Homeschooling for the working mom… it’s possible!

COVID-19 has taught me an enormous amount about myself, my family, my resiliency, and my community. But, more than anything, it’s taught me that juggling work-life, mom-like, and teacher-life doesn’t mean I had to be a little worse at everything… in fact, today, I’m a little better at everything. Well, almost everything. Here’s how it went. 

How it felt at the beginning. 

How is it that I’m a college-educated, working professional, and doting mother . . . and yet, I’m totally butchering this virtual learning thing? Seriously, I can’t be the only mother owning up to the complete and utter chaos that is my house right now. It’s embarrassing, mortifying, and absolutely NOT what I wanted for my kids, which has me thinking, “What do I actually want for my kids when it comes to school?”

Previously, I was that mom who shoved a toasted waffle down my kids’ throats and nagged them to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to school on time so I wasn’t late for work. But also, (obviously) ferociously loving them, I never hesitated to plant sloppy, wet kisses on them in front of all their friends and send my weary-eyed ragamuffins off to class with the high-pressure call-to-action: “Have the very best day of your entire life!”

I’ve always wanted to provide my kids with the best education; to make them happy with whatever they want to be (even the very lucrative “pizza maker.”). Sadly, it took a global pandemic for me to realize I hadn’t really ever considered all the options for what that education might look like.

How it felt in the middle.  

So, what could it look like? I’m getting more open-minded at this point. But, at my core, I’m worried. I’m worried that I can’t do it all. I can’t juggle the daily grind of my work, my role as the fun, excited, relaxed parent in the evenings, and a new role as an educator. The end of the last school year was hard and I’m not sure I can keep up that pace.  I’m worried that I won’t be good enough, skilled enough, strong enough to do it. It’s too much to juggle… right?

But maybe not. Maybe I’ve been too busy “juggling,” thinking about what school has been, and not busy enough thinking about what education could be.  It turns out there are ways to continue having a career and cultivate an at-home learning environment. It turns out there’s a way for me to work and still carve time out during the day to test their career aspirations with: “Make mom a pizza for lunch . . . stat.”

When we transitioned in early August to a virtual learning platform, my work allowed for the flexibility in schedule, but my mind did not. All of my kids are in elementary school, each with different teachers and schedules. My bandwidth and my kids’ bandwidth just couldn’t keep up.

It was time to try something new — because I literally don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to be at the beck and call of a curriculum that doesn’t account for the unique capabilities of my kids or have the flexibility we so desperately need. To see if I were, indeed, losing my mind, I did a quick Google search to determine if I was either: a) crazy or b) a genius . . . who knew she wanted more for her kids. I didn’t realize, at the time, that “c) all of the above” was an option.

How it felt at the end. 

Holy crap, I’m doing it. I’m exploring homeschooling options. This just might be the right fit for my kids in a truly strange time. The more I read, the more I fall in love with the romance of it all. The constraints and knowns of school fall away and I’m left with something more innocent; more exciting; more custom-tailored to my family.  I dig deeper. 

Here’s what I find along my way:

  1. A quick Google search reveals plenty of other parents with diverse backgrounds successfully homeschooling their children. A recent New York Times article highlights nine different families, and I found myself in at least three of them.
  2. With so many different terms for relatively the same thing (pod learning, microschooling, homeschooling, “put-your-dishes-in-the-dishwasher-not-the-sink” school . . . shut up, I know, I made that up), did you know you can commingle? Yeah, stretch that canopy of at-home learning, and you will find you can establish some great connections.
  3. Oh wow, here’s a group of parents–wildly active parents–that feel like me. They’re sharing ideas, schedules, resources, and self-help tips. I’m joining. 
  4. They pointed me to a how-to on this very website. It’s simple, intuitive, and makes the process feel manageable. 
  5. OK. Come on, now. Chrissy Teigen is a homeschool mama, and look at her—setting her expectations low, but creating a fun, practical, safe, and creative environment.

If We’re Already at Home, Why Not Make Home What I Want It to Be?

All it took was a global pandemic. With that, I learned that I don’t have to know how to juggle. With that, I learned that the options for education are vast and interesting and can be a near-perfect fit for your kid. With that, I learned that education doesn’t have to look like the options we’ve been given. It just took a global pandemic, but my kids are happy, safe, and well on their way to starting a successful chain of candy-based pizza kitchens.