell.
Even in your homeschool, they don’t need to master every subject. Seriously, when was the last time you used algebra? There is a reason you are re-learning things in your homeschool; you’ve forgotten them because you never used them.
Give yourself permission to let go of the perfect.
If you are working and homeschooling, then you need a schedule. This is your number one tool to help you accomplish everything. Part of the reason you want to create a schedule is so your kids can learn to be independent learners. Create habits, so you can set the day on autopilot…for the most part.
You may need to work on this. Creating a schedule does not come easily for everyone. Don’t try to copy a public school schedule. That will just make you crazy. Create structure in your day so your kids know when to start school, get lunch, do chores, etc.
The key is to find one that works for you. If everyone likes to get up a 7 am, then do that. If everyone isn’t coherent until 10 am, don’t get up until then. The important thing is to set your expectations so your kids know what to do and you keep your sanity.
If you are going to make working from home and homeschooling successful, then you need to set working hours for yourself. This will help your kids, your clients, and you. Your kids will know when you are working. They will know when you aren’t so readily available, and that’s a good thing. It will also help to set expectations with clients. They will know when you will answer the phone and when you won’t.
A schedule will help to end your day. It is so easy to keep working. There is always one more thing to do. Your desk is right there. And it is more fun to work on and accomplish a project than to do the dishes for the fifteenth time in a day. But you need to stop working at some point. Set a time when your computer is shut down, or the office door is closed.
Let me add this. You don’t need to schedule every minute of your day. When I say schedule, it is a loose guideline of when you eat breakfast, when the kids get lunch, etc. Be clear on your expectations of when your kids need to start their schoolwork. My kids can take as many breaks as they want but can’t go anywhere until schoolwork is done. Be rigid with yourself when it comes to your office hours, especially when it is time to end your day.
3. Work and Homeschool Don’t Need to be in Conflict
As a momtrepreneur and homeschooling mom, it is easy to feel conflicted all the time. Yes, I feel divided some days. It is normal to feel this way. So banish the mom guilt. Being a mom and working from home don’t need to be in conflict with each other.
You can do both and be successful as a mom and momtrepreneur. Your success won’t be defined as a bigger house, better car, or fuller closet. That is the best part. You get to define success that prioritizes your family and being a mom. You get to decide what this looks like.
Just the Beginning
I am not going to lie and say, “It is so easy. Just do this, and you too could be like me.” The reality is that it is hard. I do frequently ask myself, “What the heck do you think you are doing? Do you know the vacations you could take if you weren’t buying curriculum?”
Yes, it is hard working with clients. And I work with some pretty amazing people. There are days that I wish I could just walk away and be a carefree mom…but I need to buy a homeschool curriculum. So there’s that.
Despite all of the conflicting thoughts, overwhelming emotions, and the need to keep my balance, I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. There isn’t a life you could offer me that would entice me to change the relationship I have with my kids. Or the opportunity they have to learn and explore what interests them in the most loving environment.