I have a rather unique perspective to homeschooling. I own and run my own network management business in the midst of homeschooling three children and chasing two more around the house. I don’t fit the mold of stay-at-home homeschool mom. I’ve heard of other working homeschool moms, but I think most of us are afraid to advertise it too much or risk being stoned.
I’ll say up-front, I don’t advocate working and homeschooling. It’s not easy on a number of levels. For some, it’s the only option. For others, it’s what God has called them to, at least for a season. My season is going on 11 years, so I think it qualifies as a lifestyle. Whatever you do, don’t point to me and say “she does it” so it must be right. It’s only right for you if God says it is. Otherwise, you’re sailing a sinking ship, a.k.a. out of the will of God.
First, let me tell you my story. Twelve years ago I had one child and worked full time at a company and job that I loved. I had a good friend in my neighborhood who babysat. Life was relatively easy. Then, my friend moved (how dare she!), I got pregnant with baby #2, and my job turned into a nightmare thanks to an acquisition a.k.a. a small company being canibalized by a corporate shark…to put it nicely. So, I decided it was time to go home. We didn’t know how we’d survive on one income, but my husband and I both knew it was God’s timing. The day after I gave my notice a friend who had worked with me but been laid off (remember the acquisition) called and asked me to do some work for her husband’s firm. I met with them a few times, saved them from being ripped off by another network management company and have been contracting with them ever since.
First a family member, then a friend babysat for me a half day a week while I went to my client’s office. Pretty easy. Extra money and I got to go to the bathroom by myself once a week. Then, my client liked me so much they referred me to another firm. Now it was a three-quarter day. Still not so bad. A year later, a former co-worker and friend asked me to interview with his CEO to handle their network management. Now, I was at a full day to a day and a half. Juggling got a little hard, but was mostly manageable. Last year a friend died in a plane crash and left a business. His family asked me to manage the business until the estate was settled. If you know estates, that doesn’t happen overnight. That put me at more than two days a week, plus some at-home work. The estate took almost three years to settle, and the family sold the business. So, I was relieved to return to just three clients for a little while. Then, one client went bankrupt, leaving me with my original two. Pregnant with #4, I decided it was best to not pursue new clients. There has to be a limit to the crazyness.
For a while we had a paid babysitter for one day a week, or my husband played Mr. Mom. When #5 surprised us, we arranged my husband’s schedule for him to stay home one day a week while I worked at client offices. That worked pretty well most of the time. Lately, he has had to put in more hours (lots more) at the office, so my dad stays with the kids on the day I work.
My oldest is in eighth grade, my second is in fifth grade, the third is in second grade, and I have two toddlers. We homeschool three days a week and go to a co-op one day a week. The older two have subjects they can do on their own when I work. Our daily schedule is long, but we do a little at the table, a little on the couch, some in the recliner. Anything to break it up. Of course, two toddlers do their share of breaking it up, too.
I have to say that babysitting is the main issue with making working and homeschool jive. If I didn’t have someone I trusted and my kids loved, I’d close up shop tomorrow. For me, that’s God’s stamp of approval. We’ve been through a couple of babysitters, and each time one has to step out for some reason I pray to see if God wants me to continue working. If I don’t get another good replacement, then that’s his answer.
So, there’s my story in a nutshell.