Working and schooling from home—A year later

Written by Katie Nguyen
Published on August 28, 2020

I hit send on the email and sat back in slight disbelief, part panic, and full excitement. 

I had just notified my children’s principal that we would be homeschooling the following year. I thanked him for the time and effort the school had put into educating my daughter, wished him the very best, and began to chart a new path for my family.

Immediately, the questions flooded my mind. I pondered the dilemmas I would need to solve to make this work. 

Where would I find the resources I needed? What curriculum would I use? How would I work and homeschool at the same time?

Sand toys and laptops

Rewind two years earlier, and I had just told my boss I needed to work from home. 

My son suffered a near-death accident at daycare that he survived by the grace of God. It caused separation anxiety. He was not thriving apart from me. 

I prayed and God made it clear to put mothering first. He had given me my job, and I had to trust him with it. As God would have it, my boss was amazingly understanding. With the words: “Just get your work done,” he ushered me out of his office. 

And so I began working from home.

Working full-time with a toddler was nothing short of a challenge. I had to be creative. We scheduled park dates with sand toys and my laptop. I woke early to line up activities that would keep his attention for twenty minutes at a time, so that I could work in spurts. 

We took lots of walks. He napped in my bed next to me as I worked (the separation anxiety was real). Some days, he needed me more than others, which meant I had to return to my work late at night. 

Some days I missed my evening time with my husband so much, I would get up at 4 a.m. so I could balance the day’s distractions with the time I needed to get my work done. 

I was growing weary.

A choice to stop and enjoy

I endured mothers looking at me sideways while I worked at the park and watched my son with one eye. 

I endured being too tired to wear anything more than (hopefully clean) sweatpants and a t-shirt, finished with a messy bun atop my head. I rushed to pick my daughter up from school so I could get back to work, while all the stay-at-home moms were put together and planning play dates. 

I endured the fatigue, when three cups of coffee couldn’t carry me through the day. 

I endured the millions of interruptions that forced me to constantly refocus on my work. I endured my feelings of guilt, frustration, overwhelm, and exhaustion. 

And then . . . I stopped.

I got to the point when I stopped enduring and started enjoying. Yes—enjoying. 

I realized that all my negative feelings were attributed to one thing: I wanted things to be a different way. I was not content with what God had given me. I had been swallowed up by self-pity, discontentment, frustration, and disappointment. 

It had stolen my peace, my joy, and my happiness. 

It had to stop.

How blessed am I

It began with a heart change and shift in perspective. 

I changed my inner dialog from “It’s all too much!” to “How blessed am I!” 

How blessed am I to have a wonderful job that I enjoy. How blessed am I to have a boss who lets me work from home. How blessed am I to have two beautiful children. How blessed am I to spend the day with them. How blessed am I to have the power to manage my own day and create work-life balance.

How blessed am I.

I realized that my work-life balance was off. I had burdened myself with a “normal” 9 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule, beating myself and kids up every time I deviated from course. 

Each interruption was an irritant that somehow proved I was not worthy of my job. I had forgotten the words: “Just get your work done.” Instead, I felt I had something to prove during normal office hours. 

I learned to relax in the truth that I have an excellent work ethic. Serving my clients and my boss well is important to me. I often go above and beyond my job requirements. 

I had to stop beating myself up for the days I needed grace. I had to stop resenting my children when they needed a little more of me.

A shift in me

I have always adored my children, some may say a little too much. I say, who else will? 

As mothers, we are our child’s biggest advocate. It’s a role I take seriously. I came to understand that my ideas on how to balance work and life sometimes gave them the short end of the stick. 

My snappy responses when they interrupted me, my outbursts when I couldn’t take another tantrum (you see the hypocrisy here), my lack of offering quality time because I couldn’t turn off work and turn on mothering, it was all having an impact on our household and relationships.

That is when I learned that my parenting needed a shift

It was time I slowed enough to look them in the eye and stopped completely when they needed me. I needed to play more, smile more. Ultimately, I needed to lighten up and love better.

A midday reprieve

Thus began our journey of making it work together. 

We had long conversations about what mommy needed to get her work done and not be stressed, about what they needed from me in the day. We spoke about the importance of a schedule and what a good work ethic looks like. We also focused on the importance of play and enjoying each other. 

When we get off course, we return to these talks. We get back on track. 

What works best will look different for everyone. But for us, one thing that really works is a midday break to go to the park, beach, or take a hike. It serves as a time during which my children have my undivided attention. 

Then, I return to work in the afternoon, and the children are clear on what they need to do to occupy themselves. I am honest with my boss about this, and I remain diligent in completing my daily work. 

This simple change has made a huge impact on our family dynamic, drawing us closer together and releasing midday, pent-up energy.

You can too

I know many of you are feeling unprepared. 

Many of you had no idea you would have to work from home this year. You had no idea your children would have to homeschool this year. 

You have come face-to-face with huge changes that don’t make sense. And no one has a rule book to share. I want to encourage you. 

When I started down this path, I was not prepared. My decision to homeschool, and pull my daughter from school, happened in a matter of months. I had doubts and fears and frustrations—just like you. 

But God prepared our family for what was to come.

A year later, I have successfully homeschooled two children while working from home. If I can do this—you can too.

You can do this because God will guide you.

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Katie Nguyen

Katie Nguyen resides in Orange County, CA with her husband, two children, and one hairless cat. She homeschools her two littles and also has a full time job managing social media and digital marketing for ministries and faith based organizations. She attends Saddleback Church where she also serves as a women’s Bible Study leader. Despite a full schedule, you can find her every morning in the garden talking to her plants and Jesus.

Read more about Katie

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