The question of how to homeschool as a single parent is actually how to make money and homeschool at the same time. Because of course it only takes one person to homeschool.
1. Homeschooling gives you more time.
If you have to run your family life on someone else’s schedule, you have less flexibility in your life. And we know that the more flexibility you have the more you can make time work in your favor. Think of it this way: An inflexible trip to the grocery store at 10 AM is much more costly, in terms of time, than a trip to the grocery store that you can do on the way to dance class.
This means that school is the ultimate time suck for parents. Homework, go-to-school nights, bring-food-to-school days—these are all inflexible commitments that school needs you to make. You get rid of all the inflexibility when you homeschool.
2. If you tell yourself you must work from home, then you will.
You know the women who say they never meet good guys? Well women who refuse to date losers meet good guys. Because their standards are unwavering. The same is true of work. If you tell yourself you must work from home then you will.
For me, this meant years of living in poverty in New York City while I tried to figure out how to support the family from home. We were late on rent all the time. We ran out of food on occasion. But I told myself that there was no way I was going back to an office job because I’d never see my kids. I made a huge career change, going from $150K/year to $30K/year. Almost overnight. It was traumatic and hugely disappointing. But after five years of doing that, I make plenty of money from home.
I am not different than you. If you tell yourself you have no choice, then you’ll figure it out.
3. Examine trade-offs closely.
If you force yourself to learn to work from home then you will have five years of financial difficulty while you figure it out. You will probably not do a lot of things normal people do. You can save money by never eating out. You can save money by living in a school district with low test scores. You can scale down your lifestyle so you don’t need to earn a lot to support it. My oldest son didn’t have a bed until he was five. We never took a family vacation until he was eight.
Sure, those are sacrifices, but if you send your child to school, you are basically selling you child’s time in order to buy that stuff. And you’re kid’s time is worth more than that. To you and to your child.
4. You have way more control over your life than you realize. You are not trapped.
You’re not exceptional. Everyone has to make difficult decisions in life. If you are parenting and single, then you decided not to compromise on things that could get you a partner. So you will have to compromise on other things. (Or, compromise deeply and go get a partner.) Having a partner or not having a partner is not luck. It’s a choice. You decide that you don’t want a partner enough to give up what you’d need to give up to get one. So you give up other stuff.
When I was a single mom, to get partner who would be a great help with my kids in terms of both time and finances, I had to move to his farm, which caused me to have twenty-five hours of driving each week.
5. Stop reading homeschooling blogs.
If you know you want to homeschool and you’re a single parent, you should be reading career blogs. We get good at what we try to get good at. Surround yourself with people who are working really hard to grow a business from home. Learn about entrepreneurship. Learn about financial failure and bouncing back. Get a vocabulary for talking about your dreams as something that earns money instead of just your dreams.
Homeschooling as a single parent takes a leap of faith and then a lot of hard work. But really, all good things in life require that.