“I could never do that!”, is the response I hear most when I tell people that I home educate, or when I tell them that I home educate and work, or when I tell them that I home educate, work, and hobby farm. I feel like what they mean is, “Why would you do that?” or “How do you make that work?” or “I would not want to do that.” Their sentiment is understood; this life choice is not for everybody.
Women leaving the workforce for a child’s early years is a familiar concept. They commonly return once those kids are school-age, with 74.8% of mothers of children age 6-17 working*. Many women even before that, with over 60% working by the child’s ninth month**. And where are these children while their parents work? Likely, in a day care or a school.
With so many factors at play, life for a home educator is custom fit to each family. Family size and ages are a factor because younger children would need a care giver while mom and dad were away at work, but an older child may be able to manage at home during some of the work hours. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) calculates that most two-parent home educating households maintain with one working parent, however a striking 34% of two parent home educating households manage with both parents in the work force.
Over the years, the way our family has managed the work/school/life responsibilities has evolved: early in our business we hired a nanny who helped with lessons. Once the business could support it, we replaced the nanny with an administrative person, and I moved to a home office. The kids have taken online classes and co-op classes. We maintain a pretty fluid schedule to accommodate the changing needs of the business and the education. The hobby farm is just that, a hobby and much lower in priority.
I’ve worn many of the hats: single working parent, married working parent of a public-school child, stay at home parent, stay at home parent/home educator, and working parent/home educator (and hobby farmer!). It sounds exhausting, but any decade of work crammed into one sentence sounds exhausting. As with any evolution, the change is small and over time.
My contention is that this life choice is very much possible! And I assure myself that there are other women who are taking jobs with flexible schedules or putting their career on the slow track or using those fringe hours to home educate. We may not be the majority, but we are out there. What I want to know is, who are you and how are you making it work?