Recently my husband Daniel changed up his work schedule after a job change. He was working at a non-profit training farm where we lived in 2015-2016. Now he’s working with at-risk youth at another local non-profit (and loving it). His schedule is unusual, but as a homeschooling family, we thought it would really work for us and…drum roll…it is awesome.
In case you don’t know much about how our family/work life is set up, Daniel works full-time and I work from home as a writer/podcaster. Sometimes I’m working almost full-time, other times I might only be working 5 hours a week. It varies depending on what our family needs at the time and what projects I have going.
Being self-employed, I have the freedom to be flexible. Balancing my work with homeschooling three kids can be challenging, but homeschooling is very important to us as a family and we structure our work life to make it happen.
(Caveat: I love reading about how different families structure their work and family life, especially if they have somewhat unconventional jobs and are juggling educating their kids, etc. And I get a lot of questions about this so I wanted to share. I am not, of course, advocating that this is the only way to do things or that every family should set up life this way! I’m sure you know that, but since these decisions often feel so personal, I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was being prescriptive.)
The Way We Were Doing It
With Daniel working a more traditional 9-5 for a few years, the homeschooling has primarily been my sphere. That left weekends the only good chunks of time to accomplish my work without hiring a babysitter during the day (which I’m not crazy about because that’s really homeschooling time AND if I’m paying someone to watch the kids then the work I do isn’t as lucrative) or resorting to too much Netflix (again, no thanks). But with weekends the only time I can accomplish my work projects, our family time suffered.
The New Schedule
Enter the new and improved schedule! Daniel is now working a double shift on one weekend day and an afternoon-evening shift three times a week. That means that although he’s working 40 hours, he’s home every week day until 3pm and he has three full days off a week.
We’ve only enjoyed a week or two of the new schedule so far (for the past couple of months he’s also been working at his old job to finish out projects for them and in addition to his new job it’s been CRAZY work hours–not sorry to say goodbye to him working two full-time jobs at once!) and already I am IN LOVE.
Here’s the benefits to having him around more during the day as a homeschooling/work at home family:
–Enjoying breakfast together. Emphasis on ENJOYING. Since we don’t have any school drop off lines to get to early, it’s lovely to actually savor a meal together without Daniel having to rush out the door. We can really cook a good breakfast, not just rely on cereal, chat over coffee in the kitchen while the kids start on their school work and have plenty of time to do the daily Mass readings together at the table.
–The option to attend daily Mass together. Our local parish has Mass at 8am, right when Daniel was leaving for work before. Now we can all go together since attending solo with three kids while battling pregnancy nausea is NOT MY FAVORITE.
–Co-teaching homeschooling. With different interests and areas of expertise, our children’s curriculum has just expanded. Daniel will be teaching them about seed germination and plant structure with hands on backyard gardening time each week, for instance. My black thumb would not be capable of this.
–Real family days, uninterrupted by work. Now that I can leave the house while Daniel runs the homeschool day to get work done at a local coffee shop or work at home while he takes the kids on field trips, that means not working at all on weekends is an achievable goal.
–Real work days, guilt-free, and productive. Having some real work hours scheduled into the week while the kids are with Dad feels like a whole new world! And since I always do my best work during the morning hours (especially if I’m trying to write, if I wait til late afternoon or after the kids go to bed my brain is scrambled eggs) it really fits better. After mornings when I’m away, I just start the homeschooling subjects that I love to teach after Daniel goes to work but before we head out the door for extracurricular activities.
If you’re curious, here’s a very general schedule for our typical week day:
- Breakfast as a family, Morning Offering, Mass Readings OR Daily Mass followed by Breakfast
- Daniel begins the homeschooling day with Math, Latin, and Handwriting OR he does a field trip or a backyard gardening day. (I get some work done at home or a local coffee pub.)
- Big Family Lunch, especially if Daniel won’t be home for dinner.
- Daniel gets ready for a work shift if it’s a work day for him, we do a quick clean up–check on laundry and dishes.
- I jump in with the homeschooling subjects I love (music enrichment, art history, read alouds) followed by a more intense clean of one room of the house.
- One parent takes the kids to afternoon extracurriculars.
- Kids watch a movie while one or both of us prep dinner (simple dinner if I’m in charge, fancy dinner if Daniel’s in charge).
(Looks like Mom was in charge of dinner.)
I feel like our lives have margins again and my stress level has plummeted. I have more mental space to get library books back on time (AKA, find the library books that are under the couch) and more energy to give an enthusiastic “yes!” when my kids ask for a tea party or help with schoolwork.
You know when you’re absolutely maxed out and the simplest request like, “can you help me find the scissors? I think I left them outside,” from your child makes you think, “I DO NOT HAVE THE MENTAL SPACE FOR THIS!”? I hate that feeling and it has taken over too much of my life as a parent. I notice that we are both more patient and happily engaged parents with this new schedule that allows both of us more time with our kids and more time as a family.
So there it is, friends. While this schedule wouldn’t really make much sense for a family with kids attending a brick and mortar school, it’s allowing us so much more time together as a homeschooling family. I feel like a whole new woman and I can tell that this re-structure is bringing more peace and harmony into our home.
1st image of flowers sourced here.