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5 Steps for Balancing Homeschooling, Working, and Taking Care of YOU!

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I hesitated to use this word in the title, as I often find the whole concept of balance elusive.

Balance shows up in many ways in my life.

When I practice yoga, there are balancing moves, sometimes on one leg. My right leg is stronger than my left and when I switch to my left leg, my balance, even after two years of yoga, is still questionable.

Maybe my teen is working an equation and I breeze by him to say, “just balance it!”

Perhaps I’m paying bills and balancing finances (I am looking at you Amazon Prime and Target).

My personal favorite? Dark chocolate in one hand a green juice in the other.

Balance.

What about day to day life? Am I really balanced? Is it even possible or is it a pipe dream that someone on a stunning homeschooling Instagram account espouses?

The truth?

I’m not sure.

There are days when I feel like I am rocking everything.

There are days when I feel like I am doing everyone in my home a disservice because I am working and homeschooling and human-ing.

But most days I feel like I am doing things pretty okay and good enough.

And do you know what?

It is okay. It is enough.

My version of balance can vary season to season and sometimes day to day. It’s taken me a while to grasp that it’s totally fine because I cannot be everything to everyone at all times.

Does this resonate with you? Are you homeschooling (a full-time job, no doubt) and also working inside or outside of the home? Do struggle to balance everything? Do you need to let some things go? Say YES to one thing and NO to 28 other ones?

Grab your chocolate and your green juice and let’s chat.

There are days when I feel like I am doing everyone in my home a disservice because I am working and homeschooling and human-ing.

The Myth of Balance

First, I am very fortunate to be able to work from home.  I get to write about homeschooling and our journey. I also work for a children’s company where I write, assist with social media, manage blog articles, and more.  I speak at homeschool conferences and I also have some other ideas marinating in my busy brain.

I love it.

I left the corporate world 12 years ago when our twins were born. With my oldest, I worked from home part-time, took three months off when he was born, then continued to work from home up until I had the twins. My background is in marketing communications: writing, communicating, sharing ideas, working on a team—these were all things that lit me up.  However, working in the IT field was NOT my passion.

I was happy to walk away from the office-setting and the 9-to-5 hours.  I knew early on in my career that I would need to be in a flexible, creative environment; I also knew I wanted to be a mom more than anything.

So, here, I am, 20+ years into post-college life, and I am doing things I dreamed of and doing things I never dreamed of too. Homeschooling is definitely NOT what I envisioned myself doing, but it’s brought me to a place in my career that truly enriches my life, makes my heart happy, and earns some income. I pinch myself almost every day.

However, just because I truly love doing all of these things doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that I don’t get burned out, or that I don’t need a break.  I sometimes spend WAY too much time checking work emails, social media pages, or fielding messages. Yup, working from home and having access to ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME is good and hard and sometimes (okay, lots of times) I don’t balance this well.

Also, I have struggled with boundaries. I am a recovering people pleaser. I love to help people and do things for people and be a how-can-I-make-your-life-easier person. In fact, as I type this, I am hoping that my words are encouraging and that you feel refreshed after reading them and not think, “Well, that was a big waste of time!”  Told you. People-pleaser.

The good news? I recognized this about myself (finally) late last year. I was burning out (again) and feeling like at any moment all the plates I was spinning would come crashing down and I would be left to sweep up the mess that I had made because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) ask for help.

I went belly-up to my family and a few close friends. I began working with a woman’s health and wellness guide and I also reached out to a business mentor friend for support. I had to be the driver of MY balance. I had to do the legwork and I had to stand up and say: THIS ISN’T WORKING FOR ME!

I had to be my own cheerleader and my own advocate.

Balance.

Your life is no doubt different. Your job situation, your homeschool, your health—every homeschool family is walking their own path. The beauty of homeschooling is that it allows us to look at all aspects of our lives in new and different ways.

We have to get creative. We have to push boundaries, or perhaps, enforce them. We need to trust ourselves more and trust that our kids are going to be fine even if homeschooling for the day (or the week or the month) looks like Netflix, math apps on the tablet and building Lego projects all day long.

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Better Balance

I want to be clear: YOU are the boss of your balance. You get to figure out where you need white space and where you need activities and where you need a blanket, the couch and a good book or four. I am truly amazed every day by friends who are sharing their journeys of homeschooling and working—whatever that looks like—and knowing that I’m not alone.

  1. Set expectations.  Take your homeschool and work schedule into consideration. Are you working full-time out of the house? Are you part-time at home? Are you working weekends or nights? What do you need from yourself and your family to make all of this run smoothly? What do you expect of your kids and partner? What do they expect of you? I can tell you that my stress levels go through the roof when the expectations in my head don’t play out as I wish. It’s taken me a while to realize that I don’t live with mind readers. Having clear expectations is a must. Whether you chat once a week in a family meeting, write everything on a huge whiteboard—make sure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Set aside time for yourself. Ironically, I had this idea lower down on the list at first. It’s natural for homeschooling mamas to make sure everything else is running smoothly and everyone is taken care of first and then we can spend 4.8 minutes sipping microwaved tea and scrolling through Instagram. One of your expectations (see above) should be that YOU take care of YOU. Pretend I am standing in front of you right now waving my hands around (I am 100 percent Italian, I can’t help it) and saying in a nice, but loud voice, “Friend! You matter! Your health matters! Your time matters! What you love to do matters! MAKE the time do something for you! Homeschool your kids and YOURSELF!” and then I make you some yummy food and we laugh and swap funny stories. Deal?
  3. Set boundaries. I used think boundaries were bad. I believed that I had to be accessible to everyone all the time forever and ever. This stemmed from years of not wanting to disappoint people: family members, co-workers, kids, friends, strangers—you get the picture. How you communicate these boundaries is up to you. You will probably get push back. Keep at it. I have a friend who puts a sign on the door of her home office so that her kids know not to bother while she’s working. Maybe you work outside of the home but need some space when you arrive home and need to decompress before putting on your homeschooling parent hat or your mom hat. Maybe you need to make boundaries of when and where you’ll work so that you’re not constantly checking your phone or answering calls during homeschooling hours. Boundaries: hard to make but absolutely crucial.
  4. Set up systems. There are approximately 1,000 other parents/bloggers/authors out there that experts on homeschool planning, running a home, meal planning, cleaning, etc. Find someone that jives with your personality and season of life. Figure out the places in your life that need some help and set up some systems. Start with one thing, say meal planning. Or, maybe you need systems around how you do your work and the best way to be productive from home. When I started working with a mentor who specialized in helping working homeschooling parents like me, things clicked and I was able to start implementing some ideas to make our days a bit smoother. Like anything, it’s a work in progress. Systems can help you feel anchored and take some of the decision-fatigue out of your day.
  5. Set yourself free from the guilt. Choosing to home educate is already going against the norm. Working adds another layer of complications—even if the work you’re doing is something you love! We will miss some things. We will serve chicken nuggets 4 straight nights. We might have to travel away from our families or we might have to say no to things we’ve said yes to in the past. Priorities. Boundaries. Expectations. Balance.  Lean into your strengths. Ask for help. Let it go. No guilt.

Wherever you are on your homeschooling and work journey, give yourself some grace. Celebrate the daily wins. Know that you’re going to have seasons of chaos AND seasons of smooth sailing. If you take the time to set yourself up for better balance then you can focus on all the amazing things that truly matter to you.

Vanessa Wright

Vanessa is a homeschooling mama to three inquisitive, creative and often loud kids ages 13, 11, and 11. She is married to Jason and they live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. Vanessa is a self-professed eco-beauty junkie, avid reader, yogi-wannabe, tea drinker and chocolate snob. You can find her on Instagram at @Wrightathomeschool and on Facebook at Wright at Homeschool where she’s keeping the REAL in homeschool reality.

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