I particularly dislike false, artificial dichotomies.
As a homeschooling fanatic, I hate the line that gets drawn between learning and the real world by conventional schooling.
And I don’t like arbitrary lines drawn within family life either.
I strongly believe that both Mom and Dad (and Grandma, Grandpa, older siblings, et al) should be involved in the home educational process.
I believe that everyone should do housework: Mom, Dad, and the kids.
And I also am pretty staunch about the ideal of both parents earning money.
When I was younger and less wise about the ways of the world, I used to wonder why all the old ladies I encountered growing up seemed to be a little on the “nuts” side.
But soon after marriage and children…and coping with the demands of household labor I figured it out.
Of course they were nuts, many of them spent their entire lives cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, and battling the never-ending onslaught of household chores!
Who wouldn’t go crazy doing all that unredeeming labor?
In other words, I don’t think it’s healthy for any one person to be doing “mindless” work all the time.
So employment out in the larger economy I think is a great idea.
Not only will it keep a parent’s brain sharper for the long run…
Not only will it supply the benefit of additional money and prime a future emptynester for a semblance of a career…
But it will set an instructive example of well-roundedness for the impressionable children.
Recently I was speaking to a homeschool Dad about his teenage daughter. “What are her long-term goals?” I asked.
“She wants to be a Mom.”
Really? I took a deep breath and bit my tongue.
Biologically speaking that’s not a very lofty goal.
Let’s assume that she wants to be a “great Mom”. Okay.
Well I submit, she’ll make a much better Mom if she has experience in the non-household economy that she can teach to her children!
In this case, I know for a fact, that Dad works all the time, all over the globe, and Mom is home, doing all the homeschooling. That is the model they have shown their teenage daughter, and it’s defined the parameters (ceiling!) of her ambition.
So how can a homeschooling parent possibly work at the same time? I mean teaching math, phonics, science, history, handwriting, etc. to multiple kids on top of all the meal prep, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring, disciplining, dog-walking, and not to mention once in a while going to the bathroom and bathing ourselves can be quite daunting.
1 – Un-Homeschool
Well first of all, they have to be extremely efficient with the homeschooling.
That means pushing the kids towards “self-teaching” relentlessly.
In my previous column – Ironclad Rules for Instant Homeschool Success – I warned against “recreating school at home”, among other common mistakes. I would add that homeschooling parents should not only resist being too hands-on, but should be actively striving to be more and more HANDS-OFF.
After all, many parents tell me they homeschool precisely because they wanted to be very involved in their kids’ learning.
Well, self-education and self-propulsion are the most important things we can teach our kids….and we do so by backing off. We’ll demand a lot them, with constantly rising expectations, but the sooner we get them to teach themselves that new math concept, teach them to schedule their work for the week, teach them to get themselves out of bed, make their own meals, get chores done WITHOUT nagging, and generally become more responsible, the better for everyone.
And the sooner we cut the umbilical cord, the more time we can sneak in on our own “work”.
That’s what I’ve been doing over the years.
TIP – Have your kids make up their own schedules for the week. You’ll be amazed by probably at least one of your kids who, by taking such control and “ownership”, of their day makes a quantum leap in personal productivity.
2 – Steal Time
I tell my clients, my readers, and anyone else who’ll listen that the secret to success in life is really about maximizing the “in-between” time. Those are the hours spent in the car, waiting in doctors’ offices, hanging around soccer practice and Boy Scout meetings, etc.
99% of parents, and most kids, do absolutely nothing in this allegedly dead/lost time and that’s a crucial mistake on many fronts, with steep long-term implications.
First off, the kids should be reading at all times. They should NEVER go anywhere without plenty of books.
Secondly, homeschool parents should be reading too – setting the example that time should not be wasted AND that reading is not an assignment or obligation, but rather a tool to dramatically enhance one’s entire life.
What can they read?
Well, I read books on education and homeschooling BUT I also read plenty on business, marketing, self-motivation, health and fitness, and personal development. In fact, through the first 4 months of 2016, I have managed to read OVER 50 books thus far.
If not reading, I’m listening to audiobooks or podcasts in the same categories. Or, I’ve got my laptop out to do any number of things: research, writing, communicating with parents, managing my kids’ stuff, etc.
I may even be exercising simultaneously to my kids’ homeschool classes or “after-school” activities.
Whatever I’m doing, I’m not squandering time and opportunity!
Unfortunately, I seem to be the ONLY ONE, the only parent, doing anything productive in these moments. All the other parents – and that would be both homeschool and school parents – are just sitting there, staring at their phones, making idle chatter, fussing over the kids (especially with “snacks”),…
The net result is that by the end of the day, it’s very easy to go to bed having done NOTHING at all for one’s personal development. And these days add up over time.
Of course you are still wondering how will books help you “work”, right?
3 – Be Creative
Well books do many things. Chiefly they exercise your brain and keep it open to what’s going on outside the chaos of your family life.
They also fill in the glaring voids from our own personal “school” education. Finally we get to learn about the vast diversity of human experience, and importantly about ECONOMICS – which is easily the most vital real world subject that has been deliberately banned from government school curricula. Note the private schools, even the “best” ones don’t address it either. Here’s the apropos word, which you probably didn’t learn in school either:
The very last thing the “powers-at-be” want is a nation of freethinking, self-reliant, independent entrepreneurs. That’s the entire original purpose and end-goal of school – to create a controlled populace, a bunch of employees dependent on institutions and handouts, a bunch of mindless order-followers who are subject to anointed experts. Okay. Sorry, screed over. Read John Taylor Gatto if you haven’t already.
A few years ago, a friend of mine stated it best. He said we need to teach our kids, “….to create a job, NOT get a job.”
But like me, he didn’t fully learn that for himself until he was 35ish, an age when it’s harder to take risks, re-wire our brains, and essentially reinvent ourselves.
School dangerously taught us that work was punching a clock and reporting to “the man”. It taught us to trade our time for money, i.e. to be hourly wage slaves.
So busy homeschool parents look at their scant if not completely nonexistent free time, and erroneously conclude that they can’t be working while homeschooling.
Though nothing could be further from the truth. Idea and opportunities are abound for the curious, the ambitious, and the open-minded. Furthermore, one need not trade their time for money.
The other day I sent this message to a friend of mine, a homeschool mom, who I’ve long been encouraging to expand her marketable skill set.
“Hey, check out this Mom group on Meetup….at $10/member, look how much the Mom who started is raking in!”
(Well, there were 5,000 annual dues-paying members, i.e. $50,000 in PASSIVE income, per year!!!)
I know “full-time” homeschool parents who are wedding planners, professional photographers, real estate agents, writers, website owners, lactation consultants, programmers,…
I know a homeschool Mom in Brooklyn who imports salmon into the city from Alaska, another who has an oyster farm, and still another who runs an entire organic farm in the Hamptons.
Of course I do homeschool consulting, accelerated math teaching, and even still dabble a little trading the financial markets….all while technically homeschooling full-time.
There’s simply no shortage of ways to earn a supplemental wage these days, given the easy access to tools, resources, expertise, etc. on the internet.
It can certainly take a while to figure out another source of income – one with leverage, one that’s semi-enjoyable, one that doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of our homeschooling. But I would encourage you to keep looking and trying things out.
There was a period of at least a few years where I realized that I needed to transition away from trading stocks, commodities, futures, and options. But I genuinely had no idea what to do.
Then one day, one of my blog readers, after continually hearing about the success I had teaching my son suggested that I make some instructional DVDs on how to teach math. At that point a massive light bulb went off in my head. I had never before thought of a career in education – because that would mean teaching in a dreaded school, right? Who even knew there were educators that could work on their own terms and even be compensated MORE than institutionalized, CERTIFIED teachers? I didn’t. Not at the time anyway.
I always encourage parents to work, to leverage their time, but also to hold out for something they will enjoy.
Somebody famous, (Steve Jobs?), said that if you love your job you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That’s powerful stuff!
Check out the homeschool-grown business here – Traveling Homeschoolers.
So maybe look for opportunities within the homeschool universe. How about ‘private homeschooling’ for starters? That’s taking another family’s child in and teaching them alongside yours – or instead of yours if your kids are fully-launched now. Trust me, it’s a burgeoning market that will only get bigger. Your homeschooling expertise can indeed become very marketable, if you can learn the required skill set.
Wrapping up my advice on how you can get started with a little side work…
Optimize your time. Invest your energy not just in your kids, but in yourself. And use your imagination to unearth new opportunities.
I myself have to run now and get back to work…