No one ever said homeschooling was easy. It takes a lot of time, patience and dedication. Most families that homeschool have a two-income household—a balance of parenting, work and homeschooling. But not everyone has this tag-team. Today many single parents successfully homeschool their children. It is definitely a juggling act. A feat that sometimes seems daunting. I often hear ‘I don’t know how you do it’ or ‘do you ever get any sleep.’ How it works for each family is different but not impossible. I’ve been homeschooling for nine years now and divorced for almost ten years. So, since kindergarten I was homeschooling solo. In this adventure I have met many other homeschooling parents, mostly moms.
When do you work?
The hardest balance of being a single parent and homeschooling is work. How does someone have an income and homeschool? I work from home. My family owns a construction company and I answer incoming calls, fax orders and do other tasks Monday thru Saturday. But the phone isn’t always ringing. Between calls is when I get my kids on task, answer questions, go over work and make sure their chores are done. Some other single parent homeschoolers I’ve met work nights and weekends and homeschool during the day, take their children to work with them, work flexible jobs as freelancers or appraisers, or work at home. Some live with extended family and trade babysitting.
How is the school work done?
With young children it is easy to be able to have a set time to sit down and do schoolwork. Older children might be more self-taught and be able to work independently. It is also great to get help from others. Co-op groups, enrichment classes, some parents are able to have their ex-spouse help the children with school work too. What is chaos for others might be a great balance for single parent homeschooling families. A friend that is a mobile dog groomer has brought her son to work with her since he was six-weeks-old. Her son, now a teen, is in the car with her, driving to client’s houses. He has a mobile workstation and laptop to do work while his mom is grooming. Another friend is a nurse and homeschools during the day and works nights and weekends. Yet someone else I have met homeschools around her schedule working at a nail salon. Sometimes enough school work isn’t completed in the day so they get caught up on nights and weekends.
In all this chaos when does the parent have a break?
Getting ‘me’ time is hard. Being a parent and on the go 24/7 makes it where downtime is savored. For some this is the short time it takes to drive from work to home. For others it is late at night or early mornings, while the children are sleeping. I often go hiking while my children are in enrichment classes. It is also great to trade babysitting with friends. One friend can bring the kids to the park one day and in return you watch their children and take the group to a museum.
Planning ahead is vital
It is important to plan ahead. Making sure children are on task so that the amount of schoolwork accomplished each week or each month is enough. If you have an idea of what you want accomplished, divide it by the weeks of the school year and have a loose plan of how much work you want done each day, week and month. If you are using traditional textbooks it is easy to figure out how many chapters in the book and set a goal of how much needs to be completed in order to finish the book by the end of the school year. Building in flexibility is a plus. We try to have our Fridays set aside as a ‘catch-up on everything’ day. This includes chores and housecleaning too. Since both of my children are in sports I also plan ahead with meals, often relying on crock pot recipes to ensure healthy eating.
If I know work is going to be extremely busy for me the next day, then I try to get everything ready the night before, with a check list for each child. I have a template on my computer that I edit and print, so making the checklist is pretty easy. The kids then look at the list to see what they need to do to have all of their work accomplished for the day.
Homeschooling and single parenting balance
In the end this is all a balance of parenting, homeschooling and work.
I love being able to spend time with my children watching them grow and learn. I also make sure I give each of them one-on-one time. We are all very close and it will be a blink of an eye before they are both in college and on their own. I cherish each day and each adventure we have.
Written by Deborah Dennert. Deborah is a single parent. She works at home, homeschools during the day, and blogs at night. She loves mountain bike riding, gardening and finding new recipes. She often blog about parenting, frugal tips and reviews. You can catch her at www.momarewethereyet.net and at https://www.facebook.com/MomAreWeThereYet.