5 tips for working while homeschooling

“Homeschooling is my dream, but I could never quit my job.”

“My family runs better with homeschooling…but I could really use another stream of income.”

“Between work and homeschool lessons, I’m a frazzled mess!”

Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been there, friend! 

After adopting my daughter, I longed to give her the interest-led, low-pressure educational experience homeschooling provides. But as a full-time school counselor, I simply couldn’t see how it would work. It didn’t help that I had no models for working homeschool parents to follow.

How could I not send my children to public school all day while I worked for a living? The status quo felt like a Goliath to overcome.

For me, conquering that Goliath came in the form of opening my own counseling and coaching business. (Five stars…highly recommend, by the way! 😉)

Becoming an entrepreneur always means stretching one’s mindset, but it had the added bonus of helping me stretch my mindset about home education while working as well. As a result, I’ve discovered a number of strategies that help homeschooling moms and dads have the best of both worlds when it comes to work and home education. Today I’m sharing my 5 best tips for meshing the two.

 #1: Work in chunks, not pockets.

Many work-at-home experts suggest knocking out work-related tasks while you boil the spaghetti noodles, wait on your fourth grader to finish a word problem, or while in line at the pharmacy. But this “pockets of time” method actually tends to expand to working all the time and remaining tethered to a device—with neither your homeschooling or your business getting decent attention.

Instead, I advise my clients to shoot for focused chunks of dedicated time on a consistent basis. Could you spend the first few hours on Saturday mornings at a coffee shop, barreling through emails without interruptions? Would it be possible to implement a daily “solo hour” for everyone in your home to retreat to independent (quiet) tasks, perhaps while little ones nap? These very focused blocks of time help you keep momentum going without feeling like you’re giving up true presence with either responsibility.

#2: Get virtual assistance.

When I share that I run two businesses while homeschooling, I’m very transparent about the help I receive. I hire Virtual Assistants to return phone calls or build social media graphics, all for a fraction of the hourly rate I earn when I meet one-on-one with my clients. My time is better spent with client work instead of fussing with Instagram captions—and the financial return is better, too. One of my favorite sources for finding quality virtual assistants is 90 Day VA.

You might also choose to supplement your home education with online classes like Outschool, Doc Robin’s School, or Udemy. In keeping with my recommended “chunks” method, perhaps you could set aside Fridays as mom’s day to work while the children engage in online learning.

#3: Consider hiring a homeschool helper.

Just because you are a homeschool family doesn’t mean you have to be the only one teaching your child. What about bringing in a newly retired school teacher or an older homeschool student for a few hours a week to help? A college student majoring in education is often thrilled at the prospect of leading educational activities for your brood in exchange for an hourly wage and a letter of reference. Many homeschool parents could use a bit of extra income in exchange for bringing your child alongside their own for a reading hour, a cooking session, or a local field trip. In fact, I find that these HH’s have taught me lots of new skills for home education that breathe new life into my own teaching!

#4: Get creative with extracurricular lessons, care centers, and community programs.

One of the most brilliant working parent tips I’ve heard is to utilize the child care program at your gym while you use the lobby for work. Typically these childcare programs are available at no cost if you’re a gym member, and the wifi quality is great! While you finish writing a report, your kiddos are happily playing with a different set of toys and new friends in the care center!

The same goes for library programs like story hour or tween book clubs, where you can perch with your laptop at a nearby table. Could you wrap up a work task in the corner during piano lessons or art class? Or catch a video call from your car or a borrowed study space within a community center? Embrace the flexibility of homeschooling within your work schedule to help you get it all done.

#5: Enlist a coach, consultant, or mentor.

Two heads are better than one! I couldn’t begin count how many times I’ve shared an insight for productivity, procrastination, or business strategy and my client’s jaw drops: “Why didn’t I think of that?!” 

Last year, I hired a productivity coach to deep-dive with me into my daily schedule as a way of finding ways to more effectively manage my workers. I couldn’t believe what a difference this made, even though I consider myself to be an expert in productivity! The simple act of having someone hold you accountable and gently point out your blindspots is like fertilizer for your productivity. Consider it an investment (often tax deductible!) in your own income potential.

Which of these will you consider trying this year? What steps might you need to take to shift your mindset about the possibilities of work and homeschooling? And who can you enlist to help you make this a reality? 

With the right strategies and some psychological shifts, you can put together a work/homeschool balance that’s authentic to your family values.

Celeste Coffman, <em>Counselor + Entrepreneurship Coach for Women</em>
Celeste Coffman, Counselor + Entrepreneurship Coach for Women

Celeste is a homeschooling mom, a professional counselor, and an entrepreneurship coach for women. She’s a lover of true crime podcasts, documentaries, and reading memoirs. Celeste homeschools with unit studies, art, living books, online supplementary classes…but nary a nature study in sight! She practices at Thoughtful Journey Counseling in Alabama, and all over the world via Celeste Coffman Coaching. Find her on Instagram @CelesteCoffmanCoaching or @FlorenceAlabamaTherapy.

Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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