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12 Tips for Self-employed, Homeschooling Mamas | Working from home & Managing all the Things

When I made the decision that I was going to homeschool my daughter while also working from home for myself as a blogger and artist, a lot of people thought I was a little bit crazy. While there were some amazing people in my life who were super supportive, the majority of people thought that I was trying to do too much. I began scouring the internet looking for resources on balancing everything and I was thoroughly disappointed by the results. Most posts gave the most basic tips ever and I was consistently left wanting more. That was about a year and a half ago. 

Now, I am feeling a bit better about this journey. I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned so much over the last year. So, if you’re thinking of working for yourself and homeschooling, know that you’ve got this mama!! I have compiled 12 tips that have made a huge difference for me as I have taken my business serious and found a flow in homeschooling.

Post at a glance!

  1. Be Patient with Yourself
  2. Be Patient with your Kids
  3. Know your Daily Non-Negotiables
  4. Work Near your Kids
  5. Find Ways to Involved your Kids in Your Work
  6. Write Down All your Ideas as soon as you Get Them
  7. Prioritize your Work
  8. Be Flexible with your Homeschooling
  9. Have a Plan of What you Need to do
  10. Get Creative with Where you work
  11. Turn everyday activities into homeschooling
  12. make time to work without kids 

1. Be patient with yourself 

I put this at the beginning because this is probably the most important thing! I cannot tell you this enough. You absolutely need to be patient with yourself. There will be days that you don’t get everything you want to finished. Those days aren’t failures, they are just a part of the process. You have to allow yourself grace throughout the day as life happens. 

By being patient with yourself, you are not only telling yourself that it is okay to be human, but you are also showing that to your children. They need to see their mama allowing flexibility throughout the day so that they know it is also okay for themselves. 

If you are noticing that you are consistently not getting everything done each day, you may need to reevaluate your goals or track your time to make sure that you are working towards the right things. But I will get into that in a bit! 

2. be patient with your kids 

In the same way that you need to allow yourself grace and patience, that also needs to extend to your children. Kids tend to move from one task to another relatively quickly. Sometimes they won’t want to do what you want them to do or they won’t do it how you would do it. You have to be patient with the process and allow them flexibility in that.

One of the more formal learning things Marie enjoys is her math workbook. As I sit with her to go through each question, she will decorate every answer turning it into a story. It is moments like this that I am grateful we homeschool! Because this would never be okay in traditional school. But sometimes it makes a page that could be finished in 2 minutes take 15. I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t about me. She gets excited about her math work because she wants to do the answers like this. If I make that an issue, I will take the joy of it away. No kid needs that taken away. 

3. Know your daily non-negotiables 

This is something that I have struggled to create, but recently I did and it has made a HUGE difference in feeling productive each day. If I have a day that I can just tell I won’t get everything done or maybe we have a lot planned that day, so I know my work time and homeschooling time will be limited, I will only make sure I do my daily bare minimum. These are a few tasks that will move you forward without taking too much time. 

My daily non-negotiables are: 

Work
  1. Interact on Instagram | Even if I don’t have time to post, I still want to go on and interact with my followers and new people
  2. Work on a Blog Post | If I don’t have the time to finish a post, I at least want to sit down and work through some ideas
  3. Paint Something | I have been working on being in the habit of painting every day, even if it’s just a small sketch or something simple.
  4. Brain Dump Ideas | This helps me keep a continuous list of ideas for blog posts and for paintings. 
Homeschooling 
  1. Spanish Learning | We use flash cards, books, and Duolingo to practice our Spanish each day.
  2. Reading | This is the hardest to get to happen, but we want her to be reading something each day. We use physical books and apps like FarFaria (I get a FREE subscription to FarFaria with my subscription to Scribd, which is basically Netflix for books and audio books. Use my link to get 2 MONTHS FREE!)


It is important to note that there will be days that you can’t even do your entire list of daily non-negotiables. That is totally okay! Go back to the first point of being patient with yourself. There are days that you won’t be able to do it all. Allow yourself space to be human. 

4. Work Near your Kids 

I am writing this post right now while sitting on the couch while my daughter plays with Legos and watches next to me. When I sit near her, I can get more work done when I am close by to her because she won’t keep asking me to come in so she can show me things. I can look at her creations and then return to my work, without having to move at all. 

Now, I know that not everyone can do this, depending on what your work looks like. Maybe you can’t do all your work near your kids, but find the 1 or 2 tasks you can do near your kids. That way you are still getting work done, while also being available to interact with them. 

This also applies to working while they are doing their homeschooling work, if you do formal sit down time. We don’t sit down for formal learning time often and during the time, I don’t get a lot of work done. But I like to keep my computer around or a notebook so that I can work a bit as I have the availability to do so. Sometimes she is more self-led than others, so I want to have a plan for those times. 

5. Find ways to involve your kids in your work 

Marie loves that I create blog posts and videos. She is always coming up with ideas of videos I should make and wants to help me as much as possible. Consider it a part of your homeschooling. Teach your kids the power of writing. Give them a platform (even if it’s just a Word Document) that they can write their own posts. Or allow them to help you photograph for Instagram, teaching them about editing and composition. 

Marie does not always like exploring new places, but if I give her my phone to film with, she will find it way more interesting. I have even used some of her footage in my vlogs! When I give her ways to help me, she not only understands my work but also will respect the things I have to do to make everything happen.

Another thing I love to do is sit down with Marie and we draw together. I will work on a new painting or in my sketchbook while she also paints. It’s such a fun way to connect with each other. 

6. write down all your ideas as soon as you get them

I mentioned earlier that I like to do a Brain Dump every day as part of my daily non-negotiables. This helps me get the ideas out of my head before I forget them. I use OneNote to keep track of all my ideas. Another great option is Evernote if you don’t have Microsoft office. 

I have a running doc that I go into and just little write down every idea I have, even if it seems bad or silly. I don’t do everything that I have written down. Occasionally I will go through and clean up my list to organize the ideas and sift through for future posts, videos, or paintings. Sometimes I write something down and a few months later I will take that idea to create something awesome. So, it isn’t always something I use right away, but it’s so great to come back to them. 

7. Prioritize your work 

This can be really difficult when you are trying to do a million other things, but you have to prioritize your time to work. This is not only important to you so that you take your work seriously, but also for your kids, so that understand that this is important to you. This can look different depending on your schedule, but here are some ways that I prioritize my work each day. 

  • Mornings are usually slow for us, so I can take the mornings to get some important work done with minimal interruptions. 
  • Late Morning/early afternoon, I tend to spend more time with Marie. We will work on some learning activities, play together, and I will find ways to work throughout it.
  • Evenings she tends to keep to herself again, so that is more dedicated work time. (Though sometimes I just watch Netflix, because… I want to.) 

8. Be Flexible with your Homeschooling 

Schooling doesn’t have to be sit down learning time. There are so many ways that kids learn with everyday activities. One of the things I love the most about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to be a public school at home. Every kid is different, but Marie learns something much quicker than it would have taken in a public school setting. So we can spend 10 minutes learning something and that is enough. 

Most of our day is filled with interests and play. Flexibility is so important when I am trying to work and homeschool simultaneously. Some days are more work focused and others are more homeschooling focused. You have to find the flow that works best for you and your family. This basically goes hand-in-hand with being patient with yourself and your kids. There are so many ways to turn life into homeschooling. Your kids are always learning, so allow space for that! 

9. Have a plan of what you need to do

I used to just keep it all in my head and I would often get either overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do or I would not do the important tasks because there was no focus to my work. However, I recently started making a more concrete plan of tasks I need to accomplish each day/week/month. This ensures that I get the right things done at the right time and it’s not as easy to get distracted throughout the day. 

I keep my lists in 2 places. I have a digital version of my list in my OneNote as well as a physical version in my bullet journal. This works really well for me because, while I love a physical planner, it isn’t always realistic for my life. My bullet journal is flexible. Sometimes I will put my daily list in there and other times I will just use the digital version. 

Considering a bullet journal? I compared and reviewed my two favorite journals here!

Be realistic in your goals 

While you are planning out your work, you need to make sure that your goals are realistic. There are a few things to note while being realistic in your goals. 

  1. Track your time | This will help you recognize just how long each task usually takes you. This will help you make sure that you accurately schedule your time.
  2. Break large tasks into smaller ones | You want to make sure you allow for all the pieces involved in a big task. If you want to write an ebook, don’t just write work on ebook on your list. Break it into the smaller tasks work on the outline, write chapter 1, look at chapter formatting, etc… By breaking your tasks down you will give yourself a sense of accomplishment and make sure you are realistic in what you work on each day. 
  3. Know yourself | You have to know what your capacity is. This may take time to learn, but you need to know if you have the mental capacity to work for 10 hours one day or if you can do 3 calls in a single afternoon. If you aren’t living within your own capacity, you will become overwhelmed and end up burnt out. Which doesn’t help anyone! 
  4. Plan in downtime | You have to allow yourself the time to not work. It’s easy, when working for yourself, to feel like you constantly have to work, but that isn’t true. You need time to just sit and read a book. You can, however, do downtime activities that increase your inspiration or motivation. I love to read fantasy books and that simultaneously helps give me ideas and inspiration for paintings or stories. It can all work together.

10. Get creative with where you work 

Do your kids go to story hour or enjoy playing for hours at a park? Well, plan that into your work time. I LOVE taking a blanket to the park along with some snacks. My daughter will play on the equipment for hours and I can edit a video or work on a post. Every task doesn’t require the internet, so I just plan out the activities that don’t require an internet connection for those times. Sometimes I work from my phone while we are at the library or I take my computer to work while my daughter is in dance class. 

Some of my favorite places to work with my daughter 

  • Park 
  • Library 
  • On the floor, while she plays legos
  • Coffee Shops & Cafes
  • During extracurricular activities (dance, sports, etc…) 
  • Porch

11. Turn Everyday Activities into Homeschooling 

I get similar questions all the time about how my daughter will learn a specific subject, usually math. But there are so many ways to learn different subjects without sitting down and learning from a textbook. You learn math while cooking, playing games, drawing, and so much more. Children are always learning. Encourage the learning process through things like Strewing (leaving things out for your kids to find during their curiosity, but not telling them they are there), helping them find the answers to their questions through books and Google, or even planned learning activities based on their interests. 

Some of Marie’s best learning has been at the grocery store or while reading a book. My daughter is started telling people that we learn from life, which makes me so happy. Recognizing the everyday learning as valid learning helps kids understand that learning isn’t just for “learning time” or “school time” but just happens all the time. 

12. Make Time to Work without kids 

This is SO important for me. While so often, I am fine working around my daughter, often I get so much more accomplished when I work alone. My partner and I prioritize allowing each other the space we need, as we need it. Sometimes I am totally fine working for home, other times I crave to sit at a coffee shop with some headphones are. So, we communicate that need and allow space for it that fits within our schedules. Other times, I just want to work at home, alone. I have to allow space for that as well. 

If you don’t have a partner, try trading childcare with a friend or planning activities that will allow you space, like a class at a local museum. You can also reach out to teenage homeschooler about inexpensive babysitting. Maybe they can come over and play with your kids once a week and you can just work behind closed doors. 

You will have to find the tasks that work best for you, but it is so important to taking care of yourself

Bonus! 4 of my favorite unschooling related books! 

 

 

Day in the Life of Homeschooling & Working from home 

 

Let’s talk!

What are some of the things that help you get everything done each day? Share your thoughts and ideas below! 

2 Comments

  1. Veronica

    This article was so helpful to me! I ready this just steer my daughter kept coming and asking me to look at a house she built. If I had allowed her to work in the room with me I could’ve just looked up, admired her work and kept going. I’m going to save this for future reference.

    Reply
    • Erica Gilliam

      Yes, exactly!! It just takes some shifting the way you do things to fit this lifestyle. Good luck!

      Reply

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