This post was originally written in November 2010, when my children were ages 15, 11, 10, 8, 6, 3, and 1. You’ll notice references to a phone on the wall, a timer in my pocket, and a digital voice recorder, all of which make me laugh. 🙂 Just update those in your mind with whatever modern tool you have today.
Have we lost our minds? We started homeschooling our children because it was something we were passionate about. However, the reality of slim income has sent countless homeschooling moms online, searching for a way to start a home business. “No problem,” they say. “I’ll just squeeze it in when I’m not too busy.”
Well, from someone who lives in this world every day, I can tell you that yes, I’ve probably lost my mind! However, I continue to work at a home business – while continuing to be a pastor’s wife, a homeschooling mom, and much more.
Thankfully, I open my Bible and see that the excellent wife of Proverbs 31 operated a home-based business. I don’t know how many children she had nor their ages. I do see that she was “crazy busy.” However, I also see that the Bible encourages women of school-aged children to stay busy, never idle — so that we don’t have time to get our tongues into trouble (whether in real life or on Facebook, I suppose).
So I don’t mind being busy. I also don’t see that it’s wrong for a woman to work, as long as she can still maintain her priorities of husband, children, homemaking, ministry to others, and — in many of our cases, homeschooling.
What are some advantages of working from home?
- I’m working next to my children. I’m a firm believer that “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” The Proverbs 31 woman worked at jobs in which she could keep any children next to her. She planted a vineyard. She sewed. I work online using a laptop that can be moved from room to room. Yup, I value a job that keeps me right next to my children.
- I work under the authority of my husband. Since I don’t have another man as my “boss,” I don’t have to worry about the pressures of immorality, nor do I become a helper to another man. In addition, when I have questions, even though my husband may not be the day-to-day operator of our business, we work in partnership to make decisions and plan for the future. We’re a team, and I am simply his helper.
- Because I’m so busy, I am forced to delegate some of my tasks to my children. Really, I don’t do very well at this naturally. “I’d rather do it myself.” But there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything myself! I must lay my perfectionism aside and teach my children. This is teaching them what they need for life, and I didn’t even need to buy a curriculum to do it.
- Time has become very valuable to me. I have even learned to place a dollar amount to my time. As God’s Word says, I am learning to redeem the time.
- People are becoming even more valuable than time. I am learning that an interruption is usually from a person, and that if I choose to interrupt my work (or my homeschooling) to help someone, I have raised their value much higher than any momentary income. I have begun to see people for their eternal, priceless worth. Sometimes these “interrupters” are brothers and sisters in my church family. Sometimes they are my own children. Since I know that my time is worth so-much-per-hour, I am learning that a soul is worth everything to Yeshua — in fact, worth His own blood.
- However, I’m learning to choose between interruptions that are valuable and interruptions that are not valuable. I’m learning that just because the phone rings doesn’t mean I must jump up like one of Pavlov’s dogs to answer it. Just because a new email arrived in my in-box doesn’t mean I need to answer it immediately. Just because some milk spilled in the kitchen doesn’t mean that Mom is the only one who can wipe it up. Just because there is a new episode of a TV show on tonight doesn’t mean I need to watch it.
- I am learning that a little bit of work, done consistently, day after day, adds up over time. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). Writing for an hour before sunrise, day after day, adds up to a book over time. It also cultivates self discipline in me.
- I am learning that God designed me to do amazingly well at one or two things, fairly well at quite a few things, and horridly at many other things. Having a home-based business has taught me to find those things for which God uniquely crafted me and to concentrate on those. I can see the beauty in the diversity of the Body of Christ. We’re not all elbows. We’re not all noses. We’re not all feet. Each one of us has a purpose, and when we concentrate on what we’re good at, while lifting up the weaknesses of other members of the Body, we become a temple of God that He can move within to change our world.
So how do I homeschool while working?
- By learning to say “no.” I say no to the phone, to my friends, to extra meetings, to activities that aren’t absolutely necessary, to joining committees, to anything except for people interruptions that I have determined with prayer to be eternally important enough to interrupt my children’s education or my home business. Seriously, would a classroom teacher stop class to chat with a friend on the phone? Would a classroom teacher call in sick so she could catch a sale in town that day? No! Learn to say “no” to everything that isn’t a priority or a God-sent, legitimate interruption.
- By scheduling our school. My school schedule includes “together” school three times a week (which is just something that works for us right now), plus daily one-on-one tutoring with each child. I have been trying to teach my children to ask their questions during their special time with me, not at any ol’ time that feels alright. In addition, scheduling our school means planning out a school calendar for the year (in advance), planning out a realistic plan for what each child needs to do each day (in advance), and then actually checking their work to be sure that it’s being done (weekly at a minimum).
- By setting aside specific times for specific jobs. Multi-tasking just makes me stressed out. I can’t answer customer email at the same time as I’m explaining division to a third grader. Just can’t do it! I especially can’t answer customer email, explain division, bake bread, and pay attention to a three-year-old at the same time. When the TV is on. And the phone is ringing. And there are clothes in the dryer. Nope, can’t do it! So it comes down to a schedule, then meticulously following the schedule. If the schedule says to change the laundry, then that’s what I do. If the schedule says to do math, then that’s what I do. If the schedule says to write for an hour, then that’s what I do. Blocks of time work well for me, with meals, naps, and chores scheduled for specific times each day.
- By making and using lists. Lists are like my personal secretary. If I get an idea for my business but I’m supposed to be quizzing my son in spelling, I can start to feel impatient with him and feel as if he’s keeping me from something more important. I can quickly scribble my idea down into my handy-dandy notebook, however, and get right back to spelling. When I start to work on my business each day, I take about 5 minutes to quickly look through my notebook to refresh my memory of my big ideas. It reduces my stress levels considerably! The same is true for needing to remember things for school work, shopping, character traits to teach, and things to tell my husband. The only time I don’t use paper and pen for a list is while driving — and I have a digital voice recorder as a backup for then. 🙂
- By being on time. I’m working on this area, but I’ve been convicted about the fact that time is valuable not only to me but to others as well, including my own children. If I promise that I will read to them at 11:00 a.m., then I need to keep my word and show up at 11:00. If I promised my husband that supper would be ready at 6:00 p.m., I need to stop working on my computer in enough time to get supper ready on time. If I promised other families that we would show up to a homeschooling event at 1:30 p.m., I need to stop working in enough time to help everyone get shoes and socks on and into the car with enough time to arrive on time. In other words, being on time shows that I value others above myself and that I can be trusted to keep my word. (As I said, I’m still working on this.)
- By linking everything to my priorities. Most days, my “to-do” list is too long for any human being to reasonably accomplish what’s on it. So I have to live by my priorities. What is important to me? (What does God say should be important to me?) I need to do those things first. Then when I’m frustrated later because I didn’t get everything done, I can look back at my day and see, with a good conscience, that I did those things which were truly important. Everything else was fluff. Above all, God becomes the one who “ordains my days.”
- By having clocks in every room (and a timer in my apron pocket). Again, seeing the passing of time — preferably on a BIG clock… that ticks! — helps me remember the value of time. A timer helps me remember what I have chosen to do and holds me accountable.
- By resting each day and each week. This is hard for me — however, I’m learning that when nighttime comes, I must stop working. I must spend time with my family, laughing, playing games, and even eating (!). I must go to bed at a decent hour. In addition, I follow the example of the Creator of the universe by resting for a complete 24 hours each week. To be honest, I’m never in the mood to rest. I feel like I have too much to do. But if I don’t rest, I will certainly burn out. Force yourself to follow this carefully, and you’ll be blessed with a happier countenance and increased productivity. (Remember, “if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”… Is that really what you want?)
We were made by God to work even before the Fall. It’s part of our make-up, and we feel fulfilled and joyful when we are creating in the image of our Creator. However, we now live in a fallen world that is cursed by thorns. Work makes us sweat and wear out. Things just don’t happen as easily as we wish they would!
That’s okay! Colossians says that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Working from home, out of a horrid fear that we won’t have enough to eat or clothes enough to wear unless we work around the clock — well, that’s no attitude for a daughter of the King. He will provide our needs. However, if we can be a helper to our husbands and minister to others by having a home-based business, we should do our best by working productively (not with idleness), leaving the results to God. Then our work will be a joy and our character will be increased.