Homeschooling + Working Outside the Home

Have you thought about homeschooling your child(ren), but you work outside the home and you wonder how in the world you could make it work?

When my husband approached me about finding work outside the home earlier this year, I was devastated because I thought it meant giving up homeschooling my daughters...but we realized that by tweaking the daily schedule (ok...more like an overhaul - we'd have to swap much of our morning and afternoon routines!), I could continue to educate the girls at home while working 30-35 hours a week and while he was working full-time.

There is no monopoly on the best way to schedule to allow for both homeschooling and working part- or full-time...it's one of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling. You can, in many cases, fit your schooling time in around your work schedule (no matter what that is). It just takes a willingness to try different schedules until you find a perfect fit for your family in the season you're in!

My husband works at a local elementary school so he works M-F, 8-3:30. He rushes right home after his school day is done and then I go to work. I work at the local supermarket - the evening shift (5-9ish), usually six nights a week. I also tutor from home in the afternoons M-Sat - anywhere from 5-10 hours a week. 

Here is a glimpse into our routine...my hope is that it helps you think of ways that you could make home education work for your family while continuing to work outside the home!

I use the Maxwell's "Managers of Their Homes" scheduling system.
It has been a wonderful resource for our family! Visit their site to check it out!

This is a copy of the schedule that I keep visible all day. We are not slaves to it but it sure does help keep us all on track.

6:00AM - I (try to!) get up and get ready right away. It doesn't always happen. If I choose to sleep in, then I have to skip the shower. The girls are required to stay in their room until breakfast is served. I am a 'I need quiet in the morning until I wake up' person, so letting them play or read quietly in their rooms gives me the time I need to meet with the Lord and realign my attitudes & outlooks.

6:30AM - Bible & quiet time: to drink my coffee or tea, and to thank God for another day and to remind myself that I cannot accomplish anything in my day without His grace, and pray accordingly. I usually read 3 chapters (one from Proverbs, one from the OT, and one from the NT). If I shirk this time, the rest of the day is usually off-kilter. Even if I wake up later than normal and I have to skip shower and chores, I try to make this my top priority.

7:15AM - I throw in a load of laundry and start my daily chore. I use The Time-Warp Wife's guide as a loose guide for our home. Monday - deep-clean the bathroom. Tuesday - clean the bedrooms. Wednesday - deep clean the kitchen. Thursday - no chore. Friday - sweep/mop/vacuum all the floors.

7:45AM - Prep breakfast. I serve the same thing for a whole week at a time so that it takes less time. I rotate through: eggs & sausage, cereal & milk, oatmeal & fruit, smoothies & toast. I also wake up my sleepyheads (usually my oldest) if they aren't up yet.

8:00AM - Breakfast! 

8:30AM - The older girls read out loud to each other from the passage on their Sonlight schedule for that morning, while Hannah & I read her Bible story together while snuggled up on the couch. For a glimpse at this year's curriculum, see this post!

8:45AM - We read the family passage for the morning and talk about it, then we pray through our current prayer guide and sing a few memory verse songs together while dancing around.

9:00AM - The girls take time to get ready, make their beds, brush teeth & hair, and do any other chores they've been asked to do (gather all the dirty clothes, wiping off the table, etc).

9:15AM - The older girls and I focus on our history lesson for the day while H plays quietly.

9:30AM - H & I work on her school reading and science lessons while the older girls have their silent reading time (usually 1-2 chapters per day).

10:00AM - H goes back to playing quietly while E & A work with me on their Language Arts lesson. This includes dictation exercises, grammar practice, spelling, and working on research & report-writing skills this year.

10:30AM - E&A practice Penmanship while I work with H on her daily Early Learner page(s). I recommend the Early Learner set if you've got 3 & 4 year olds. It helps you identify strengths and weakness in their perceptions of the world around them. It helped me tailor the girls' education to each one.

10:45AM - One or two mornings a week, the older girls and I work on a health lesson together - whether it's bodily, emotional, or spiritual health. H plays quietly. On the other days, all three girls have a 15-minute break together.

11:00AM - Science time for E&A, continued playtime for H. Sometimes (if we're doing experiments) she joins in on the fun.

11:30AM - E practices her guitar while A does her math lesson on the computer. H helps me make lunch. Again, I serve the same meal all week for ease. I rotate between soup, sandwiches, and fresh fruit & veggie plates. H is becoming quite the sandwich-maker and soup-stirrer.

12:00PM - Lunch! I eat quickly and then read a chapter of our Read-Aloud book while the girls take their time and enjoy lunch. This is one of our favorite times of the day!

12:30PM - E begins her math on the computer and A practices her flute. A plays and I have a little "free time" - to help anyone who needs it, or to sit a minute, or to squeeze in a chore or two.

1:00PM - I tend to E's cecostomy. A & H play quietly while I get her set up, and then H practices her drums for a bit. I take the next half-hour while E is waiting to clean up the kitchen from lunch.

1:45PM - One-on-One time. Twice a week M-Sat, each girl gets 15 minute of (95%) uninterrupted Mom-time. Sometimes a snuggle, sometimes a little chat, sometimes a quick board game or short story. Just a little chance to connect with each daughter right where they're at. :) Unfortunately if we fall behind in our schedule, this is usually one of the first things to go.

2:00PM - Tea Time! We LOVE tea time! For more on our daily ritual, see this post.

2:15PM - I spend the next hour either tutoring in the schoolroom or sewing. Both are ways that I help  with income. The girls all take this time to rest quietly in their room together (reading, talking, or playing quietly on their beds. Quietly is the key word!)

3:15PM - The girls are expected to clean up the living room (if they've made a mess there) and their bedroom while I do a quick pick-up of the rest of the house and begin to prep for dinner if necessary. Once the girls have cleaned, they have about an hour and a half of free play time (outside, if it's nice; otherwise in their room).

3:45PM - I try (so hard!) to pick one spot to declutter for just fifteen minutes: a counter, a table top, my sewing area, my desk...

4:00PM - I get ready for work and catch up with Will as he's just getting home. I'll sometimes catch a few more snuggles from the girls before I head out.

4:30PM - I leave for my 4-hour shift at the bakery. Will makes the girls dinner, cleans up the kitchen, and gets the girls to bed.

When I get home (9:15ish), I eat dinner, catch up with Will again - maybe watch a show or just chat. I also catch up on the computer stuff - Facebook, the blog, email, Usborne for a bit. I head to bed around 11PM, which gives me about 7 1/2 hours of rest.

It's taken us a while to adjust to our new 'normal' - normal only for now, for this season. It is still hard for me to leave my family each evening after the blessing of being home full-time for 8 years; it was interesting for Will to adjust to having the added responsibilities around the house but he's been fantastic about it all. But we both know that to provide for our family right now, God has called both of us to work outside the home - and He has also called for us to educate our girls at home. He gives the grace and the energy to do both for now.

My hope is not that you will want to follow our schedule - my hope is that you'll be encouraged to find a routine and a schedule that fit your family's unique and God-ordained situation. that you CAN manage both homeschooling and working outside the home (whether full- or part-time). If it is best for your children and your family, it can be done.

Do you homeschool while working outside the home? Have you been thinking about it? I'd love to hear your thoughts below!

Thankful for the grace to both homeschool & work,
for His glory!

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  1. I'm actually in the process of going back to work outside the home, and I still plan on homeschooling the kids too. I personally am unsure how we're going to make it work, but I feel confident we can. If there's a will there's a way.

    Thank you so much for sharing this positive post about the topic because #homeschooling our kids is quite important to us. However, we also have to pay the bills too.

  2. We used a very similar schedule when we were homeschooling, because I worked part-time and was in college full-time. It's tough, but it's definitely doable. Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday! :)

  3. Oh my gosh, Lisha, I was just thinking about you last week, and here you are! Thanks so much for linking up. This is invaluable. So many people think it's not possible. I'm sharing this.

    Make sure to come back later today to see if you were featured (HINT). Great post!

  4. That's great that you were able to find something that worked for your family! I just started doing daycare out of my home. It has been a transition for sure!!!

  5. Wow, I'm impressed that you have the energy for all of it! But it's really encouraging to see how other homeschoolers structure their day. We're desperately in need of a bit more structure here.