Can it be done?
I made the decision to homeschool after I had just graduated and started a job in my chosen career field (health-related). I had asked to be put on the schedule as PRN (which means that I would only work as needed, at my convenience), but somehow or another, I ended up in a full-time position. While I was less than thrilled about this outcome, I didn’t want to speak up and risk losing my job before I even started it. So I adjusted my life to prepare for this grueling schedule while trying to homeschool at the same time. There were days where I literally told my husband, “I can’t do this anymore!” Fortunately, those days were far and few between, and after a full day of sleep, I would usually feel better.
Flexibility really is the best part of homeschooling. You can wake up early in the morning and homeschool, or you can sleep in and do school late in the afternoon. You get to decide what works for your schedule. You can choose to do school on weekdays just like a traditional school, or you can decide to be a weekend warrior and crank out your assignments on Saturdays and Sundays. Some people even do a little bit of both. They schedule their assignments so that their heavier work days fall on a particular set of days, like Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Scheduling homework like this allows for opportunities to go to doctor’s visits, go on vacation, or do field trips without upsetting their lesson plans. This flexibility is also invaluable when it comes to homeschooling around your work schedule. If you know you’re going to be super tired when you come home from work that day, you can plan to just do the school work on the following day or do a very light assignment that night before you go to sleep.
Another wonderful thing about homeschooling is that we are encouraging our children to be self-motivated. Self-motivation is a super important aspect of homeschooling when the parent is working because a working parent is a tired parent. A tired parent is less likely to maintain an eagle eye’s watch on their offspring to ensure that they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, exactly when they are supposed to do it. It may take a while to train a child to learn how to be self motivated, but once that skill is acquired, not only will it help the parent in every single aspect of their child’s life, it will also be a very valuable skill in your child’s arsenal as they grow into a fully functional adult. Once your child is self motivated, you can simply lay out your homeschool lesson plan for the day/week and let them know that has to be accomplished before your child enjoys their favorite activites (such as watching TV or playing video games). This encourages your child to work towards a goal but also allows you an opportunity to rest as your child accomplishes their tasks. Having said all of that, do keep in mind that younger children will need more guidance. An older child capable of reading and understanding their directions will not (well, at least not always) need you to explain new concepts as much as a child who cannot read.
Find a way that works for you
That is the best advice that I can give regarding homeschooling. This applies to not just working parents but all homeschooling parents. There are no rules in homeschooling that govern how you do things to teach your kids. I work ngiht shift still, so a lot of times, I will come home at 6 oclock in the morning and then sleep until noon. Around noon, we will start doing our school work. Many times, while I’m sleeping for those 4 hours, my children will be playing with toys, watching TV, or playing on their tablets before we even talk about school work. However, they have their breakfast sitting out for them, so they know that they better be dressed, brush their teeth, and eat before they relax and wait for me to wake up. They also know that when I do wake up, the TV is turned off and we get down to business. However, there are some days when I’m just so tired, that I can’t possibly think of helping my child understand new concepts and encourage his mind to be stimulated, so guess what? We scrap school. For the day. Sometimes, it’s just not possible. And that’s perfectly okay. The world will not end, and we can try again tomorrow.
Trial and error
Just don’t get discouraged, whatever you do. There are many different ways to skin a cat (isn’t that a weird saying!). Understand that you and your children will survive, and you can still teach your children effectively. The more often you do school work with them and the more they know what is to be expected, the smoother it will all be. Just understand that there will be bumps in the road and brick walls that you will have to work around. But it can be done. I held my full time job and homeschooled for nearly 2 years before I changed to the PRN track. While PRN is definitely easier, I still find that I burn out sometimes and just can’t make school work for that day. And it’s okay. We just save that work for tomorrow and know that we will get it done in good time. Homeschooling while working full time can be incredibly challenging, but the reward is worth it.
Erin T. is a military wife, mom of two homeschooled boys, and works PRN at a local hospital. She has lived in multiple states incluing NC, VA, and KY. She enjoys writing articles about her homeschool journey and different life experiences. If you would like to email Erin directly, please do so at email@example.com.