Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Your Homeschool Stories: How Do I Do It All?

I am very excited to share another guest post in our series Your Homeschool Stories.  Today Melissa shares with us how she manages homeschool, work and be a single mom.  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
​Hi! I'm Melissa over at Single Mom Unschooling. People often wonder how they can homeschool, let alone do it as a single parent, while working. I thought I'd share what has worked for me.
My son is now nearly eight years old and he has always come to work with me. I've chosen to work as a nanny because it's a vocation that allows for that kind of flexibility. When he was three weeks old I went back to work, wearing him in a wrap and nursing him as needed, while caring for the family's three children. It wasn't easy. I was a new mom and juggling all the new mom stuff and managing their household and mine were exhausting. I was just grateful to have employment that allowed me to be with my baby, always.

Since then, I've worked for several other families who were understanding of my desire to care for my son while working to support us. It was certainly easier, while my son was of pre-school age for potential employers to be accommodating. Now that he's of "school" age, when I tell people that we homeschool, they often balk at considering my services. How could I possibly do my job and teach my son? Surely I would need to neglect some of my duties to give my son the attention he needs. These are their concerns. I've overcome them.
The method of homeschooling that I found to make the most sense, as my baby was growing, was unschooling. He's always been very active and relentlessly curious. We can learn anything that interests him on the fly and through the course of our varied days. Having work schedules that often included shuttling children around to activities, we've had to adapt a great deal of flexibility. Often, I could be seen carrying a large bag of books, games and other materials with me everywhere we went. Always being prepared for whichever circumstances we find ourselves in, has helped a great deal.
So, work just became a part of our everyday lives together. As a little one, my son was just happy to be with me, wherever we were that day. The older he gets, the less he enjoys the "have to" of heading to a job every day. It has the side benefit of built in playmates, which has helped. The things I was doing at work were mostly mom things anyway; dishes, laundry, tidying, a natural extension of what I did at home. It just felt like the natural order of things for him, until recently.
People often wonder how I could do all the same things at work and then come home and do them again. To be honest there are days I don't. There are days I get home and put a bowl of cereal in front of my son and do nothing else but spend time with him until bed. I have been superwoman for years and I've gotten better at it. You don't always have to do everything. Those dishes will still be there. It's exhausting being the only one doing everything. You can rest. 
When my son was little, I'd do all of the chores while he was sleeping. That way I had all his waking hours to be more attentive to him. Somewhere along the way I realized that if I kept that up, he would come to believe that some magical cleaning fairies visited while you slept and cleaned your house. As a toddler, he could begin to help with some of those tasks anyway. So, we both grew and learned.
Currently, I wake before he does in the morning and have my coffee, tend to some of the chores, have some time to myself and just enjoy the stillness. I'm a pretty quiet, introverted person and this time is more of a need for me so I make it happen. 
Often I go through articles I've bookmarked, print out games or activities that I think will be of interest to my son and clear away the activities from the previous day to make room for what we'll do today. I don't plan things per se. What interests my son and what he wants to do or work on for each day is up to him. I provide ideas, materials and am there to facilitate. This is my roll, regardless of where we are on any given day. If he needs me, he'll ask, if he doesn't he'll independently work at something until he's ready to move on. 
I'm writing this during my "me time" and it's time for a coffee refill. Writing  this may have raised more questions than it answered but I appreciate the opportunity to write a guest post. You can always dig deeper into how we do things, by visiting my blog. I welcome questions and I love talking to people about our unique journey. 
~Melissa
About Melissa
I’m a forty year old mom to an amazing seven year old boy. We’ve unschooled since day one. I work as a nanny so that I can make a living as well as spend my days with my son. My favorite things to do are cook, garden, be outdoors, paint, read, and write. Come visit Single Mom Unschooling.