May 11, 2010

Being a Work at Home Mom: Challenges and Joys of a Homeschooling Mom

by

The choice to become a stay at home mom or work at home mom is often evaluated and considered and discussed well before the decision is made.  For a super Type-A like myself, you’d think I would have created spreadsheets, detailed pro/con sheets, or maybe even various analyses. But, I didn’t.  There was little pre-planning on a variety of fronts.

Sure, CycleGuy and I had discussed my being home with BabyGirl.  I worked from home and had relatively flexible hours.  He worked from home and even though he traveled, he had a lot of control over his schedule.  We could make it work and not really have to sacrifice either career.  And we did for about 4 years.

As BabyGirl neared school-age, we struggled with whether to send her to school or homeschool.  My mother-in-law would tell BabyGirl all kinds of tall-tales of how wonderful it would be going to school.  She made it seem like Kindergarten would be filled with days of glitter and rainbows and magical unicorns.  BabyGirl was also led to believe that she’d learn ‘stuff’ there too.

Never mind that BabyGirl could already read in English, do basic math, play violin, and much more.  In addition she knew how to count to 10, basic colors, parts of the body, general information about weather and other miscellaneous information in French. Truthfully, she wasn’t going to learn much.  But, giving in to pressure we enrolled her in a French immersion school.  That turned out to be a disaster, but that’s another story.

So, with BabyGirl at school for several hours a day I was able to devote time to my clients, errands, house chores, and all those other things that need to get done.  I was able to schedule my meetings during her school time.  I was able to do it all!  Or so I thought.

After several months it became clear that BabyGirl was not in a good situation so we decided we’d bring her home.  Just like that.  No major plan as to what it would all entail or the logistics of it all.  Nope, we just did it.

By this time CycleGuy was working in-house so we didn’t have to worry about disturbing him.  And, because I didn’t have all that many clients locally it’s not like I needed dedicated hours.  Flexibility was key.

But it didn’t work out as fluidly and easily as I had imagined.  BabyGirl needed me to teach her. She was starved for information and knowledge, even at the early age of 5 years old.  In addition to the physical activity she was used to, she wanted to catch up on all she missed during those months in school. She wanted to learn.

At this time there were some other things going on in our lives so I had scaled back on my work.  I was able to give BabyGirl the attention she needed and the learning environment she really wanted.  But while I didn’t walk away from my career cold turkey, it was a shock to the system.  And the wallet.

I wouldn’t change my decision to stay home and homeschool, but it definitely is not for everyone.  It’s a juggle at times, but I’m fortunate that BabyGirl has been an excellent self-paced learner.  That allows me the opportunity to take care of things during the day if they come up.  In addition, I have wonderful clients who didn’t mind my bringing BabyGirl with me.  And, well, for her it was a treat because that meant she got to play on her Leapster.  What a saving grace that was!

Now that BabyGirl is 7, we’re in full-on home school mode.  Which has meant that I’ve had to scale back even further.  I still have clients because it’s not all that easy to just walk away from a solo practice law firm. But, I do maintain a great degree of flexibility. And, to be honest, I work very late many nights.  It’s not an easy schedule.

But, having the opportunity to be home with BabyGirl, teach her at her pace and her level, give her experiences she may not have if she were in school, those things are priceless. There is no one way to raise children. This is what have chosen. It’s not always easy balancing it all.  But it’s what we’ve chosen.

While it may seem very haphazard some days, it really is part of a larger plan.  A plan that works for our family (most days). And though every day is not filled with glitter and rainbows and magical unicorns they are filled with joy – for the opportunity to work from home AND the ability to home school BabyGirl.

Do you work from home and homeschool your child(ren)? I’d love to know what you do to keep balance and joy in your home and your program.

Sara

{ 3 comments }

Melissa @SavingCentswithSense.net May 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Great post, Sara. Just another topic I’m sure we could discuss more at length in person 🙂 But here are a few of my thoughts.

When I had my oldest, I was telecommuting, so thought I could balance it all, work full time (at home) while carrying for a newborn, and managing the house. It was a crazy situation and about drove me crazy. So, it was no wonder I took a promotion, that also meant I would be working back in the office. Suddenly it was easier to manage work and motherhood since they were separate- yet life is never that easy, right?

It was hard to have my son in daycare and by the time I was pregnant with my 2nd son, I knew I wanted to be home again. It has been a long journey- and some would call me lucky, but the truth is that it took a lot of hard work and determination to finally be at the point where I’m working at home for myself. I have the flexibility to manage my home, family, and business as I see fit.

No matter what choice a mom makes, it is a challenge- staying home, working, or working at home. But that is also the beauty- we have a choice.

Sara May 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Melissa,

Thank you for coming by and for your beautiful comment. We are fortunate that we live in a time where we, as women, have many choices. Not every choice will work for everyone, but you’re right when you say that’s the beauty of all this. Because we can see what works for us and our families. It is a tough balance, but when you’re determined to make it work and have the passion for making it work it’s great when it all comes together. Of course, it could all change tomorrow but luckily we can figure that out too.

Sara

Honey May 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hi Sara,

I have been so blessed to have been home since the very beginning. I worked as a childcare provider (in our home) when our oldest son was very young. The last year or so, I have been working to find a way to provide an income while being at home. It is such a blessing to be able to homeschool and spend all this time with my kids.

Thanks for this post. I love it when I get to see glimpses into other people’s lives (the how and why of the things they do).

Blessings
Honey

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