How to homeschool and work at the same time

I have been adjusting nonstop since we moved to Swarthmore in December. There are things that seem small, like getting my son onto a basketball team. But nothing is straightforward. I didn’t know how things work here so we were so late in signing up that they said my son could only be on the team if I’d coach.

Of course I said yes. And then, of course I went to hire someone else. I used CoachUp. One of the gazillion services I could never have used from a rural location. It turned out to be great — we got an incredible coach. The learning curve didn’t stop there though. We had to find a hoop for my son to practice on during the week, and then I had to learn how to find the various locations of his games.

My older son generated the same sort of domino effect of new things I need to get used to. No matter what he wants to study, we can find a tutor for him on Wyzant. But before I could start sorting through tutors, I had to learn which suburbs were close enough to us. And then I had to figure out a way to always have cash on hand because so many people here don’t use PayPal.

People say entrepreneurs work longer hours than everyone else. This is true. But it works well for homeschooling because I can control when I am doing kids and I can control when I am doing work.

Which is all to say that I haven’t been working very much. My business is, above everything else, to be in the business of always tweaking my business. To catch shifts in my arena I have to be thinking about it all the time. And reading all the time.

But with the move, I pretty much had to stop working for a while. Which meant I had to get exceptionally creative about money. Because when you work for yourself, if you don’t work then you don’t get money.

I went through lists of ideas that I thought could make up for a few months of not working:

I thought up marginally ethical ideas, like doing SEO for for the dark underbelly of the Internet — sort of like the blogger equivalent of stripping to get through college.

I thought of more complicated but also more ethical ideas, like accounts receivable factoring, secondary markets for startup stock.

Then I decided to just start working again. I realized that taking a break was not great and not having as much money was not great, but it worked. And we made it through ok.

I realized early on that homeschooling children means having faith in their ability to learn what they need to learn. And I’m realizing now that working while I homeschool means having faith in my ability to earn what I need to earn.

And either way — earning a lot or not earning a lot — I’m a parent who works and homeschool my kids.

28 replies
  1. C
    C says:

    I’ve never used bad SEO. Never scammed anyone. Never broke any rules.

    But it does help to make your wording more pleasing to advertisers and the general public. Make the truth an easier pill to swallow. Allow for other alternatives and let people earn a living. That’s what we all want.

  2. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    okay, I need to have conversations about this.

    Because part of me wants to be open to my kid going to school. But I JUST DON’T WANT TO SEND HIM TO SCHOOL!

    But I have to earn money.

    And I’ve lived a life of stress for way too long and it’s not pretty.

    So i’ve got 3 options:

    1. Keep working at the collective we’ve been trying to form with other women to rotate.
    2. Pay my mom to watch them during the day.
    3. Pay another stay at home mom so my kids will be safe during the day with her and her family while I work.

    Regardless of working at an office or for myself or whatever….I’ll just have to have extra hands. I just do.

    Can someone help me because I feel like my knees are buckling and it’s feeling like something I can’t possibly do well.

      • Karelys Beltran
        Karelys Beltran says:

        I wold love that.

        You can help me by expanding my worldview.

        I can’t possibly see things from all angles. So it helps when people offer their perspective because there are things I couldn’t think of at all.

        • Cáit
          Cáit says:

          If you want to talk to me by email or phone, let me know. I’ll listen. Being a mother is really hard.

    • Scotti
      Scotti says:

      Ok so it’s no big deal that you need help. Everyone does. There’s lots of research out there that shows that the isolated nuclear family is a disaster. Kids are meant to be raised in a community environment, not by two people only. Today that translates into we pay people to watch our kids. I don’t think there is any shame in choosing the coop, or your mom or whomever to watch your kids while you work. Your kids will be fine and will probably benefit from the exposure. My kids are little but I pay my sister to watch them because I have to work at least part time both for income and my sanity.

    • jessica
      jessica says:


      Everyone has extra hands. Everyone.
      It is admirable that your heart is in the right place, and your kids are going to be fine just because of that alone. With the stress you are under, support is necessary not optional. And that is fine!
      What you need to do is make the most practical care decision for your kids that you are personally comfortable with. Rank them and list them. Good luck! It will be fine! Give it a year and life will look a lot different and much improved.

      • Cay
        Cay says:


        All of your options look okay. Even if you only want to do it temporarily. Make the choices that make you more confident about the future and let go of pointless “what ifs”.

        * hugs *


      • Karelys Beltran
        Karelys Beltran says:

        He is only 4.5 and his preschool doesn’t force him to do work he doesn’t want to do.
        I think he is always excited to go because it means hanging out with friends and eating goldfish crackers (which I never buy).

        He is EXTREMELY shy and sensitive. So having healthy safe spaces is important to him (and to me because I want him to be in charge of his emotional state).

        I am trying to figure out how to do that and not kill myself in the process because right now I am their main line to the world and they derive their sense of calm and safety from me.

        • Bos
          Bos says:

          My daughter is six, and her school doesn’t force her to do work she doesn’t want to do. She is excited to go for very similar reasons as your son. She has the opposite personality to your son, however – she is intensely social. She’d be the girl who gets your shy boy out of his shell to play, with exuberance and persistence. If your son is always excited to go to his preschool, could the social aspect be part of that? It might be harder for a shy kid to meet people outside of a kid-rich environment.

          As YMKAS pointed out, schools can be very different from one another, even public schools. Have you visited your local public school?

          Appreciating homeschooling doesn’t mean you always have to homeschool. I homeschooled my son for six years, and I think that was important for him. It’s important for him now to be in school.

          • Karelys Beltran
            Karelys Beltran says:

            I haven’t visited the school we would fall under (is that the way you say it?).

            But I know that such school district is covetted.

            Also, it’s pretty small and taxes are high. Basically, it’s a good one as far as schools go.

            I think it is indeed the school environment with all the people he feels safe with.

            He cried bloody murder for the first two days. And one of the teacher’s assistants set everything aside to spend time with him and get him comfortable. My office shares a building with the preschool so I know.

            It meant a lot to me.

            At this point I don’t think my child is on the spectrum. But he’s definitely out in the fringe of neurotypical. I really appreciate people who take the time of day to show him the ropes.

            I provide for them a very rich social environment. However, my introverted soul would REALLY love to not have the weight on their social time fall on me all the time. Because I just need to tune out the world (often) so I can be my best self.

            Part of the problem is that once I figure out what “ideal” is for me, suddenly nothing else exists or is an option.

            And that’s unrealistic.

            I think it’s fine to shoot for what we desire as the best or ideal.
            But, at least for myself, I need to identify less than ideal but acceptable solutions and just roll with it.

            And I have a problem with that more than anything.

          • Bos
            Bos says:

            Karelys, I mean to suggest this in the most supportive way. I sympathize with your struggle and admire you for the many intelligent and insightful things you’ve said here.

            You keep saying _you_ have a problem with your imperfect situation, and that _you_ don’t want to send your kid to school. How much of this really is your problem, and not his? Are you making your problem his problem? Is this the best way to support him?

            You come awfully close to saying here that in order for you to be your best self you need to put your son in school now. It’s not horrible to feel that way. And doesn’t your son deserve your best self as much as you do?

            Nor is school a life sentence. School might be what your son needs to be his best self right now too. And you might both change your minds later.

            School really does not have to break the relationship between parents and kids. It hasn’t broken my relationship with my kids. We continue to talk about choices all the time, and they continue to be happy with the choices they’ve made. And my time alone when they’re at school helps me support them when they’re not. If I need to homeschool one or the other of them again in the future, I’ll be ready for that too.

            You should call and go visit that school. It might help you feel better.

          • Sue
            Sue says:

            Bos, what sort of school doesn’t force a 6 yo to do work she doesn’t want to do? I love that. I didn’t think it was an option at that age. I’m also from Boston and we’re considering moving back once my older two graduate in a few years.

          • Mio
            Mio says:

            I think one of the best benefits of school, if not the best, is the opportunity to meet new friend. I fully understand why parents want to school their kids at home. You have full control over what your kid learns and you can decide how to teach it, but nevertheless I wouldn’t underestimate the social component that schools offer. Socializing is extremely important for a healthy development.

        • Sue
          Sue says:

          I’m also an introvert with 3 kids. You’ve gotta keep yourself sane. Having a healthy and happy mother will benefit the child more than the “ideal” school.

          I keep reminding to do what I think is best for my 4yo now. He has fun at pre-school, but given the choice he always chooses to stay home. I’m considering forest school and home-schooling.
          This is difficult for me because we also live in a town with the best of the best as far as public schools go. I’m not surrounded by like minded people and it’s scary for me to stray from the beaten path.

          I constantly remind myself if the path we take no longer serves him well, then we will change paths.

          Have you considered sending him to school initially and let him decide if he wants to be home-schooled when he is more independent? I would imagine home-schooling a 5 year old is more taxing for an introvert than a 7yo… maybe.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:


          You’ve been wanting to homeschool forever! I know that you really want to do it. Even if it has to take a little more time than you like to get the support system set up to make that possible don’t let that stop you. And I know you love your job too and want to keep that. So it does make it more difficult time wise, but you already have your mom who acts as a facilitator with the kids, she’s a great teacher, and she loves them so much. Why not keep that up? Otherwise, if you tour the school (like I did) and end up liking it (I did that too) and your son wants to go (Alyssa does!) then why not enroll him (Alyssa starts K in the fall!!) until you get your full support system in place?

  3. Karelys Beltran
    Karelys Beltran says:

    This is a reply to Bos because I can’t reply under the thread anymore.

    thank you so much for this comment!

    It really helps. It helps expand the way I view things and how maybe I am creating (or labeling something as) a problem for myself where there is none.

    This is what I meant by I need to have conversations about this.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      If you have kids older than 13 you can work while they stay home.

      If you have little ones like me, you build a substantial social support system.
      It’s costly. Emotionally. You take care of each other. Financially and emotionally.

      My job is flexible enough that I can do some of it from home.

      You make it work :)

      • marta
        marta says:


        In my experience, working from home with the kids at home until they’re 3,5 yo is the toughest: I did that and the amount of work I managed was very erratic but usually very low.

        Now they’re all (I have 4; my youngest is around the same age as your oldest) in pre or school and I still work from home. It has completed changed. 3 of them are past elementary school so they get 2 or 3 afternoons/week off from school, and my work is barely affected, as they’re fairly independent and go out and about on their own for various errands/activities/friends.

        I guess you can work from home more smoothly when the kids are 6 or 7. Until 10 or 11 you have to fix the meals and do some occasional stuff, but mostly they entertain themselves and if you have outdoors or a park nearby, let them go out!

        When the kids are 11 or 12 you can even leave them at home for stretches of time (morning/afternoon). If you can have you mother or somebody you all trust&love come over for the other half of the day, you will be able to work away from home as well.

        Keep positive and you’ll find what works best for you all. It doesn’t have to be homeschool at all costs. (Remember that Penelope has said that she only homeschooled – her particular brand of homeschool, anyway – from the ages 5 or 6 (the younger kid) and 7 or 8 ( the older kid), if I remember correctly).

        I would say the 0-5 years are the toughest to be home working with the kids around. After that, if your goals are not farfetched, unrealistic or extremely erratic, it’s fairly feasible.

  4. Pat Sommer
    Pat Sommer says:

    …with you there on the new environment (Mexico for us so language barrier too).
    Navigating can be stressful.

    My daughter has to look at the google map while i drive because Google audio usually lags a few seconds making me miss turns. But daughter is nearly useless interpreting rights and lefts.

    Sound familiar? Now we do it my way: clockwise or counterclockwise. From any point on the map heading any direction, it’s easy to see a turn is clockwise or not.

    Hope that helps

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