HS #250 How to be a Work-at-Home(school) Mom with Wendy Speake
Links and Resources:
Wendy Speake is one of the hosts of The Homeschool Solutions Show. A homeschooling mom of three sons, and co-author of the parenting book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. Wendy is also the host of the popular 40 Day Sugar Fast.
QUOTES & SCRIPTURES:
- Without some order in your homeschool, things will spin out of order and you’ll start ordering people around.
- Before you get swept up in too many activities, it’s important to schedule your most important priorities.
- It is important to teach our children to value what mom is doing, not simply what mom is doing for them.
- Before you can teach them to honor your schedule, you have to have a schedule.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
HS EP Wendy Speake 250
Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week, you'll hear from one of us inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.
Now, the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the person and presence of Jesus Christ and His Living and active and applicable Word. We are so glad that you're here to join us for today's conversation. But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsors.
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And now, on to today's show.
Welcome back to the Homeschool Solutions Show. This is Wendy Speake, and today we are talking about the pressures of being a working mom when you're also homeschooling your children. And for many of our listeners right now, who never planned on doing homeschool with their children, they have kids that are home for the first time, homeschooling, or at least distance learning through the schools. And also needing to figure out how to balance your work schedule, this is a trying time for many of you.
But even for the mom who isn't working outside of the home, but has other responsibilities, we're talking to all of us. We're speaking to a myriad of responsibilities, not just the typical nine to five job. So, back in 2016, when Amber Lia and I wrote the original Triggers parenting book and the subtitle of that book is Exchanging Parent's Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. What we did was, we were looking at, what are some of those common things about our children, but also what are some of the common struggles we face, whether it's our hormones swinging out of control, the lack of sleep, or just simply doing too much, stretched too thin. When mom is stretched too thin, her temper runs thin. When she's stretched out, she is likely stressed out, and that can make her freak out.
Well, many of our triggers are about our kids, their behavior, their immaturity, there are plenty of things entirely about us that make us struggle to parent them well, to remain gentle. To be calm and to be kind.
So, today, I want to address one of the triggers that we actually left out of our book, because it has a direct influence, specifically on our homeschooling days. But, when we published Triggers, I joked that my personal, biggest trigger of all during that season was writing Triggers. For many reasons probably, but the most obvious one was that I was working. I was actually working. I had deadlines. I had things I needed to do for the first time in my mothering life, I was pulling away from the work of motherhood to do actual work, beyond motherhood and homemaking and homeschooling my children. I was working, but it wasn't working if you know what I mean.
Over the past four years, I have had to learn how to fit my work into our busy homeschooling days. Now, since I'm not the primary provider in our home, and my income is supplementary, I have the freedom and the privilege to craft my sentence as I did, in that order. I said that I have had to learn to fit my work into my busy homeschooling days. However, I know that many of you don't have that luxury. You have had to learn to fit homeschooling into your busy workdays. And those two things can be very different experiences.
Of course, finances aren't the only reason we feel stressed out and we need to get the work done. Deadlines and timelines of coworkers, a desire to work with excellence in our job, and the practical hours it takes to complete our workload are all very real and very stressful factors when you're working a full-time job, or a part-time job, whether you're the primary breadwinner in your home, or doing volunteer work and refusing to take a penny. Regardless of the details of why you work, and even how much you work, the fact is that you are working beyond the workload of loving and educating your children at home.
And if you are, you likely feel the stress of balancing these two. At least two. Probably many more massive responsibilities. Like I said, doing the work of writing about my triggers ended up being one of the most challenging triggers of all. Of course, I'm not talking about writing, maybe not one of you listening today is a writer. But this has to do with any kind of work beyond the work of mothering.
In light of that challenge, let's turn to the light of God's Word. It's what we always wanna do here on the Homeschool Solutions Show. Let's turn to God's Word to give us at least one very practical and very applicable solution to this specific struggle.
Ecclesiastes chapter three, and I'll just focus on verses one through five. They may be very familiar to you, but I want you to listen slowly in light of not just this season of life, as a homeschool mom, as a mom of young children, but the seasons of life within your daily routines. Do you hear what I'm saying? I hope that you do. Seasons within each day. So, think of that as I read to you, Ecclesiastes chapter three, verses one through five.
“For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to break down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”
Again, that was Ecclesiastes chapter three, verses one through five, in the ESV translation.
Now, within every busy day, there is, obviously, much to be done. Especially in this season of homeschooling and working. Too much, it seems, to get done. But there is time for it all if it all has a time. There is time for it all if all has a time. If it all has a season within your twenty-four-hour period. A time to wake up and a time to go to bed. A time to fix meals and a time to clean the kitchen. A time to teach children at the table and a time to leave them at the table to complete their own work. A time to pick up your phone and a time to keep your phone plugged into the charger down the hall. A time to go to work and a time to wrap up a work and engage at home again. A time for quiet, so you can focus, and a loud time of laughter, focusing on togetherness. A time prefer the wants and needs of others and a time to teach your children to value the wants and the needs that mom has too. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
So that's my translation. My homeschooling, home working translation of Ecclesiastes chapter three, verses one through five. Now, perhaps you noticed that I left verse five exactly as it was. That's because just yesterday, I had to practice this very thing during my work block. During my office hours. You can't see me, but I'm using air quotes right now for office hours. I was in my office doing my two focused hours of work and my husband and my children knew that I would be going out and getting this work done. It was part of the plan when one of my sons kept coming out to my door and wanting to talk to me about something I already told him would have to wait.
Now, before you judge me, please understand that he wanted to talk about a friend he had invited over and the video games he wanted to play with him. While it felt pressing to him, and I recognized his feelings, knowing that there are many video games that he's not allowed to play, and some of his friends are, and this was stressing him out, that moment was not the right time to talk it through with me. It was heavy on his heart in that moment, and I care about his heart. I do. But I also care about raising a young man who values what's on my heart, and what's on my desk. At that moment, he was only thinking about himself.
And so, what does this have to do with the time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing? Well, sometimes the same son of mine likes to give me a hug, specifically when he can tell I'm most unavailable. At the appropriate times to hug, whether we're happy together or having a problem and working through something difficult, he often, this one child, he often withholds hugs when he knows that I would like one when he knows it would be appropriate to hug. And he often chooses to initiate a hug when he knows I'm busy with something else.
Okay, I just realized, we could make this a whole chapter as well on Triggers. If you have an oppositional child. But I'm just giving a little insight into something in my home. I won't camp out here too long. Some of you have a fourteen-year-old right now, and maybe it's just part of the age. And some of you have a child who is oppositional and pushes back over many things throughout the day. It's as though they're testing us sometimes. How far can they push?
Well, when he came out to me yesterday, I was in the middle of sending off a time-sensitive communication with a work colleague. I was able to stay calm with my son, because, and I want you to hear this, I was able to stay calm because I had prepared him for times like this. I had prepared him to hear the same consistent words that I always speak in times like this because I had actually prepared a script. What do I say when my kids come out and I'm working? So, I said my script. I said, “honey, I'll be done with my work in one hour. Please hold your questions and your hugs until I can give you my attention”.
I was calm. I was kind. And I am consistent. That doesn't mean that this isn't still an area that we're working through. And I even sometimes feel triggered, but I feel triggered less often because I've prepared for myself, not only when I'm gonna work and when I'm going to engage with my kids, but I've prepared the scripts that I'm gonna speak so that I don't say something unkind. In the book Triggers, one quote is, figure out what you mean to say before you say something mean. And if you are a working mom, and your kids interrupt you, and you sometimes blame them and shame them, and sometimes yell, and sometimes cry, and sometimes threaten them, and sometimes incentivize them. If you're inconsistent and you're unkind sometimes, then I wanna encourage you to script yourself a script. Write yourself a script. Figure out what you mean to say and then say it in those times.
If you have young children that come to you asking for a sippy cup of something, or a hug during your focused work time, it is possible to take a short break and get them a cup of their whatever they're asking for and give them a hug. That's true. You can do that. However, you can also lovingly train them from a young age to honor their mom's schedule. Of course, I'm not talking about young toddlers that need someone with them focused on them. I'm talking about growing up children and their older people in the house and you are stepping away for some work time.
There can be plenty of time for embracing, scheduled within your days together. But it's also okay to have a time that is scheduled for refraining from embracing. Refraining from engaging. It's okay to teach them that. That's not unkind. As long as you communicate it in a kind and consistent manner. As a matter of fact, I think it's very kind to teach your children to value what mom is doing and not simply what mom is doing for them. Let me say that again. It's important to teach our children to value what mom is doing, not simply what mom is doing for them.
But before you can teach them to honor your schedule, you have to have a schedule. And that's my question. Do you have a schedule? Are you just trying to do all the things throughout the day without having a schedule? Without knowing that there is a time and a purpose for every season, even within this season of life?
Back when we started homeschooling, I made sure my children had some form of a schedule, however fluid it was. I could ask them to help me schedule some of their days. I could say, when would you like to do math? I noticed that causes you stress. Would you like to do it first thing? Or would you like to do it after lunch? Would you like to do it after you do your favorite subject of the day? They can choose when they want to take their breaks, how they want to do their breaks, how long they want their breaks when they want to do their free reading. Or which meal they'd like to help me prepare for the family that week.
But a schedule, nonetheless. One mistake, however, I made in those early years was not making a schedule for myself. Over time I learned that even a fluid schedule for mom since our lives are busy and it's hard to keep things in neat and tidy boxes, even a fluid schedule has helped me so much. Even before I started working in a more traditional sense. In those early years, I learned from other moms, the importance of quiet time in the middle of a long homeschool day. That was one of the first things I learned to schedule.
Having a consistent routine for the children at night. A bath and bedtime routine helped them calm down and get to sleep. Likewise having a schedule, a routine, for myself, helped me to get to bed. Scheduling a time to put away my phone or shut down the tv so that I didn't hit the sack overstimulated. Again, even seasons within our days can be scheduled, because there's a purpose for every season.
When I made the evening season about togetherness with my husband and getting to bed somewhat early, I found that I was able to get up and get some work done in the morning before my family was up and ready for the day. Of course, scheduling in time with the Lord and His Word, on my own first, but also as a family, helped give shape to our days as well. Without a plan, time with the Lord is often the first thing to go.
So, before you get swept up in too many activities, as you get ready for this next school year, it's important to schedule your most important priorities. Steven Covey wrote, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, schedule your priorities before you prioritize your schedule. And, of course, that means, take a look and schedule in what things are most important before you say yes to everything, and then you're just clamoring to figure out how you're gonna prioritize too much. Schedule your priorities before you have to prioritize your jam-packed, stressful, can't fit it all in, schedule.
Let me encourage you, even now, to take a moment and figure out what your priorities are. And then schedule those things into your family life. Order them. I love that word, order. To give order to something means to put it in its proper place, but if you don't, those things in your life start barking at you, bossing you, ordering you around, and you can't get it all done. And so you start barking and bossing and ordering everybody else around because your life feels out of control. Can I get a witness? I wish we were together, so I could see you nodding your heads.
You need to be the boss of your work priorities and the boss (please don't misread this and hear me saying bully) I mean the boss over your homeschooling days. Without some order, things will spin out of order and you'll start ordering people around like a bully. Let's apply this to your work life. If you work, then work must be valued enough to have its proper place in your day. If you are homeschooling, you must schedule the time each day it takes to school your children at home.
Many working moms use time blocks to help them schedule their work-life in between their homeschooling responsibilities. For example, one might block off five to seven A.M. for work and then return to their desk again from two to five. Those are their work blocks. Likewise, homeschool blocks can help everyone in the homeschool know when mom is available to do the actual structured teaching. After breakfast until eleven-thirty, and then again from one to two, or whatever it is you need.
This isn't a formula, but this is...well, there is a formula. The formula is, make a plan before you don't...before you start your school year without a plan, make a plan. That's the formula. It's nearly impossible to be consistent without a plan. So, do you have a plan? A plan that involved when your school day begins? I know, maybe homeschool families enjoy the luxury of leisure, slow mornings, staying in pj's until noon, and waving at the school bus as it drives by. But it might not be good for you, especially if you have other responsibilities vying for your attention.
If you are trying to fit more than togetherness into your homeschool days if you are needing to actually get some work done beyond the work of mothering and educating your kids, then having a morning plan doesn't just help, I dare say, it's necessary. Some working moms may choose to get up at four-thirty in the morning and work for a few hours. Others will get up later, have a quiet time with the Lord, make a sit-down breakfast for their family, and then push through the school day and be done by, I don't know, one o'clock. And then do work then.
Some moms choose to homeschool hard for three days and work hard for two days. And during those two days, the kids get a lot of on their own learning opportunities. Lots of reading. Maybe some online learning, or some activities with a local co-op. While it may seem that a plan makes a mom appear more controlling, telling everyone where they need to go and what they need to do, it actually allows you...oh, it makes me wanna take a deep breath as I say this... ah, what a relief. It allows you to relax within a more controlled structure.
So, it doesn't make you more controlling. It will allow you to relax within a more controlled structure. A mom acts out of control when life feels like it's spinning out of control. When there's no rhythm and no rhyme and no promise that you'll be able to get it all done, a plan can help you put order to your days and therefore put some order in your days. And a lack of order oftentimes translates into out of control behavior for mom. And now we're talking about our triggers again.
When we don't know when or if we'll be able to meet a deadline, those are the times we tend to act out of control in our own behavior towards our kids. But, if we know that on Tuesday and Thursday from one to four, we'll be able to get that work done, what a relief! To everything in our busy lives, there is a season for work and a season for homeschool work.
I've also found that having a specific day of laundry. To do laundry, to do running to do a grocery shopping, a day where I prep a couple of the meals for our family. It's helped me order our busy weeks. And having a couple of simple dinners prepped keeps me from unleashing my stress all over the little people and my spouse when I've worked too late or I didn't get it all done. And that's a trigger for me. I'm prepared. I've made a plan. Dinner's ready. All I need to do is warm it up.
It's hard to be calm and kind and consistent and especially, it's hard to be Christ-like when we don't feel as though we can possibly get our jobs done each day. And there are always dishes in the sink too. But when we know where our work fits, and we know where the housework fits too. And we know where the teaching and the learning and the playing and the dates and the church all fit, then our life can be calmer and kinder when someone needs a sippy cup of milk, or help with geometry, or even a hug, or help with the internet and the printer. Having an order to our days keeps our emotions in order too.
So, how about you? Again, I wish we were all together. When do you fit work in? Whether it's volunteer work or something you're getting paid to do? When do you fit it into your busy homeschooling life? When do you fit it into your homeschooling schedule? Do you have a schedule? Now is the time to make sure you do. Before you hit another year running.
So, God bless you, my hard-working homeschool working friends. All right. Let's wrap this conversation up as we always do, with prayer.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You that it's so applicable and practical to homeschooling days. Who would have thunk it, Lord? We can read Your Word and it applies right to the season of life that we are in. Help us, Holy Spirit, to order our days wisely. To find the seasons within every season, within every day, to teach and to pull away from teaching, to work at the computer, and then to shut the computer down. A time to sit down with the children and then also a time to rise up and let them work independently. To everything, there is a season and purpose under heaven, Lord. If You have called us to do all these hard things in this specific season of our lives, then we choose to trust You today to help us bring order to our frenzied days. To bring order to our frenzied emotions too. Bring us Your peace as we bring You our schedule. We thank You, Lord, for this time with You and with one another. In Jesus Name, Amen.
If today's episode of the Homeschool Solution Show resonated with you, either because you are working and homeschooling and often stressed by the combination, or because you maybe just struggle with a lot of triggers, I wanna encourage you to do one or both of two things. First of all, hop on over to Amazon and order a copy of Triggers. Exchanging Parent's Angry Reaction for Gentle Biblical Responses. And then go on over to WendySpeake.com/homeschool and sign up to be the first one to hear about homeschool triggers, our follow up resource, coming soon.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solution Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.Mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and, if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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