{Career} Books for Parents Who Want to Work at Home



Thinking that you'd like to cut down on time in the office and spend more time working from home?  Or maybe you've been homeschooling awhile and want to generate some income.

Thanks to a prompt from a great comment made on my Facebook page, I've just placed two books in my Amazon store on these topics. Note that neither book is written with homeschool parents particular in mind, but the information on locating and securing a desirable "at home" job is still useful.

The first one, Work From Home Handbook: Flex Your Time, Improve Your Life, is most suitable for adults with established career who would like to telecommute part-time or more with their existing jobs. The data is a few years old, but much of the content is potentially persuasive to employers, even while working at home is being hotly debated.

The second book, Work at Home Now: The No-Nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living, is ideal for people who want to shift their working life to the homefront completely. The book is written by the founder of RatRaceRebellion.com and another book, The 2-Second Commute.

Bear in mind that with these types of books, some information (including web links) may be outdated. You'll also want to invest time and energy to do additional research online on recommended work-at-home companies in the event that their credibility has been damaged publicly since publication.

You'll find both books in the "Career" section of my Amazon store. (Disclosure: I am affiliate member of Amazon, and receive a small payment for books sold through my store.)

To learn more about the lifestyles and habits of real-life working homeschool parents, you'll want to read my own forthcoming book.

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{Wisdom} Can I Homeschool and Work At Home?



Found two posts just now via Pinterest on the topic of working while homeschooling. Having shared them on Facebook, I've decided they are too good to miss.

So I'm sharing snippets here and encourage you to check out both posts.

From OurSchoolatHome.com:

"There are days where I wallow in "oh, poor me." You know...
I work at home. I don't even have a home office - just a table with a laptop on it in the middle of our main floor.
I don't use a planned curriculum, so just about everything my daughter learns requires my direct involvement.
I'd love to be able to have "free time," or even "uninterrupted time," but it never happens.
Someone still has to keep up with the dishes, the laundry and the floors, and that someone is often me.

And then I realize how blessed I really am.

I'm busy - but so are you. So is your spouse. So is your mother-in-law. So is your neighbor's sister's cousin's friend. And all of us make choices, and we make the time for what's really important to us." {More}

From Jimmie's Collage:
"Can you homeschool and work at home?

In short, yes. You can work at home and still homeschool your children. In fact, working at home, versus working in a traditional office setting, can prevent the pain of giving up two incomes that is expected in a homeschool family.
Economic factors really do matter when it comes to choosing to homeschool. I have heard some families attacked because they are too “selfish” to make the sacrifices necessary to homeschool, namely giving up mom’s income. But without knowing the financial situation of a family, those are dangerous assumptions to make. Some families truly need two incomes. And if a single mom chooses to homeschool, she normally must find a way to work at home.
Other moms may truly enjoy working and find that being a WAHM makes life more fulfilling overall. Whatever reason you choose to work at home, you can do it and still homeschool your children." {More}
 ***

If this topic is of interest to you, then I invite you to check out my forthcoming book, due out this summer.

Related Content: Daycare Solutions for Working Homeschool Parents

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{Career} Does Your Doctor Homeschool Her Kids?


Over the last year, there's been a run of articles and blog posts featuring the experiences of working homeschool parents who defy the narrow (and unfair) stereotype of homeschool parents.

While researching my book, I encountered several doctors, including my family's own eye doctor, who pursue home education.

This morning, thanks to Parent at the Helm's Facebook feed, I discovered a new one on ChildrensMD.org, "18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children" by Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D.

She writes:
I’m going public today with a secret I’ve kept for a year—my husband and I are homeschooling our children. I never dreamed we would become homeschoolers. I wanted my kids integrated and socialized. I wanted their eyes opened to the realities of the world. I wanted the values we taught at home put to the test in the real world. But necessity drove me to consider homeschooling for my 2nd and 4th graders, and so I timidly attended a home school parent meeting last spring. Surprisingly it was full of doctors, lawyers, former public school teachers, and other professionals. These were not the stay-at-home-moms in long skirts that I expected. The face of homeschooling is changing. We are not all religious extremists or farmers, and our kids are not all overachieving academic nerds without social skills. {MORE}

She then proceeds to list 18 excellent reasons to homeschool.

While I found the "extremists" and "nerds" reference jarring (I'm friends with faith-based folks and am a supporter of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum), I understand what she's trying to do. She's trying to shatter the stereotypes about homeschoolers so that other people will see the reality of life as a homeschooler. I might have gone about that task differently. In fact, I do just that in my book's manuscript draft, focusing on the entrepreneurial impulses that homeschool parents have in common.

If you have doubts that anyone without the income or flexibility of a physician can homeschool, too, then go take a look at occupations held by "real life" homeschoolers (both faith-based and secular) listed here.

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{Career & Homeschool Tips} Daycare Solutions for Working Homeschool Parents


If you want to work and homeschool while your kids are young--or if they are older and "high needs," then your biggest obstacle is likely to be securing reliable, affordable daycare.

We tend to forget that in addition to teaching kids their ABCs and 123s, public and private schools provide daycare for working parents, freeing them up to pursue their professional goals. Yet if you switch to a homeschool education model and plan to work at least part-time, then sooner or later you're going to need someone to pitch in with care to take a meeting or make progress on a project.

This challenge is easier to manage if you have supportive family and friends with flexible schedules willing to watch a child for a few hours.

To avoid wearing out one's welcome with that arrangement if you frequently need help, however, you may want to take a look at hiring a nanny or babysitter.

Another option: create a homeschool babysitting coop and trade care with other homeschool families. Don't let the fact that you're the only working homeschool parent in your circle stop you from considering this idea. Sooner or later even stay-at-home homeschool parents need someone to give them a break to run errands, go to the doctor, etcetera. They may welcome an arrangement, provided that expectations are clear and everyone has compatible childcare styles.

In two parent households, consider whether or not you can secure what you need (e.g., paychecks and insurance) if each parent/partner works 2/3 time with overlapping schedules. On that topic, I highly recommend The Four-Thirds Solution: Solving the Childcare Crisis in America Today. In it, Stanley Greenspan addresses the daycare issue with regard to early childhood development. Many of the solutions (including the one referenced in the title) translate to families with older children, too.

For convenience, you'll find the book available for purchase in my Amazon store. (Disclosure: As a member of the Amazon.com affiliate's program, I receive a modest compensation for items purchased through my store.)

I'd love to hear your ideas on daycare for working homeschool households on my Facebook page.

***

Be sure to stay tuned to HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com for information on my forthcoming book regarding topics of interest to working homeschool parents. You may also be interested in my upcoming workshops and private consultations.


{Career} Are Your Skills Transferable?


Perhaps you're hoping to become a homeschool parent but need to make find another full- or part-time position that will give you more flexibility.

One critical step in the job search process is to determine skills and abilities to showcase on your resume and job application. (A skills assessment is a vital part of a larger personal- or self-assessment.) You'll want to generate a list of everything that you've done in your various jobs and what skills, knowledge, and abilities that each task demonstrates. You can also use a skills inventory.

As you go through your skills assessment, you will also want to think in terms of transferable skills.

"Transferable skills are the skills you've gathered through various jobs, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, or other life experiences that can be used in your next job or new career." Read more:About.com

For would-be working homeschool parents, transferable skills are especially helpful to identify because they often are the ticket to redefining yourself in the job market. For example, if you are a full-time administrator and are applying for a job as a 3/4 time art teacher, then you would play up skills acquired through your art-therapy volunteer work alongside your awesome organizational skills.

Once you've come up with your unique set of skills and abilities, practice "selling" their value in an interview setting. Try to have specific examples of each one that you can expand upon if asked to do so.


The Takeaway:

With your skills identified--especially your transferable skills, you can work on building a resume, cover letter, and other materials to support a successful job search.

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{Organization} Basics of Creating a Weekly Work & Homeschool Schedule



There's no "perfect" calendar that balances out everything a working homeschool parent must do. And I find that every week is always at least a little different than the previous week.

However, it's always nice to have a general schedule from which to work, if for no other reason than it helps with time management.


The best way to approach designing is to outline what exactly needs to go into a typical week.

Sketch out the following:

• An outline of your weekly work schedule
• How many hours per week that your child needs for educational pursuits
• How much time you want to allocate to extracurricular activities
• How much time that you want to dedicate to tending your home and lawn/patio
• How much time you want to allocate to self-care pursuits (exercise, faith-based activities)
• How much "free" time that you want for yourself and your family

Working with these components, piece them together into a weekly calendar. Then give your new schedule a test run, revisit what works and what doesn't, and fiddle with it until you get a calendar with which you can live. Consider posting it in a visible place.

Note that I find when working with parents that an old-fashioned college schedule worksheet--you know, the ones that you used to plan out your semester schedule--are a perfect template. (A free Excel template can be found here.)

The Takeaway:

You can create a customized weekly schedule that fits your household's needs with just a little effort.

P.S. If you'd like to see how other working homeschool parents manage their time, see the sample schedules in the back of How to Work and Homeschool.




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{Homeschool Tips} Tuning into A Child's Natural Motivation

Around our house, we use technology as a motivational tool.

Most mornings our son does a modest amount of school work around breakfast time to earn free time on the computer. He has a limited menu of options on the iPad and computer from which to choose. We also restrict access to sites that seem most distracting to him to every other day (he alternates between Minecraft and Animal Jam right now).

In the beginning, I used simple handmade cards with the words "30 Minutes of Computer Free Time" as a tangible reward, but he got the concept so quickly that we dropped the cards.

We do however still use a strike system. Negative behaviors receive strikes (including excessive whining), and if he gets three of them, then no game time at all.

To avoid technology overload, we use two timers: one set for 25 minutes and another set for 30. This gives him a five-minute warning that facilitates a transition.

This strategy works for us because:

1. He has a clear goal in mind to meet each morning, which helps nurture executive functioning skills
2. He understands what is expected of him in terms of output and attitude.
3. He is motivated to "play by the rules" because he values the reward.
4. We feel more comfortable putting firm limits on computer usage.
5. We value a rewards system so that he understands that using technology strictly for pleasure is a privilege for him.

The Takeaway:

Watch and listen to your kids. Find out what motivates them. Then work with that motivation rather than against it;pair it with your own expectations for behavior and progress.

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{Wisdom} Anne Lamott on Perfectionism




I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.—Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird"

Image source

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{Parental Self-Care} Beyond "Work-Life Balance"


Often we hear talk in the mainstream media of “work-life balance,” but that proves elusive as we become overwhelmed with the “silos” of work, school, family, community through which we move between during our days. The phrase also puts work and the kitchen sink of responsibilities and experiences called “life” at opposite ends of the daily seesaw.

Actually, I think that the very idea of “balance” keeps those silos in opposition and us struggling in the middle.

You may have noticed—assuming that everyone in our family is hale, hearty, and on task with work and/or educational pursuits—that we practical-minded homeschool parents have an opportunity to move away from a fragmented lifestyle of separate silos toward one of integration.

That integration comes slowly at first. Veteran homeschoolers reach it through the process of intentionally customizing our schedules, routines, and living spaces to fit our families and our needs. It comes through considering and addressing the forces that oppose our goals and outlining our goals in the first place. It also demands a willingness on our parts to acknowledge that moving through the stages of equilibrium and disequilibrium in life is a natural, necessary part of the human experience. And to get to our destination--a state of reasonable contentment--we have to take care of ourselves, the primary drivers in the movement to integration.

To riff on a popular adage: “If the parent ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

What recharges you? Do you make time for it? If not, what's stopping you?

I promise that even 15 minutes daily of self-care activity (exercise, meditation, yoga--whatever suits your style) can help you find a more centered life.

Even if it's never perfectly "balanced."

The Takeaway

Moms and Dads: practice taking care of yourselves.


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{Parental Self-Care} AH-CHOO! Prepare a Little TLC for When You're Too Sick to Homeschool



Yes, sooner or later the parent responsible for homeschooling is going to fall ill, at least for a day or two.

Most likely this will happen during the winter months, on a particularly dreary, wet day, when it is impractical to send the kids outside all afternoon while you try to recover and sneak in some work on your computer.

Blame it on Murphy’s Law, but it’s going to happen.

To be prudent and proactive, consider creating a lidded box—we’ll call it a Tender Love and Care (TLC) Box—filled with care items to help you (and your family) get through the worst of whatever bacterium or dreaded virus has brought you down.

Below are some household, healthcare, and craft items that you might want to stash inside your personal TLC container and put in a shelf in your closet. Naturally, for the perishable goods and medicines, you’ll want to check their expiration dates regularly.

• Eco-friendly paper plates, napkins and utensils to cut down on dishwashing, housekeeping, and the spread of germs
• Two rolls each of toilet paper and paper towel in case you run out of them and can’t make it to the store
• A box of paper hand towels to cut down on bathroom towel use and minimize the contamination
• A new bottle of your favorite countertop cleaner
• Hand sanitizer wipes and gels (all-natural or anti-bacterial)
• Enough cans of soup/ravioli, pre-packaged fruit cups, dried fruit, and crackers or some other easy-to-prepare foods to feed your family for at least two days
• Assorted adult and kid-friendly cold and stomach virus remedies
• Batteries and small candles (with matches) in assorted sizes

One parent that I know gift wrapped several small toys for a long-distance car trip and distributed them every few hours if the children were behaving well. If you think that technique would be effective with your own children when you’re feeling under the weather, then consider adapting it for your household’s TLC Box.

To that end, include several new small, inexpensive toys, age-appropriate books and/or comic books, games, novelty items and craft supplies (coloring books, Silly Putty, PlayDoh) that can distract children (giftwrap optional). Crayola makes an excellent line of washable markers and crayons—worth the investment if you can’t closely supervise creative kids. Older children and teens might be more appreciative of an iTunes card for music or a new app. Plus, if the eldest kids go the extra mile to keep the household running while you’re down for the count, then spending a bit more money on them might be in order.

Are these “gifts” bribery? You could call them that. Or you can consider them part of a temporary, limited-time offer to incentivize good behavior while you’re battling a cough or resting your woozy head on the cool tile in the bathroom. The choice is yours.

For your own mental well-being and extreme self-care, don’t forget to tuck into the TLC Box your favorite novel, movie, or packets of tea to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. After all, if you’re working and homeschooling, being laid low by a contagious illness is as good as an excuse as any to just relax for awhile.


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{Organization} Use Workboxes to Keep Things Orderly



In my introductory homeschooling workshops, participants who want to pursue a traditional homeschooling approach (as opposed to "unschooling") often express dismay at how to keep more than one child on task with assignments.

White boards and calendars are fantastic tools, but I think that Sue Patrick's workbox system is the lynchpin in a homeschool organization system. From her website:
Children using [the workbox system] stay more focused and are more successful in learning and completing their school work independently.  With as little as one day's work in restructuring your classroom, you will provide better organization for you and your child.  It will then be easier to set up a school day of curriculum, variety and fun, while steering your child toward independence and greater focus.
For more information, visit WorkboxSystem.com.

Note that there's a Yahoo! group for parents using the system, too.

Image Source: Spell Out Loud's fantastic workbox Pinterest board



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{Homeschool Tips & Technology} The Best Online Resource for Selecting a Homeschool Approach


Wondering which approach to homeschooling is the best "fit" for your family?

Then take a look at the Click-O-Matic Quiz at the Homeschool Diner.

If you desire personalized assistance with this topic, feel free to contact me.


Image source: HomeschoolDiner.com


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