16 Tips For Success - Homeschool and Work From Home
Updated: Aug 19
Homeschooling is a full-time job. So… how are you supposed to work while homeschooling your kids?
It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
We’ve rounded up practical tips to help you succeed in homeschooling while working from home.
(If you want the "best and worst" of starting a freelance copywriting business as a mom before you dive into these tips, click here.)
Anyone who educates their own kids knows that it takes an incredible amount of time, dedication, and energy - it's also not cheap.
You’re with your kids instead of going to a paid job, and you’re paying for curriculum and supplies.
Working from home allows location and schedule flexibility. Many work from home jobs are task-based. This means as long as you do your work well, your schedule is up to you. Schedule flexibility is perfect for a homeschooling family. Your job can flex around co-op, field trips, sports, vacations, and playdates.
Here are 16 tips for parents who want to work from home and homeschool.
1. Clarify Your Goals - What Does Ideal Work From Home and Homeschool Looks Like? 🚀
Before you start looking for work from home jobs, clarify your goals for both homeschooling and working. Write down details of what successful homeschooling looks like with work added in.
Keep these goals and details on the wall where you can see them and frequently check to see if you’re in alignment with your family and personal goals.
Dig into why you homeschool and why you want to work.
What’s your motivation to get a job? (Needing money is an acceptable motivation! Kids need to eat.)
What are your thoughts and feelings towards earning money?
Do you want a job because of guilt or fear or because you feel ready and excited?
Are you comfortable taking some time out of your day to work, or does this make you feel guilty that your kids will be shortchanged?
The last thing you want is to grab any job that allows you to work from home, but doesn’t fulfill you, or worse yet, a job that brings excessive stress into your home.
If you’re feeling guilt around taking time to work, it would be beneficial to work through these feelings yourself or with a counselor. Adding a new career into your life is a big step, and having the right mindset sets you up for success.
It’s possible to work and homeschool without constant guilt.
This course – Master Your Mindset, by Sarah Turner is an excellent resource to help you dig into your emotions around money, your limiting beliefs, and self-confidence.
You don’t have to feel completely ready before you take the next step. Starting is the hardest part. Keep working on your mindset and continue on.
2. Discover Your Best Working Hours and Homeschool Time 🕰
Before you create a schedule, you need to take an assessment of when your energy and focus levels are the best.
This tells you what times you’re able to do your best work. If your job requires creativity, attention, or even phone calls – you want to know when you can complete this effectively and with the least amount of distractions.
Some parents prefer to wake up before the kids and get a few hours of focused work done early. Other parents stay up late and work while the rest of the family is asleep.
Also, consider what hours in the middle of the day can be used for work to prevent sleep deprivation. Do not wake up early AND stay up late – your health is too important.
By taking care of your health and wellbeing, you’ll be your best self for your kids and your career. You’re also modeling healthy behaviors that you want your kids to know so they can be adults with healthy work/life boundaries.
Next, consider your kids’ energy and attention levels throughout the day. You probably already have a school day rhythm that accommodates their fluctuating attention levels. Take note of when they are at their best for learning or solving challenging problems as well as when they can do independent work, recess, or relaxed reading.
After monitoring everyone’s varying energy levels and daily flow preferences, you can start to create a schedule that fits everyone’s needs.
Take all your data and move on to the next step.
3. Create a Schedule to Balance Working From Home and Homeschool 📚
The next step to succeeding with homeschooling and working from home is to make a schedule and try it out. Older kids can help out with this as well, which increases their willingness to follow the schedule once it’s made.
If the schedule you create is drastically different than what you’re currently doing, you have two choices for implementing the schedule.
The first option is to switch to the new schedule all at once. Spend a day explaining what the changes will be and create some type of visual schedule to help everyone remember what the new schedule will be.
The other option is to gradually adjust your schedule until you reach your ideal schedule. Start by moving one block of school or one subject to a different time. Also, start blocking out very small chunks of time that are your work time so the kids gradually get used to you being occupied for short amounts of the day.
Work together as a team to create a schedule that works. It won’t be perfect the first time – THAT’S OK.
This process teaches your kids valuable lessons about flexibility, organization, boundaries, and prioritizing the needs of others as well as themselves.
4. Schedule Demanding Tasks When Your Kids Are Occupied 👩🏽💻
Every work from home job will have different requirements. Often, a few tasks can be done while kids are running around at the park or when they have friends over to play. This may be checking emails or assignments, creating graphics, uploading documents, or scheduling.
Other tasks require your concentrated, undivided attention. Writing, editing, calls, or meetings need uninterrupted time to be productive. These are the work tasks that need to be scheduled in blocks of your day when the kids can be independent or watched by someone else.
In my copywriting business, client calls and writing are the two times where I need the kids occupied or out of the house for best results.
Create space for both types of tasks in your day, then train yourself to only complete tasks that require concentration at the delegated time. If you dive into a new project when you don’t have focused time, you’ll likely end up frustrated and the job will also take longer.
5. Set A Schedule – But Be Flexible When Balancing Homeschool and Work At Home 🗓
No matter what schedule you create, stay flexible. Your first draft of a new schedule may look great on paper, but flop in real life. I think every homeschool mom has experienced this at least once. (Be honest… we’ve all made unrealistic schedules before.)
It’s ok to adjust and change your family schedule over time until you find the system that works.
Check in with your kids about the schedule. They have valuable feedback and will share when you ask. Starting a new work at home career can be stressful, and when you’re super busy, it’s easy to forget to reassess and ask for their feedback.
Allow flexibility from week to week. Kids get sick, sports practices change, appointments are scheduled, fieldtrips happen, play-date opportunities arise and so much more. Plan a week ahead as much as possible and rearrange your work hours to fit the upcoming demands of your homeschool.
6. Set Clear Time Boundaries Between Homeschool and Your Work From Home Job 🛑
This one is huge – don’t skip it.
Once you have a schedule that works, preserve the distinction between school and work time in order to be successful. If you’re constantly trying to sneak a little work in while homeschooling the kids, they will know that you’re distracted and they will get frustrated.
You know how it feels when you’re trying to talk to your kids, but they’re still watching TV or reading a book and not completely listening. Your kids feel the same way when you’re on the computer or phone while they’re asking for help with their work.
You may feel like you’re multi-tasking beautifully and balancing it well – but your kids know better.
Giving your kids your full, undivided attention shows them you respect them and their needs.
Being fully present during homeschool decreases “behavior problems” too. Kids want attention and they compete for it when necessary – even if it means they get negative attention.
This is hard – it’s easy to get pulled away when you hear texts and emails coming in. Remember you’re teaching not only academics but work/life balance and boundaries while you’re homeschooling your kids. This is an area we constantly have to monitor at our house.
Letting work creep into homeschool, or homeschool creep into work will make you crazy. After being fully present during school, you can fully devote your brain to work. Your kids will play or work more independently because you’ve devoted time, energy, and love to them – they don’t have to compete for it.
Be intentional about your time and focus.
7. Automate, Delegate or Delete Tasks to Simplify Work From Home and Homeschool 📈
This advice usually relates to running a business – and if you’re leading a homeschool and a small business then you’re a CEO twice over. As you go through your day and complete thousands of tasks, think about which can be automated, delegated, or deleted.
Automate – What can you schedule out in order to save you time? This includes business items, but also banking tasks, grocery orders, or even tithing. Some curriculums have computer aspects that move the children forward at the appropriate pace. Let a computer do the thinking and planning when possible.
Delegate – What can you pass off to others? Before you say that you can’t delegate anything, really think about where you want to invest your time and what you can pass off in order to invest in your work from home job. Decide if it’s possible to hire a cleaner or purchase meal kits. Consider box curriculum or online learning platforms if they meet your children’s needs. Purchase the pre-printed curriculum instead of spending hours printing (Yep – I see you thrifty mom). Even small changes to save you time help you succeed in business.
Delete – What can you stop doing? Again, before you think “nothing!” I challenge you to really evaluate what tasks are unnecessary or just distractions. Log in to your social media and start unfollowing and using the mute feature. There’s so much noise and most of it is completely useless. What else are you doing that doesn’t have much impact and could be removed?
8. Create Written Lists for Homeschool and Work At Home 📝
You may use lists in your homeschool already. You may also use lists for packing, shopping, cleaning, and other areas of your life. Lists improve followthrough and organization. So you already know this… but it’s worth repeating and implementing.
Train your kids to work off a task list. They won’t ask you what they have to do, or how much school is left for the day. Even young kids can use a list to stay organized and motivated. It allows them the freedom to choose what order they do tasks, and they feel accomplished when they check all the boxes.
Lists for your work tasks help you prioritize and become more efficient. I use Trello for my weekly organization as well as keeping track of long-term goals and new ideas. It’s basically a virtual organization board with lists and notes. It’s fun, flexible, and stops me from having actual sticky notes scattered throughout the entire house. My husband appreciates my upgrade to Trello too. 😉
List ideas to get you started:
📝 Tasks lists for expectations for the kids
💻 To-do list for work to keep yourself on track
🥨 Snack lists and recess times
🧹 Collaborate with your spouse or other supports to delegate what you can.
List making is a simple concept that can provide excellent results.
9. When Working at Home and Homeschooling, Use a Visual Timer ⏳
Set a timer and tell your kids when you’ll be done working and available to them again. Visual timers help younger kids who can’t read a clock. Your kids see the time decreasing, and this helps them understand how long it is until you’re done working and ready to play again.
Using a visual timer outside your office, or even close to where you’re working helps kids respect the boundaries between work time and play time.
They see the time decreasing, which gives them a sense of security – you’ll be available soon for their questions. It lets them know that you won’t disappear for hours and hours.
Start with small increments of time. Even 15 minute uninterrupted work sessions can be productive for you and help the kids learn the system without feeling like they need to compete for your attention.
When the time runs out – keep your word that you’ll stop working and reengage with the kids so they trust your system. Building trust and maintaining boundaries between work and homeschool is so important.
I really can’t emphasize it enough – solid boundaries will save you and your children many fights, tears, and hurt feelings.
And when you mess up – don’t quit. It’s another opportunity to teach your children about mistakes, forgiveness, and how much you care about them. Teach your kids and model that each day is a fresh start and a new opportunity to grow.
10. Teach Your Child How to Work Independently So You Can Work From Home and Homeschool 📓
This probably goes without saying for most seasoned homeschool families. Children need to be taught a system or task before you ask them to be independent.
If your child can’t login to their computer, sharpen their pencil, or find their math book without your help – you’ll have a hard time working at home. Start building their independence with tasks now, then when you start working, they’ll be prepared.
Prepare your kids emotionally for working more independently as well. They can take pride in their independent work and show you after your work session is over. If you try to switch from being constantly present at the table during homeschool to being out of the room most of the time, your kids will rebel.
Training kids how to work independently, then rewarding their accomplishments facilitates personal growth as well as time to work on your business. As your kids grow, they’ll need you less. Sometimes that’s hard, but the end goal is independent young adults! (some day)
Homeschool is a social and collaborative experience – so find a balance between helping your kids work independently and being present with them. Independent work is a way to get time to work from home, but don’t sacrifice your relationships.
11. Include Chores and Meal Preparation in Your Homeschool While Working From Home 🧽
You may already view household chores as life skills and incorporate them into your homeschool day. Tasks such as laundry, dishes, mopping the floors, and preparing meals have benefits. Movement, organization, executive function skills, memory, coordination… they’re doing more than just chores.
Incorporating these life skills into your school allows kids to accomplish a lot more without your assistance – leaving you more time to complete work tasks.
Household chores foster a sense of independence and competence when they’re woven into a holistic learning experience. Plus the added bonus that you don’t have to do all the chores. (Remember how we talked about delegating tasks? It’s a win-win.)
Be sure to work with your kids in the kitchen or during cleaning at times as well. Praise their participation in the home chores and let them know how much it’s appreciated. Delegate when you can, and join them when you’re able to demonstrate how families help and support each other.
Take the time to serve your children, even after you’ve started working from home.
They may be feeling your absence, so show some extra love when you can. Make them snacks, bring them water, or work alongside them. They may return the favor and bring you a snack while you’re working – it’s the sweetest thing.
12. Keep Homeschool Supplies and Games Accessible to Allow You More Time to Work From Home 🕹
You may be used to being available 24/7 for your kids. If a kid needs anything, you’re there to make it happen. You may not even realize how much you’re helping everyone until you’re trying to work. You also may not have noticed how many things are inaccessible to your kids.
Arrange the supplies and games so your kids can get them without your help or a step stool. Add labels or use clear buckets to make things very easy to find.
This includes outdoor games or supplies as well. Make all the good stuff easy to access so your kids can have fun, safe play while you work.
And… let go of the perfectionism about how the games are put away. Create a system that’s easy for everyone to use, not something that you are always rearranging. Seriously – does it really matter if the games are alphabetized? (Psst… the answer is no.)
We like an organized home as much as the next person, but if the system makes living and working in your home difficult and causes tension, then it’s time to change the system instead of the other people. I know… this is tough love. I’ve had to learn the hard way myself.
13. Work From Home Effectively – Limit Distractions 🎧
Your time is one of your most valuable assets – protect it.
Accomplish the most important tasks first during your dedicated work time. Don’t get sucked into checking social media or emails “really quick”. Don’t text a friend or look for recipes for dinner.
When you get that valuable uninterrupted work time – focus. You’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.
Distractions are everywhere. Using an app like Self Control or StayFocused helps keep you on track. Apps like this block out distractions by not allowing you to login to social media or whatever else usually distracts you.
Seriously, you think you don’t need this support, but you’ll be surprised how many times your brain wants to click away from your work and do other things. Keep a piece of paper nearby and write down those pesky little distractions so you can deal with them later.
Using a time tracker like Toggl is another way to keep yourself accountable. Monitoring how long it takes you to complete different tasks gives you insight into where you need to improve.
14. Practice Good Self Care When Homeschooling and Working From Home 🧘🏼♀️
You know self-care is important, you know it can make or break your day with your kids and your time with your spouse. The hard part is actually doing it.
Self-care is even more important when you add a work from home job to your responsibilities.
Taking care of yourself benefits the whole family. Get outside for sunshine, fresh air, and open space. Play with the kids and get exercise at the same time – especially if you’re sitting more than usual with your new job.
Get enough sleep. Don’t stay up late and get up early if your body needs sleep. Your homeschool and your work suffer if you try to short-change yourself on sleep.
Taking care of yourself is the hardest part of balancing homeschool with working from home. It’s also the most important part because you set the tone and schedule for the day.
Do whatever it takes to give your body the rest, fresh air, exercise and nutrition it needs to thrive. This may mean more automating, delegating, or deleting from your day. It may also mean hiring a sitter for a few hours a week to give you focused time.
15. When Days Are Hard, Revisit Why You’re Homeschooling and Working From Home 💫
Homeschooling and working from home at the same time is challenging but doable. Some days are overwhelming and other days you’re on top of the world. You always have the ability to make small changes and adjust your journey.
Revisit the reasons you chose homeschooling and working at home. Go back to #1 on this blog and review your goals (they should be posted on your wall too). Look at everything you’re doing and see if it’s helping you reach your goals or not.
Reevaluate your situation each semester or year and make changes as needed. Maybe you need to make changes to your daily routine or hire a sitter for 2 hours a week. Maybe you need to make much larger changes such as working outside the home or bringing the kids to an enrichment program or school a few days a week to regain your balance.
Just like anything else, working from home and homeschooling takes patience, constant adjustments, and effort. You can do it.
Working From Home While Homeschooling Is Possible
Hopefully you’ve seen that working from home while homeschooling is possible. It takes planning, determination, flexibility, and forgiveness (for yourself and everyone else).
I discovered my work from home job as a copywriter. After searching, learning, and testing out many different ideas, I found that starting my own writing business was my answer. It gives me the flexibility, freedom, and balance I needed to juggle homeschool for two busy boys while working.
Are we perfect? Heck no. But we’re learning and growing together – that’s the goal, right?
Drop me a line if you want to know more about copywriting, or balancing work from home with kids. I’m happy to help others and provide resources.
Here are a few links for you:
A free copywriting masterclass to help you get started.
With good boundaries and routines, you can balance working from home and homeschooling.
2022 update: We homeschooled our oldest for 2 years and our youngest for 4 years... and this year we've decided the best fit for our family is to enroll them in a wonderful little community school. Are we done homeschooling forever... probably not... but I always strive to keep an open mind and heart so my ego doesn't get in the way of giving them the best experiences and education possible. #Transparency is important to me, so that's our update!