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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!).
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?