• Keeping your sanity while working from home and homeschooling

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    It can seem impossible to working from home and homeschooling. It takes a lot of trial and error to create a system that works and at most times it can feel like you are on a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast, Make no mistake, it is chaotic and frustrating. You will feel guilty and alone. But, (and I can say this despite still trying to figure this out) it is possible to maintain your sanity and to find joy in this life.


    Iíve learned so much since beginning this journey seven years ago, most of which can be summed up into 7 truths:

    Be Honest and Realistic. Live your truth! That means knowing who you are and admitting what you need to be happy. Working from home can be isolating on its own. Add homeschooling to the mix and you may begin to feel like a hermit. If you are an outgoing extrovert who dislikes the idea of being home all day, it is best to admit that upfront and to make arrangement accordingly. Conversely, if you are an introvert like me, the idea of not having to people (yes, it is a verb) may be so enticing that you forget leaving the house is actually necessary for your sanity.

    This goes for your family too. You must be honest about who your spouse is and who your children are. Every child is different, and some may need to be around people more than others. Knowing what your kids need individually will better help you plan your work week. If you have to be on-duty and focused on them during their waking hours, then find a job that allows you to work when they are asleep. If they can work independently for a few hours, then try to work during those hours.

    Routines are Key. When trying to balance a lot of things, forming healthy habits are essential. I am terrible at consistency, and I lose it here, often. But I know that when I am sticking to my routine, I experience fewer headaches. My daughter also thrives on routines, so itís important for us. I try not to be too hard on myself when I slip (see 1 and 3).


    Be Flexible. I donít mean be able to change things at a momentís notice. Rather, to me, flexibility means that you recognize that nothing is permanent. Letís face it, sometimes you take a job because being able to pay your bills is more important than anything else (hell, I took a job posting in message board forums as an angry elf, and writing essays for college students, ugh). I understand. But remember, that when you remove the desperation of being unemployed, you can focus on looking for a better job. So stick with this for three months. Step up your job search and make small changes to your homeschool to accommodate. Remember, nothing is set in stone and temporarily doing something you may not like may lead you to exactly what you need.


    Ask for Help. Maya Angelou said, ďNobody, but nobody can make it out here alone,Ē and she is absolutely right. ASK FOR HELP when you need it. Ask your neighborís homeschooled teen to be a helper a few hours a week so that you can work or sleep. Share teaching duties with another homeschooling mom (you can even do this online) so that you can do what you need to do. Talk to your spouse about doing food prep during on his/her day of so that itís easier for the week. Ask your friends to share how they manage their homes. Youíd be surprised how much help is waiting.


    Change Your Techniques. Is anyone as sick of homeschooling styles as I? The truth is that I do what I need to do to reach my goals. Seriously! Never be afraid to use a boxed curriculum if you must reduce planning time. Or try project-based homeschooling. Maybe teach writing by having your child journal or blog. Use cooking to teach math. The goal is to make things easier without driving yourself crazy! Donít be too tied to your vision.


    Stop and/or Say No. No is a complete sentence. It doesnít need explanation or justification. You are saying no because you believe that it is the right thing to do. My daughter would love to play at the park every day with her friends from our co-op, but itís not going to happen. I have to say no a lot- to her, to my husband, and to friends. And I used to feel very badly about this. But I realized that as long as I am ensuring that our NEEDS as individuals are being met, Iím good. Sometimes that means that I have to STOP WORKING to play games or take my daughter to an event. Sometimes, I have to STOP! Period. And that is OK too. Never be afraid to set limits. And if something is not working, stop doing it (see 2 and 4).

    Make Time for You and for Joy. I suck at this. I donít do it enough, but I am learning. Itís so important to ensure that your life is about more than just your titles. You NEED to have fun. You need to do things that bring you joy. Carve out time. If that means taking 20 minutes every morning to eat coffee cake and drink coffee, so be it. If that means having a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day, do it. Treat yourself to a movie, a walk, a manicure when you have someone available to take over for a bit. Small moments have a huge impact.

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    Are you working from home? Thinking about it? What tips or concerns do you have? What has helped you make the transition? What is stopping you from doing it? Talk to me!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Keeping your sanity while working from home and homeschooling started by kristinabrooke View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Soulhammer's Avatar
      Soulhammer -
      Hi Kristina!

      What great advice! I am printing this out and putting it on the sanity wall I keep next to the coffee pot. It is encouraging to see someone actually doing this for seven years.

      I made the transition to full-time consulting/freelancing this past January. I cobble together a decent income doing independent editing and writing, teaching online, selling curriculum, and consulting. It's scary and exhilarating. I love the flexibility, but hate the way money is either feast or famine (and people who pay invoices late stink!).

      One thing I am having a tough time with is workaholism. I grew up kinda poor and in retrospect I see that I stayed at jobs that constrained my choices because having regular money made me feel *emotionally* secure. Naturally, my response to even the possibility of cash flow problems now is to work, work, work. Do/did you have that problem, and if so, how did you address it?

      Thanks!-Angie
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Hi Angie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Please forgive my long response- I have a lot to say about this.

      I have had the same issues with workaholic-tendencies although for different reasons. I grew up upper middle class and was taught that getting help (public assistance, etc.) would be an embarrassment and would, despite my two degrees and marriage would make me a statistic. Because I have cut off contact from my Mom, I've been paying my own way since I was in college and the thought of being a statistic made me work 2-4 jobs at once. My husband and I have been very poor and my refusal to get public assistance when we truly needed it means that I have worked way more than is healthy. In fact, I worked so much that I did not have the energy for my husband or my daughter and it strained our relationships. My husband and I were fighting all the time and almost divorced last year. My daughter began acting out and her well-being was suffering.

      So, my advice? Step outside of your fear. I have spent the last year learning to do this. Right now you are living in it as I was (and sometimes still do). I decided to create the life that I wanted not the life that fear made me think I needed. We sat down and figured out how to fix our finances so that we we had what we NEEDED. My rule is that as long as we have the necessities (shelter, food, clothing, gas (so my husband can get to work), and electricity) then we are good. I focus now on reducing my material needs and finding emotional security in myself and my family- and that means BEING THERE WITH THEM. Your children will not remember how much money you had. They will remember the times that you missed out on the things that was important to them.

      I began using a bullet journal to help plan my days and to ensure that I am not spending too much time working. I work no more than 30 hours a week and to be honest, most weeks I am working $20. I have learned to prioritize and to break everything down into "fives"-

      Web design project to complete? List all the things that I need to do, add deadlines, add 1 or 2 things to my daily To Do List.
      Writing project? List all the things that I need to do, add deadlines, add 1 or 2 things to my daily To Do List.

      I do no more than 5 work things a day!

      Ultimately, I also discovered that freelancing could not be my bread and butter. The uncertainty, the lulls in pay? I hated it. So I looked for something that would give me a steady paycheck. I utilized my extensive background in web design, writing, social media, networking, and community building to land a WAH position with a entertainment company as a Social Media Manager. The steady paycheck changed my world and because I was upfront about my needs (remember my first tip?) I am able to work from home doing it.

      I hope this helps.
    1. Soulhammer's Avatar
      Soulhammer -
      It does! Good sound advice, and thank you for starting this conversation.
    1. Elly's Avatar
      Elly -
      I think that 5 a day thing (or a similar form) is a great idea. I'm really big on lists, and for work, I concentrate on being very precise and specific, and also I try to be realistic about what needs to be done, vs what I want to do. I give the same advice to my students who are juggle study, work and/or family. Knowing immediately what task I can pick up when I have 10, 30 or 60 minutes does make it much more efficient when I have some time to work.

      I work part time, which does make things easier. I get up early, and fit in work when I can in the rest of the day. The one thing I do sometimes feel down about is that I really should/could find a more challenging job, but the one I'm in is flexible, and I don't think I'd find anything else that fits so well into our life.

      Elly
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ellycp View Post
      I really should/could find a more challenging job, but the one I'm in is flexible, and I don't think I'd find anything else that fits so well into our life.

      Elly
      I left teaching to, as my mother said, "play on computers all day." Life is challenging enough; give yourself permission to have an easy job! LOL
    1. Avalon's Avatar
      Avalon -
      I have done several "work-at-home" jobs in the past. Some are easier to manage than others. We own a couple of rental properties, which means that I can go for weeks with nothing to do, but then there will be 2 or 3 issues that require my attention immediately (flood, broken appliances, tenant moving out, etc..). I hate it when that happens, because I pretty much have to deal with that stuff whenever it happens. I can't schedule it or plan for it.

      I've also done a lot of part-time teaching, which means doing all my lesson planning and marking at home. I found it incredibly time consuming, and hard to do with kids distracting me every 10 minutes. I found I was constantly thinking about my next lesson plan, and any free time I had I felt like I needed to be at my computer. I've also done a fair bit of tutoring at home, which has its pros and cons. The lesson planning can be time-consuming if I'm really trying to create individualized lessons for my students. The kids also have to be quiet/well-behaved when I have a student in the house. They're old enough now that it's not an issue.

      Working from home was definitely the way to go for me while homeschooling. My husband earned a regular paycheque that met our basic needs, so I was perfectly okay with having up-and-down income. The downsides were the feeling that I was *always* at work. There were no days that felt "off" because I was always either doing homeschool-work, house-work, or paid-work. Since I started working part-time outside of the home, I really feel like I can goof off in the house now, which I never used to do.
    1. MissLemon's Avatar
      MissLemon -
      I run a small ebay business, in addition to homeschooling, and taking care of the house and animals. I realized a few weeks ago that "5 a day" was my magic number for how much work to do. I can't list more than 5 items a day in my store AND get everything else done, (cleaning new inventory that I buy at estate sales, packing and shipping items that have sold). I was trying to keep a pace of 10 items a day, and it's too much. It may seem like an easy thing, but ebay selling can be a huge time sink. But it's great, because I can work after the kiddo is in bed, so I always feel mentally "there" with him, (not thinking about work). Plus, I have started to have him help me with little things for the business, like bringing packages into the post office and helping to put labels on boxes.
    1. Topsy's Avatar
      Topsy -
      Routines are definitely the single most important way I keep my sanity. Nature has unchanging cycles and rhythms, and I have learned over the years that I must have them too. If I've only gotten three hours sleep, but the alarm goes off, I still have to get up and go through my morning routine. If I hit off the alarm and try to catch a few more z's then the next thing I know I've drifted off to la-la land for two more hours and the whole day feels shot. My natural instinct is to just let things "come as they may" but it never, ever has worked out. Either the family gets shortchanged or the work gets shortchanged, or my personality gets shortchanged because I'm trying madly to play "catch-up." Instead, if I stick to a routine - - even when it feels unnatural - - I somehow manage to get a lot more time for the people and things I love. It's been a constant battle, but one I can honestly say that I'm mostly winning and in the process I'm feeling a little more in tune with the world's natural rhythms.
    1. Norm Deplume's Avatar
      Norm Deplume -
      I've been working from home for 13 years. Homeschooling for 3 (started when younger child was in 3rd grade). I still have not found the secret to "keeping my sanity." I suppose my ADD doesn't help things-- it seems that I am allergic to routines and schedules.
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
      There were no days that felt "off" because I was always either doing homeschool-work, house-work, or paid-work. Since I started working part-time outside of the home, I really feel like I can goof off in the house now, which I never used to do.
      I understand this all too well. I realized early on that because I was working from home, I had to dictate my free time just as much as I had to dictate my work time. I have DAYS when I do NOTHING! Sunday is my "leave me alone" day! My husband is off and generally ignore everyone so that I can recharge. He handles my daughter, housework, cooking, etc. It's my relax day. The rest of the week I ensure that I work no more than 6 hours a day (in two hour blocks). It's so important to remember the we control the amount of time that we allow "doing things" to take over our lives. Setting boundaries is a necessity.
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by MissLemon View Post
      I run a small ebay business, in addition to homeschooling, and taking care of the house and animals. I realized a few weeks ago that "5 a day" was my magic number for how much work to do. I can't list more than 5 items a day in my store AND get everything else done, (cleaning new inventory that I buy at estate sales, packing and shipping items that have sold). I was trying to keep a pace of 10 items a day, and it's too much. It may seem like an easy thing, but ebay selling can be a huge time sink. But it's great, because I can work after the kiddo is in bed, so I always feel mentally "there" with him, (not thinking about work). Plus, I have started to have him help me with little things for the business, like bringing packages into the post office and helping to put labels on boxes.
      Setting a limit on what we focus on is so helpful! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by Norm Deplume View Post
      I've been working from home for 13 years. Homeschooling for 3 (started when younger child was in 3rd grade). I still have not found the secret to "keeping my sanity." I suppose my ADD doesn't help things-- it seems that I am allergic to routines and schedules.
      Thanks for commenting Robin. I too have ADD and it takes a lot to get my crap together. I have been using the tips here: Get Organized with Adult ADD | ADDitude - Attention Deficit Information & Resources.

      Routines are hard but I find them much easier to stick to now that I have simplified.
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by Topsy View Post
      Routines are definitely the single most important way I keep my sanity. Nature has unchanging cycles and rhythms, and I have learned over the years that I must have them too. If I've only gotten three hours sleep, but the alarm goes off, I still have to get up and go through my morning routine. If I hit off the alarm and try to catch a few more z's then the next thing I know I've drifted off to la-la land for two more hours and the whole day feels shot. My natural instinct is to just let things "come as they may" but it never, ever has worked out. Either the family gets shortchanged or the work gets shortchanged, or my personality gets shortchanged because I'm trying madly to play "catch-up." Instead, if I stick to a routine - - even when it feels unnatural - - I somehow manage to get a lot more time for the people and things I love. It's been a constant battle, but one I can honestly say that I'm mostly winning and in the process I'm feeling a little more in tune with the world's natural rhythms.
      Yes! Routine feels unnatural to me too at times. I want to just go with the flow. But if I am honest with myself then I must admit that I am less productive when I move from my routine. In fact, I am quite ineffective! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
    1. Norm Deplume's Avatar
      Norm Deplume -
      Quote Originally Posted by kristinabrooke View Post
      Routines are hard but I find them much easier to stick to now that I have simplified.
      My current struggle is that my old simpler routines have become obsolete, as my child has gotten older and my job has morphed into something different from when I started. But I haven't yet figured out how to re-simplify my days. It's like I need a vacation when all I do is get re-organized, but it never seems to happen. I post not for sympathy so much as for commiseration with others who are struggling.
    1. rnetwill's Avatar
      rnetwill -
      I have been working from home for the last 10 years with no success. Most of all the training i received ended up being very frustrating and not worth it. I have now decided to home school as i can no longer watch my child struggle with the end of grade tests. Do you know of any work from home jobs that are hiring that actually train you before pushing you out on the phones.(thats what type of work i've done-) or i would be interested in any Virtual Assistant jobs. Or any you know of? Thanks.
    1. inmom's Avatar
      inmom -
      I worked from home since before we started homeschooling. I've tutored since my younger was 2 years old (he's now 18!!). While we were homeschooling and they were young, we HAD to have some sort of routine at least in terms of their schoolwork requiring my help had to be done before 3 pm (when I started my "work day"). It also put a damper on field trips and outings that would occur in the afternoons and evenings. At the time, I put together our curricula; I had to plan the entire week on Sundays since I didn't have that much time during the weekdays. Routine was definitely my friend. The tutoring definitely helped during the times my husband was between jobs, keeping us from dipping into savings too much.

      However, as they got older, my time and tasks became more free and more fluid. The kids did most of their work on their own, freeing me up to continue tutoring and tackle necessary house projects that built up along the way. Sometimes simple passage of time makes things better.
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by rnetwill View Post
      I.Do you know of any work from home jobs that are hiring that actually train you before pushing you out on the phones.(thats what type of work i've done-) or i would be interested in any Virtual Assistant jobs. Or any you know of? Thanks.
      Unfortunately, if you are doing customer service jobs, then that is par for the course. Unless you sign up with an Arise partner or something. The down side is that you have to pay for Arise Training and that training is often 6-8 weeks long.

      You may have better luck with NexRep (although when I worked for them answering calls for GrubHub, training was only a week long). I worked for Uber and Training was a week but we were answering email tickets. I did not have a good experience with Uber as a company though and that's all I can say about that.

      Here are some places you can find other work from home jobs, but if you don't want to feel like you are being thrown to the wolves, customer service may not be the best choice. Try for jobs in a more specialized field: teaching/tutoring, transcription, social media, writing, marketing, sales, etc.

      VIP KID
      A friend teachers through them. I interviewed but I decided against it because of the time difference. Please use this link to apply as she gets a referral bonus and she is the one who told me about it. VIPKID Teacher's Recruitment

      Places to search for Jobs
      FlexJobs:
      I highly recommend this. It is a pay site. do what I did and sign up for the month and apply for everything you can find. I applied for almost 180 positions. This is not an exaggeration although I am sure I applied to some twice. It's how I found my current job and it has been a HUGE blessing. https://www.flexjobs.com/
      Work At Home Jobs, Employment | Indeed.com
      Remote Jobs, Employment | Indeed.com



      Others
      Work at Home Mom Revolution - Work at Home Jobs for Moms
      http://realwaystoearnmoneyonline.com/

      HTH!
    1. kristinabrooke's Avatar
      kristinabrooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by inmom View Post
      I've tutored since my younger was 2 years old (he's now 18!!). While we were homeschooling and they were young, we HAD to have some sort of routine at least in terms of their schoolwork requiring my help had to be done before 3 pm (when I started my "work day"). It also put a damper on field trips and outings that would occur in the afternoons and evenings. At the time, I put together our curricula; I had to plan the entire week on Sundays since I didn't have that much time during the weekdays. Routine was definitely my friend. The tutoring definitely helped during the times my husband was between jobs, keeping us from dipping into savings too much.
      Thanks for the insight. It's nice to see that others have made it work for them too.
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