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Work, School, Burnout...

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I've always been more of a lurker on this board (all boards, actually), but I'm hoping that I can get some helpful advice.


My kids are currently 6, 9, and 15. In the past 2 years we have moved from the city to the suburbs/country, so that I can become a market gardener. I worked as a gardener thru my eldest's first 4 years; it is both my passion and my profession. I took time off so that my dh could return to school, so that we could have our younger two children, and so that we could save some money. All this has been accomplished, we have found 4 great acres, and I am once again gardening at a large scale (1+ acres), and the garden made money this year - Hurray!


On the downside, I feel like I am no longer a mom. My kids didn't spend the summer hangin with me in the garden, they spent it playing Poptropica and fixing their own lunch. I have managed to get thru the first 4 months of our school year, but I'm on auto-pilot, not bubbling with ideas. Even months after putting the garden to bed, I still feel disjointed, disorganized, discombobulated.


I love my work, but it takes a Huge Amount of Time (60+ hours/week). I am not good at balance; I have a hard time putting down the hoe and coming inside. I do plan on reading and trying to implement Getting Things Done in the coming months. I am considering having my eldest do school thru an online program next year (not that either of us really want to, but I feel I'm not doing enough for him). I need to develop some systems before spring.


I'd love to hear from other working moms on how they manage the dual commitments of homeschooling and working. I tend to throw myself into things in big way - That's always how I've been with school, but now that all that energy is spend on the garden.... Well things are just flat. I'm a little afraid of the coming summer, but we really need the extra income.





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I just did a 2012 review -it's kind of my reality check that YES, we did get stuff done. spring semester of 2012 was one of our VERY best homeschool years ever (this is our 21 yr of homeschooling). We did a whole variety of things= co-op, academic tutoring center, on line courses and some homeschool. Basically I helped the kids organize their work for the week, assisted them with projects and deadlines but i was NOT the sole teacher. I loved it, they loved it, there was more accountability for everyone. We used Landry Acadmey and I know they have some crazy sales going on now. I loved their platform (sorry, I can't remember the name of it) because the kids could SEE the teachers and there was immediate interaction between teacher, student, and even student to student if the teacher allowed it.

Is your 15 yo driving yet? Do you have any co-ops, class days in your area?

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You want honest answers? I would look at how much you made and figure out if it was worth the time you spent. I would figure out if there'd be a profit still if you invested in equipment to make it go faster. I'd figure out what would happen if you were creative and only farmed part and allowed people to rent small sections for a modest fee. (checking insurance, legality, etc., just have seen it done in communities) And I'd consider if there's any profit left after you have to change your homeschooling methods to keep it practical.


High school is expensive. I totally get the hyper-focusing, really like to do one thing thing. I've tried to weigh decisions like that with the perspective of trying to live with no regrets. If you give up something you value more for something you value less, you'll probably have regrets. If you work that hard and realize you're not making $$ commensurate with your time, it's not a good deal. You may be plenty profitable, don't know. You might be meeting your personal need for a physical outlet and realize *that* is important and the money less so and that you could say farm *less* right now, say just 1/4 acre, and do more later as life changes.

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Sounds like you need some help on the farm: you could look into WWOOFERS (Willing workers on organic farms - work half day each day of their stay in exchange for food and board) or a CSA where you provide boxes of produce for both a time and monetary commitments. Do you have a permaculture group in your area? They may be able to provide help, interns (ie unpaid help that you teach your skills to), landshare and customers. You will need to use chemical free and organic methods, though.


Also have a look at the book Your Money or Your Life. It will teach you to rethink your relationship with money, and give you some parameters to determine why you are working (because for many of us, its not just about money) and what you spend your money on and why.


Its bloody hard to work and homeschool - I did it for several years, with DH and I both juggling work and school. We still both do this part-time. I have to plan in advance, be organised, choose resources carefully and I often have to be the happy face and the driver. I know I am the one who holds it all together. That's OK, but it is draining and sometimes I just want to do big slabs of nothing.


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I work 15 hours per week as a stock analyst. That is all I can handle and still homeschool, keep house, plan/learn for the following year, have time to be with my dh, and not lose my mind. Not quite sure how you can do 60 hours. Is it seasonal? I could see 60 hours 4 months a year and then homeschooling for 8 months. It also depends on your dh. Mine is working full time and concurrently working on a PhD, so he does not have heaps of time to help. Does yours?


Give use some details as to how you organize your daily and annual schedule.


Ruth in NZ

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Will you need an intern this summer?? :D

Not helpful advice, but my oldest would like to do something along the lines of what you're doing as a career. She started in the local CC's Horticulture program (an associates in science) in the fall and is really enjoying the actual plant-parts of the classes.

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Disjointed, disorganized, and discombobulated is how I feel most of the time too! I work 20 hrs a week as a medical lab technician and try to homeschool my 6 year old and get a little bit of phonics in with my 4 year old.


The idea of having someone there during the summer to help, as a WWOFER or as an intern sounds really good. Maybe you could even bribe/threaten/pay some or all of your children to help out in the garden, or at least kick their butts out of the house when you're outside. Don't worry about them making their own lunch - I believe this counts as "life skills"! :D Get your kids involved in your life together as a family - show them your dreams and passions and talk to them about why you love being a master gardener. Show them personally how hard work pays off.


It's excellent to use the skill and abilities you have, but if they drain you instead of refresh you, then it's time to make a change. (Hope this helps!)

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Thanks all!


I'm not going to bother to teach myself to quote right now, but I wanted to provide more info:


I am organic, altho not certified currently. My work is totally seasonal. From about May thru Sept I am crazy, then in the off season it calms down. This made me think that gardening would mesh well with homeschooling - I'm just not changing gears well.


Laughing L, Thanks for the reality check. We have accomplished a ton this year, of course. My kids and I are involved in a co-op, and we've made plenty of friends in the past year. My middle girl has become a crazy good reader, my youngest is learning to read and loves math, my eldest has become insanely responsible, and of course they have all gained valuable cooking skills :thumbup: I will check out Landry Academy - I'd love to get some help and yet keep some autonomy.


OhElizabeth, you've made some wonderful points, and perhaps some that are difficult to consider. Much of this needs to be discussed with my dh. I do have a very high need for both physical activity and solitude, and gardening helps me with both of these. Dh knows how happy gardening can make me, yet he inadvertantly puts pressure on me because he's burdened as the single wage earner. I am considering many options for improving my efficiency, and perhaps downsizing. It does help financially, I've decreased our shopping budget to about a quarter of what it once was, but I'm making a pittance when considered hourly.


As to getting help... My DH is overburdened, and any spare time goes into fixing up our fixer-upper. I am definitely considering a WWOOFer for the future. I got my start interning (before I'd heard of WWOOF), and I love the idea of sharing my knowledge. Currently, I don't have the room to provide housing, and honestly, I feel like I'd like to become more organized before I invite someone in; we all know how taxing teaching can be (sorry Lee, but she should check out WWOOF!). That said, I'm thinking that I might have to pay someone to help me harvest for market/CSA - Those days are insane! My eldest is actually a huge help, and I'm considering asking to become my first intern.



My two younger kiddos are really the crux of this issue. I was so stressed keeping up this summer that I didn't invite them in to "My Garden," like I did with my eldest (when he was younger). I have lost that deliberate slowing down and opening up that permeated my mothering when my kids were younger (A subject for a whole nuther post :unsure: ). In considering all your thoughtful replies, I'm realizing that this is the avenue that I need to follow - Finding the "Mothering Mojo" I once had and bringing my little ones into the garden (even if it slows me down or takes away my solitude). That and becoming more organized.


It's a constant process of growth, isn't it?!


Thanks again,


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I currently work two 10 hour days, down from full time work. Although in my mind I would like to be at home full-time, I recognize the non-monetary benefits of my job, much as you do. However, my schedule is predictable, flexible as I need it to be and the same year-round. In your shoes, I would get some help for the five months you are heavily gardening. Beg, borrow, pay or steal the help. Just get some. These few years when your two youngest kids are...well, young, will pass quickly enough. I like what a PP said about living in a way that doesn't leave many regrets. This is what drives many of my decisions, and I have had to make some difficult and sacrificial ones in the name of doing what is best for my kids. However, I have no regrets. I believe that you will arrive at a balance, OP. Now keeping that balance is the real challenge, in my experience! :)

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