I have a 5 year old and a 3 1/2 month old baby and this is our first year homeschooling and I’m having a horrible time managing it.

A bit more about our family:
Both my husband and I work. My husband has to travel away from home 1-2 nights per week and sometimes more. But his job does allow him to often schedule around my commitments. I am an instructor at a community college and I have classes twice a week for half the day plus 2-3 random hour long meetings per month. The rest of my classes are online, so I can do the work when it suits my schedule. I have a month off in December/January and all summer off. Hubby watches the kids one of the days I go to work and the other day we hire a babysitter.

With the new baby and homeschooling, I am having a hard time balancing my work and the kids and I’m worried that I’m not doing enough for my kids, especially my oldest.

I’m torn because a part of me wants to quit my job, but I know that would be extremely unwise. I make a decent amount of money for the number of hours that I work, I have fantastic medical and retirement benefits and my “commute” is 5 minutes. Plus, this is my last year of tenure and assuming I make it through, it will be almost impossible for me to get fired. I also make more money than Hubby because of my education and years of experience. And I do like my job. It is interesting and engaging. If I quit, it would be almost impossible to get this job back. Ever.

But, even if I quit my job to be here for my kids, how do I choose which homeschool activities to do? All of the activities are so fun, I suspect that I would fill all of the “extra” time I would have I would just fill up with more activities for the kids and I would still feel like I was spread too thin. And we wouldn’t be able to do all of the things that we do now without my income. I worry that I would regret quitting my job.

Hubby and I have considered having him quit his job (which I would love because I would have someone home to help me get things done and to spend more time together), but I think so much of his identity and self-worth comes from his job, that he would be miserable being a stay-at-home dad. So this option is off the table.

So, what are your thoughts? I am an INFJ, if that influences your advice.

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20 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Before you decide quit or no quit, figure out what homeschooling means to you.

    There is no study in the world that says your five year old needs to be learning to read or learning to do numbers or whatever. A five year old should be playing. That’s how kids learn at that age. Even if you put the kid in the most expensive nursery school he would be playing all day. So I’m not sure what you think you need to be doing with the five year old.

    That said, a 3 1/2 month old is a full time job. Because the baby is unpredictable and can’t be left alone.

    I think you don’t have a homeschooling problem. I think you have a working with two young kids problem.

    Neither you or your husband makes enough money to support the family, right? One of you needs to, or you need to split child care equally.

    If you want to keep your job, you are going to go nuts trying to make everything work unless your husband handles more around the house.

    And if your husband wants to keep working he needs to either earn more money or he needs to figure out how to do his work and take care of the kids.

    I’m sorry. These are all hard choices. But they are not homeschooling choices. They are really difficult marital choices: how to be a team.

    I hope this helps.

    Penelope

  2. L
    L says:

    Please, by all means, don’t quit your job! Remember that you, too, are an individual, are highly educated and have worked tons to get to where you are now. I too am INFJ, have my M.Ed, and home school my young dtr. Unfortunately, the economy here in the highest unemployment state, gobbled up my job three years ago. I miss it tremendously and trying to break back into the workforce has been impossible so much so that we are planning a move in the spring out of the state. I, personally, find that being introverted and raising kids challenging and the pockets of time that I need to recharge have shifted. Your kids are littles and I strongly believe that little ones need to be read to and have a Play Based Learning lifestyle. Academic work comes later on. I completely understand that as an educator we’ve come to manage our lives a certain organized way and home schooling doesn’t (didn’t) fit that mold. What’s most important is maintaining your balance of who you are as an individual, who you are as an INFJ, who you are as a mom/wife. You can do it, be patient, because it takes a little bit longer for our personality types to figure out how to make it all work and come into balance.

  3. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I’d keep your job too. The ratio of hours worked to money/benefits/interesting activities sounds really good and hard to reproduce. It might be really hard for a few years, because the kids are little, but you will be so glad when the baby is five years old and you have a job that you like and time to spend with your family. So hang in there and know that this is tough but temporary.

    And you are right that quitting your job wouldn’t really yield more free time. Kids and especially babies are a 168 hour a week responsibility so quitting your job just means shifting some of your hours from working on the job to working with the kids. I am also working with a baby (full time work, 10 months old, I’m an INTJ, husband stays home and freelances and we have babysitters about 15 hours a week), and it’s not the job that kills me, it’s the relentlessness of caring for a baby.

    When I’m at home, I always want a clone so that I can do the housework and give the baby my undivided attention. I think the feeling of being split two ways is really a function of having a baby who needs me (or my husband, or a caregiver, but when I’m home it tends to be me since I’m breastfeeding) all the time but still having to take care of all the chores of adult life. My husband and I split chores and administrative duties and occasionally hire a housecleaner (he’s probably doing more than I am right now – all this stuff tends to fall really heavily on the freelancer) and we both work really hard to make everything run well.

    Good luck. Having little kids is just really hard even when we love them because they never stop needing us. It’s hard regardless of what we’re doing at work.

  4. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    Also, is your husband eligible for FMLA? If so, he’s entitled to 480 hours off during the first year of the baby’s life. This can be taken in one big 12 week block, or used to make a reduced work schedule for a while. You could use it to buy yourselves some breathing room the year you have an infant, or you could test drive the stay at home dad lifestyle before you make any decisions about whether or not he should consider quitting his job.

    And if there is any money available for some more babysitting, you can use that to have individual time with each kid. The one-on-one time might help you feel like you’re doing more for the five year old.

    I also wanted to add that feeling like you’re not doing enough for your five year old is probably something all parents go through when they have a second child. It’s such a big shift to go from parenting one child, and being able to give all your parenting time, energy, and thought to that one child, to having to parent two children at once (one of whom is probably glued to you all the time). So it’s not necessarily a homeschooling failure, more an adjustment to having two kids.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I second (or third?) keeping the job. Sounds like a great set up for when the kids are older.

      I have two kids, same age difference. I agree it is tremendously difficult to have two children at different life stages during the baby years.

      So, having recently been in your shoes (without the job) my two cents are:

      Keep the job.
      Hire a part time sitter.
      Hire a housecleaner (once a week).

      You’re life with greatly improve and it’s only temporary help. You will be able to see through the woods.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        You beat me to saying “get a babysitter”.

        I have three kids with the youngest about to turn 3 soon. My babysitter has been a lifesaver, and she is completely accepting of our unschooling/unconditional parenting lifestyle. I can see light at the end of the tunnel here, maybe another year with “help”.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          This was something I overlooked in planning for the second. I knew I needed help, but being so busy it became another ‘to-do’ on the long daily list.
          That and my extended family couldn’t understand why I would hire someone to help with the kids (they multi-generation care for their little ones with the help of my MIL). That made me question my instincts (why can’t I do it allll).

          It’s just something mom’s need. I look at it as an investment in good care for the kids and an investment in sanity for the mom. All around everyone wins :)

          • Amanda
            Amanda says:

            I love how these answers all echo Penelope’s who nailed it with this is a marital issue not a homeschooling one. The children alone are full time (I have a 13 week old and at the moment cannot begin to imagine what its like to have an additional child at the same time). My Mum lives with us and its a full time job for her keeping the house ticking over, we are only just managing. Its the first thing women do when they are needed outside the home – if their partner wont / cant cover then the trad female roles (cleaning, shopping, cooking, childcare) get hired out. I used to have a partner who didn’t do their share of housework and didn’t ‘see’ what needed doing. Never again. Its not something I want on the table as a constant issue; as an adult you need to be at least able to carry your own weight around the house and then x10 if you become parent! Your job sounds awesome, keep it :-)

  5. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. I’m sure part of what I’m feeling is the transition since I just went back to work 3 weeks ago. It was really nice over the summer just getting to focus on the kids.

    I talked to hubby and he is trying to help more. It’s unrealistic that he will be able to make significantly more money in the near future (maybe eventually, but that will take a few years). And I need help now, so he is doing his best to pitch in more.

    A coupe of people mentioned housekeeper, which we already have come every other week.

    As for more babysitting, I will think about it. If we wanted/needed to, we could afford to hire more babysitting help. The issue has been finding someone we trust with the kids, especially the baby (had some bad experiences last year).

    • Anna M
      Anna M says:

      Some great advice penelope has given before is that for you to work you have to be prepared to give a large portion of your salary to hold down the fort at home- especially with little ones. I know, really, how hard it is to put in the time and effort to find a reliable sitter. I also know the feeling that you should be albe to handle everything- but even having a sitter at home while you work from home will be so helpful. You will still have more money then if you quit your job, but paying for help will be a bit expensive the first few years. Also, a sitter can help with the house work. I also get my house cleaned twice a month, and while I love the results, it goes take some prep time, and they don’t do the daily chores of laundry, dishes, dinner, etcetera. Maybe you have a different situation, but most of my friends have cleaners like mine.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I found my awesome sitter through sittercity.com they run the background checks and you can see referrals, do a mini interview and then a face to face interview. It was worth the small cost for me to join the site since I am super picky with who I trust with my kids. Once my mom retires then she can help me out! I don’t know if you have access to a parent who can help out as well.

      • mh
        mh says:

        Thanks for the link

        I don’t trust my parents with my kids. Our family recently moved and I’ve been looking for sitters.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          Glad to see I’m not the only one!

          Yes, there are some excellent vetting services online (just takes a bit of Sherlocking).

          I found a great emergency service (they will be at the door within an hour) this way and the care was excellent (pediatric nurses during off hours) the two times I used.

          I can size up a sitter pretty quickly now, I go with my instincts and my husband is pretty spot on if there is an issue he notices.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      The kids are a 24 hour job regardless of whatever else is going on.

      Add the extra help. Don’t contemplate :) it will be such a daily relief.

      You will find one you trust- there are good people out there.

      And since you work from home you can keep an eye easier on the situation until you feel more comfortable.

  6. Grace
    Grace says:

    Consider getting an au pair. We have had one with our four kids for the last six years. I am an INFJ and work from home with a very flexible schedule but find our live-in help to be indispensable to my happiness and sanity.

    All you need is an additional bedroom in the house. It helps if you live in an urban area with interesting activities and public transportation but it’s not a necessity.

    The cost is way less per hour than a baby sitter or nanny; you can schedule the au pair up to 45 hours per week around your needs. We pay about $15K per year total and continue to keep this expense in our budget in spite of the fact that our kids are now all in school and we don’t “technically” need the help. Having her around makes me a better mom.

    Grace

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      I have always wondered about the Au – pair arrangement.

      Is it odd having someone live in your home or does she feel like family now?

      Is it relaxed or do you need to keep on top of her and the routine. Do the kids listen to her or the parents?

      I guess I’m just curious about the dynamic!

      15k though, wow!

      We had an extra room in our last apartment in the city and I thought about this, but I was too uncomfortable with a live-in arrangement.

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        Hi Jessica–

        We’ve had an au pair in the house for six years now, ever since my littlest was six months old and my husband spent 4 months working in Africa. It really depends on the au pair you choose, how you structure her working hours, and what else there is to do in your community.

        Most of our au pairs have not been interested in being with us when they are off duty so it’s not like they are hanging out on the couch at night watching TV with the family. Some choose to eat supper with us, some have not, that is somewhat a function of their working hours though, too. Some of our au pairs have worked all day and gone off duty at 5:00. They usually chose to not eat with us.

        We make it clear to the kids that when the au pair is on duty that she is the adult in charge. They are not allowed to ask me for something after the au pair has said no. That would be confusing and demoralizing for the au pair. I let her know what I expect up front and we have a family handbook that we go over in the beginning then I trust her to handle things. If anything starts to get off track (she does the kids’ laundry a day late, eg.) I bring it up and we talk about it/resolve it.

        I don’t have any reservations because I’m in the house enough with her to know how she is interacting with them. We’ve found that hiring an older au pair for younger children is best. Then you can hire younger ones as the kids get older. We love the stability of having the same person all the time and the children aren’t upset when we go out because they are so used to the au pair that it doesn’t bother them.

        I highly recommend it!

        Grace

        • Becky Castle Miller
          Becky Castle Miller says:

          Grace, I am going to have an au pair for my four kids starting in November. We’re in Europe, so the au pair rules are slightly different – they only work 30 hours a week, and the cost looks like it will be about €10,000 per year. I’m really looking forward to it (also an INFJ work-from-home mom, husband travels a lot for work), and your comment made me even more excited! I would love to see the handbook you share with your au pair. Do you have it posted online anywhere?

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