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Dear Home School Mom who Works at Home


plan and tools

Have you ever searched the internet for answers and found none to solve or make your problem go away?  This is what happened when I searched for Homeschooling Moms who work from home.  My hopes were that there would be someone in the internet galaxy that struggled with balancing the full time positions of:

*Wife    *Mom    *Domestic Coordinator    *Home School Facilitator     *Career  

My search results were limited.  My speculation from this is, if we’re going to be honest here, there are others who struggle as well and haven’t found the tools to help.  I’m not saying I have every answer but I’m hoping to scratch the surface and allow some discussion, insight and ideas to flow.  Every one of those positions mentioned requires time, energy and emotional capacity … When I am helping with school my mind is wandering to my work, when I am working I feel guilty that I am spending too much time away from my kids.  When I reappear to the life outside of my studio door, I am usually met with an upheaval of arguments, problems to be solved and chores to be maintained.


Mini moment going on here:

There are currently 2 teenagers demanding my attention because apparently their time is more important than mine right now … and when I asked them to leave the room until my time is finished here, there were sarcastic remarks, eyes rolled and deep breaths that could open a closed door … it takes everything in me to not kick them in the butt on their way out.  Are you feeling my frustration? 


 

The only way I am going to be successful at this is with a plan, a stiff upper lip and borders clearly posted.  Here is my plan:

  1. Chores begin at 8:30 am. Spreadsheets are my companions and they help direct the child who wants to argue about tasks that need attention.
  2. Home school begins at 9:00 am.  I devote all my attention to my six year old for roughly an hour of 1st grade school work.  When she is finished she is free to play outside or watch educational television.
  3. I linger in the school room with my teenagers. Often times simply my presence is all they need to make them feel as though I’m involved.  I answer questions, calm the storms and direct as needed.  When they are finished I head to my desk.
  4. When my older kids are done with school, my time begins. I am a very focused individual and when my attention is pulled, my anger erupts.  This is where boundaries need to be established.  Unless someone is bleeding or on fire, don’t ask me questions that can wait until my time is up.

 

Everything is a lesson learned in my home.  I have come to understand, through years of frustration, that any direction I want my family to go, needs instruction.  Getting my 6 year old to brush her teeth and hair before school needs gentle but firm instruction.  When my teenagers make comments that their time is apparently more important than mine … (deep restraining breath on my part) and a firm, lowered and calm voice, redirecting their misunderstanding is given.   Everything requires instruction, boundaries and patience in the process of learning.   I am learning to navigate with many titles and my children are learning to use their time wisely as well as recognize and respect others work and time.

 

Here are some tools that help with this process:

  1. Healthy snacks that don’t require my help.
  2. Educational shows that can be accessed with little hands safely.
  3. Play time activities so there is no need (or reason) to express boredom.
  4. End of the week rewards. Movies, library, shopping, special treats … I am that mom who will use bribery to gain accomplishments.
  5. This tool may seem harsh, but I have found it to be effective. I establish a punishment in my head before an intrusion is made.  With this tool I can access the consequence for a broken boundary quickly.  There is no room for debate.  For example when a 6 year old and 13 year old come to me fighting over who kicked who, or who started a scuffle … the consequence is handed out immediately without room for discussion.  (after one time, they knew not to bother me with such nonsense again)

 

I would love to hear how you manage all your titles!  From one working, homeschool mom to another … we can do this.  Sometimes all we need is a plan, a focus and a little bit of instruction to get us through the day.  At first it may seem like (or you may be called) a mean and grumpy mother.  Just don’t lose sight of the fact you are worth time investment.

Your time is valuable and you are not taking away rather giving instruction to lessons in life, lessons that few have learned and fewer have taught.  All we need is a plan and a few tools.

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September 1, 2015
Comments
  1. Alecia Baptiste said on September 1, 2015 10:34 pm:

    I agree with many of your suggestions. I’ve found that clear boundaries that have been communicated is necessary along with training. It takes time for the family to recognize that mom isn’t available 100% of the time, when they’re used to her being available. I’ve found that my time is invaded when I’m not consistent with my expectations and when I don’t close the door to my office completely. I’m thinking about putting a sign on the door that says, “do not disturb. Mom working.” I think my biggest challenge is being fully engaged with my family when I’m not working rather than allowing my phone to keep me engaged with work.

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      admin said on September 2, 2015 5:46 am:

      Yes Alecia! I struggle with putting my phone down also. There are times when I purposefully place my phone out of reach while engaging my kids. A mom needs boundaries too! I think a sign is a great idea!

  2. Carissa said on September 9, 2015 11:45 am:

    Thank you so much for this article! I am a mom that has worked from home since my first was 4 months old and am now trying to incorporate homeschooling into the mix. Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy and this is even possible. Sometimes I feel like a terrible mother when I establish those boundaries and insist that my children must be self-sufficient within reason for the next hour. In our child-centric society, it feels so frowned upon to tell your child to just go play and figure it out for a little while, even if it’s what’s best for your family and is the difference between that child eating or not. You may not have all of the answers, but it is so good to hear that there are more of us out there with similar struggles and similar methods of handling it. Thanks for the tips I did glean and for bringing up the subject! I hope there are more discussions and resources open to our unique brand of parenting in the future!

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      Meagan said on September 9, 2015 11:54 am:

      Carissa, you are so welcome! Boundaries are a must! I think it is fair to lay out the boundary ahead of time so the parent and child know what is expected from each other. That is also a good time when the child may ask all their questions and voice any complaints. I have told my children many times, I am not their event coordinator. Meaning, I am not the one to come to on a hourly basis looking for entertainment. They must learn to self entertain in healthy ways. That is why we discuss all their options ahead of time. Thanks for your response!

  3. Wendy said on September 12, 2015 7:54 am:

    I really needed to see this right now. You mention being a wife as one of your duties, but I found this particularly helpful to me as a single mother. As the only parent in their lives, I often feel guilty about even the thought of making myself unavailable for a little while to get work done. No amount of reminders that if they were in public school and I worked outside the home, I’d be unavailable then, seems to help me get past the guilt. But reading this did. It reminded me that I’m not the only one in this boat, and helped me remember that it’s okay for me to expect my children to be able to be self-sufficient for a little while.

    It also occurred to me that setting those boundaries is necessary to teach them about adulthood as well. If we never show them that it’s okay to focus on one thing and to expect others to leave us alone and respect that time, they may never learn that themselves. By doing it ourselves, no matter how hard it is on us, we (hopefully) make it easier for them to do it in the future.

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      Meagan said on September 12, 2015 8:23 am:

      Wendy … you are a strong woman. You have decided to take on what others would back away from. You are choosing to show your family, that even through struggle and hardship, you press on. Guilt will always tell us we’re not enough, it’s a lie given to stop our victory. The boundaries you give your children in this process, the time you give yourself, not only teaches valuable lessons to them but also validates and sets course to your work. Of course we love our children with all our hearts and never would want them to feel neglected … it’s a matter of investing time wisely and asking for grace along the way.