Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae
My in-laws are the best. Last week, they took my three young girls and left me with a baby and three school-age boys. Easy, peasey, lemon-squeezey. I made a lengthy list of all the things I was certain to accomplish after school without younguns underfoot. I assumed that with no little people, we’d fly through school in no time.
I was wrong.
I didn’t add anything to our schedule for the week and yet I would look up and the clock would say noon before I’d ticked anything off my “to-do” list. Toddlers didn’t appear to make any difference.
This revelation didn’t lead me to want to change our schooling. What we’re doing is working well and is just the right amount for my kids. And I don’t think my prep time is extraordinary. But what it did lead me to change was the way I viewed myself and our lifestyle.
Homeschooling is a full-time job.
As homeschool parents, we do the planning, we chauffeur the kids to co-op and outside lessons, we do the teaching, we do the record-keeping, grading, curriculum-buying, tutoring, testing, and, and, and… That’s a full-time job.
Too often, we place expectations on ourselves as “stay-at-home moms” when really, we’re work-at-home moms. Who knew?
(Before you go nuts in the comments, I am fully aware that all moms are working moms. All the time. I’ve simply discovered that I’m working TWO jobs.)
Extend yourself some grace.
I’ve been hard on myself because I couldn’t accomplish all the housekeeping/homemaker chores in a normal week. We’d spend a good portion of our Saturdays de-cluttering the house and running errands that I felt I should have been able to accomplish in a weekday. I was “home” all day, wasn’t I?
We homeschoolers forget to factor in that we have a second job. There’s no salary and no paid vacation, but we have another full-time demand on our time. As working parents, it’s not abnormal to be behind on housework or life stuff by the time the weekend rolls around.
Photo by Joy Bennet
Recognize your priorities.
Every day, we have to pick one job over the other.
Some days, we punt the Spelling in order to focus on character issues. Other days, we let the laundry sit in favor of finally grasping Place Value Notation. And most days, we dance between our jobs, never achieving perfection in either, but striving to keep our worlds functioning.
This is what holding down two jobs looks like. On any given day, there will be 800 fires to extinguish. Knowing your priorities helps you decide which one to put out first.
Know your limits.
You’re working two full-time jobs AT THE SAME TIME. You don’t get to clock out of one job to head to the other. They’re completely intertwined. It’s a full-time job with full-time interruptions. And there are only 24 hours in a day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This should change all the rules for us. We shouldn’t feel guilty that we have to run errands on the weekend, figure out meals at the last minute, or tag-team with our spouses on the laundry. We don’t need to apologize for protecting our Saturday morning chore time on the calendar. It really is the only time we all have to pull together and get the house stuff done.
This isn’t a call for laziness. It’s a call to recognize the full breadth of what we’re doing here.
It’s time to give ourselves a new label. It’s time to say it out loud, to let our lives reflect what we really are. While there’s no morning commute on my schedule and my power lunches usually involve peanut butter, I’m a working mom.
It’s time to give myself the freedom to act like one.
Do you see yourself as a working mom? What does that look like in your home?