Can I homeschool while working?
Recently my husband and I were looking at starting a new adventure. At the time, my hubby worked in a corporate role in logistics while I was a stay at home mum to our three kids.
It all started while I was scrolling on realeastate.com for a new home.
My hubby walked into the room and came up behind me to see what I was doing. At this point I was feeling a bit frustrated that every home I actually liked was so far out of our price range.
As I scrolled I said to him "I have an idea, rather than buy a house let's buy a caravan park and run it as a family business."
I smirked, waiting to see what my husband would say.
"Yeah that sounds awesome! I'll quit my job."
I nearly fell off my chair. My wisecrack had not accomplished what I thought it would.
Funnily enough though, it started a conversation that I never thought I would have.
Owning a caravan park or resort had always been a dream of ours but it never seemed possible and my husband and I hadn't mentioned it to each other in years. But for the first time we believed that it could actually happen.
To cut a very long story short, we spent 12 months searching for the perfect property for us and finally made an offer on a beautiful 18 room motel in the country.
A few months later we were motel owners!... and homeschoolers.
I have to say that the juggle in transitioning from full time homeschool mum to running a motel while homeschooling was pretty crazy. But we did it and that means others can too.
So here are my tips in how to work full time while homeschooling your children:
Let go of expectations of what will get done at a certain time
Especially during your first few months transitioning you will never get it all running perfectly straight away.... it takes time. I found initially that something would get missed every day. Either the kids wouldn't do any formal learning, or the motel paperwork wouldn't get done, or we would eat too many meals of 2 minute noodles or eggs with toast or my house would be a disaster zone! Until you find your footing, things might feel quite chaotic.
Create a task list of your work life
Make a list of absolutely everything that needs to get done. Then get out your highlighter and colour code things to start sorting them out. Red might be things that have to be done daily, like reconciling your EFTPOS machine, or for us, checking out guests in the morning.
Yellow might be things you can push to every second day and green might be things that you can do once a week or so.
Time your tasks
Once you have created your list of everything, work out how much time each task takes. You may choose to do a time study on yourself and write down each task as you work on it and tally how much time each task takes over the day. This will help you in several ways.
Firstly, it will show you where any time is being wasted, secondly, it will show you where you have gaps that you could use for homeschooling and thirdly, it will give you a great overview of what you spend most of your time doing.
When we started running this motel over a year ago, I felt like I had work to do from the minute I got up (at 5.30am) till the minute I went to bed (around 11pm). Needless to say I was exhausted!
When I did a time study on myself and my husband I was quickly able to see where I needed to make changes.
Firstly I started with the task that was taking me the most time (office paperwork). I could see that with emails, check ins and outs, accounting work, balancing the books, contacting guests and so on was taking me upwards of 5 hours per day minimum! With everything else I had to get done, this was way too much!
Once you have your list of tasks plus the amount of time they take you to complete, start with the first item on your list (the biggest time consumer) and work out how you can reduce the time you spend on that activity.
For me I created systems that reduced my workload. Firstly, I hired an accountant for the big tasks. Then I set up an accounting software which saved me time by coordinating my business banking with my incoming and outgoing costs. I updated my email software which was really outdated and taking way too much time. I created automated emails for certain tasks like welcoming and reminding guests of bookings and I created templates for others such as quotes. By the time I was done I had reduced my daily time down to less than an hour daily except for one day a week where I do my bulk paperwork which takes less than an hour on top of my daily tasks.
After you reduce time on your top task work down the list and work out where you can reduce time spent or even delegate or hire someone else to do the task.
After I went through my list I reduced my normal workday from morning till night to a few hours per day.... placing me back in a perfect position to homeschool my kids.
Plan your day around your work tasks and your homeschool plans
Once you have created your task list, sit down and write down a plan that could work for you and the family that allows you to make the most of your day. You may have to work around peak work times in your industry like we do. For us our busy time is around check outs (early morning till 10am) and then check ins in the afternoons (usually around 3-5pm is our peak).
This is what a typical day for us looks like:
Early morning - Motel breakfasts and check outs
Morning - Homeschool with girls while Zac does readers with daddy
Late morning - kids play while I do paperwork.
Lunchtime as a family
Early afternoon - Homeschool with Zac while girls play or work on projects independently
Mid afternoon - Science, geography or history, cooking or STEM or an outing
Late afternoon - check ins, emails then dinner preparations for family.
Early evening - Family dinner, shower kids
Evening - Prepare motel room service meals and deliver
Night time - kids wind down with quiet activities before bed
Close motel up and wind down for the night before bed.
It does take some juggling and not every day looks the same but it gives us a rough guide of how to get everything done. Quieter days at the motel mean more family time like going down to the river and busier days might mean a little less face to face time with the kids while we tackle the workload.
Get support from other homeschoolers
We have many friends who also homeschool. Chatting with them always makes you feel better after a day that didn't go to plan or when you need some emotional support. It also helps you to feel not so alone on the homeschool journey.
Try to plan in time for fun
In our business we have work 7 days a week so we have to be deliberate about making time for rest and relaxation. We like to look ahead at our quieter days at make plans to go to the river, visit the park, ride our bikes or go kayaking. Having these things planned breaks up the week a bit and gives the kids something to look forward to.
Overall I love homeschooling and it works really well for us a family. While challenging it can definitely be done while working