More work-from-home (WFH) moms homeschool today than ever before. Whether you made the decision to homeschool, or it was thrust upon you due to the pandemic, chances are you’re a bit nervous and worried about making some WFH mistakes. And some homeschooling mom mistakes.
You might feel hesitant to get started or a bit fearful about how you’ll juggle it all. Well I’m her to tell you those feelings are normal!
I’ve been working from home as a business and finance writer for over 12 years. And I’ve homeschooled my two youngest of seven children for the past nine years.
I’ve made my share of mistakes. Today I’d like to help soothe your concerns by sharing five work-from-home mistakes homeschool moms (including me) make. And I’d also like to share some tips on what to do instead.
WFH Mistakes Homeschool Moms Make
Working from home is one thing. Add the responsibility of educating your child (or children), and you face an entirely new adventure. Despite what you may have heard, or even what you believe about it, I’m here to tell you it is possible to succeed at both.
To help prevent hiccups that might cause you to question your decision to take on homeschooling your kids and working from home, let’s look at five mistakes most new work-from-home homeschooling moms make.
Please know that these mistakes often creep up over time. However, when you know what to watch for, you’re better prepared to avoid them.
1. Letting Work Take Over
In the excitement of working from home, you may find yourself constantly doing just that – working. The tasks could pile up depending on your work type, and the to-do list may become long.
In an effort to get it all done and stay on top of what needs to be completed, it’s easy to become attached to your work. You might soon find you don’t take a break from it – not even for exercise, fun, or self-care. Some moms even find themselves trying to work while teaching a homeschool lesson, whether by phone, laptop, or iPad.
Trust me when I say that you want to avoid that at all costs. I learned that the hard way. Your work won’t get your best efforts. And your children get less than your full attention.
Solution: Schedule Your Work Hours
For starters, give yourself work hours.
Some jobs may require you to work a certain amount of hours during a specific time of the day, which can work in your favor. If you don’t have a pre-set schedule, make one.
This will require a good amount of self-discipline as you’ll want to make sure to stick with the schedule you make. To keep your work hours from interfering with important times of the day – like homeschooling, running errands, and extracurricular activities – consider creating a daily homeschool routine and time blocking.
2. Losing Track of Time
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. So why does time seems to speed up (and run out) when it’s time to work or homeschool?
While getting the kids up, putting breakfast on the table, starting today’s lesson, and even thinking about working, hours zoom by.
On the other hand, it’s easy to get started on a work project and forget about the time. That is, until a child shoves a completed worksheet in your face.
Losing track of time might result in a full-on homeschool WFH mom panic. It leads to feelings of stress and overwhelm. And those are two key enemies when you work from home and homeschool.
Solution: Time-Blocking & Transition Time
Time blocking will also help you keep track of your time and for more than just work-related tasks. Use it for homeschooling too!
If necessary, set an alarm to go off at the end of each block and give yourself a reasonable 10-15 minute transition period before starting something else.
Another one of the common WFH mistakes I made? Doing too much all at once.
Try not to pack your time blocks with too many different things. Set aside designated times for bigger tasks such as working, homeschooling, etc. I don’t recommend trying to “get a little work done” while homeschooling the children; instead, give them ample time on your schedule. You can always work when they sleep.
3. Feeling Guilty for Working
This is one of the WFH mistakes moms make, yet I don’t believe it gets the attention it deserves.
For whatever reason, you’ve decided to work from home – and that’s okay! There will be days when all the assignments won’t be completed. There may be a deadline or two missed. And that’s part of the journey.
Sometimes, you might miss a family activity because you’re trying to finish a project. And that leads to even more mom guilt. Don’t let it!
Solution: List The Benefits of Working from Home & Homeschooling
Don’t add guilt to your list of WFH mistakes. I repeat, do NOT feel guilty for choosing to work at home! Now I know that is easier said than done.
When I feel pangs of guilt, I give myself a stern talking-to. And I refer back to the list I made years ago. This list includes how my children and I benefit from being a work-from-home homeschooling family.
Some of these benefits include
- earning a full-time living without spending hours commuting to work
- earning a full-time living without spending thousands of dollars on childcare
- being able to live wherever we want because I work from home
- modeling entrepreneurship, time management, and business skills to my daughters (and my grown sons as well)
- being fully involved in my kids’ educational journey
- more time together to really work on our family culture and values
- the opportunity for the children to explore their interests more fully than they would in a traditional educational environment
- the opportunity to travel, work, and learn on a schedule and routine that suits us
- don’t have to worry about educational gaps due to missed school with my daughter, who lives with a life-altering chronic illness (we “bedschool” when needed)
- I can work and plan our homeschool lessons around her hospital tests, stays, and various medical appointments.
There are so many benefits to you being able to stay home, work, and homeschool your children. Not only are you choosing to be your children’s most dominant influence, but you are also teaching them important life skills.
4. Scheduling a 6-Hour Homeschool Day
When I started homeschooling, I was very anxious about giving my two youngest children a good education. Not just an education “as good as” our public school education. One that was better.
And one of my biggest WFH mistakes as a homeschool mom was thinking that a “good” homeschool mom does school from 9 am to 3 pm five days a week.
It was pretty tough to run a business, a household, and homeschool with such a rigid schedule. And although I love the curriculum we use – Sonlight, I found we finished the day’s scheduled work within a couple of hours. So then I was looking for “busywork” to keep her little mind, well, busy.
And before I knew it, my daughter went from looking forward to our school time together to resenting it.
Solution: Keep Your Homeschool Days Short
Depending on how many kids you homeschool simultaneously, plus your children’s ages, personalities, and learning styles, your homeschool day might be as short as 30 minutes or as long as five hours.
The truth is that much of the time spent at school gets taken up with lining up, getting organized, and learning “the rules.” With the one-on-one (or two) attention, you can give your kids when homeschooling, your teaching time could be much shorter.
Tip: Consider adding an online homeschool program to your weekly schedule. Your children get the opportunity to try something new with a different teacher. And it frees up an hour or two for you to get work done.
#5. Sticking to a Business As Usual Routine
As a mother who earns a full-time income working from home while homeschooling my kids, I know it is possible to do both. However, one of the common WFH mistakes I see new homeschool moms making is trying to recreate the same work schedule they had at the office. But they’re trying to do it from home.
Now, this might work if you simply switch from a cubicle or office job to working from your home office or kitchen table. However, it does NOT work when you have kids at home. Especially when you’re children are young. Just try to juggle zoom calls and kids. You’ll soon see what I mean.
Solution: Customize Your Work and Homeschool Schedule
So here’s the thing. Some WFH moms have bosses. And they might have set working hours where they need to be online or on phone meetings. If you’re in this situation, you need in-home childcare OR children who work independently OR work hours while your kids sleep.
If, however, you can choose your own work hours, do it. For example, I typically work from 5:00 am to 8:00 am five mornings a week when my kids (aged 13 and 9 as I write this) sleep. We usually homeschool from about 10:00 am through 2:30 pm.
I can usually sneak in another couple hours of work later in the afternoon or after dinner while they read, draw, play board games, or listen to audiobooks. As a business and finance writer, my days sometimes include phone or Zoom interviews and meetings, which I schedule for late afternoons.
Other mothers I know prefer to work in the evenings after their kids sleep or even all day on Saturday when a spouse or other family member can watch the kids. Take some time to find a schedule that works best for you.
Remember, you earn money from your work to benefit your family. In fact, your earnings might support your entire family if you are a single parent or your spouse does not work.
Working from home and homeschooling gives you more flexibility than most working moms. Use this flexibility to your advantage. Create a routine or schedule that works for you, your children, and your work responsibilities.
Remember, figuring out the best ways to homeschool and work from home takes time.