Mommas in general are super, SUPER busy and stretched to the limit. Then, these mommas throw in a job on top of that super busy schedule and do it all while staying home with their children. Nap time is now spent working, after bed time is now spent working and sometimes first thing in the morning is spent plugging in a couple of more hours on the clock. All of this so they can afford to stay home with their kiddos. It’s a hard task, but worth it.
Today’s work-at-home momma is Michelle who lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband Wade and her son Malachi (2) and they have a baby girl due in July. Michelle has a Bachelor of Science degree in Bible. She has worked as a children’s home houseparent and various other jobs. Growing up, she was volunteering with her church youth group when she realized her love of working with youth.
As an adult, she returned to school to get her Bachelor of Science in Math Education. Since then, she has taught math in a men’s federal correctional facility, a junior college and at both alternative and traditional public high schools. “The inmates were the best behaved students of all of the places I worked,” Michelle pointed out.
As she and her husband began thinking about family, she started researching different teach-from-home opportunities. “We both value the opportunity for me to stay home with our kids until they head to kindergarten,” Michelle said.
Michelle came across North Carolina Virtual Public School. The entire curriculum is online which meant it was a great fit for Michelle. “All the professional development and department meetings are also online allowing me to continue teaching for them no matter where we live,” Michelle added. This was a wonderful fit for Michelle, as some online schools require you to be available to attend in person staff meetings. “I used to get nervous (and embarrassed) when my son would start fussing while I was on a phone conference with a parent or school,” Michelle continued, “but over time I’ve learned they’re generally understanding.”
Michelle struggles with balancing her “kids” she cares about and teaches in school versus her own child she teaches and loves for life. Most of her students don’t reach out much, so it is a big deal when the students initiate conversation. When they do reach out, no matter the time of day, I want to jump and help. “When my son is also fighting for my attention, I feel guilty if I don’t put the work off until later. I remind myself that I spend the majority of my time with him, but I also know that he will only be little for a short time.”
Since becoming a work-at-home momma, Michelle struggles with the similar fears and anxieties as most moms. Am I ignoring my son? Am I allowing him to watch too much television just so I can grade school work in peace? “Last Spring, my student load got to be so much that we hired a babysitter two days a week so that I could get my work done before midnight,” Michelle shared, “I wondered if it was worth it to pay someone to do my job as a mother so I could do my job as a teacher?”
Michelle had to really evaluate where she had her values placed and requested to transfer to a different area at the school. This transfer allows her to set her class size and it has been much easier to balance her time. Limiting the number of students has completely changed her stress level. “I don’t even care that I’m making less money because I have my sanity back. It also helps me to go on date nights with my hubby or friends to have adult time away. I find it refreshing,” Michelle pointed out.
When asked to share some advice for mommas considering starting their own business and working from home, Michelle suggested that you
make sure you are doing something you love. “I get excited explaining logarithms or showing a student how to graph with polar coordinates. Students may think I’m a huge nerd, but I own it.”
Guilt is something all moms experience at one point or another. In an effort to combat that guilt, Michelle gave herself advice (whether or not she listens to her own advice is another story). She reminds herself to let a student wait. Family comes first. A student can wait until after family dinner or a game of Candyland. Michelle explained “I feel this great sense of urgency when someone needs help, when in reality they will usually be fine waiting until later in the evening once my son is in bed or until the next day during my office hours.”
Michelle explains her struggles of getting her mind off of her students.”I am often lying in bed thinking about a new way to explain something or wondering if I reached a certain student. I may always be present in my my home physically, but not always mentally.” As it is in face-to-face teaching, it’s hard to stop thinking about school out of concern for the students and their understanding/wellbeing.