Running a small business, homeschooling, and finding balance
Every year, I do this thing that probably seems crazy to anybody paying attention: I reopen my business with a great big event AND I start a new homeschooling year. In January. Yes, both of them, in the same month. Like an absolute crazy person. People ask me all the time how I could possibly teach a full year of school to two kids each year while also staying on top of all the orders, all the writing and publishing of patterns, all the testing and samples, all the package weighing and shipping, and everything else that comes with running a business. Believe it or not, it’s actually not all that hard. The trick is finding balance. This is what small business homeschool looks like for us.
December = Planning
Let me back up. I have two kids (not counting my 20 year old who lives on his own out of state at the moment.) We are a homeschooling family. Each year, we plan our school year from mid-January to mid-October. Therefore, we school through the summer when all the fun outings and events are taking place (the library puts on summer reading activities, the museums do special summer camps, etc.) and take the winter off for baking and holiday gatherings. We’ve been homeschooling both kids since Kindergarten. This year Rose will be in 5th grade and Isaiah will be in 8th grade, so we’ve been doing this for a while. We tweak things a little every year, but for the most part, this is what works for our family.
I also own and operate a business out of my home. Rows and Roses, have you heard of it? 😉 December is the month each year that I close up shop so I can focus on stitching up stuff for myself and my family, finish up any patterns I’ve been writing, and start planning for the next year. A whole year’s worth of event and pattern ideas get jotted down, to be fleshed out later. New projects go into the early planning phases. Yarn gets reorganized, as well as all the loose printed patterns that have been junking up the place. The Christmas Crunch is a month long event here in my house.
So basically, lots of things that have been neglected for too long get taken care of in December. Therefore, it makes sense that having this time off from both work AND school really pays off. I can take it easy from deadlines and social commitments, refocus, and spend some time deep-thinking and reevaluating where we are and where I’d like us to be. This is also a great time to have conversations with the kids: what they loved, what they didn’t, and what they’d like to try next.
Routines and schedules. Seriously.
The part that I think really has a lot of people scratching their heads is figuring out how to cram everything into the time we have every day. We’ve got 6 subjects and 3 electives per child, as well as field trips and playdates. Plus all the businessy stuff (businessy stuff: it’s not just “yarn.” It’s website maintenance, two groups to moderate, classes to plan, patterns to write, packages to weigh, labels to print…) Add to that three meals a day prepared and cleaned up after, laundry, phone calls and texts, and family time that isn’t school….. how does that even all happen in a day??
Before lunch, homeschool. After lunch, business.
Routines, schedules, and lists, my friend. Erin Condren Life Planners are my everything! Here’s the morning routine that my kids and I drew up for this year. I’m sure we’ll tweak it as we go to figure out what our new normal will be. They grow, we change, and it’s different every year.
- 7am- Mom wakes up. Coffee, computer stuff, setting intentions for the day.
- 8am- Wake Isaiah. He showers while I make breakfast.
- 8:30ish- Isaiah wakes Rose. We eat and enjoy coffee together while discussing plans for the day.
- 9am- Mom showers while kids do chores and get ready for school.
- 9:30ish- school til lunch. If this is a morning field trip/class/club day, then that counts as school (we’re about 60% unschooling around here)
Lunch is really laid back around here. We eat whenever we finish school, and then the rest of the day is my work day. A lot of the kids’ school work is self-led, so while they’re doing some of the things they can do by themselves, I wash breakfast dishes or throw in some laundry. After we eat lunch, I put any lunch dishes in the sink to soak. I’ll wash them sometime before supper.
They take our dog out to play if it’s nice outside, and then they have free time for the rest of the day to do whatever they want. This is when I work. I check all of the Rows and Roses groups and pages and accounts, do whatever needs to be done on the website or for the newsletter, and get to work knitting/crocheting/dying/weaving/spinning. I try to keep a few different types of projects going at once so as not to wear out my wrist crocheting, or wear out my back weaving, or wear out my eyes and fingers typing. I’ll crochet for maybe 30 minutes, then go move some laundry over to the dryer. After that I’ll do a little more computer stuff, then spin a little on my current handspun project. Some days I set up Weaverly Marsh, and I’ll go back and forth weaving for half an hour, then knitting for half an hour. Check the mail, plan a blog post, check in on the CAL, call my mom, crochet some more. This is how I keep going until supper.
Flexibility is everything
Of course, some days are different. If we have an afternoon field trip or playdate, I make sure to put my most portable project into a project bag, along with hook/needles, scissors, pattern, etc. and hang it with my purse the night before. These are the days I try to get supper in the crock pot while making breakfast, that way I don’t have to take the time to cook when we get home. Therefore, I plan all breakfasts and suppers a week in advance, always checking my planner to see which nights need to be crock pot nights, or which mornings need to be grab-and-go breakfasts. I don’t want to ever make my kids miss an event or a class or a meeting that they want to attend just because I have to work, so I always make sure to have something that I can take with me. Sometimes it’s yarn, sometimes it’s a notebook and pen for planning a blog post or yarn order or crochet class.
In conclusion, small business homeschool may not always be easy, but it is absolutely doable. This is what has always worked for us so far. I do not think I have all the answers by any means, and every family is different in what they do and how they work best. I hope I’ve been able to at least give you some ideas to help you on your journey. If you’ve found value in this post, please share it. Word of mouth is everything, and I appreciate you all so much ♥