In the Sonlight Connections group (membership for anyone with a free account on sonlight.com) and the Sonlight Newbies group (membership offered to qualified new Sonlighters), we asked brand new, unexpected homeschoolers how they are juggling working with teaching their children at home.
Bottom line (and you already know this), doing both is difficult. But many families are making it work through an incredible amount of flexibility and perseverance. We hope their stories will encourage you that you are not alone in your struggles! And maybe you'll find a few tips for making these days easier.
[Some responses have been shortened for brevity and lightly edited.]
Family Negotiations Are Key
"I am the youth director and do a lot of the work from home. We all make adjustments to make it all work. I'm fine with negotiating with my kids. They kindly asked last week if I could do my Zoom meeting in their room instead of another part of the house so that they could watch a show while I did my meeting. It worked great and everyone was happy. Winning."Samantha M.
Flexible Schedules Are Essential
The most common refrain from working and homeschooling moms is about the need of (and appreciation for) flexible schedules: either different from the public system or different day to day depending on circumstances.
"It's our first time to homeschool. I have a 4th and 6th grader, both boys, and I still work. So the flexibility that we get from homeschooling is great. I wish that I could stay home full-time. The Sonlight IG makes our lives easier. I do not regret making the decision to homeschool with Sonlight."Cristy J.
"I work from home, and this is my first year homeschooling. It can feel like a bit of a roller coaster. One minute I think this is the best decision we have ever made and then other times I get bombarded with doubts: Did we make the right choice? Am I enough for the kids? Will they learn what they really need? Sonlight's Facebook groups have been such a blessing. They help me get out of those anxious/doubtful times. [I get s]o much encouragement from the other moms and dads who have the same struggles or questions that I have.
"One particular thing I have struggled with is the fact that it’s hard with my job to have set times for our lessons. When I first started homeschooling my mind just equated school time as 7:45 to 2:45 (the same as public school times here). Through blogs, posts, and other homeschoolers I have learned that I can let go of that idea in my situation and embrace what truly works for us. What a relief to let that go!! "Amy A.
"I am the executive director of a nonprofit and had a baby 2 months ago. So I have a lot of things to juggle while homeschooling. It's going a lot better than expected and I'm finding ways to fit it all in even if it's split up throughout the day for me and him because of baby or because of pressing work matters. He has adjusted much better than expected and is eager to learn and even asks to do school most days. We're finding he is very gifted in math and we're able to find real life applications to some of the lessons and it helps him connect it all and retain the information. I am loving that we can school any time anywhere and that we are able to to a deeper dive into his interests and encourage that life long learning."Renee B.
"This is our first time [homeschooling]. I work full time from home. I love the flexibility we have to be able to do school at any time. We are currently in week 3 and have had no major issues. I was worried about how I would be able to work and teach, but the kids (4th & 10th) have been very good about working around my schedule. The IG tells me everything I need to do for daily lessons which makes everything stress-free for me. I was really worried at first but now I have gotten more comfortable with the IG and how everything is set up. My 4th grader and I can get through her full curriculum in about 4 hours and we set read aloud time after dinner. This was the best decision we made. No more tears of frustration for our 4th grader!"Jenny C. N.
"I've worked from home for the past several years. I'm fortunate to have lots of flexibility with my job, but it's still been stressful. Glad we chose the 4-day curriculum which allows me some flex time to focus on work when I need to. And the IGs have saved me a ton of time in not having to figure out what to do every day. My biggest challenge is overcoming my perfectionist tendencies and not trying to be everything to everyone everyday."Courtney W.
Work Expectations Had to Change
Something has to give! You can't do everything all the time. Some moms talked about having clear boundaries with work and adjusting workflow or work expectations to make room for homeschooling.
"We were not expecting to homeschool! My daughter has always loved school! We decided as a family that this was best for this year. I work from home but was doing nutrition talks all over (which I moved online less often for the season) ahd seeing some individual clients in person/online. I knew I had to take some things off my plate to do this, so I made some changes. But am still juggling work with homeschool.
"I had a lot of doubts, but having the lesson planning done with Sonlight--has been huge! I am also finding so much joy in all of this ... far beyond what I expected! I love that in this chapter, my daughter is getting to grow in her faith, learning a lot about history, getting to do math at her pace, and I feel like we have a connection greater then we ever have! There are hard days, but the reward feels worth it!"Tammy C. S.
"I think a lot of self-starters, which homeschoolers tend to be, tend to give their all [at work]. Clear parameters or good boundaries in the right position was a big help to keep from bleeding into homeschool time until I was well-established with homeschool routines."Christie C.
Some Moms Have Opted to Leave the Workforce
Working while homeschooling is draining, and some moms have opted out of work altogether for this season of life. That's okay! And we want to honor their experience here, too.
"After experiencing the stress of trying to manage distance learning for a kindergartner, an active three year old, and a full time teaching career, I decided to leave my job [to] homeschool. The adjustment has been difficult, but I have no plans to return to work. We’ve kept at it, and we are finally finding our groove. I wish we had discovered Sonlight in those first dark months, but everything happens for a reason. Our days aren’t perfect, and I miss my work. But there is also joy in freedom. It only takes me about 20-30 minutes to organize my plans and materials for the week. That means I have the time and energy to focus on what matters most—relationships."Tracy N. A.
"I did give up a job to homeschool, though it was only part time. It was office work, which I'm quite good at, so it was a bit difficult to give up a source of approval and competence. However, as I'm several weeks into homeschool, I realize that I may not have a boss around to tell me what a good job I'm doing, but I enjoy what I'm doing. Doing something I have a passion for is much more rewarding than something I'm good at, but indifferent toward."Angela P. P.
We Actually Love this Lifestyle!
While everyone admits that working and homeschooling is not easy, many families are thriving with this new lifestyle and are considering continuing it past the Covid-19 crisis.
"I’m running my business from home, newly homeschooling my first grader and pre-schooler, with an 8 month old baby. I never would have thought I’d do this. Much less be (mostly) enjoying it.
"Only God can do that kind of miracle in your heart and mind. He truly used COVID to show me what could be, and open me up to the possibility of this. It’s not easy, and I do struggle at times, but I’m finding that He is sustaining and providing for me as I walk in obedience and trust."Jess M.
"I am self-employed and run a small salon. I am also a full-time homeschool mom with the help of my mother-in-law who is actually a freshly retired school teacher. My only regret is that I didn't do this sooner. My son is so much happier and together we have pulled more productivity and enthusiasm out of him than any teacher he has previously had. I do feel like Sonlight is a little advanced for him coming from public school in 6th grade, but we are catching up quickly. I really believe if we had started off with Sonlight much sooner, we would have seen this happy and eager learner much sooner."Sarah G.
Sonlight Instructor's Guides include complete lesson plans and notes for the entire year! Just open and go each day.