Anna Dusseau | 9th March 2020
Happy Monday, homeschoolers! It’s the start of a new week; celebrities in surgical masks are already being snapped on their way to the gym and the PM is looking bleary-eyed after another night of emergency meetings and, one can only suppose, locating bottles of Gaviscon for his fiery-haired baby mama. And what does your Monday look like? More importantly, what does it feel like? If you are already homeschooling, you likely have a routine whereby one or both of the adults in your household go to work, while the other manages the kids. Or, if you’re considering homeschooling, you might be wondering how this could possibly fit into your current lifestyle around normal working hours with companies that require you to be on site. The answer is, quite simply, it doesn’t and it can’t. Are you feeling curious? Because it’s time for a serious shake up.
We recently had a wake up call to our own inadequate routine when some friends who are brand new to homeschooling came to visit us for the weekend. They are both alternative therapists and already work part time from home in a shared office space which meant that, less than two weeks into home schooling, they were absolutely nailing it. These guys are always able to enjoy mealtimes together as a family, they are in a natural position to be able to share the homeschooling of their two boys, and there is no Monday blues in their house (unless you count Blues Jazz Radio on TuneIn). They are in control. Homeschooling, as you know, is a lifestyle choice as much as an educational philosophy. It is about looking at the way things are done and saying, in most cases, ‘that’s not for us; there has to be a better way.’ It is, without a doubt, a brave and alternative decision to make and, sometimes with it, go bold decisions regarding your work routine and finances. Without blinking, we handed our notices in the following week and stopped our corporate jobs.
If you love what you do and leap out of bed on Monday morning with a smile on your face even before that double espresso hits your bloodstream, then please don’t even bother with the rest of this article; it’s not for you. If however, you are currently experiencing more than a pinch of Monday-itis and are juggling a high-pressure, dissatisfying work routine which leaves you stressed and eclipses family life altogether until takeaway Friday makes it all – for a moment – feel worth it, then read on and start considering how your radical new approach to your children’s education and wellbeing can be applied to your own life. Everyone matters in your family and, whether you are in a couple working long hours in city jobs, or a single parent trying to navigate what seems like the overwhelming task of being the sole income and educator for your kids, this article is going to give your morning shake that ginko shot it needs to say: ‘I’ve got this. I can do this.’ Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
- Get blogging. Depending on your situation and cash requirements, this is a good one to be working on, regardless. The best website building platform to launch your blog is definitely WordPress and although there are several fantastic blogging experts out there, seems to be the authority on monetizing your blog with swift results. Blogging is an investment and – initially – you are looking at just regularly posting on a topic that you are passionate about, but long term you could be looking at a decent income from affiliate marketing, sponsorship, book deals and more. You just need to find your blogging voice and get cracking on a topic that you enjoy writing about. It’s a great way to wake up every morning and doesn’t feel like going to work at all.
- Freelance writing. Another perfect job for homeschoolers, because you can choose your hours and pick the jobs that are right for you. I wake up every morning at 5am (Eek!) and work on my blog and freelance jobs from 5-8am daily, after which I am totally free to enjoy homeschooling with my kids. That’s only 15 hours a week, people! Freelance job boards like Craigslist and Problogger can bring in some work, but for regular contract work doing something you feel confident writing about, I would recommend going directly to companies you know of to see if they are recruiting freelancers. My first proper gigs were with Enotes and TES, both of which pay decent money and the work is regular, although the application process is much tougher. What’s your writing niche? Have a think.
- Check out tutoring. There are so many companies looking for online tutors and, if you can find the hours around homeschooling to be available for tutoring appointments (you may need a co-pilot here) then although the salary per hour isn’t amazing, it does really add up if you put the hours in regularly. For companies specialising in English language tuition, such as Superprof, you don’t even need to be a qualified teacher and lessons are planned for you, so there is no wasted prep time. I would recommend looking at the minimum hours required for contracts with big companies like English First and initially figuring out how you envisage fitting this into your current routine. You could begin working a few weeks of the baseline contract hours on top of what you already do and, if it feels manageable, quit the Starbucks queue forever and start making money in your slippers.
- Be a virtual assistant. You will see lots of virtual assistant work advertised on general job boards such as Reed, Indeed and Flexjobs and its solid work if you can get a regular gig with a company, rather than an individual (I’d recommend a discerning google search before applying). You also need to be organised, tech-literate and ideally have some prior experience in administrative work. So this is a great one if you want to transfer that office job to a work-from-home setting with flexible hours. You aren’t going to land big clients to begin with but, once you’ve built your experience and reputation, the money can actually be quite reasonable and certainly worth hanging up your umbrella and shelving your thermos flask for.
- Rent it out. Are you a home owner and, if so, do you have a space that you would be able to transform into an income? If you have a large attic or spare room which you would feel comfortable renting out to the right person, this could be a good way to go and will enable your flexible remote job to be a side hustle, rather than your gluten-free bread and goats’ butter. Better still, if you have a large garage and the funds/planning permission to turn it into a self-contained apartment with mezzanine sleeping area, this would be an ideal rental for mature students or young professional couples and will give you better privacy as well as making you more money in the long run. If you have an exciting proposal but lack the funds to achieve it, remortgaging your house or taking a loan could be an option, if you are sure that the income generated from your rental will eventually set you back on track. Roll out the spreadsheet and see what you could achieve!
- Make money doing what you’re good at. This isn’t a winner if, like me, clay modelling and tie-dye tshirts (no prizes here for the guess-my-age competition) was never your thing. I am not particularly ‘handy’, nor has anyone ever told me that I absolutely should do something or be something. Clearly, I’m a free-spirit, and it’s hard to pin me down? Something like that. But if you are a brilliant artist, photographer, baker, or woodwork enthusiast, you could seriously be onto something here. The explosion of sharing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram certainly provides an excellent platform for professional people marketing their own products, from individualised stationary to up-cycled furniture. What’s more, there’s even a market for more obscure skill sets, such as life coaches and relationship experts. It’s all about monetising what you’re naturally good at and take for granted, but another person would find incredibly useful. Can you put a price on it? If so, get planning your new business idea today.
- Learn a new skill. There are so many ways that you can successfully run a business from home and absolutely, if you have the time and resources to allow yourself to undertake a professional training which takes your career in a new direction, this is a good way to go. From alternative therapies such as reiki and aromatherapy to practical jobs like technical carpentry and computer programming, there are plenty of online courses out there at reasonable prices which would enable you to take a total U-turn in your working life and embark on something which you can do from an office or garden shed, while listening to Radio 2 and nodding vaguely at your homeschool teen who is reading out his green manifesto for a zero carbon Upton Snodsbury. If my favourite homeschool family with can do it – with their 3 young children and a mortgage to pay – then so can you! It’s just a matter of planning.
- Childminding. Obviously you have to really enjoy being with kids – not just your own – and some background experience in childcare or education is ideal for this one, but financially and in terms of fitting in with a homeschoolng routine, this can be a really good option for you. In order to qualify, you need to complete a paediatric first aid course and register for a childminder training programme with your LEA, after which you can expect a home inspection and criminal record check before joining the Ofsted Early Years Register and being ready to launch your childminding business! Don’t forget to change your insurance policies to reflect your new line of work and to consider setting fair prices, which make things financially stable for you without ruining families juggling two jobs, childcare costs and so forth. Lord knows, we’ve all been there!
- Consider worldschooling. Don’t tell me you haven’t looked into this? Because, if you’re a homeschooling family or just considering homeschooling for your family, this is an approach that many of us aspire to and dream of. There are plenty of great blogs to follow if you’re looking for worldschooling inspiration – think ‘Jack, Worldschooling’ or ‘Five Backpacks Family’ – as well as companies specialising in incredible family experiences that bring homeschoolers from around the world together for an epic trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or to work on a volunteering project in Cambodia. The point is, that if you are serious about worldschooling, there are a load of families you can reach out to for advice and money-wise, the trick is to turn your UK house or apartment into a rental while you are away with the kids, scuba diving in Majorca or taking ski lessons in Romania. A lot of the volunteer projects pay for your meals and accommodation, so this is a good way to break up your worldschooling year, financially as well as ethically. Have you packed your bags yet? What are you waiting for?
- Social media management. I know, I know. If you’ve read my post on ‘Why I’ve Never Been on Social Media‘ you are probably scowling at the screen here, wondering just what kind of a charlatan I really am. But look, social media isn’t for me but if you are fully Facebook literate and keen to transform time-wasting into money making, then seriously, there is a big market here with some clients paying very good money for someone to manage their business accounts and optimise their exposure on social media. Honestly? I’ve missed out on some great writing jobs in the past year, all because my social media know-how wasn’t up to scratch. So go for it! Work flexible hours on projects that you enjoy and, if you find yourself laughing all the way to the bank within 6 months, feel free to send me an email and tease me mercilessly for my old-school approach to employment. I can take it. In fact, I’m expecting it.
What I want you to think about this Monday, is how your life feels to you, right now. Whether you are homeschooling or not, this must be one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as the days and weeks of our lives flick by and the Harry Potter wall calendar rolls over month by month. This is your life passing by and, regardless of educational philosophy, we should all be aware that we are models to our children for how to live well and engage with the world. Do you want the message you give these small people to be ‘work long hours at a desk job for a big company or face being repossessed’ or ‘live life on your own terms; the world is a big place..go forth and explore!’ I know what I want, for myself and for my family, although it has taken me nearly half of my life to figure it out. So, while Boris is planning baby names and Gwennyth is presumably toe tapping employees on her way into Goop HQ, take a moment to invest in yourself this Monday and figure out what you and your homeschooling family really want. Believe me, the hamster wheel keeps spinning, whether or not you choose to step off. Get thinking, my friends, and remember: fortune favours the brave.
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