Guest Post by Michelle Shaeffer
Homeschooling a child is a challenge. Working at home is a challenge.
Combine the two and you’re facing a really BIG challenge.
But it can be done, and it can be done well, if you’re determined to make it work.
I’ve been homeschooling my three children while working from home for the past 7 years and I have a thriving business, three well educated and social children, and I haven’t crossed the line into insanity yet.
And I’m only one of many moms who have decided that the reasons and rewards are big enough that it’s worth the effort.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that help me through the day:
1. Always keep things in perspective and know your “why” for what you do.
Remember why you’ve made the decision to homeschool and why you’ve made the decision to work from home. That’ll pull you through the tough moments.
And don’t let a single moment, hour, or day cloud what the “big picture” is for success.
2. Have a plan.
To get a lot done in a day, you’ve got to be really focused with your time.
I’ve discovered that the only way to keep on top of things is with a solid schedule. I don’t schedule minute by minute but I do use blocks of time and know which part of the day is for what.
Each day, I know what needs completed in our homeschool to get through the year’s curriculum on time. I use “The Well Planned Day” planner to stay on track.
I know my business goals and keep a calendar so appointments and important tasks don’t slip through the cracks.
3. Know your priorities and goals.
Some things you can let slide a day or two.
It’s not the end of the world if Mount Laundry piles up for a day. What’s more important?
You don’t have to have a home cooked dinner 31 nights of the month. An occasional pizza delivery is okay if it means you had the extra time you needed to finish that math lesson with your grade-schooler or get an urgent project completed for a client.
Focus on the big goals first, the most important things, and then be flexible with the rest.
4. Make smart choices.
Have systems and plans for keeping your household together. If you plan your menu in advance, there’s no scrambling through the “What’s for Dinner?” routine. Use a crock pot or freezer cooking and make dinner even easier.
You need to choose a business model that will allow you to outsource and leverage your time. Take steps to move your business in a direction that allows you to do this. Automate and systemize as much as you can.
For schooling, choose your curriculum based on your child’s learning style and your family’s needs. It’s okay to take into consideration how much time the lessons will involve. Some homeschooling options require hours of preparation while others are “open and go” style.
Consider unit studies, curriculum that allows your children to share lessons, and other options. Ask other homeschooling moms what’s working for them and why, how much time they’re spending to prepare and present lessons, and most importantly whether the kids are picking up the lessons and enjoying their learning.
When you find the right curriculum and approach your kids can learn more in 30 minutes than they can in hours of the wrong curriculum and approach. More time doesn’t necessarily equal a better education. It’s knowing your family and your kids, then taking a smart, strategic approach that leads to a great education.
5. Accept that you don’t have to do it all yourself.
It’s okay to ask for help from your husband or children with the housework, or hire a house cleaner to come in a few times a week.
Hire a competent virtual assistant to help you in your business or use sites like Fiverr, ScriptLance, and others to get help when you need it.
And don’t overlook the options to make homeschooling easier and share some of the responsibility — computerized math, DVD art or music lessons, group learning, private tutors and homeschool co-ops are just some of the ways you can give your kids a great education and free up some of your time.
6. Be accountable to someone.
I have a business coach who keeps me on track for my business and moving consistently toward my goals.
For homeschooling, my husband and I have chosen to work through a charter school that provides a support structure for us. I’m frequently in touch with our assigned teacher for support, and every quarter I know that I’ve got to get grades and work samples turned in.
7. Erase the word “quit” from your vocabulary and focus on being flexible and learning as you go.
I’ve chosen not to allow quitting to be an option.
Homeschooling doesn’t work for us just because I’m cut out for it or because it’s easy. It works because it’s important to our family for a variety of reasons, and we’re determined to make it work.
The same goes for my business. Of course there are rough days where I’d rather go to bed early or just relax in front of the television. But I remind myself of #1 on this list and that gets me refocused and into action again.
You can connect with Michelle Shaeffer on her blog at www.michelleshaeffer.com. By day, she’s teaching her children the basics of reading, math, and why using their little sister as a test subject for science experiments isn’t okay. By afternoon, she’s usually buried in laundry and promising herself for the hundredth time she’ll hire a permanent maid. By super early morning and very late evening, she teaches entrepreneurial woman how to be seen, hear, and loved by their tribes online. And somewhere in there she’s drinking a lot of coffee and remembering that making a real difference means tackling the big challenges and throwing her heart into everything she does.