Homeschooling like it’s my job

Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

The past few months have been a little rocky around here.

Because, you know, life.

This has been doubly true for our homeschool.  Two months after starting our new school year, we still are trying to get into some semblance of a routine.

These difficulties have challenged me to not only look at what I am expecting of my boys, but what I am expecting of myself.

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying something that has completely changed my perspective on helping my kiddos learn.

I am homeschooling like it’s my job.

When I worked outside the home, there were many seasons where my work life was difficult and not going accordingly to plan. I never felt like a failure. It was just part of the job.

Not so with homeschooling.

If something is not working, it’s all on me.

You see, I love homeschooling my boys. I love being a part of the homeschooling community. I firmly believe that homeschooling is an essential element of how my family best does life. So, a few years ago, I would’ve been offended if someone said that it was just a “job.”

I can hear my sweet self now:

“Homeschooling is so much more than a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

Yes, Dear 2011 Shawna. It is. And this lifestyle can overwhelm sometimes. This lifestyle can make you feel like you are doing it all wrong, all the time. This lifestyle can seem so important that you lose sight of the reasons you adopted this lifestyle in the first place.

The truth is, homeschooling is just one element of how I do life with my family. Only one.

I am finding that the best way to keep it in check, in this difficult season, is to treat it like my 9-5.

Homeschooling like it’s my job

Since adopting my new attitude as a ‘homeschooling professional’ I have learned that there are some serious advantages to this approach.

Dedicated time

When I worked in an office, there was a consistent schedule. I showed up at a certain time. I left at a certain time. Although I might occasionally bring work home with me to complete after my boys were in bed, for the most part, when it was quitting time, it was actually quitting time.

This has not been the case with our homeschooling, so over the past few weeks, I have given us firm start and stop times. Going with the flow may have worked for us in the past, but not now – not in this season.

It’s been great. (Mostly the stop time, because no matter how difficult our day is, there is a predictable end in sight for all of us.)

This doesn’t mean we are not learning after hours at all. Of course we are. My kids built a huge model of a WWII battlefield at 7 p.m. last week. It was a bit like extra credit for all of us.

But the next day, they wanted to play video games all day. We had our dedicated learning time and then they were free to do what they wanted – even if our day did not go well. We just did the best we could until our stop time and moved on.

Guilt-free housekeeping

I did not anticipate this benefit, but hear me out.

When I worked full-time, it was difficult to keep up on the house during the week. Of course it was. I was a full-time working mom! But being home with my boys has created a housekeeping pressure that I did not expect. Because I am “home” schooling, I put pressure on myself to keep my “home” super clean all the time too.

When I consider that I have a “homeschool job” during the day, I more easily relax a bit. My teaching job requires a dedicated amount of time. Of course the laundry still needs to be folded and the bathrooms are a little messy.

This change in perspective has given me the freedom to just allow the house to be a little messier, like it was when I worked outside the home.

I do a few things here and there at night, but most of the housework blissfully waits for the weekend.

Professional development

The Homeschool Sisters talk about this all the time – taking time for our own “professional development” as moms and educators.

Although I have done this in the past, it has been inconsistent at best.

Treating homeschooling like a job has freed me up to actually schedule my own professional development day every six weeks or so, as I did when I worked outside my home. It’s huge. The boys love having a “teacher inservice” day like their friends that attend school. I have the time to think more strategically about our learning (and actually hear myself think!).

Great benefits

Thinking about this homeschooling mom gig as an actual job has made me appreciate it so much more. Seeing it this way reminds me that I have a benefits package that I could never replace in a workplace. Time with my family, the ultimate in flexibility and the opportunity to learn side by side with my kids every single day are workplace perks that could never be replicated in any other job.

Plus, my coworkers are pretty darn cute!

This newfound perspective has been invaluable.

Even during the most difficult seasons, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had.

Have you ever considered homeschooling a job?

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About Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things, a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of two books, Special Education at Home and Everyday Autism. You can follow Shawna and Not The Former Things on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

Comments

  1. LOVED this post! I think one of the most freeing things about homeschooling is having the opportunity to CHANGE THINGS when necessary. I am in the same season, however we are finding that, at this point, having a specific start and stop time is almost impossible. Starting when we can and ending when we’re done is what works for us right now and thank God we can allow ourselves to move in which ever direction works best.

    However, I think the BEST part about this article was the picture of your sink 🙂 Now I know I’m not alone! Bless you today!

  2. Ha! Yes, my sink looks like that far more than I care to admit. It’s just part of this homeschool life, I think. Thank you for your comment and your kind words. 🙂
    Shawna Wingert’s latest post: 100 Sensory Activities For All Ages

  3. Why, yes, I’ve been thinking about appoaching it as a job, too, but for somewhat different reasons. Go-with-the-flow had been working for us for so long, but it’s just not now. Mostly it’s my fault! I’m lazy when I’m home. I get distracted. I used to have a neat and organized classroom and work hard when I was teaching, but at home? I sit down and check Facebook or email or whatever whenever I have a minute. I would have never done that during school time as a teacher, so I probably shouldn’t be doing it at home. Dedicated school time and dedicated chore time would probably work well for me. Thanks for writing this and helping me clarify what I was already kind of thinking about! My new job starts Monday morning at 8!

  4. Such a nice perspective. I especially like the idea of a teacher inservice day. I actually work from home as well as homeschool, so I’m juggling two jobs. That has always been VERY clear to me.

  5. How do your sons’ medical/therapy needs factor into this mindset? I’ve got two kiddos doing alllllll the therapy right now, and it seems to me so often my job isn’t being a homeschool parent or even just being their parent, it’s being their case manager/care coordinator. I love the idea of treating homeschooling them as a job and defining it a bit better, guess I need to find a way to include (or separate?) the areas of our lives that are dictated by their developmental and behavioral concerns.

    • Since I worked as a special education teacher before, I remember how much of my student’s educational lives overlapped with therapy and medical needs. Even in a school environment, OT, PT, Speech, ABA and CBT are part of the school day. So are numerous doctor’s appointments with mom and outside the classroom. In school, I never really worried much about that time, because it was considered part of the child’s IEP. I have decided to look at it the same way for my boys and their homeschool. Does this make sense?
      Shawna Wingert’s latest post: When Life Is Hard: Homeschooling through difficult seasons

  6. This makes TOTAL sense, and puts into words what I’ve been feeling for a long time, Shawna! While I’m totally into the “learning lifestyle” approach, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing in my life…does *that* make sense, too?!
    Wonderful post…and best wishes in your “new job!”
    Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  7. Yes, I treat homeschooling as my job, because it is. It works best for us all to know what and when school is expected. I’m teacher from about 8:15-12 and 1:15-2:30 or 3. The children are trying to finish up their assignments by 3 or 3:30. If someone chooses not to do what is expected (because they decided to play instead) and they are fully capable of having completing it during school hours, they may find themselves having to work on school later, when they would rather be playing (that’s called homework). Homework time is enforced by Mom/Dad if needed, but I am usually not teaching then, though I will answer questions if needed.
    Suanna Sears’s latest post: The First 6 Weeks of School in Pictures

  8. Thank you for keeping it real! I love when people can say, “yes, my kitchen actually has a pile of dishes sometimes.” It is important because sometimes it’s too easy to compare ourselves to others and think that everyone else “has it all together” when in reality, everyone has real struggles and real triumphs, and we’re all just doing the best we know how.

  9. I didn’t want to read this post when I got it in my inbox. This school year has been so challenging and disheartening on an almost-daily basis that if homeschooling is my job, I’d like to hand in my letter of resignation–two weeks ago. So your idea for defined start and stop times–a box for containing our dedicated learning time, instead of letting it spill over into every other part of our life–is welcome advice. Thank you.

  10. Love this post and thank you for sharing some great reminders! As a SAHM for the past 2 years, I can attest to how wonderful (and messy and crazy!) it is being home full-time with my kids now 5 and almost 1yo. Esp this part, “Seeing it this way reminds me that I have a benefits package that I could never replace in a workplace. Time with my family, the ultimate in flexibility and the opportunity to learn side by side with my kids every single day are workplace perks that could never be replicated in any other job.”

  11. I really loved this article. It is full of good, true thoughts that will help me be a better teacher and mama.
    I have to admit that my favorite part was also the picture of your sink. It is one thing to talk about what you did and another to see your sink. It was like I could exhale and I didn’t even know I was holding my breath. Bless you! 😂

  12. I too have wondered if approaching homeschool as a profession would somehow propel us into some sort of actual success in terms of consistency. my kiddos are not technically school age yet, but I was hoping to have some sort of schedule set by this point in our practice year. I have something called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, where my energy levels are inexplicably low every day (some days more than others). I’m not talking about that hour in the morning of being a zombie that pretty much everyone expirences…im talking overwhelming, debilitating all day exhaustion that keeps me from getting up to use the bathroom sometimes. I have often wondered if my kids would actually be better off in public school simply because I’m so ill equipped for this heavy task, but deep down I know its a solid decision for our family. I loved this piece. I first heard you have a conversation with The Sisters some months back and I was struck by your creativity in teaching your boys at the level they are at and in any manner they require for solid learning. My son is developmentally behind and would certainly not thrive in the school setting, especially in our small town, so I strive to change my attitude for his sake and make our home a safe place where he can learn within his limitations and see a bright future. thank you for the post! Its so easy to lose sight of the true blessing of staying home with ones children and seeing them change, especially when one or more have atypical difficulties.

  13. I am just wondering what you are doing for your in-service days. Are you simply taking the day off or are you actually accessing some training somewhere? I would love to hear more about this part!

  14. We are reassessing too right now… mostly about to relax on the academics and read more. She’s 7, still little enough that It really shouldn’t be a drag.
    I also work from home and am very intentional in setting blocks of time that are fully dedicated to one or the other.

    I purposely pile dishes in the sink all day and wash before I go to bed. Doing dishes 1/day is enough! I also put everything back in its place at night so y houe doesn’t look clutter.
    I also do laundry, sweep my floors only 1/week.
    Sarah Badat Richardson’s latest post: Two years post colectomy surgery

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