Sunday, July 17, 2011

But, how do you work and homeschool? Seems impossible...

Perhaps the most common question I face when people learn that I am a single, homeschooling, graduate student, working mom is: HOW?  How do I do it?  This post is in response to another one of those types of questions.  The particular question was "How do you homeschool and work? Unless you have a husband that stays home, it seems impossible..."  Here's my response: 

My son is 13 next month, and super mature. If I need to, I can leave him home and be confident that he will be ok. We also have several neighbors that I trust if he needs anything while I'm gone, not to mention that we are in contact via our cell phones - he has criteria everyday about when he has to call or text me, why he has to call or text, etc.

Before we moved cross-country, my mom, sister, and a few friends helped with childcare, and for a while I paid a sitter on Mondays. I worked part-time at a major hospital as a unit clerk, and then as an office assistant. When I worked night shift, my son either stayed at my mom's or my sister's house. When I worked days, I worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Over the weekend, JP was with my mom or sister (and he had friends and cousins to play with at both places), or sometimes he went to hang out with other friends. On Mondays, when I was on day shift, I paid a sitter until he was old enough, and mature enough, to be home alone. Working at a hospital generally pays pretty well, with good benefits for part-time, so a half-day of daycare every week was easily affordable.

Since moving, a lot has changed! I am now a graduate student and a private tutor. Some of the families I tutor for allow my son to come with me (one even insisted), and he has become good friends with my students and with their siblings. When I see the other families, my son is able to stay home - I'm usually only gone for 2-3 hours for those families anyhow. It has also worked out for my son to have golf lessons and go to the driving range at the golf course while I tutor for one family - the golf course caters to children, and the coaches and staff are awesome, and know my situation. They've been very generous in helping out - when my car battery died one afternoon, the staff stayed late in order to make sure my son was safe until I could get there.

I think that a lot of people have misconceptions about how to work while homeschool. When we break down stereotypes and start to look outside the box, we can find options that work. My son and I do not do school during traditional hours. And, I do not do traditional work right now, nor do I keep traditional work hours. By adjusting when we do things, we manage very well in both my working, and in homeschooling.

Also, I think a lot of homeschooling moms are afraid to ask for help - actually, a lot of moms in general. If you need to work, but can't figure out a way to make daycare feasible, talk to other moms and family. You may find someone in a similar situation. If you split the cost of childcare and alternate your home and theirs, it will cost a lot less. Or, if you find someone working opposite your schedule and you watch each others kids, you could work it out so you both have free childcare.

Making homeschooling and work WORK requires flexibility, humility (to ask for help), and a willingness to be honest about what you can do, are willing to do, and are already doing.


  1. Great story! I'm always hearing excuses from people who say they'd love to homeschool, but . . .

    If someone really want to do something badly enough, he or she will find a way. That's what you have done. You've found a way to homeschool. Kudos to you for your energy, creativity, drive, and can-do attitude. Your son sounds like a great kid with close relationships to family and friends. You couldn't ask for more.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story!!!


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