When I tell people that I homeschool my two kids, I’m guaranteed to get at least one or two raised eyebrows.
When I tell people that I homeschool my kids and run a business online, I get raised eyebrows, plus LOTS of questions.
How do you find time to get everything done?
But you’re not really making any money, are you?
I bet your kids sit around playing video games all day and not really learning, right?
That sounds nuts, why would you even try to do both?
I’m not going to lie; homeschooling while running a business from home – is a lot for any mama. And I’m a single parent, which makes it even tougher. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
In fact, the reason I decided to be a freelance writer and work from home was so I could continue to homeschool my kids after my marriage ended.
Four years later, we’re still homeschooling and my business is better than ever. But it took a lot of work to find the right balance.
If you’re wondering how you can homeschool and run a business from home, here’s how to do both successfully.
Set a Schedule That Works for You
Our homeschool schedule has changed a lot over the years. When we first started, we did schoolwork in the morning, usually from 9 to noon. Afternoons were for play time or trips to the park.
We stuck to that same schedule for the first six months or so after I became a single parent, only the afternoons were now dedicated to work. Play time got shifted to later in the afternoon or after dinner.
Which was fine, except for one thing: after teaching my kids for three hours, I felt completely drained when it was time to switch gears and work on my business.
Turns out, I’m the kind of person who works best first thing in the morning.
So I did the only thing that made sense: I flipped our day around and started doing business stuff early in the day when I was the most “on”, then did school in the afternoons.
If you’re struggling to find your rhythm, think about when you feel most productive. Is it early in the morning? 10 a.m.? Afternoons, while your kids are taking a nap? Late at night?
Whenever it is, commit to blocking out a set amount of time – at least an hour – when you can work on your business without minimal interruptions.
But wait, doesn’t that mean I’m not bringing my A-game when we’re in homeschool mode?
Not at all. In fact, it could benefit your homeschool routine.
Doing school in the mornings made it harder to concentrate because I was constantly thinking about all the work stuff I had waiting for me in the afternoon. Changing our schedule improved our homeschool experience because I able to relax and focus since my work was done, which made it easier for my kids to learn.
Homeschool Your Way, Not Somebody Else’s
Whether you’re new to homeschooling or you’ve been doing it for years like we have, there’s always a tendency to make comparisons.
You compare how you teach to the way the other moms in your homeschool co-op do it or the curriculum you’re using or what your kids have learned versus someone else’s.
Comparisons can make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong, and even worse, like you shouldn’t be spending so much time on your business.
I mean clearly, you should be at the kitchen table with your kids constructing a scaled-down model of a Viking longship out of popsicle sticks and teaching every.single.lesson from that pricey curriculum you bought instead of trying to find clients or promote your blog, right?
Here’s my best piece of advice if you want to homeschool (and grow your business) without going crazy: skip the comparisons. They’re pointless and all they do is make you frustrated.
Instead, choose how you homeschool based on what works for your lifestyle, and your kids’ learning styles. Build your homeschool day (and your work day) around that, not what the homeschooling mom next door is doing.
Plan and Prioritize
If you only have a small window to work on your business each day, you’ve got to make every second of it count.
When I started growing my freelance writing business, I only had a few hours a day to work on it. So I that time doing things that I thought would offer the best return – networking and pitching.
And it worked. In less than a year, I broke the $10,000/month mark because I targeted my time.
I also prioritized when it came to homeschool. When my daughter got to third grade, math became a huge struggle for us while my son, who was in first grade, was trying to learn to read.
For a while, our school mostly revolved around those two things. We still did science and history and art, but only if we’d gotten through math and reading for the day because that’s what we really needed to work on.
Prioritizing can work for you too. If you’re stressed about trying to do all the things for school or your business, focus on one or two tasks that have the most value.
I also recommend keeping a to-do list. I love to-do lists because planning your days helps you make the most of your time.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be days or even whole weeks where nothing goes according to plan. But it’s a lot easier to get back on track when you’ve got a list to follow.
Work In the Cracks
Being a homeschooling mom means your kids are with you more often than they’re not. And it means you’re not always home every day if you belong to a co-op because your kids play sports or regular playdates are part of your routine.
Bottom line, homeschooling can keep you busy, even when you’re not actually doing schoolwork. If you’re trying to grow your business, you’ve got to be creative with your time.
For example, my kids go to an art class once a month and I use those two hours to write an article or answer emails.
During soccer season, they have practice twice a week. That’s another two hours I can use to update Pinterest or brainstorm blog post ideas.
If you don’t have big chunks of extra time like this, you can still be productive in the gaps. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare, you can use it to make a quick to-do list of things you want to come back to later when you’ve got more time.
Keep Your Kids in the Loop
Homeschooling and trying to grow a business can trigger some serious mom guilt. (Remember the popsicle sticks?)
Here’s the problem I have with that. If you want to grow a business from home and have it succeed, you have to give it some of your attention; otherwise, it’s never gonna happen.
When I first started my business, my kids were 5 and almost 7. They didn’t understand exactly what I did on my computer every day, but I made sure that they understood WHY I was doing it.
They know my business is what pays the mortgage, buys groceries and keeps the lights on, but they also know it’s why we can travel and do fun things.
Most importantly, they understand that my business is what lets us continue homeschooling, which is what matters most to all of us.
Talking to your kids about your business and goals can help them make similar connections. That way, when they see you hard at work, they know what it is you’re working towards.
Give Yourself a Break
There are some moms out there who make homeschooling and running a business look easy. Truth is, it’s super hard.
And some days, you might want to quit one or both of them. (Totally been there. More than once.)
When you feel like you’re getting burned out trying to do both, it’s okay to take a breather.
With homeschooling, we’ve had spring break in February and Christmas breaks that lasted almost a month because we all needed a rest.
With my business, I’ve stopped working on weekends altogether. I just can’t do it every day, it’s too stressful.
Because here’s the thing about running a business: there’s always going to be something else to do. But your kids are only going to be kids once. And you don’t want to miss it.
Taking a time out every once in a while won’t kill your business and it won’t wreck your kids’ education either. And when you step back to recharge and refocus, you become a better business owner, teacher and most importantly, mom.