Struggle and Juggle
As the cost of living continues to rise, more and more home schoolers require more than one source of income in order to manage their finances. Investing in the children by staying home is the purpose of home education but if you can't afford to buy the necessary curriculum or pay your bills it's a struggle and a juggle.
Over the last two decades of our homeschooling journey, I have had to contribute to the family income in order to make ends meet. FYI my husband is the hardest-working man I know. Ask anyone. Sometimes it's not that we wouldn't have food on the table but it's just that little extra for family vacations or a microscope or getting takeout once and a while. When the children were little I worked in the evenings, tutoring and running a home party business. Some years I took in children for daycare and did respite care for the parents of children with special needs. When our kids were older I started a cleaning business and included the kids, by turn, when time and clients permitted. I also purchased a retail business which has been a challenge but has also provided jobs and business training for our children and others.
Home schooling and bringing home the bacon is still a struggle and a juggle. The struggle is that, for me at least, I felt as though I was not doing the homeschooling as well as I could because I was also working. Many of my friends had spouses that made much more than mine and didn't have the juggle I faced daily. On the days I fell for the unwise trap of comparison it was difficult not to be envious or resentful. And friends didn't always understand why we couldn't fit in a co-op or social day. The simple fact of the matter was, if I wasn't at work, I had better be fully focused on schoolwork. Home schooling is tiring in and of itself and so is earning a living. The combination of the two can be really exhausting! I'm tired just typing that exclamation mark.
Most home educators feel inadequate in their homeschooling whether or not they have to bring home some bacon. Each of us has a unique challenge to overcome in the journey of home schooling. You might have a health issue or a child with special physical or intellectual needs. You may experience a difficult pregnancy or the loss of a loved one. You might have to work extra hard to contribute to the family income. It can help to remember this. This is a long-term process that we have signed up for and it's normal to have bumps along the road. There is often a chasm between our ideal and reality. Let's rephrase that. There is always a chasm between our ideal and reality.
There are some benefits beyond the financial that I have found from earning income while educating at home. One of them is that I can relate to my career friends who choose a different educational path for their kids. I can develop relationships in the marketplace that would not otherwise have been available to me. Can we admit that sometimes going to work is a break from homeschooling? My businesses have provided services and employment that benefit others. I have been stretched as a person to grow in many ways such as time-management and prioritizing. It's been a challenge to persevere and be faithful in what you've set out to do when it would be easier to quit. One of the best benefits that I can see is the inspiration and example that my other roles have given to our children, especially my most entrepreneurial daughter.
One day during a particularly busy season at work I was apologizing to the kids for not being very available to focus on their schoolwork (note: at this time they were teens and fully capable of completing the tasks they were assigned independently). I expressed the wistful wish that I didn't have to juggle both homeschooling and income-earning. My daughter said that I had no need to apologize and that she was very proud of the fact that her mother is a businesswoman. It was something that she liked and appreciated and was learning from.
Perhaps that's an education in itself.
Join the Canada Homeschools podcast for our "Homeschooling and Bacon" feature episodes in which we interview Canadian home educators like you about how they juggle educating the kids while contributing to the family income.