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Homeschooling is a full-time job in itself, so is it possible to homeschool your kids and still work? Can you do it and come out of it feeling relatively sane and happy?

Picture your stereotypical homeschool family, and I'll bet you something a little something like this will come to mind. Dad works full-time or more — perhaps he owns his own construction company — while Mom is homeschool teacher (to at least two children, and perhaps as many as 10) and homemaker rolled into one. She bakes bread from scratch and crochets blankets for fun. She's so busy doing all that stuff that she can't possibly also hold down a paid job, plus, the stereotypical homeschool family is also Christian, and perhaps even the kind of Christian that's theologically opposed to women working outside the home [1]. (She also wears denim jumpers, but that's neither here nor there, really.)

Thankfully, homeschooling comes in many other incarnations, too — there's about two million of us in the US alone at the moment [2], and we're all really different.

There's no doubt that homeschooling is a full-time job of sorts. Few things could possibly be as important as taking on full responsibility for your kids' education, and homeschooling isn't a side hobby you can just squeeze in whenever you happen to have five minutes left over after doing everything else you're supposed to be doing. That doesn't, however, mean it's impossible to work a paid job as well — even, as it turns out, if you're a single parent. Nope, it's not possible for everyone, but you might just be able to make it happen, just like the over seven million other US people who work two jobs (one of which isn't homeschooling) [3]. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that timing is rather flexible, after all. If you're lucky, you'll even stay (relatively?) sane. 

How do you work while also being the primary homeschool teacher in your family? As someone who does it, I might have some tips — but so do a few more fellow homeschoolers. 

What Kind Of Job Will Still Allow You To Homeschool?

I've met homeschool parents with all sorts of jobs, from history professor to music teacher, and from lawyer to retail manager. There are, as far as I can see, two basic options — going for a job that fits around your life, or having a really good support network. 

Jobs that fit around your life as a homeschool parent may be those that allow you to work from home, or those that allow you to bring your kids to work. A wide variety of jobs can fit into this category, but some examples I've encountered in person are:

  • Certain kinds of teaching and tutoring jobs. 
  • A family business your kids can come along to. 
  • Writing and translating jobs. 
  • Home daycare. 
  • Cleaning houses. 
  • Transcription. 
  • Bookkeeping. 

If you have a job that doesn't neatly fit around your homeschooling schedule, you may have a logistical struggle on your hands, but it may still work. Here's what may make it possible:

  • You and your partner, if you have one, work opposing shifts — when you're at work, your partner is at home with the kids. 
  • You have extended family members who are willing to spend time with your kids while you work, or you have a multi-generational living situation and grandparents are around all the time. 
  • Your kids are teens, and able to stay home alone while you work. 
  • You swap childcare with a friend. 
  • You're able to afford a nanny while you work. 

I even know one single mother whose children attend public school purely for the free childcare while she works — but who homeschools her kids in the evenings and during the weekends. While some would call this afterschooling rather than homeschooling, afterschooling usually focuses on supplementing the education a child receives in school, while for this family, school is simply a safe place to be while mom works. 

How Do You Make Time For Everything?

Every family will come up with their own unique solutions, but to show you it's possible, I thought some examples would be in order, and I'll start with my own family. I work flexible hours from home writing and sometimes translating, and a symbiotic relationship has developed between homeschooling and my work over time. Simply said, I work when my kids don't need me. When they were littler, that largely meant while they were asleep or playing with each other, but now I can work while they're engaged in semi-independent school work or playing with their friends at the park, too. If a last-minute activity comes up, either work or school can be shifted to the weekend.

A friend of mine is a single dad who lives with his sister, brother in law, his daughter, and his nieces and nephews. His daughter is enrolled in K-12, an online public school program, so she is academically engaged while he works full-time — his sister is a stay-at-home mom who is always present, but has no interest in taking on an active role as a homeschool teacher. In the evenings and on the weekends, my friend helps his daughter with her K-12 school work, and they supplement with materials they've chosen themselves. 

Another friend and her husband are both nurses who work opposite shifts and share homeschooling responsibilities. They sometimes do school in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings, and they save the time both parents are around for fun stuff. She sometimes trades days with coworkers to be able to make it to things like her kids' choir performances or soccer matches. While she admits that this arrangement means she spends less time with her husband than they'd both like to, they're aware that the whole circus will only last for a season. They've simply prioritized their kids' education for now. 

So there you have it — three radically different examples of how people make working and homeschooling work. Yours might be completely different again. One good thing to remember is that, while homeschooling certainly requires time, it doesn't have to take place during the same hours public schools are in session. 

How Do You Stay Sane Through It All?

Also known as "what about me-time?", I suppose. Research suggests that work spilling over into the realm of personal life makes people stressed and unhappy [4], and I have to say that I personally absolutely do better, mentally, if I have stretches of time that aren't filled with either work or school. If you're working from home on two fronts — a paid job and homeschooling — just like me, that may mean you're struggling with a phenomenon known as "work-life integration". It's the opposite of "work-life balance", a situation where you're never really free from your work, and it has the potential to stress you out to the point of burnout. [5

To guard against that "walls closing in in you" situation, you'll certainly want to schedule regular down time, no matter how short it may be. That doesn't necessarily mean time away from your kids. You all still need that family time, sans academics, to connect with each other on a more personal level. As long as it's fun and restorative, it's all good. And if you do feel you need time to yourself without your kids around? That's fine too. Grab it when you can. As your kids get older, they'll probably naturally spend more time with friends and at activities of various kinds, anyway, and as you're wondering how to meet your homeschooled child's social needs, more "you time" opens up as well. 

Homeschooling and working might be insanely busy — but no more so than working two jobs, or studying and working, or being a homeschool mom who doesn't work for pay but ferries her brood of kids to 12 different extracurriculars every week. It can be done, and yup, you, your partner, and your kids can be happy through it all. 

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