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working homeschool mom's new schedule

Photo taken in March, it's much greener out there now!

Good morning! I'd like to follow up last week's post, Calling All Working Homeschool Moms, to say thank you for your support and encouragement, and to share how I've shifted our routine to better meet our family's changing needs.

You are such a wise group of ladies. It was helpful for me to read about what your schedules look like... I tend to be the type who gleans inspiration from taking a peek into other people's lives (that sort of sounds creepy, but it's also why we love blogging, yes? I bet you understand!).

Among the goodness I took away from your comments, three things that really stood out for me were:

1. Don't try to work in bits and pieces. 

  • This was great for me to hear, because working in "bits and pieces" is something that I can't do with the kind of work I'm doing now (mostly writing, workshop planning, studying). I used to do more sewing for 'work' and did find it very possible to sit at the machine for 10 - 20 minutes as I found the time. Now, sometimes it takes me that amount of time just to get the words flowing. I was sort of thinking something was wrong with me because I couldn't do this work in bits and pieces, so it was nice to feel understood.

2. Save my daughter's independent work to be done during my work time. 

  • Again, sometimes hearing something from another person's perspective feels like a breath of fresh air. For a few months now, since we switched to our new Science curriculum, we've been saving it for the afternoon because we enjoy it so much that it was fun to look forward to at the end of the day. Saving a less favorite subject/work for the afternoon can feel a little tedious when the day is winding down and the basketball hoop or friends are calling. But, I had to be realistic about my needs too so I moved some things around. Now we have more independent work scheduled for the early afternoon.  

3. Stay open to changing needs. Frequently assess the routine. 

  • Right. Stay in the moment. Do the best you can today with a loose grip on tomorrow. Is there really any other way? Of course we have long term goals as a family and individuals, but more than anything, it's the right here and now that shapes the future. 

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.

Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.

Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.


Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.

~ LaoTzu


So, what have I done to improve my current balancing act?

I've given myself a work schedule!

Basically, Monday through Friday, the hours of 1:00 - 5:00 are mine for working. It doesn't come close to the full time hours I could certainly fill these days, but it is so much more than I was scheduling before. And that word, scheduling, is key for me. I need to make it an appointment or before I realize it I'll be in the kitchen baking a cake or something. My family is supportive (as always) and on board, so we will give this a go and see if it helps. As it stands, in the morning for about 2-3 hours I am full on lesson support (as needed). After lunch, Emily settles into her more independent work/activities of the day, and I work. 

I don't lock myself in another room as that just feels kind of sad for how connected we are. One of our main reasons for homeschooling is to spend our days together rather than apart. Emily accommodates my need for relative quiet, and we each go about our work. By 2:00 or 3:00 she has finished up her independent work and will do as she wishes until 5:00. At thirteen, she's fully capable of occupying herself, or she may decide to get together with a friend.

There will be exceptions of course. Two afternoons a month I host home-ec, one afternoon I host a homeschool knitting group, and about once or twice a month Emily has a program at the library. And there will be the spontaneous outing or field trip. Like yesterday, Emily and a friend had an opportunity to be volunteer ushers for the Boston Lyric Opera, who performed at a local school. As a result, our day shifted, but what a good reason to shift. I am a mother, flexible is my middle name. 

It feels really good, and all I had to do was say what I needed and my family was like "okay, sounds great, we'll support you completely." Guess I should speak up more often! (Just kidding, my family will tell you I speak up plenty.) 

Again, thank you for listening, sharing your own experiences, and making a difference the way that you do. It is all very much appreciated.

Our Family's Breakfast Experiment

We tried... we really did try. And it was a yummy, fun experiment indeed. In the end though, it took about four or five days for us to realize that it wasn't working for us at this time. Oh well, it was a tasty failure at least! 


In theory it could have worked. Actually, more so at this point in our lives than any other. Emily and I are home (of course) and for the last couple of years Adam has had a more normal 9-5 type work schedule. There is no rush for us to carpool to school, he does not have an hour long commute, our family has seen both over the years. Yes, we could have indeed gathered each morning for a family meal. 


However, there were a few factors that I forgot to consider. 

  • I am a big believer that teens need a full nights sleep. Having her get up around 6:30 to fall asleep at the breakfast table (okay, maybe not quite) was not really working out. I have no idea how her friends that go to regular school get on the bus at 6:40am and go to bed at 10:30 after doing homework make it through the day.
  • I've started going to the gym in the morning which puts me out of the house for about 1 1/4 hours, family breakfast meant I wasn't able to do that. 
  • I don't really eat breakfast! It was kind of funny how I'd make these amazing meals and then just stare at my plate gathering the will to pick up my fork. It usually takes me about 2 hours after rising to feel like eating.
  • I was giving myself more work! We were still having dinner as usual, and I make a pretty mean homeschool lunch (if I may say so). Considering my recent cry for help when it comes to being a working homeschool mom... why was I adding another item to my schedule?
  • As for my husband? Well, he was just thrilled to be fed but agreed it did take away from our gym time (we take turns going each morning), and Emily was better off staying in bed for just a little longer. 

It was great to try it out though. How would we have known it wasn't a fit otherwise? We've always been, and still are, big weekend breakfast people. Of course, we do that more as a brunch than a bright and early sort of thing. I guess weekend breakfasts might be about all we can handle for now, and I'm okay with that. 


Do you have breakfast together as a family in the morning? If so, you might want to give these potato pancakes a try... you will be so glad you did. 

So, it didn't work for us. That's okay, I'm glad we tried, and trying it out is something I would definitely recommend to other families. I'm always up for trying new things that might offer our family even more time together. That's always a good thing.

Ten Things

















:: a fire inside all day on Saturday, a fire outside in the evening

:: a sweet and simple Easter morning

:: giving in to the nudge to go hiking before our family dinner

:: seeing him in his element

:: grateful for the flowing water that brings her complete joy

:: a beaver pond with mallards swimming across

:: the way he quietly and always picks up other people's trash, stuffing it into his own pack

:: the very first dandelion

:: patient baby chicks and curious little humans

:: a slow Monday morning with green tea and my people. 


I hope the start to your week is lovely as well!

Calling all Working Homeschool Moms


Today I've posted at Simple Homeschool: 5 Ways to Simplify Dinner in a Homeschool Kitchen. I hope you have a minute to visit me over there, but before you do...

All homeschool moms work. My goodness do we work - today I am seeking the wisdom of moms who work on top of work. Whether it is outside the home or within - how do you do it?

I am asking in all seriousness as it is something I am rather desperately trying to figure out. When I embarked on this homeschool journey with my family, I did so with just one "condition." I would give 100% of my focus and full time energy to homeschooling, but I would not be able to contribute to our household financial needs (and I did want those needs to be met modestly yet completely). I knew that in order for me to do a good job, it would take all of my energy and attention. We thought we could swing this single income and we were wrong. I've added the numbers up every which way and there does not seem to be any way around it. My income matters tremendously. 

I have plenty of work opportunities in front of me, so it isn't the looking for work that I'm having trouble with. And I feel very blessed to be able to do the majority of this work from home. It's the how do I do it all dilemma that I can't seem to master. 

The work that I do is highly creative and requires (for me) a large amount of quiet, focused time to achieve decent results. I am not a night person, in my world the earlier the better. I simply can't produce anything worthwhile in the evening. 

Somewhere within the homeschool day, I am trying to locate a workday for me...

I used to get up early (4am) and use those early hours to accomplish some writing and work. The last few months I have felt a shift - a need for more sleep, a need to give up the much desired caffeine that I required in order to arrive at my writing desk by 4am, and the need to perhaps go to the gym instead (ahem).

So I've been sleeping until 6:30, heading to the gym, and leaving the coffee (sadly) un-percolated.  Then I come home, shower, dress, etc. I feel great starting my day this way! The only downside is I have no time in the morning to work now.

As a mother that homeschools a fairly driven 7th/8th grader, our school work is pretty focused as she quickly advances in her formal academics dreaming of college and beyond. It takes time each day. We can easily spend a full day (9am - 3pm) on school related 'work'.

Basically, homeschooling is a full time job (I knew this going in to it), generating a decent income is also a full time job (I did not anticipate I'd be doing this while homeschooling). I'm feeling a little lost when it comes to managing two full time responsibilities...

How do you do it? Have you seen others do it well and can share your observations?  

Quest for the Perfect Homemade Pizza


During the 30 Day Vegan Workshop, the lesson of being gentle with one's self and withholding judgement was quickly conveyed. I'm so glad participants understood this important message, it really is the catalyst for growth and healing. The world and media is ready and willing to do all of that ugly, self-deprecating work for us, we certainly don't need to join the effort. Why waste our energy on finding flaws, adding labels, or being unreasonably tough on ourselves? No thanks.

We talked a lot during the program about "what foods, if any, we were missing..."

To the surprise of many participants, there wasn't a sense of deprivation that one might have anticipated going into a 30 day program of committed clean eating. This is actually explained fairly easily by the theory of putting so much good into the body, that more good is exactly what the body is asking for, not junk. It was beautiful to watch that awareness felt by many, and was one of the things I had hoped for them to experience. 

There were of course certain foods that some people missed, myself included. To have such a clear understanding of this was very enlightening. It was never a random "I miss meat!!" It was more mindful than that. "In addition to all of these abundant plant foods, my body could use a piece of fish or raw cheese 2-3 times per week." See the difference? When you take away the casual placement of meat or dairy on the table for each and every meal, and increase abundantly the amount of plants in the diet, the body starts to communicate it's true needs and it is fascinating to observe.

There were of course feelings about "missing cream in my coffee" and things like that. But again, once we enter a place of clean, mindful eating, it becomes easier to clear the cobwebs and identify an emotional attachment to nourishment versus a physiological need for something. Both have their place, seeking an appropriate balance though is ideal for feeling our best.


So what does all of this have to do with pizza? 

I had this silly idea at some point during the workshop that I wanted to get really good at homemade pizza. Really good. I've made it plenty of times over the years, but as someone who appreciates a perfectly made thin crust wood fired pie - it has been a challenge to duplicate such a thing at home. My friends built a beautiful cob oven in their backyard... now those are some fine looking pizzas. I wonder if zoning allows for cob ovens here in the city?


Anyway, I filed the idea away until after the program, and as fate would have it, Vegetarian Times had an article this month about pizza making with Mario Batali. It's pretty easy to trust his recommendations about anything food related so I went for it. His technique specifically asks the home cook to par-bake the crusts on the stove-top using a skillet. This really caught my attention because the correct crust doneness is the very thing I wanted to improve on. It worked really well! I'm thinking (for convenience sake) that these could be par-baked and frozen for easy weeknight meals. Oh! And once the crusts are par-baked and topped, he has you broil them rather than bake in a super hot oven, interesting. I used a stoneware pan to broil in the oven. There's always room for a little tweaking after trying something new only once, but I will definitely be working with this method again and again. 

Do you have any tips or secrets to share for creating the perfect homemade pizza?