I’ve been a work-at-home mom since the moment I became a mom—by choice, by necessity, by calling.
I’ve also known I wanted to homeschool my kids since I was 16 years old.
Reconciling those two things has not always been so easy, though. Any homeschool mom will tell you that homeschooling is basically a full-time job. Add another full-time job on top of that plus a couple of little ones, and my days—like many of yours—are pretty much go-go-go.
While busy is an apt description of my life, I try to avoid using it because there is a growing idea that a full plate or schedule is a sign that you’re wasting time, making the wrong choices, or living without intention.
But I know I’m supposed to work, and I know I’m supposed to homeschool, and there’s no way to do both of those things without staying very, very busy. So instead I use the word “full.”
Balancing these two roles in life (in addition to my roles as wife, mom and homemaker) means that I’ve had to come to peace with certain things about my life…including letting go of the illusive idea of balance.
I am a firm believer in living intentionally, prioritizing, and even saying no. But “balance” is an idea that can cause a lot of stress—rather than peace—for many of people, no matter what roles you’re filling (working at home, teaching in a co-op, volunteering, etc.)
Maybe it’s because I don’t have very good balance in the physical realm, but I always picture a waitress carrying a tray loaded with food and having to keep it perfectly level so nothing falls off, or someone walking across a balance beam without falling over. When you’re trying to balance, you can’t shift your weight too far in one direction—not even once—without tipping over and dropping everything.
In real life, though, we have to do a lot of shifting, giving work priority during certain seasons, focusing on the needs of our babies and toddlers in others, making time to build habits and routines in our homeschool, and even setting aside seasons of rest and rejuvenation for ourselves.
Rather than trying to achieve balance on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, where I never tilt too far in one direction, I prefer to view it as juggling instead.
If you were to take a video of someone juggling and play it in slow motion, you’d see three key parts of the process: The juggler has to throw each ball to start the momentum and catch each one to keep it from hitting the floor, but in between she lets the balls coast from one hand to the other. While she’s juggling, she looks calm and peaceful, confident in the rhythm of throwing, catching, and coasting.
This is similar to the “rest” that Sarah Mackenzie references in Teaching from Rest. It’s not that it’s easy or doesn’t take work; but there’s a confidence that comes from knowing you’re living according to your priorities.
There’s a bit of semantics here, of course—just as “busy” and “full” are very similar, “balancing” and “juggling” are pretty much the same as well.
But the picture of juggling feels closer to what I’m doing when I’m working at home and homeschooling. I always have many balls in the air, but I choose to put my attention on the things that are being launched or need to be caught while several other balls coast. It’s busy, yes, but viewing it in terms of seasons rather than achieving balance every single day makes it easier for me to juggle with confidence and peace.
Launching might be:
- the beginning of a new school year or grade level
- switching to a new curriculum
- implementing a new schedule or routine
- launching a new business or product
- preparing for an event
- welcoming a new baby
Catching looks like:
- winding down the school year
- taking standardized tests
- making time for focused character training
- resting after a big launch
- identifying and meeting unique emotional needs of your kids (that are being missed in the every day)
Coasting allows us to:
- switch to a light summer schedule
- rely on independent work or outsource to a tutor
- delegate at home or in business
- take a blog break
- use paper plates (what? just me?)
Whatever the word picture, the goal isn’t necessarily to do less (only you know whether the things on your plate should be there!), but to feel confident in the choices you’re making. Most days I feel privileged to be able to homeschool my kids and work, even if it takes a lot of juggling!
P.S. The myth of a perfectly balanced life is just one lie that work-at-homeschooling moms believe. Discover 6 more plus the truths that set you free in my free guide: click here to get yours today!
Mandi Ehman is an online entrepreneur and blogger whose mission is to encourage other women to live intentionally. She and her husband have four beautiful daughters and two baby boys, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces. Find her online at LifeYourWay.net or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
juggling photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alkruse24/2513737377/