Homeschooling and Writing – How Does That Work?
This week, Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, issued an invitation to share what a day in our homeschool looks like. So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to answer the question once and for all: Homeschooling and Writing – How does that work?!?
I get that a lot, when people who know me as an author find out I also homeschool four kids. And from my homeschooling friends who find out I have at least two books coming out this year. You see, I’m living a double life, and everyone who knows about one side is pretty sure it’s already a full one…until they find out they only know half of the story!
My day starts entirely too early, at 4:45 am. Do I like getting up at that horrid hour? No. But my husband, who seems to like early mornings, bribes me with coffee delivered bedside, and who am I to refuse? Besides, if I want time to write before the craziness begins, that’s the sacrifice I have to make. So I get up. Ok, not actually. I actually work snuggled up under the blankets in bed, blessing the genius who invented laptops. And coffee.
From 5-7 am, I work on my project du jour. Right now, I’m deep in the outlining process for the novel I plan to complete this year. I’m hoping to finish outlining this week, before my editor sends my game module back for revisions next week. Once I get those back, the novel will go on hold while I pound out revisions and get them submitted. Those two hours in the early morning are when I can do my heads-down concentration work.
At 7, I go into Mom mode, fix breakfast and get the kids through their morning routines and chores, and get their assignments for the day put up on our assignment board. For us, independence is key. My kids learn best on their own, with me available to explain concepts or to add depth when their textbooks skim over the interesting bits. I also use this time to check their work from the previous day and add “See Mom” notes next to the appropriate subject when they’ve given into the temptation to slack off on an assignment.
We begin our schoolday together, all five of us, between 8:30 and 9. It takes a few minutes to go over the schedule, talk about anything coming up, or address any issues. Then the older kids scatter while I work one on one with the younger ones.
Lunch is between 11 and noon, depending on the day. After lunch, I take some much-needed break time to check email and make a second pot of coffee.
We come together again in the classroom at around 1, to take stock of the day. I usually spend the next two hours doing individual lessons with the older kids while the younger ones read or draw or work on other activities.
3-4:30 pm is Mom’s Writing Time. My four year old snuggles up next to me in bed for her nap, and the older kids finish any assignments they have left, or if school is finished they can have video games or (weather permitting) go outside for a while. The rule is, as long as they stay within the rules and don’t interrupt, they can goof off as much as they like. Kids, just like adults, need some time to just goof off! This is when I work on shorter projects, blog posts, answer more emails, and that sort of thing – stuff I can do around interruptions if they come.
We spend from 5-7 pm in various activities on most evenings. With four kids, even if each kid is only in one activity, that eats up most of the evenings in a week! We usually try to schedule quick, easy dinners during the week, with more elaborate and time consuming ones on the weekends.
8pm is bedtime for the younger ones, quiet reading time for the older kids. This is time for DH and me to recharge and relax. We watch a little TV, drink a beer or a glass of wine, and shift out of parenting mode back into husband and wife mode. That’s important, when so much of life revolves around everything else!
It’s a long day, and I get about 3 1/2 hours of dedicated writing time per day, plus time here and there to make notes, check emails, etc. It’s nowhere near as much time as I wish I had, but I have a feeling that even if I could somehow write 24 hours per day, I still wouldn’t have enough time to finish all the stories and projects that are floating around in my head!
So – to answer the initial question: How do I manage to homeschool and build a writing career, without losing my mind? It’s all about balance, organization, and planning. I know every day exactly what I’m working on, so I don’t waste precious work time figuring out what to do. Then when it’s time to work with the kids, I really try to keep my focus on them rather than on my writing projects. I don’t always succeed, but I try!
That’s a day in our homeschool. Any questions?