You may have noticed that I (and this blog) have been missing in action for a few weeks. That is not something I like to do…keeping your blog regular is a major rule of success. But that absence and a recent question on one of my online groups have given me today’s content.
The question that sparked it all was…as a single parent, how do you homeschool your child and pay the mortgage? The short answer is…it ain’t easy, especially if you add being the parent of a special needs child to the equation.
But I am lucky and smart. I work from home as an indie writer. I get up at 6:30 AM every morning and write for three and sometimes four hours per day. Then when my late rising daughter (the seizures that she has in her sleep and medications mean she needs twelve to fourteen hours of sleep every day) get up I am full throttle on caring and educating her. I don’t get any down time again until after 7:00 PM when she likes to watch television…and I need to get back online to answer emails and do all the social media stuff that it takes to make it as an indie author.
It is exhausting, but I have never been happier in my life. We are living our lives on our own terms, which to me is the most important lesson that I have to teach this special needs child, who will need to know her gifts and use them wisely to survive in this world. And I am a living example, every day .So here are my ? keys to surviving as a single homeschool parent:
1) Think outside the box. Actually throw the damned thing away. Try this simple exercise to get you started on a new way of thinking. Imagine you won the lottery…a big one. What would you do? Would you continue to go to the job you have now? Start your own business? Forget work all together? Then look at the things that are ‘stopping’ you from doing that now. Are they real? Could you do without them? What alternatives are there? Maybe you cannot quit work or down-size your home at the snap of your fingers, but you can begin to plan towards that goal. To take your life and family back. Dream big and live bigger.
2) Make the system work for you. What help is there out there to make those dreams come true? In the UK, working and child tax credits are paid monthly to supplement whatever income you have, even self-employment as a writer. In the US, Earned Income Credits (EIC), the equivalent, is a lump sum at the end of the tax year. How could your family use these to make your dreams a reality? If you have a special needs child, then you can usually receive support to care for your child in terms of disability. Even if you have to work for someone else, what about the option of working flexible hours or from home?
3) Stewardship. Money, time and things are resources and you are the steward. Dictionary.com defines steward as a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others. Count your pennies and minutes as valuable, every last one. In terms of the things in our world (houses, cars, computers, clothes) carefully evaluate your purchases. Do I really need that? Could I get it cheaper or for free? Time is a major issue for working parents, especially homeschooling ones. You may need to eliminate some things…television, online gaming, and social networking are some places to start. But by stepping back and looking at how you run your household as a dispassionate steward you may find ways of saving money, time and resources.
Are these three keys some magical wand that will make homeschooling your child easy? No, being a single parent is never easy (or something that most of us ever wanted). Being a single, working parent is harder still. And being a single homeschool working parent can seem like a task that requires the Avengers or Fabulous Four. But like saving the world, it is a task worth doing.
We are having Emily’s behavioral and learning problems diagnosed right now. We had an appointment with an art psychotherapist the other week. She said that she was not certain that Emily needed her help because she was a ‘happy and confident child.’ That to me is what homeschooling is about…focusing on their strengths and providing a bully free environment to maximize our children’s potential. So I might not have saved the world like the Black Widow, Wasp or Wonder Woman, but I feel that I am saving my child by making this choice and the sacrifices that go with it.