By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
I’m a solo parent.
I work full-time.
I also homeschool my kids.
Like many aspects of my life these days, it isn’t what I would have chosen. But it’s possible, and you’d be surprised how many people do it. If you’re considering this for yourself, here are some things to keep in mind.
There’s no such thing as school hours.
While we do typically keep to a routine, there are times we have to be flexible, and that might mean that we use weekends or evenings to catch up on school time. My kids absolutely do grumble about school on weekends, but I like to remind them that kids in traditional schools have homework on weekends, too. And evenings, for that matter. At the end of the day, my kids have far more free time than their peers.
It’s completely acceptable to outsource things.
We use an online math curriculum that provides me with grading reports; I use the reports to determine when I need to step in and do additional teaching. We have online vocabulary practice, too. Do I love using online resources? Not really – I wish we could avoid technology completely. But would they be using many of these things in school, too? Yep, they would. And the devices will be present for the rest of their lives, so I guess they’d better learn the importance of balance while they’re under my roof.
What we’re doing doesn’t have to look like traditional school.
It also looks nothing like what parents everywhere tried to do during Covid lockdowns. That, friends, was madness. Even when we use an online resource, my kids don’t spend eight hours a day on it. Because I’m choosing curriculum and designing a program that works for my kids, my kids are spared a lot of busy work. The huge upside of that is more time for unstructured play and more capacity for meaningful extracurricular activities.
My community is key.
I don’t think this would be possible without my people. My kids go to co-op once a week. They do experiments and projects at other people’s houses. They catch rides with other families. Most of my community centers around our co-op and my church, but there are plenty of options for homeschooling community. This is absolutely worth the time you’ll invest in creating it.
My kids DO see me work.
I don’t think this is a bad thing. Yes, I try to work early in the morning or late at night, but I can’t fit all my hours into those windows. The kids have been in the room for team meetings and companywide all-hands meetings. They have eyes on how the business world works and also how much the real world is going to require of them. I’m very fortunate to work for a wonderful company that allows the flexibility I need and doesn’t expect women to work as though they aren’t caregivers. Sometimes, the kids and I sit around the table, and we all work together. But I think it’s an invaluable example to set for them.
I’m not going to lie – there’s a reason most homeschooling families have a primary wage-earner and stay-at-home-parent. It’s a lot easier when there are two adults to pull the weight. And it can be hard to be the solo mom in a community of married, stay-at-home moms. While no one has ever made me feel less than, it is hard not to look around and wonder why this is the hand you and your kids were dealt. The expense is hard to carry alone, and the time investment is hard, too. It just is.
But the upside? I get to be there. For everything. I see the milestones and the lightbulb moments. I’m present to talk them through hard things. And I like to remind myself, I probably save myself at least three hours of frustration a day just by skipping the car lines and the homework battles.
If you’re wanting to homeschool and thinking it is not possible because of your circumstances, I’d encourage you to think outside the box. There’s a small but mighty army of moms (and dads) doing the exact same thing.