Attempting to homeschool while working full-time can seem like an impossible task. However, a growing number of families are discovering that it can absolutely be done. With more flexible and work-from-home career opportunities available, parents are finding that homeschooling while working is now an option. Here’s our family’s journey to becoming homeschoolers while working full-time.
Starting Off as a Working Mom
I never thought I could be a homeschool mom.
After we got married, Hubby and I were quite content with the idea of putting our children in the same public school system we grew up in. We planned to be super attentive parents, supplementing our children’s education, as needed.
That was the plan, until the top of 2020.
I was working as a Systems Engineer and Scrum Master at Lockheed Martin and entering my 16th year with the company. I felt like I was finally starting to make a move into leadership and was working on a promotion. So, things were pretty good on the career front.
I always saw myself on a path to upper-level technical management.
However, as our family grew, my priorities slowly shifted. My desire to “climb the corporate ladder” could not compete with how much I loved being at home with our family.
Long days and short evenings had my mom-guilt on 1000%. I was always looking for the coveted work/life balance that everyone says exists.
Well, all I’ve found is that the only balancing that exists is something akin to a tightrope walker’s act. And at any moment it could all come tumbling down.
Our circus act seemed to be a success. It took a pandemic to show us how many other possibilities there could be for our family to learn and grow together.
Change of Plans
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, our family was full of plans for the year. Big plans. After spending six years in our first family home, it was time to leave. Our growing family was in need of more space than our townhome could provide. We hoped 2020 would be the year we found “the next house”. We’d planned for it and were ready to make the big move.
At the same time, we were planning baby number three and we found out in early-January that we were expecting. We were so excited to be expanding our family that the rumblings of the Covid-19 didn’t hit home for a while.
Then in February, Hubby went back to the office for the new year. When he asked me to look for face masks that he could wear to go back into the city.
That’s when we started to pay attention. He was working in Manhattan and we’d started to see more concern about the looming Coronavirus threat.
By March, the whole world was in lockdown. Our plans for the year were rapidly changing. The first thing to go was the plan for the new home. Ugh! That would have to wait. As sad as we were, it was no longer a priority.
The safety of our family was the highest priority. Hubby’s entire industry came to a standstill as NYC closed up shop. Luckily, he had everything he needed to work from home as a freelance media producer and editor.
Our oldest was four years old at the time and was all of a sudden home full-time for the first time. When we had the option to do virtual learning, jumped at it and planned for her to be home for the rest of the year.
Forced into Homeschooling
Enter Daddy School 2020! Unfortunately, I still had to go in to work most days.
So, the day to day with our little lady was left up to Hubby.
We were blessed to have our oldest son, who was two at the time, be watched by my mother in law, so he was enjoying his regular routine.
Because Hubby’s work schedule could be very demanding, he could not keep up with the twice-a-day class check-ins and class work requested by our daughter’s school. Hubby also saw the school work as busy work and I couldn’t blame him.
She was in Prek-4 and was already ahead because of the very informal homeschool–after-school that I had been doing with her for a while. She had ended the previous year reading early readers and was ahead in math. Her previous school teacher had actually taken credit at the end of school ceremony! Her class work had her reviewing letter recognition and counting to 10.
She started to get bored.
Hubby saw this as an opportunity to give her a boost. He started her on addition and subtraction and continued to give her more challenging phonics lessons.
To keep her on track with her class, I would come home from work to get her caught up with whatever was assigned by her teacher and then do any additional lessons I had planned, especially if Hubby had a busy work week.
When the option to do hybrid schedule, we opted to stay virtual. We were NOT ready to send her back to school and we were gaining confidence in our ability to teach her on our own.
By the time the 2019-2020 school year ended, we were exhausted of the idea of keeping up with the unpredictable virtual/hybrid nature of the school schedules and were not excited about our daughter going to kindergarten the next year. It would be a whole year of reviewing things she’d learned the years prior and safety was still a concern.
Deciding to Continue Homeschooling
When baby number three arrived (via homebirth…that’s a whole other story), I planned to be out on maternity leave for 4-5 months. I knew I would be overwhelmed with keeping up with the school’s virtual schedule for 2020-2021 while caring for our newborn, so we nixed the idea of having our oldest go back to school that year. We pulled our now five year old out of the local public school system and planned to commit to fully homeschooling our own. Our three year old would also be joining us at home. Grandma would watch the older kiddies once or twice a week to give them a change of pace every now and then.
The first few months were chaotic with all three kiddies together and Hubby still working from home. We found a way to make it work, even though our tightrope act was now a juggling act in our crazy rinky-dink circus.
I studied curricula like I was a mad woman and purchased far more than I probably needed. But I was REALLY excited. More excited than I thought I would be. As we went into our lessons, I realized how much I truly enjoyed teaching them and seeing them absorb information. Seeing how much they were growing each day was absolutely amazing.
As my maternity leave came to an end, I decided to go back to work part-time so that I could continue to homeschool. Our juggling act got even more intricate as my MIL started watching the baby a few days a week and then together with the older kids once a week. We managed to somehow finish lessons when I came home from work or when Hubby was able to jump in.
Because of covid I was able to work from home most of the week, but I still had work to do in the office at least once a week.
At work, I got the promotion I was after and started working as a Release Train Engineer. This position gave me more freedom to spend time with the family with a flexible schedule. We’d do lessons between my work and meetings and then I would finish my work late into the night.
We somehow found the time to get the important stuff done, even though we were usually exhausted by the end of the night. The only problem I had (and still have) is managing the house work. I’m getting there, but far from where I’d like to be.
Finding a Homeschooling Groove
As chaotic as our lives became, Hubby and I started to feel more and more confident in our ability to teach our children and find more reasons to make it work. With the world still in such an uncertain place, we felt blessed to be able to spend the time together and to be an integral part of our children’s early education.
We managed our expectations, tried and failed and eventually felt like we survived the first official homeschool year. We decided to homeschool year-round, and ended with a loose 3-4 day school week, depending on my work schedule. Some weeks we did 2 days and others we did 5 days, but it all worked out, as we completed the stack of curricula that I had purchased. Thank goodness!
At the end of the school year (mid-July), we planned a graduation ceremony for the big kids. We now had a Kindergarten graduate and a big boy ready to start Prek-4. We invited our families over to celebrate the achievements of our littles (ahem… and ours). As we looked back on what we were able to do in that first year, it was a wild and crazy ride. But, the kids were proud of themselves and said they wanted to homeschool again the following year. Tears anyone?
At this point we realized we’d always been homeschooling in our own unorthodox and relaxed way over the years. As we looked forward to the next year, we decided to keep the circus going. We don’t know how long we will plan to homeschool. For now, it is the best path for our family. The best part is we get to do it all together.
Are you working full-time while homeschooling your kids? We’d love to hear how you got started below!