Inside: Is it really possible to work from home and homeschool? Yes it is, but it can definitely test the limits of your sanity! These 10 strategies will help you juggle working from home and homeschooling like a PRO.
Over three years ago now, I made two life-changing choices simultaneously: I decided to homeschool and to start my own business so I could work from home.
Having been a stay-at-home mom for six years prior, I honestly had no idea how challenging it would be to do both. Especially considering I had four kids at the time, ages 7 – 1.
Three years later, I can honestly say that the trial and error, the long, long days spent trying to figure out how to make our lifestyle work was worth it.
Now I truly love both working from home and homeschooling. Yes, both those things – together.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it messy, sometimes? Absolutely.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are the things I wish someone had told me sooner, things I wish I didn’t have to figure out on my own.
I hope they help you THRIVE in this work at home, homeschooling life far sooner than I did.
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10 Essentials to Juggling Working from Home and Homeschooling
1. Streamline your essential household tasks.
Household tasks and cleaning and errands take more time than we realize.
That’s time you could be spending on higher priority tasks like homeschooling or working from home.
That hour it took you to plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list? That’s time you could be spending on something else.
The four hours it took to clean your house because your home is cluttered and requires tidying just to clean it? That’s also time you could be spending with your kids or working.
You HAVE to streamline your household responsibilities.
Create a minimalist monthly meal plan. Write out four grocery lists for those dinners (one per week). Then all you have to do is add the basic necessities for breakfasts, lunches and snacks each week.
Free Printable: Monthly Meal Planner Template + Example Meal Plan
Declutter your home, so you can waste FAR less time cleaning.
Declutter your clothes, and create a capsule wardrobe. You’ll spend far less time doing laundry, picking out clothes in the morning, and shopping in general
When you’re working from home and homeschooling? You NEED to simplify your household tasks, and get your time back.
2. Consider carefully the homeschool style you adopt – make sure it fits your personality and your circumstances.
At first, I was going to recommend the route we’ve taken: relaxed homeschooling (almost unschooling).
But then I stopped and realized that sometimes, relaxed homeschooling/unschooling can take MORE time than a more traditional homeschool approach.
Unschooling especially can involve a lot more time observing your kids, having deep conversations, finding answers to twenty questions a day, working one on one with your kids, shaping your days and studies around their passions and hunting down resources and mentors.
Anyone who thinks unschoolers are lazy, sit on their butts all day and don’t educate their kids? WRONG.
If you’re actually unschooling, you are often putting in more time and energy into your child’s education – not less. And as my kids grown, I admit that my margins for fitting in work are shrinking rapidly.
So relaxed homeschooling/unschooling may not be a good choice for everyone, especially if you are trying to put in work full time from home while homeschooling.
A boxed curriculum like Sonlight or Bookshark that does literally all the prep work for you may be a better fit.
I’ve used them in the past when I first started homeschooling, and implementing their lesson plans took 1.5-2 hours a day. The time commitment would obviously increase in the upper grades, but so would the independent work.
Online homeschool programs can also be amazing if you’re wanting your kids to fulfill requirements at home and be relatively independent in their learning, so you have more focused time to work.
Whatever homeschool style you choose, make sure to apply the principles of minimalist homeschooling. As a work at home parent, you don’t have time for clutter in your house or your homeschool.
Declutter your homeschool, and make room for what you and your kids truly love and value.
3. Don’t be afraid to use screens.
Our society doesn’t know what to do with screens. To be honest, parents spend so much time shaming each other for our children’s screen use to make themselves feel better about the arbitrary limits they’ve set for their own kids.
And it’s all arbitrary.
Every child is different; every family is different.
We use screens – both educational apps and shows, plus “non-educational” apps and shows – pretty heavily in our homeschool.
The kids learn SO MUCH from them. Half the things they tell me from these shows are amazing facts that I’ve never heard before. It’s educational, and I get a break to do some work.
If you’re new to this, take a few weeks to find a good amount of screentime that you and your kids feel good about. There’s no point in using screens if you’re going to waste energy feeling guilty.
Give yourself grace and look at the process objectively during the trial period. Change up the routines, try new things, and find balance that works for YOU.
Not your mom friends – YOU.
When you’re working from home full-time while trying to homeschool, I honestly don’t know how you are NOT going to use screens.
4. Stay up late, or get up early. Pick one, and use it for work (not downtime).
You can definitely work from home during the day while homeschooling…but it’s getting more and more difficult for me to do. With FIVE kids vying for my attention during the day, my concentration is shot.
I can do things that don’t take a lot of brain power like making Pinterest pins or formatting blog posts that are already written. But writing anything worth reading? Not gonna happen with kids around.
I used to be a complete and total night owl. The late hours were my work from home golden hours.
I would stay up and get in a good three hours or work from 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. It was awesome!
Maybe it’s having a one-year-old who doesn’t sleep through the night yet? Maybe it’s getting older.
Who knows? But for whatever reason, I’m having an extremely difficult time staying motivated to do anything past 10:30 p.m. these days.
We run a later schedule around here (all kids are finally asleep by 10:30 p.m., but they don’t wake up until after 9 a.m.), and after the kids are in bed, all I want to do is eat and binge watch Netflix.
So if you’re a night owl? That’s awesome, and I totally get it. Stay up and take advantage of that quiet house and get some work done!
But if you’re a night owl who can’t do anything productive with those extra 2-3 hours you’re staying up? I know it’s not what you want to hear (because I don’t), but you probably need to figure out how to make yourself a morning person.
I’ve avoided an early morning routine for years. It’s coming for me soon, y’all, if not now, then at 40. It’ll be painful, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
And my early morning friends tell me how amazing it is to get so much done before their babes wake up. So there’s that to look forward to.
5. Divide work tasks into two categories: high concentration and low concentration.
Think through your work tasks: which of them require intense concentration, and which ones can you do with kids in the background or while watching Netflix?
For me, trying to write while kids are around is extremely difficult. If I have most of an article written (like this one), I can usually finish it with kids awake as long as I write in the morning.
But attempting high concentration tasks with kids is nearly impossible for me. Most of my writing tasks need to be done in the morning, ideally when only one or two kids are awake and watching their educational shows.
I can sometimes rally late at night, and perhaps after I’m done nursing my youngest, I will drink coffee and go back to late night work hours.
Homeschooling takes energy, but a different kind of energy than work.
You can read aloud from a book with little to no effort, or help a child learn to read with much lower levels of concentration than work requires.
Especially if your family’s well-being depends on your income, your high concentration work tasks need to come first. You’ll need to put those tasks into the kid-free early mornings or kid-free late nights.
Know yourself, your family, and your work, and shape your routine accordingly.
6. Find a daily routine that works for your unique family.
Some work from home, homeschooling moms like to get the homeschooling out of the way first thing in the morning. That way, they can feel free to work guilt-free.
Others, like me, choose to work in the mornings. Later in the day, my concentration is shot.
How to decide on a daily routine that works for you?
Know your peak hours of productivity AND which high concentration tasks you need to fit in during that time.
There may be certain seasons of life when you need to compromise, suck it up and work on high concentration tasks in the middle of the pure chaos of kids being awake. That probably isn’t sustainable long-term, unless you are able to hire a babysitter or your spouse can take a shift.
Maybe your family already tends to a later schedule. You can go to bed with them and get up early, but not the crack of dawn thankfully, to get your work done.
Maybe your kids easily go to bed SUPER early, and you are productive at night. Fit in a few work hours before bed, and build a rest time into your day to get a little bit of downtime for yourself (extra needed as a work at home, homeschooling mom!).
Also, consider year-round homeschooling.
It offers so much more flexibility for LIFE. You know, all the disruptions that come with kids, plus normal life things like washers breaking and babies teething and fathers dying (ask me how I know).
7. Take care of yourself.
When you work from home and homeschool, it’s tempting to neglect self-care.
Personally, my work IS my self-care. I truly enjoy the work that I do, and I like earning money that helps my family.
But that’s not every work from home, homeschooling mom’s reality. For some of us, work is a lot less passion /and mostly just…work.
If that’s you, you need to make time for self-care more than ever. Otherwise, work from home and homeschooling won’t be sustainable, and you will likely give up one or the other.
Something’s gotta give.
By self-care, I don’t mean expensive beauty treatments or getaways. We’re talking more than a few minutes that are YOURS, to do things that fill you up.
That could look like:
- Enforcing daily rest-time, you can read and book and drink your favorite cup of tea
- Getting together once a week for coffee with a friend on the weekends
- Taking an art class while your spouse watches the kids one evening a week
It can feel selfish, taking time away from your spouse, especially.
But if it makes you a happier, healthier human to be around, AND it makes working from home and homeschooling sustainable for the long-haul? It’s worth it!
8. Ditch the guilt.
When you work from home and homeschool, your home, your homeschool and your whole life will look different than it does for moms who don’t work from home.
You probably won’t have time for tons of extracurriculars (whether kids need those is another discussion altogether) or cool hands-on activities. Your kids will be fine!
You might not have time to join homeschool groups or teach a co-op. Other moms will step up.
Any free time may need to be dedicated to your marriage or your own personal needs. The good friends will stick around, and the superficial relationships will fall away…and that’s a good thing.
Your kids may use screens than others you know. SO WHAT?
The moms who homeschool and don’t work from home may not get it. But that’s o.k.
Are you working from home because your family needs the income? Because it’s making a way for you to travel and have awesome experiences? Because it makes you a happier, better mom?
Make intentional choices, and stop wasting energy on guilt. You have limited enough resources as it is.
9. Discuss with your spouse about his/her ability to pitch in, and act accordingly.
Some of you may read this and roll your eyes. Heck, yes, they should be pitching in!
But those of us whose spouses work crazy hours know that not every spouse is able to help with housework or homeschooling. Every situation is different.
Have an honest conversation (where you aren’t accusing or shaming) about it, ideally before you start either homeschooling OR working from home. Talk about how you’ve divided responsibilities up until this point, and how you can divide them now that you have more on your plate.
Adding homeschooling and working from home obviously limits your time to handle household things like cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, and other errands. See what your spouse likes to do and where he could pick up the slack.
Maybe he takes over bedtime so you can get work done.
Maybe he enjoys cooking and can take that off your plate.
Maybe he loves to clean bathrooms (if that’s your husband, he’s a keeper!!).
If his job is so stressful and so demanding that he can do very little to contribute, it’s time to discuss other options like hiring a cleaner or streamlining errands and meal planning. Or you might just agree that the house isn’t going to be meticulously clean right now, and you’re both o.k. with that.
Working from home and homeschooling can put a lot of stress on a marriage, especially if your spouse isn’t as committed to these choices as you are.
Whatever you do, make sure you come up with a game plan TOGETHER.
10. Let go of the idea of work/life balance.
Even if you get your daily routine down pat, things will happen to disrupt that routine. It’s inevitable
You’ll need to work overtime one day, and homeschooling will fall by the wayside.
Your kids will be bouncing off the walls another day and need absolutely all you can give them. Today, work will have to wait.
Another week, everyone will get sick, so you have to catch up on work and cleaning tasks a few days after everyone recovers. Those few days, homeschooling will take a hit.
But that’s life, isn’t it? The sooner you let go of each day, week after week, needing to go exactly as you planned, the better of you’ll be.
It IS Possible to Work from Home and Homeschool
If you’re new to this whole working from home and homeschooling thing, I know it’s stressful and overwhelming at first. And let’s be honest, there are stressful days, even when you’ve been doing it for a long time.
Give yourself so much grace to try different things until you find the right balance and routines that work for your unique family.
Having a growth mindset while you find a healthy balance is crucial. Growth mindset doesn’t accept defeat.
Instead, growth mindset makes you say things like, “I haven’t figured it all out YET. I haven’t found the right rhythm YET.” It gives you the perseverance to keep moving forward.
Finally, I will say that you have to WANT to make it work. You need to “choose your hard.”
Hard was when we were living paycheck to paycheck without my income, and I was trying to homeschool AND take care of babies and toddlers AND live super frugally.
There’s nothing like the stress of not knowing if you’re going to pay your bills and looking ahead with no hope of your situation improving. Knowing that there is no wiggle room in your budget at all. Plus, frugal living can be a part-time job all on its own.
I MUCH prefer this working from home while homeschooling version of hard. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if this version of hard is the right version of hard for you and for your family.
Because if you want to make working from home while homeschooling work, you absolutely, one hundred percent can.