Friday Flashback: My solo parent juggling act

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Solo parent homeschoolingIn my life this week… It was time for another round of the “solo parent juggling act” — when hubby’s out of town for work and some of his contributions to our daily routine are thrown into the mix of what I am already juggling as a work-at-home, homeschooling mama. My husband has worked for the same company for almost 17 years (which is such a blessing), and although his job as a textiles sales manager in the outdoor sports industry has always required him to travel, I am still far from a pro at the solo parent juggling act.

This week the juggling got even more complex because at the same time that I have been managing the relaunch and growth of this blog, I also took on a new freelance marketing research assignment that requires several hours of work per day for the next few weeks. And to make things even more interesting, I just found out that my husband will be back on the road again Sunday through Wednesday next week. When it rains, it pours… right?

To tackle both the solo parent extra duties and additional work this past week, I’ve been using the “time block” approach: Segmenting all the “must do’s” into blocks of time that they can be best accomplished.

The morning “block” has been dedicated to the school activities that we do together. Afternoon is broken up into two blocks: Activities (when I can usually check in on the blog via my iPad) and at-home free time or outdoor play (when I can usually sit down and get the freelance work done). After dinner is the evening block: My 12-year-old has been asking for babysitting practice, so I let her supervise her two younger sisters while I get a couple more hours of computer work done and prepare the next day’s blog post and related promos.

The plan looks good on paper, and a few days this week, it actually worked out quite well. I even managed to get in an hour at Zumba class on Monday night while my eldest was in ballet class and my younger two had a playdate with their neighbor pals. However, the days with outside enrichment activities were harder to fit into the blocks.

Homeschool PE

Indoor sports fun at PE Plus: My girls taking on the boys!

Last night, after homeschool PE, art co-op, errands for the hubby and girls to take home from a playdate, I gave in and drove through Chick-fil-a for dinner. I felt a little defeated, but the girls surely didn’t complain — and my chicken sandwich was really good!

For more of my tips on Survival skills for solo parent days,” see this Tuesday Tip post.

In our homeschool this week… we had our first dance-filled Monday. The worship dance program we participated in last semester is no longer holding classes in Castle Rock, so we decided to sign up for their Monday classes in Littleton, which is about 25 miles away. This semester all three girls are taking worship dance, so we are there for two hours and get to drive home during suburban rush hour, then I head back out for Audrey’s Castle Rock ballet class at 5:30pm. And if at all possible, I go to Zumba while Audrey is in ballet (the studios are pretty close, thankfully). So Mondays are officially dance days for all of us this spring!

We accomplished week three of our six-week Jamestown unit study with Trail Guide to Learning’s Paths of Exploration. My favorite moment of this week was a drawing assignment in which the girls were supposed to envision the island life of early colonists. Their different interpretations were both creative and entertaining!

Homeschooling art

Elise imagined a “tiny island next to the ocean with a dark cave where the water pours in to help the trees grow” and no people, apparently (left). Claire imagined a serene ocean fishing scene (top right). Audrey imagined an evening beach camping scene, with one guy telling “scary stories” about his hair-raising explorations of the New World (bottom right). Interesting contrast!

I rewarded my kids this week by… throwing an impromptu ice-cream party for the girls and their neighborhood friends this afternoon. We went to the store to get eggs, milk and OJ and discovered Blue Bell Ice Cream (in a real gallon size) on sale for only $3.88, so I let each girl pick a flavor. I love how my girls will fill up on ice cream and then go outside and play in the snow!

Homeschool Activities

A favorite photo this week… is capturing this moment last night when Elise decided she wanted to do “school” right before bedtime while I was working at my laptop on the dining room table. She pulled up a chair next to me, got out her Bible, turned the music on my iPhone, and started to copy Psalm 86:11 (which is highlighted as a “Words to Remember” verse) while singing along to her favorite Britt Nicole tunes.

Homeschool Copywork

Normally it’s like pulling teeth to get her to write her BOB Books vocabulary words more than once. And she is always asking to “be done” when her work involves writing. So for her to ask me if she could do copywork — and choose to work on a verse — was really a special moment for me. She continues to surprise me!

How was your week? Do you have any experience with the solo parent juggling act? How do you manage working in extra projects or responsibilities into your weekly homeschooling routine when they are tossed your way? We’d love to hear about your week in the comments below!

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Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, editorial consultant, and home-educating mother of three daughters. She has been married for 26 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. A former journalist, she is currently editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

10 thoughts on “Friday Flashback: My solo parent juggling act

  1. What a lovely post!

    I am so wishing I could be home all day with my son. It looks like your week was just wonderful. You are blessed.

    ~ Kim

    1. Hi Kim!

      Thanks for reminding me that even on busy & hectic week like this one, it is still truly a blessing to be home with my girls. It’s been a sacrifice financially to stay home to homeschool and take occasional freelance jobs only, but I am very grateful that the Lord has provided and we’ve been able to make it work. It’s my prayer that if you’re looking for a way to stay home with your son, that He will guide you in how to make that happen.
      May the Lord continue to bless you & your family,
      Renée

    1. Hi Monica!
      I’m glad this post is going to be helpful for your future “solo” parenting this summer. I had a Facebook chat with a friend about this topic today and realized I have a few more tips to add to this, so I am going to update the post.

      One key to solo parenting for an extended amount of time (I’ve done two-week stints several times) is to get out & about with mama friends as much as you can doing things that are NOT stressful — the park & pool in the summer are great because you can have some grown-up conversation while the kids play and there’s no prep required other than bringing snacks. And both are places the kids will enjoy for hours! This past summer our neighborhood pool was such a stress reliever for us while my hubby was away. You can’t beat the outdoors, Colorado sunshine (and extra vitamin D!), and encouraging fellowship while the kids burn our their energy. 🙂
      Renée

    1. Hi DaLynn!
      Thank you for nominating NextGen Homeschool — I will check out the details about the Liebster award on your blog. Congrats on your new schooling opportunity, and I will be praying for your routine adjustments to go as smoothly as possible.
      Renée

  2. I wanted to stop by and say thank you for including our linkup on Tuesdays at Hip Homeschool Moms on your list! Also, thanks to Elizabeth for linking up her post with us! 🙂 I enjoyed your post, Elizabeth!

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