Any working mom can attest that work never quite turns off.
We don’t necessarily get to sleep in on the weekends or kick back and sip wine when we get home from our jobs.
Most likely, we’re cooking dinner, giving baths, refereeing fights, negotiating on bedtime or television, reading stories, and trying to accomplish the million things on our to-do lists once we get home.
That wasn’t the plan for me, but when my husband and I viewed the education landscape in 2021—when schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, were in remote-only mode and the state pushes a radical gender curriculum that starts in pre-K—we saw homeschooling as the best option.
That meant a team effort where we both would be teaching kindergarten to our daughter, Rosemary. Luckily, my husband does shift work as a firefighter and could be the primary teacher. But he needed help, so I filled in by working remotely to give him a breather and help teach our daughter.
It’s a side hustle I have come to love, more so than any other I’ve done in the past—and I had the good fortune of writing a contributing column in the Capital Gazette newspaper for a time.
Homeschooling Empowers My Daughter, Me
When we started kindergarten at home, it wasn’t all show-and-tell and playtime. Rosemary could write some letters well, but she struggled with others. Some of her numbers would be backward. Some days, she would be easily discouraged and want to give up before we even got started.
But my husband and I would coax her back and work on building up her foundation in a particular subject.
Over time, we saw the results get better. She was able to trace words and then write them independently with more clarity. She is memorizing more of her addition and subtraction problems.
A few weeks ago, my husband taught Rosemary how to ride her bike without training wheels.
Each accomplishment has bolstered her self-esteem with authentic confidence and empowerment. She understands more what her place is in our family and society, and my husband and I have an upfront view of those wins and challenges.
Being responsible for Rosemary’s education compelled me to try new roles that I might not have otherwise considered. We participated in a weekly homeschooling co-op this school year, where my husband and I shared teaching responsibilities for a few subjects.
We also joined American Heritage Girls, an alternative to the Girl Scouts, and helped as troop leaders. These opportunities have been great for Rosemary, but they’ve also pushed me outside my comfort zone.
Each co-op lesson or troop activity was sometimes foreign and nerve-wracking. But seeing kids glean some new information or smile after doing a group craft made the buildup and effort worthwhile.
More Input, Control Over Her Education
Figuring out the education you want for your child can be overwhelming at first, but once you get your bearings, it’s amazing how much freedom you have to determine what your child learns.
We followed the Code of Maryland Regulations for homeschooling to make sure Rosemary received regular and frequent lessons on English, math, science, art, music, health, physical education, and social studies. We added religion to fulfill requirements to be in a homeschooling umbrella group.
But we had a lot of freedom to try several options. We used several workbooks, followed a full-scale curriculum in Saxon Math, watched educational videos, made homemade worksheets, and took impromptu nature walks and field trips.
This allowed my husband and me to figure out what methods were most effective, and it gave Rosemary some variety in her learning.
And we’ve allowed Rosemary to provide some input in her curriculum. After we had several science lessons on the solar system, Rosemary declared we should be done with outer space and focus instead on animals. I was happy to comply.
Most importantly, we aren’t exposing Rosemary to books and concepts that would undermine her education and her view of others around her.
I read several “woke” children’s books for The Heritage Foundation a few months ago. Suffice it to say, those books are not part of our revolving library at home. Instead, we get to focus on the topics and goals to help Rosemary to grow up to be a critical thinker—not to be indoctrinated by toxic ideologies like critical race theory.
We Learned to Say No, Prioritize
Is there stress? Yes. Have I lost my cool? Also, yes. A beautiful part of this new role is learning to make it work with the realities of my day-to-day responsibilities.
I’ve had to sometimes postpone Rosemary’s lessons to fit in between pressing work requirements or team meetings. Sometimes, we put her desk next to mine so we can review her “Explode the Code” phonics lesson while I’m answering emails.
It’s not perfect, but I still think even on our least productive days we are making progress. And I don’t regret the decision we’ve made. After our first year of homeschooling, my husband and I are getting a better idea of what’s necessary and what we could scrap.
We are switching to a tutorial homeschooling co-op that frees up some of our time as teachers and provides Rosemary with classroom experience two days a week. While still involved in American Heritage Girls, I pulled back from leadership next year with the focus on other ways I could help the troop unit.
We just completed our annual performance review with our umbrella group and the response was better than expected: “You’re doing what you need to do for kindergarten, and Rosemary appears to be thriving,” the reviewer said, looking over our pile of workbooks, worksheets, and art projects.
What has made this side hustle worth it is Rosemary’s reaction. Sure, there are days when she hates school. But more often than not, she enjoys learning with us.
My “side hustle” doesn’t bring in more income, but I think it will pay dividends in the future for my daughter.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal