Do you ever wonder what it’s like being a work from home mom? This week I got to sit down with Jen Mackinnon from Practical by Default, and hear her awesome story of how she works in and out of the home – along with homeschooling her children. She wears so many hats, and has the best tips for juggling it all! Enjoy this interview with Jen!
1. Please tell us about yourself, your site Practical by Default, and how you got started blogging!
Hi, my name is Jen Mackinnon. I am a working homeschool mom. I work both inside the home and outside the home while homeschooling.
I recently graduated my oldest, so I need to get used to saying I homeschool one child!
My online business is Practical By Default. I help working moms balance their career and homeschool their kids by providing practical solutions that help them cut through the noise and overwhelm and focus on their family’s unique needs.
I started Practical By Default in January 2016 because I struggled to find working moms who were also homeschooling. As you know, being a working mom adds a unique challenge to being a mom. When you add educating your child at home, it becomes a whole new ball game.
I really wanted to connect with other moms who were on the same journey as mine. Being a working mom can be super lonely, having a support system is really important, and since I couldn’t find one, I decided to create my own.
In November 2016, I opened my online community on Facebook called Working Homeschool Mom Club By Jen Mackinnon, hoping to connect with at least one working homeschool mom. As of writing this, we are at 22.3K members.
2. Can you tell me about the type of work you do now? How many career hats do you currently wear in and out of the home?
Right now, I juggle a few jobs. I work as a cleaner outside the home, which takes place on weekends.
I also help a local business with their website and social media, which involves photo editing, social media management, customer service, keeping their website up to date, and all that fun jazz.
Inside the home, I run my own online business and our free online community and our smaller, more intimate paid community, Working Homeschool Mom Coffee Club.
Lastly, I do volunteer work throughout the week with my kids.
3. You are incredibly proficient as a homeschooler and as a working mom. What is your favorite thing about this stage of life that you are in now?
My favorite thing about this stage of life is that I have older kids, and I feel like I am getting the hang of this.
Most moms are not looking forward to the teen years because of all the horror stories out there. While some of it is true, parenting teenagers can be a lot of fun.
By this point, they are starting to come into their own. It is lovely to watch them take on more responsibility, starting making choices, and seeing all your hard work and training pay off.
As a homeschool mom, I get to move from the teacher’s role and move into a supporting role as they take charge of their education.
Of course, they make many mistakes (didn’t we all a that age??), but being able to offer help and guidance as needed is a great privilege.
4. What are some of the challenges that come along with working and homeschooling at the same time? If you could pass along just one piece of advice to a busy mom, what would you say?
The biggest challenge of working and homeschooling is fitting all the responsibilities you have into one life. Most of us are juggling several jobs, homeschooling your kids, family obligations and responsibilities, housekeeping, and the list goes on.
And we all have 24 hours to get it all done. It is easy for the mom guilt and overwhelm to kick in.
My best piece of advice for a busy mom is to get a planning system in place and use it. Having a planner is great, but if it is sitting on the shelf, it is not doing you any good.
The goal of your planner is to help you reduce overwhelm and keep track of “all the things.” Everyone’s planners will be different as it should because it needs to suit your family needs.
I use it to track deadlines, extra-curricula activities for my kids, appointments, errands, work to-do lists, etc. which totally stresses my family out, ha! But it works for me! So do what works for you.
5. Right now, thousands of parents are finding themselves working and teaching their kids at home. What are some strategies that could help parents during this crazy time?
First of all, breathe. Remember, if mom is stressed, kids are stressed. Keep in mind that change is hard for you and them, lower your expectations for everything.
Second of all, use a planner. Depending on the age of your kids, work with them to make a plan. Set aside specific times for schoolwork, chores, and other important matters.
This is vital if you are distance learning since you will have a schedule. With a plan, your kids will know what to expect. Don’t forget, it doesn’t need to be perfect. You can always adjust as needed.
Lastly, take movement breaks. Let them blow off steam while you take a mental break and sneak some chocolate and coffee. We used a trampoline for years! I’ll admit it was one of our best investments.
I could check off physical education and practice some self-care at the same time.
6. Do you have any favorite resources that you love to share with working or homeschooling moms?
The most common question I hear is working moms wondering if it is truly possible to work and homeschool your kids at the same time? The simple answer is yes, and I created a guide that covers 5 things you need to keep in mind.
For the mom who is completely overwhelmed with trying to fit in all the responsibilities, I recommend starting with a simple schedule. If you need help creating one, check out my e-course (free!) to walk you through the process in just a few days.