Recently my NextGen Homeschool co-authors addressed the question “Can you work and homeschool?” in an “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler” post. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that it’s been a while since my last blog post. My family and I have been navigating some challenging bumps in the road, and working while homeschooling has been one of our biggest struggles.
My husband lost his job in late January and had to seek new employment. Then my work hours almost doubled not long after. This caused a big ripple in our “pond,” and with change comes some confusion.
Praise God Tony started his new job a week ago, and I thought it would be a good time to share how paying the bills and homeschooling works in our family.
Let me start off with what God’s word says. Matthew 6:26-30 says:
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Everyday I wake up, I have to remember to trust God with everything. When my husband and I decided that we would homeschool several years ago, I left a full-time job as a seamstress for an awnings manufacturer. It was something I had done for more than 10 years, and my income was my security at the time. We were already struggling, so the idea of leaving work was just crazy to me!
Looking back to that week, I can honestly say now that God provides — and that’s amazing in itself, to just know how much He has provided! When I left that job, I kept my other part-time job cleaning the Daylight Donuts shop that my sister and brother-in-law own. I went from working weekends at first to working six hours a day cleaning both of their shops every day, seven days a week. Now I homeschool during typical daytime hours, and then I go to work.
It’s been a struggle, but we needed the money this year more than ever. We have a new baby girl, Melody Rosanna, and then we had to make up for Tony’s loss of income while searching for a new job. Melody was born October 28, 2012, and she has been a blessing in our lives with her mild temperament. She sleeps so well through the night, I often have to wake her up for feedings. I believe this is a blessing from God as well, because with everything going on, I already feel as if I run nonstop.
Through homeschooling, my family has learned to work together in some highly stressful times. These are life skills that I am proud my girls are learning alongside us as parents. Homeschooling doesn’t simply benefit your kids, even though that was my sole intention at first. It brings you together as a family. Although I have moments of doubt as we struggle on an almost daily basis, the rest of the time I realize that this has been the best choice I have ever made.
This week my muscles were hurting from all of the extra mopping and scrubbing I have been doing at work, and it just so happened that my eldest daughter Stormie has decided she wants to own a spa when she grows up. So while I have been suffering physical discomfort, I have had foot rubs, back rubs, neck and shoulder rubs — all for free because she thinks of this as free training.
My 12-year-old daughter Rachael loves her new baby sister Melody, and she will jump at the chance to change diapers, make bottles, and play with her every chance she gets. Then her younger sister Faith, who loves animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up, takes care of our three dogs. This has been a huge help for me! And all the girls have daily chores, so the house stays somewhat clean despite our busy schedule.
My older two girls, Stormie and Rachael, have also helped me at work cleaning the donut shops. We call this our bonding time, because as we work, we talk. Well they get me all alone in a building that echoes, so really I just listen as they talk and sing to me — about anything and everything — and I feel very connected to them.
And through it all, our bills always somehow get paid. Yes, things have been tough at times, but I promise I would not change one minute of it! Every moment I get to watch my girls learn, is worth any stress!
If you decide to work while you are homeschooling, remember to keep your priorities in order. God first, family second, and then work. This may sound backward to some, especially in our culture, but I have learned that this actually works better than what I was doing before.
God provides for those who seek to do His will. Even if we are to blame for our circumstances, God always has provided for us. I know my children see this as well. I praise God that they are gaining what I call “faith skills” instead of losing their faith in a public school.
— Elizabeth Thomas is a blessed wife and mom of five girls — Stormie, Rachael, Faith and Cadence (who are all homeschooled), and newborn Melody. She was homeschooled all through her school years and has been homeschooling for four years. She lives in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.