The art of juggling for work-at-homeschool moms

The art of juggling for work-at-homeschool moms
Written by Mandi Ehman of Life Your Way

I‘ve been a work-at-home mom since the moment I became a mom—by choice, by necessity, by calling.

I’ve also known I wanted to homeschool my kids since I was 16 years old.

Reconciling those two things has not always been easy, though. Any homeschool mom will tell you that homeschooling is basically a full-time job. Add another full-time job on top of that plus a couple of little ones, and my days—like many of yours—are pretty much go-go-go.

While busy is an apt description of my life, I try to avoid using it because there is a growing idea that a full plate or schedule is a sign that you’re wasting time, making the wrong choices, or living without intention.

But I know I’m supposed to work, and I know I’m supposed to homeschool, and there’s no way to do both of those things without staying very, very busy. So instead I use the word “full.”

Balancing these two roles in life (in addition to my roles as wife, mom and homemaker) means that I’ve had to come to peace with certain things about my life … including letting go of the illusive idea of balance.

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I am a firm believer in living intentionally, prioritizing, and even saying no. But “balance” is an idea that can cause a lot of stress—rather than peace—for many of people, no matter what roles you’re filling (working at home, teaching in a co-op, volunteering, etc.)

Maybe it’s because I don’t have very good balance in the physical realm, but I always picture a waitress carrying a tray loaded with food and having to keep it perfectly level so nothing falls off, or someone walking across a balance beam without falling over. When you’re trying to balance, you can’t shift your weight too far in one direction—not even once—without tipping over and dropping everything.

In real life, though, we have to do a lot of shifting, giving work priority during certain seasons, focusing on the needs of our babies and toddlers in others, making time to build habits and routines in our homeschool, and even setting aside seasons of rest and rejuvenation for ourselves.

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Rather than trying to achieve balance on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, where I never tilt too far in one direction, I prefer to view it as juggling instead.

If you were to take a video of someone juggling and play it in slow motion, you’d see three key parts of the process: The juggler has to throw each ball to start the momentum and catch each one to keep it from hitting the floor, but in between she lets the balls coast from one hand to the other. While she’s juggling, she looks calm and peaceful, confident in the rhythm of throwing, catching, and coasting.

This is similar to the “rest” that Sarah Mackenzie references in Teaching from Rest. It’s not that it’s easy or doesn’t take work; but there’s a confidence that comes from knowing you’re living according to your priorities.

There’s a bit of semantics here, of course—just as “busy” and “full” are very similar, “balancing” and “juggling” are pretty much the same as well.

But the picture of juggling feels closer to what I’m doing when I’m working at home and homeschooling.

I always have many balls in the air, but I choose to put my attention on the things that are being launched or need to be caught while several other balls coast. It’s busy, yes, but viewing it in terms of seasons rather than achieving balance every single day makes it easier for me to juggle with confidence and peace.

For example…

Launching might be:

  • the beginning of a new school year or grade level
  • switching to a new curriculum
  • implementing a new schedule or routine
  • launching a new business or product
  • preparing for an event
  • welcoming a new baby

Catching looks like:

  • winding down the school year
  • taking standardized tests
  • making time for focused character training
  • resting after a big launch
  • identifying and meeting unique emotional needs of your kids (that are being missed in the every day)

Coasting allows us to:

  • switch to a light summer schedule
  • rely on independent work or outsource to a tutor
  • delegate at home or in business
  • take a blog break
  • use paper plates (what? just me?)

Whatever the word picture, the goal isn’t necessarily to do less (only you know whether the things on your plate should be there!), but to feel confident in the choices you’re making.

Most days I feel privileged to be able to homeschool my kids and work, even if it takes a lot of juggling!

P.S. The myth of a perfectly balanced life is just one lie that work-at-homeschooling moms believe. Discover 6 more, plus the truths that set you free, in my FREE guide: click here to get yours today!

Are you also a work-at-homeschool mom? Do you have any juggling tips to share?

About Mandi

Mandi Ehman is an online entrepreneur and blogger whose mission is to encourage other women to live intentionally. She and her husband have four beautiful daughters and two baby boys, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces. Find her online at LifeYourWay.net or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Comments

  1. Between homeschooling, parenting, caring for the house, and blogging, I feel like I’m spread too thin sometimes, and I don’t even work. My hat’s off to you!
    Shelly’s latest post: Are You Looking for an Exciting Way to Incorporate PA History?

  2. Thank you for sharing this – I needed to read this today. I’ve had so much guilt trying to figure out how to balance my business and homeschooling; and sometimes I feel like I’m neglecting both. Thank you again for sharing!!

    • I think we’ve ALL been there, Nicole! It’s important to realistically evaluate how you’re spending your time and decide what’s going to give first (for some people that’s homeschooling, for others it’s a homecooked meal and for others it’s the growth of their business!), but you are not alone in the struggle or the guilt!
      Mandi’s latest post: The art of juggling for work-at-homeschooling moms

  3. I LOVED this article.
    First, you have an amazing gift to express what others can FEEL.
    Second, your analogy to juggling is IT! How excited and freeing for your readers to know that they can Launch, Catch and Coast without worry. Even if a ball falls fast to the ground, let us know that our LORD, Jesus Christ is our safety net. He will simply not give us anything HE does not want us to have….balls in the air included. REST in HIS plan, not yours. Thank you Mandi for allowing us to feel normal, full to the gills and HAPPY we are living out our calling. In Christ’s Kindness, Christy
    Feel free to hop over to my FB page Christy’s Mary and Martha Connection

  4. The juggling analogy is perfect — thanks!

  5. Sasha Cox says:

    I like the idea of shifting/juggling, not balancing–great concept. Thanks!

  6. Ha! I’m still trying to figure this out. We own a business & I’m the office manager and yes it’s hard because I can’t give each my best. I have to settle for good enough which doesn’t come easy for a recovering perfectionist! We hope to hire someone to replace me within a year. Cross fingers 🙂
    Sarah B R’s latest post: How saying No is changing my life

    • I think it’s especially hard to juggle things that you’re not passionate about, even if you are doing them for the right reason. I can only imagine how you’ll feel once you’re able to step down, but what a great example for your kids of “doing the work because there’s work to be done” in the meantime!
      Mandi’s latest post: The art of juggling for work-at-homeschooling moms

  7. I loved this post! Thank you! I am often struggling with the feeling that something on my plate is being neglected. I love the idea of juggling rather than Balance. Great way to begin the day.

  8. I always say I feel like I am in a washing machine, being swished around and pulled into a million directions. Working outside the home means no flexible schedule so those that can be made flexible are used to the full. Loved how you show insight (paper plates!) and importance of keeping things in the proper place 🙂
    Jen’s latest post: How To Find Balance: Interview Feature with Homeschool Mom

  9. I love the analogy of a juggling mom! Great way to look at it. 🙂

  10. Brenda T. says:

    THANK YOU!!! I wish I could read this verbatim to the people in my life who get upset when I say, “No.” I’m not only a work-from-home homeschooling mom of 3, but I am the primary breadwinner for our family. I don’t make a big deal about it, but I think many people assume that because I work from home, I have a lot of time on my hands. We have also adopted 2 girls from foster care, who require a lot of individual intentional care. I am pinning this for sure, and will likely re-read it a few times a year. Thank you for expressing it so well.

  11. As a writer and homeschooling mom, I often feel like that single pat of butter that has to cover a whole loaf of (gf in our house) bread. It’s exhausting, but so so so worth it. And if my deck plants are dry and shriveled (for example), so what? At the end of a life, we’re not judged for how well we kept house.
    Rebecca Grabill’s latest post: 14 Board Books Every Family Should Own

  12. Mandi, I’ve read a few of your blogs, and I am a stay at home mommy, and new blogger, curious about working from home for extra income. So I’m wondering what do you do? I’d like to find some part time work from home…

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