Won't one of us have to quit our job for homeschool to work?
A common misconception with homeschooling is that one parent has to quit their job in order to actually pull it off. I've had several people ask me this very question since we started. The truth is that you don't. My husband and I both work full-time jobs and share the responsibilities of teaching our kids during our off time - and it works!
Our situation is fairly unique in that my husband works nights on a week on, week off rotation. My customary 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work week allows one of us to always be home with the kids. We wondered how this schedule would work once we incorporated homeschool. Surprisingly, we have plenty of time!
Not only do we have time for lessons and activities, we have more free time than ever before. Crazy, right? There are almost 170 hours in a full week. When you factor in a 40-hour work week and roughly 50 hours of sleepy time, you still have 80 hours to play with. It's all about finding a schedule that works for your life and building your school hours around it.
My husband and I share the load, and that is the main reason it works so well. During his week off, the kids do their work with him while I'm gone. I just look over or finish up when I make it home. My daughter enjoys doing English with me and prefers doing Science with her dad, so we do our best to make that fit no matter who is working what hours. His off weeks are a piece of cake!
The weeks we both work are a little more jam-packed. While he's pulling the night shift (an 80-hour week!), I typically spend about 3 - 3.5 hours doing their lessons in the evenings. I grab a quick dinner when I walk in the door and get straight to business. Normally, my son (first grade) goes first since his is easier and only takes about an hour to get through. This gives me a little breather before diving into fifth grade math with my daughter. A typical day with her runs about 2 hours. We use Saturdays to catch up on any unfinished tasks. She also prefers to do an entire Social Studies unit at one time instead of breaking it up, so we try to do those units on Saturdays, too.
The biggest thing I've learned so far is to take a break when needed. When one of us (parent or kid) is feeling overwhelmed, stick a bookmark where you are and call it a day. Seriously, just stop there and pick it back up tomorrow! It has been a tough thing for me, because I like to finish everything in one sitting and not leave tasks undone. It's okay to save it for another day when everyone is feeling refreshed. This is where our Sanity Saturday comes in clutch. Organization is also a lifesaver! Our binders keep us on track.
Here is a glimpse of our typical week when we are both working:
Sunday: My husband sets the weekly lesson plans, which normally takes about an hour. We use Time4Learning and can't say enough wonderful things about their program! We rarely do any lessons or actual work on this day unless it is art or maybe a project.
Monday-Friday: My husband gets home from work early in the morning and goes to sleep. I go to work, and the kids wake up close to noon. They hang out and eat "breakfast" when my husband wakes up. Some days, my son does his work with dad before I get home, which really helps. I get home, grab a quick bite and get to it. My son finishes up close to 6:30, which is about the time my husband leaves for work. We pause for bath time. Then, I start with my daughter at 7:00 p.m. She usually eats her dinner while we work and wraps up around 9:00. Typically, we spend about an hour reading aloud, and I'm then able to take a shower, do laundry or whatever else needs to be done around the house. I'm still able to get everyone settled in and go to sleep myself before midnight.
Saturday: My daughter's social studies normally take up about 2 hours. We fit it in around whatever plans we may have. Sometimes, we start after breakfast and are done before lunch. Other times, we do it in the afternoon. It just depends what we have going on. We then finish up any unfinished business from the week, especially if we had to use our bookmark several times! It happens.
Before actually doing this, I would've sworn there were not enough hours in a day to make it happen.
How could we both work full-time and still have time to homeschool two kids? The answer - there are more than enough hours in a day! Find a routine that fits your lifestyle and commit to making it happen. Much like putting together a puzzle, you have to move the hours around to best fit your schedule. Be flexible and give yourself grace as you fit the pieces together.