with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I’ve mentioned it here a few times, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a lot of detail about the fact that we are now—technically, anyway—in our second year of homeschooling my 13-year-old son. His first year out of public school, we enrolled him in a 5-day-a-week program, and so my responsibility in terms of that homeschooling was limited to showing up for field trips and filling out our state-mandated homeschooling paperwork each month. Hooray for programs where you can be a homeschooler without having to do it yourself! I had been quite apprehensive about the switch (even though it was absolutely the best thing for him), and was happy to find a program that worked for us.
As we wound down that first year, we looked back and took stock of the changes. The good news was that stepping away from public school had absolutely been the right choice. The not-exactly-career-enhancing news was that our beloved “Hippie School” program—while absolutely the right social environment—was perhaps not completely what my son needed, academically. Feeling grateful for the flexibility of freelancing and working from home, I got over the last of my reservations and we decided to drop his out-of-the-home enrollment to three days/week. I am now actually homeschooling two out of five of my work days each week.
I stacked the deck in my favor, though. I’m smart like that.
First of all, I tend to be busiest earlier in the week, so we enrolled my son in Hippie School for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. That way, I can get more done, earlier in the week, to have more time to work with him on his days at home.
Second, we’re using an online resource for the classes he’s responsible for here at home. (Our state offers a system whereby just about every class in the high school curriculum is available via virtual school.) Theoretically, he could complete these classes entirely without me. In reality, I do oversee the process, of course. He’s pretty self-motivated, but he’s also only in 7th grade, so I consider myself the benevolent overload of the syllabi.
Third, this first year I’ve made sure that the course offerings we choose for his home days are subjects which really pique his interest, and the fact that he’s taking high school classes is a huge source of pride (and motivation) for him right now. There will come a day when we may feel like it’s time to tackle some classes he’s not so thrilled about, but right now we’ve kind of managed the perfect storm of engagement.
The result has been so manageable, I find myself wondering why I was worried. I’m able to work, he’s able to complete his coursework, and while Thursdays and Fridays require a bit more patience and breaks in work to assist him, it’s working.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. Or, in our case, all things which are currently working must encounter a small wrench in the works. Heh. Our beloved Hippie School is changing up a bit, next year, and the 3-days-a-week option is disappearing. Our current precarious balance where I get three days in my office alone, we have two days of homeschooling-and-working together, is to be no more.
We have to commit to re-enrollment at Hippie School with in the next week. We have to choose to either drop my son down to two days a week, or go up to four days a week. And we have to decide without really know where he’ll be next August, developmentally, or where I’ll be, career-wise.
I like what’s happening for my kid with the online classes, and had already planned to increase his course load next year. But I’m not sure I’m willing to give up another day of just-me-in-the-office-alone. On the other hand, increasing his days to four/week means spending more money, plus it means he’d have to commit to working on some of his more structured classwork while at Hippie School.
There’s not really a wrong choice; I keep trying to remind myself of that. One of the things I’ve learned over the last 18 months or so is that homeschooling is not as scary as I feared it was, and we can pretty much figure out a balance that works. I just hate feeling like we found something that’s working really well and now we have to change again.
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