By Linsey Knerl, Crosswalk.com
Homeschooling families are by and large a creative, talented, and steadfast bunch and have just the right type of parents to both work remotely and oversee their child’s education. If you’ve found yourself in this position, take heart! In my sixteen years of balancing a freelance writing career with homeschooling, I’ve learned to trust the process and be open to personal growth, including through these three essential life lessons:
1. Don’t Keep It a Secret
I admit there was a time when I wasn’t very forthright with new clients about the fact that I homeschool six children. I feared they would think I couldn’t handle the workload.
When the pandemic forced many kids home into remote schooling situations, and parents worked from home along with them, clients changed their tune. Many assumed people had kids in other rooms while Zoom calls were in progress. Most had their own kids tottering past, along with pets, UPS delivery men, and even an in-law or two.
People who may have been strangers to the realities of working at home with kids got a taste of my life. They now appreciate the special set of skills that comes while running a business from the family home. Their acceptance is a nice change, and it has actually helped me market myself as a master of task management. While I don’t lead with it in new client meetings, when it comes up, I embrace my role as educator and provider. Being confident in my purpose has never caused me to lose a client.
2. Prioritize the Right Way
Most people think of prioritization as a list of sorts. Many experts recommend, "Put the important things at the top. Do those first. Let the less important things fall to the bottom." While this is good advice, homeschooling and work often come into conflict when you oversimplify how to tackle a big to-do list.
Here’s an example: Suppose you have a new math lesson to go over with your child. You place the book in front of him, check that he has everything he needs, then go into another room to take a Zoom call. Soon, the kid misreads a problem, can’t move on without your help, and starts to cry. Now, he is outside your door frustrated, and you aren’t able to do your best work in the meeting, knowing your child is dealing with this. This could have been avoided.
I like to break all the work tasks and school tasks down for the day and list them in order of importance (prioritization). I then assign tasks that require a lot of focus for the child or me as "A" tasks. Those that require partial focus are "B" tasks. Things that can be done while checking emails or doing mindless busy work are "C" tasks.
Then, I set out to match up A tasks with C tasks so that my child is never left doing something that requires a lot of focus while I’m also doing something that requires focus. We match B tasks together as they fit into our day. We usually end up with a lopsided bunch of C or A tasks and enlist the help of other family members or try to tackle these on the weekends. As you get into your groove, you won’t have to list these all out; they will come naturally.
3. Avoid Overplanning
I’m guilty of making a week’s worth of meal plans, buying all the ingredients, then watching five dollars’ worth of kale go bad in the fridge. As remote working parents, it’s easy to act like we have all the same time as someone who doesn’t work, and we can plan every minute of the day to try to squeeze it all in.
Unfortunately, life happens. I try planning only the important things for the week, such as soccer games, client interviews, and doctor appointments. I leave plenty of space on the calendar for unexpected events and rely on a full pantry and a list of go-to easy pressure cooker recipes that can be made at a moment’s notice.
If you are someone who must fill that planner, do so with the bare necessities. Trust yourself to make it up a little as you go along because you’ll have to. If the kids end up eating pizza or frozen burritos a few more nights a week, it will be okay. (Just pair it with a fresh salad so you can use up all that kale.)
Copyright 2022, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
Linsey Knerl is a homeschool mom of six, a freelance copywriter, and the author of Homeschool Hacks: How to Give Your Kid a Great Education without Losing Your Job (or Your Mind). She blogs about homeschooling and homesteading in Nebraska at LillePunkin.com.