What I’ve learned from being a work from home homeschooling dad for the past year.

We have a network marketing business selling essential oils. It has grown quickly and I love being in the wellness business. This year I’ve been working from home with my wife and homeschooling our kids…mostly it’s the hardest thing you can do.

People love to see homeschooling as fringe, and network marketing as a pyramid scheme. So we’re basically a bullseye for criticism of nontraditional thinking. We decided to homeschool when our first child was 6 months old after reading some books that aligned with our view that education is best when it follows the interests and aptitudes of the child. After working on public education for 10 years I love the concept, but it’s not what I want for our kids for a variety of reasons. So what’s it like?

Seeing your kids learn to read, add and subtract, visit their heroes homesites and learn American History at a fascinating depth is pretty much hitting all the buttons we wanted when we set out to do this. Hearing them imagine quests and roles with siblings for hours a day is magic. So what’s not so good?

You don’t have some of trappings of a regular job.

1. You don’t have moments of connection with other professionals as much as you’d like. Conversations are a big part of the fun of life for me. Basically, my wife is an amazing conversationalist, but we don’t always have time at the same time to chat.

2. They aren’t the enemy….but you have to remind yourself of that when its 9:30 and your 5 year old sneaks up behind you scooping ice cream and kind of outs you about snacking late. I’d suggest getting another spoon out and sharing the carton. It would feel better than if you sent them to bed claiming their teeth will rot out of they eat ice cream this late….im shamed…no help needed.

3. When you waste time, you can’t blame meetings and office bs. Facebook, email, online shopping and reading are all rabbit holes with endless fascination. Let me say that midday rendezvous in the marriage quarters are THE BEST distraction. That is all.

4. You have to get dressed in the morning….not that I’m judging. It’s simply a tip and observation that pajamas at 1:30 do not make you feel accomplished. For some reason getting the same number of things done in street clothes…or at least workout clothes….will boost your self image by miles over a tshirt from 1998 and slippers still soaking wet from running the garbage cans to the road when you realize the death smell in your can may stay another week b/c you, oh yeah, that’s right, completely forgot what day it was….again.

5. Find some place to interact with achievers. I like the gym. I don’t chat people up…but sometimes just putting forth a big effort around others doing the same is just the ticket to feeling a part of a society of people who want to be more.

6. Run and empty the dishwasher before bed. Getting up in the morning to a sink of dishes will kill your mindset. Putting breakfast dishes in an empty dishwasher is nirvana.

7. Get cookbooks with simple ingredient dishes. Honestly, this is partly a guess, because it’s a fascinating diversion right now to cook something different. Otherwise you’ll realize you’ve been eating cereal for three days….or possibly longer.

8. Being able to go to the post office, parks and coffee shop at non peak times saves so much stress I cannot say it loud enough.

9. Not stressing on Sunday over work on Monday is life changing. I think changing up routine to prevent this might be my #1 tip to make a traditional job more bearable.

10. If you don’t like something….change it. Bedtime routines, meal routines, school routines can be changed to make them more pleasant. Some things shouldn’t be fought. Work life challenges are for heroes of courage to do life as much as possible on your terms. That’s why your doing any of this isn’t it? Because you wanted a better life. Working from home isn’t automatically better, but it can be.