Last updated on December 28th, 2021

Balancing the needs of school-aged kids and pre-K kids in your homeschooling schedule is challenging enough. Trying to fit your own work into the daily routine can feel like doing a puzzle with too many pieces, but it doesn’t have to. Here’s a daily schedule perfect for working from home and homeschooling at the same time.

working from home and homeschooling | a mom with a laptop hugs her daughter

Is It Possible to Work from Home and Homeschool

In the past year, millions of parents around the world found themselves in a position they’d likely never considered for themselves: working from home while trying to homeschool their children.

For many of these parents, this decision was outside of their control. Offices and schools shut down and suddenly all the activities that used to take place outside the home were jammed into dining rooms, family rooms, and, yes, that corner of the bedroom where, if you angle the webcam just right, nobody will see the dirty laundry on your floor.

Many families did not enjoy this new reality and were eager for things to get back to how they had been, everyone going their respective ways in the morning.

But plenty of other families found that this arrangement fit quite well with their goals and lifestyle and have decided to continue on with it.

If you’re new to homeschooling, or you’re just starting to consider it, you might be wondering whether it’s even possible to work from home and educate your kids at the same time.

You probably have lots of questions, such as, Do I need a home office?, How will we fit everything in?, and How can I prevent my toddler from streaking through my Zoom call?

I have homeschooled my four children for nine years now, and I have worked from home nearly all of those years, other than a short hiatus after my third child was born.

I’m also connected with dozens of other homeschoolers who also manage to both homeschool and work from home.

So, yes, it is possible. But, no, it’s not easy.

Working from home and homeschooling is a life of constant tradeoffs and compromises.

It’s a life that thrives in the margins, requiring you to think of time in terms of fifteen-minute windows rather than hours or days.

It requires discipline, commitment, and boatloads of flexibility.

It’s definitely not for everyone.

But if it’s a choice you’re committed to, you can absolutely make it work.

Setting Yourself up for Success

Before we start thinking about scheduling, it’s important to take stock of the needs of your children and your work so you know how best to organize everything.

The nature of your work, the ages and stages of your children, and the type of homeschooling you choose to do will all impact the way you organize your space and your time.

Your Work

Clearly, not all jobs are equally conducive to working from home.

If you are surgeon, a bus driver, or a classroom teacher, for example, working from home would be extremely difficult for you. In some instances, you may be able to arrange to work shifts that allow you enough time at home to homeschool your children, but jobs like these that require you to be out of the home for a large portion of every day will require you to have more help in your homeschool than if you’re actually working from home.

The types of jobs that make it easiest to work from home and homeschool are those that give you the most autonomy over your own time. If getting your work done well is more important than when, exactly, you do the work, devising a work from home and homeschooling schedule will be much easier.

Your Children

Working from home with kids around looks very different as your kids move through different phases.

When I first started homeschooling, I had two children who were three and five. I primarily worked from home but I also had client meetings and site visits to attend.

At those ages, it wasn’t possible for my children to play independently for long periods of time while I worked, even if I was in the same room.

During that season, I had two “mother’s helpers,” young ladies who were themselves homeschooled, who would come over and play with the girls while I worked. I also had a friend who could come and babysit when I had to go to meetings. (Virtual meetings weren’t nearly as common back then).

As the years passed, my first two children got older and more independent and we welcomed two more children to the family. By the time my older girls were eight and ten, they could comfortably watch the younger two while I slipped into another room to work.

The way you structure your days will really depend on how old your kids are and how capable they are of working independently. If they are fairly young and dependent, you will need to be creative.

This could mean tag-teaming with your partner if he or she also work from home, bringing in someone to help with the kids while you work, or fitting your work into the early mornings, evenings, and weekends.

One of the great things about homeschooling is that as kids get older, they get far more independent about their learning. Even a six-year-old who has learned to read can spend a good hour or more entertaining herself with books.

Older kids will be able to do much of their schoolwork on their own and can also help with watching younger siblings, meal prep, and housework.

Do keep in mind that these skills take a while to develop, so if you’re launching into homeschool with older kids, don’t expect that they’ll be able to do these things right away.

But as you start spending more time together and teaching them these skills, you can gradually shift some more responsibility onto their shoulders.

How You Homeschool

Finally, the approach you take to homeschooling will also have an impact on your ability to work from home and the schedule you’ll need to develop to pull it off.

Many homeschooling families choose a hybrid model where kids learn at home two to three days per week and then attend some type of formal classes on the other days. A schedule like this is perfect for work-from-home parents as those days when the kids are out of the house are the perfect times for you to get caught up on work.

Other homeschoolers do all their learning at home following either a relaxed approach or a rigid one.

A more rigid approach might include online classes, one or more types of curriculum, and set times to cover each subject.

A relaxed homeschool leans more toward giving children the opportunity to follow their own interests, pursuing learning opportunities as they naturally arise rather than dictating when specific topics should be covered.

There are pros and cons to each of these approaches when it comes to working from home.

With a more rigid approach, you can create a detailed schedule for the school year and just stick with it. It would include both work hours and time for school work, and would clearly detail what each person is supposed to be doing at all times.

With a more relaxed approach, there’s potentially less stress. Working parents can sit in the dining room or home office and get their work done while the kids are free to explore new ideas on their own (depending on their ages, of course). They might spend half the day doing this and the other half learning together, perhaps going on nature walks, doing projects, or taking a trip to the library.

There is no right or wrong approach to homeschooling. You just need to find what works best for your family.

I find that I prefer to use a rigid approach with my older kids and a relaxed one with my younger kids. I need to know that my older kids are making the progress they need to make to succeed at the university level when they get there.

But for my younger kids, I’m more interested in them developing the ability to play outside together, creating imaginative scenarios, problems, and solutions, and letting their rapidly expanding brains make all the connections they need to make to foster healthy development.

Spend some time reflecting on the nature of your work, your children’s ages and stages, and how you would like to homeschool. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Is the work you currently do conducive to working at home?
  • If not, is changing jobs an option for you? You will need to look at your priorities and see where homeschooling fits in. If it’s critical, how can you make your career fit in with that goal?
  • How many hours do you need to work each week?
  • How flexible can you be about when you do those hours?
  • How old are your kids?
  • How much direct supervision do they need?
  • How much time can you reasonably expect them to play or work independently?
  • What sources of help can you count on?
  • What kind of homeschooling approach do you think will work best for your family?
  • Are there classes in your community that your kids could attend some days to give you a break?

When you’re ready, grab your answers to these questions and take them with you to the next step: scheduling.

Why You Need a Homeschool and Work from Home Schedule

Whenever I hear the phrase, “I don’t know how you get so much done,” I feel like a fraud. I look at the list of things that I would like to get done and think, if only you knew. Compared to what I’d like to do, I barely get anything done at all, but somehow I’ve given the impression that I’m highly productive.

I worry sometimes that in giving this impression, I could cause others to feel like they are not doing enough, or that they have to work harder to produce more. The last thing I want is to be the reason why other people put more pressure on themselves!

There are, however, two habits I practice that lead to a consistent level of output, however insignificant that level may be.

First, I say ‘no’ to almost everything.

I know that sounds awful, but it is necessary. There are so many opportunities that come up during any given week, and if we said ‘yes’ to all of them, I would never get anything done. I’ve learned to recognize and accept my maximum capacity and stick within it.

Second, we stick to a very structured homeschooling schedule and daily routine.

With six people in our family, each with a very different set of needs, the only way to ensure that everyone’s needs are met is to put them on the schedule and stick to it. I find that when we deviate from our schedule too much, it leads to chaos because someone isn’t getting what they need (i.e. a nap, or attention, or time to run around outside).

You may be thinking, But wait a minute. I thought you just said the relaxed approach would work equally well. Why do we suddenly need a structured routine?

And you would be right.

Usually we don’t think of the terms ‘relaxed approach’ and ‘highly structured routine’ as being compatible.

But actually, they can be.

More than that, most kids need them to be.

Even if your mornings consist of you working and your kids playing independently, it’s still important for there to be a schedule. The schedule should indicate when that free play time begins and when it ends. It should also tell you what’s happening before and after.

What it doesn’t need to specify is what, exactly, the kids should be doing during that time. It’s enough to call it play time, free time, school time, etc. without going into a detailed account of what that means.

It should, however, let them know how long they have, when they’re going to eat next (kids always seem preoccupied with that question), and when they’ll be expected to transition to something else.

Kids–and many adults–thrive on routine and predictability. They want to know what’s coming next. They derive a sense of comfort from knowing that there’s a pattern to their days.

It also makes transitioning them from one activity to another exponentially easier.

Another reason why a structured routine is important, especially in a big family, is that without one, things can turn to chaos pretty quickly. You might miss meetings or forget to arrange to have someone help with the kids while you’re in the meeting. Your kids might be late for their online classes or forget to read the book for their next book club meeting.

Schedules keep us on track and help us function smoothly as a team. They also help older kids learn essential time management skills that will help them immensely, whether in school settings or in their future careers.

Obviously, every family is unique and will have its own set of needs to meet, but I’m going to share our daily routine and homeschooling schedule with you, in case you need some inspiration in figuring out a new schedule for your family. I benefited from looking at a great many routines before settling on this one, and I hope you find it useful as well.

Our Weekly Routine For Working at Home and Homeschooling

In our home, every day looks slightly different. That’s because we need to factor in things such as my son going to daycare a few times a week, dance classes, piano and singing lessons, my work meetings, and my kids’ online classes.

Some days I work a little, and some days I work a lot. Over the course of a typical week, it does add up to about forty hours of work. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I spend most of Friday and all day Saturday working. To make this possible, my son goes to daycare on Fridays and my husband watches the kids on Saturdays. We spend all day together as a family on Sunday, and I also try to take Tuesdays off so that work doesn’t take over my life.

The schedule I’ve outlined below is a typical day for us. It includes about six hours of working time for me and a full day of homeschooling, lessons, and routine home maintenance.

My recommendation, though, is to use a spreadsheet program, a digital calendar, or a homeschool planner to keep track of your weekly schedule. I prefer to use a digital version as it saves me the time of writing out the same things every week and allows me to make changes on the fly.

I do, however, print out the digital calendars each week so we all have paper copies to carry around with us.

All right, enough about that. Onto the schedule!

4:30-5:30—I wake up as early as I can for some quiet alone time before the day starts. I usually spend this time exercising, reading the Bible, or journaling.

5:30-7:45—This is my concentrated work time. The kids wake up at 7 and get themselves breakfast. They have free time until 8:30.

7:45-8:30—I grab some coffee and breakfast. Depending on the day, I either take my son to daycare or go for a short walk.

8:30-10:00—I work with my younger daughter to do all her schoolwork for the day. If her younger brother is home, he listens to me read or plays independently. The older kids do independent schoolwork according to their schedule (the more structured one).

10:00-11:30—This is when I try to fit in some home management tasks. It’s an unstructured time where I do whatever I can to help our home and homeschool run smoothly. It could mean running a load of laundry, cleaning, gardening, or helping the older girls with their schoolwork. The younger ones usually play outside during this time. I also prep lunch, if needed.

11:30-11:45—I try to come together with my older kids for a quick check-in and we do a devotional if there’s time.

11:45-1:45—This is my second concentrated work time of the day. The kids all take a quiet time, where they read, write, or draw independently.

1:45-3:00—More time with the kids. Depending on who needs me, this could be helping with math, playing with the younger kids, doing a science lesson, editing essays, or all of the above.

3:00-5:00—This is my third concentrated work time. The older girls are usually done their work by now and the kids all have free time. They read, write, play, go outside, take a walk to the park together, etc.

5:00-6:00—Make and eat dinner together.

6:00-7:30—We tidy up the kitchen and put the little ones to bed.

7:30-8:30—The older girls do their own thing, and I usually do one last hour of work, or get caught up on household tasks.

9:00—I have to go to bed at 9 in order to maintain this schedule. I used to work late into the evening, but I can’t manage that anymore! It’s lights out early for me.

One thing about our homeschooling schedule–it changes all the time. One of the key factors to successfully working from home and homeschooling is flexibility and nowhere is this more true than in our scheduling.

Everyone’s needs shift regularly and whenever things start to feel like they aren’t working anymore, I know it’s time to update our routines.

How about you? What does your daily routine look like? Do you prefer more or less structure than this in your homeschooling day? Leave a comment below and let me know, and don’t forget to grab your scheduling resources below.

Want more examples of homeschooling schedules and daily routines?

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4 Comments

  1. Hey!
    Thank you so much for this. I am a mother of one 2 year old, I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling, work-from-home momma.
    Being a first-time mom and now a single mom I was confused about how people juggle this.
    I don’t plan on putting her in daycare. We’ve been doing Montessori since she was born and diving deeper this fall as she will be 2.4.
    I recently started a blog that I haven’t jumped into quite yet because I’m still working out when I can get this done. She’s still breastfed and co-sleeping! I don’t have a problem with it except the fact that she KNOWS if I get up in the morning. I’ve been trying to keep my cool and get her back down. It’s crazy bc at her dad’s house…. she’s fine, she just snuggles and goes back to sleep.

    That was a lot sorry,

    My question is do you take time to teach the children in the morning or do they independently find their own work? there seem to be a lot of ways to go about homeschooling. What do you do when your work gets interrupted? Or are you able to just tell them you’re working? I currently have a climb all over me two-year-old lol except for about 20 hours a week but that’s mostly spent sleeping.

    • Hey Shannon,

      Thanks so much for your comment and questions. Life with a 2-year-old is definitely a challenge! It’s totally normal for her to be like that around you and not with her dad. One of the many “benefits” of being a mother:)

      I think you’ll find a good rhythm over the next few years. For some families, a more structured rhythm works best, especially if Mom is trying to balance work and homeschooling, but for others, a child-led, independent approach is more suitable.

      In our house, I find that it varies by season and child. Some of my children need more of a routine, and others work better independently.

      When my oldest children were preschool age and I needed to get work done, I hired two young homeschooled girls (they were about 11 at the time) to come over more afternoons and entertain the kids while I worked. It was cheaper than hiring a babysitter or nanny, it gave the kids some new people to engage with, it bought me some much-needed thinking time, and it helped these young girls gain experience. Later on, they became my go-to babysitters for many years.

      When you’re on your own with a 2-year-old, it will likely be very hard to get much done unless she gets into a great sleep routine and starts to play independently.

      Hopefully, this helps. Feel free to reach out to me by email if you want to talk more. hello @ mycuprunsover.ca (remove spaces).

  2. Hi,
    I loved reading some of your blog material! What would you say to parents who are considering homeschooling with only one child(unable to have any more sadly) but are concerned about the isolation for said child?

    • Hi Becky,

      Thanks for your question. My answer would really depend on the type of area you live in. Where I live, homeschooling is a very popular option, and finding activities to learn and interact with other homeschoolers of all ages and walks of life is not a problem at all. However, I know not every area is like this. If you live somewhere where homeschooling is uncommon, you will definitely have to work harder to find social opportunities for your child. To be sure, social opportunities do not only need to happen with other homeschooled children, but you will want at least some of his/her interactions to be with other children, and we’ve found it difficult to line our family’s schedule up with those of families we know whose kids go to traditional school.

      There are many opportunities for socialization in the real world though: church youth groups, community centers, volunteering, 4H, Scouts/Girl Guides, extracurricular activities, neighbors, etc. You would just need to try things out and see what feels right for you and your child.

      At the end of the day though, you *will* have a lot of one-on-one time with your child if you homeschool, for better or for worse. You will have a chance to pour into them in a way that someone with multiple kids can only dream about. You will be able to tailor your instructional program completely to their needs and interests and spend oodles of time going down rabbit trails together. Although your child won’t have the camaraderie of peers or siblings while doing their schooling, I believe the two of you will be able to develop a much closer relationship than you might otherwise have.

      I wish you all the best.

      Sophie

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