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Unschooling While Making a Living

Life Learning with My Children while Making a Living
By Dawn Falbe

How do you make a living and be with your children at the same time?

With great perfection, patience, difficulty, precision, logic, organization, and extra help would be my answer.

I have worked for myself since Zak, now aged seven, was born. I had already been in business for seven years at that point and changed businesses so I could work from home 95 percent of the time.

Steve, my husband, and I initially worked opposite hours. I would work the morning shift from eight until noon, then Steve would go off to work from one o’clock to nine in the evening. Up until the age of about three, Zak was a great sleeper and by seven pm he would be out for the count. I would then start work again and also some of the time on the weekends. On the days my husband was off work, I took the opportunity to work several hours during the day. My first office was the laundry room, which we had converted into a work space. I worked, quite successfully, in this tiny place for five years. Think about the opening sequence of Harry Potter under the stairs and that was me!

As Steve changed jobs, I rearranged my schedule to fit, working different hours of the day and night. My mother took Zak for one morning a week so that I could go out and meet clients. Again this worked until Max came along and juggling two children and my business became incredibly hard. We then got involved with the Sonoran Desert Homeschoolers (SDH), which gave us the opportunity for play dates, park meetings, field trips, and other opportunities.

Finally, I made a decision that if I was to continue working I needed outside help, even if it was only for a few hours a day. My first attempt was a 17-year-old neighborhood girl. Alison was wonderful in that she was very childlike, but I had to come up with all the ideas. After a year she decided her boyfriend was more important.

I advertised in the local newspaper and received about 100 phone calls. I interviewed five people and hired Patty, who is still with us. Patty comes two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about eight hours each day. Like me, she has traveled all over the world. Just one year older than I, she has a lot of knowledge and experience of life that she shares freely with my children. The kids love her and I feel they are safe with her. That feeling of my kids being OK has been very important in this whole process. It gives me the opportunity to work in my home office without worrying about who they are with and what’s going on. Because my office is in the house, I get to pop in and out to see the kids. Sometimes Patty takes them to the Zoo, Children’s Museum, out for a walk, or to the park, or they just play at home.

On the days like today when I don’t have Patty, I constantly go back and forth between my office and the kids. Here’s an example of my morning:

  • 4:45am Wake up and make tea. Go to office to prepare for radio show.

  • 5:00am WARM 101 in Rochester, NY calls for our regular radio show.

  • 6:00am Max wakes up in our bed. Get him juice and a snack and he watches “Kipper” while I read my email and answer as many clients’ questions as possible.

  • 7:00am Zak is up. Juice and answering his questions, getting blocks out. Helping build dinosaurs with only one eye.

  • 7:30am Back to the stack of papers on my desk. Put them in order of what needs to be dealt with first. Read my SDH email and check calendar for events we are going to attend in the upcoming month. Update calendar.

  • 8:00am Breakfast for kids – a second pot of tea for me (still keeping my British traditions).

  • 8:30am Kids play outside in the back garden. They are looking for treasure so have been digging up the garden for about a week. I’m called out of my office on and off to help dig and to referee when they both want to do the same thing. While the kids do this, I clean up the house, put items in the out bin that need to be taken with me when I go out next. Add eggs and yogurt to the shopping list. Call a friend for a play date. Write a check for the upcoming theater series for Zak and put that on my calendar. Bill two clients via my credit card processing system.

  • 10:00am Zak and Max are covered with dirt. I gingerly carry both to the bath. While kidlets are taking a bath, I shower. Zak stays in the bath on his own with his swimming trunks on, as he’s pretending to be an Olympic swimmer in training.

  • 11am Max is getting tired and wants to watch “There Goes a Monster Truck.” Zak is playing “3rd Grade Knowledge” on his computer while also building monsters with his small LEGO. I catch my breath and sit for a few minutes with Max and read one of my murder mysteries.

  • Noon: Max is nearly asleep so I put him in his bed, having frequently checked on Zak and seen if he needs my help. With Max in bed, I make Zak a sandwich and go back to my office. I tell Zak where I am and he comes to my office if he needs me. Zak comes to show me the two monsters he’s created from LEGO. I take some time out and help him build another one. I spend the next two hours working on various projects to do with work, home, learning more about self directed learning and sometimes even stopping to read for a few minutes. So endeth my morning.....

At a women’s coffee night the other evening, I was telling other women about how my life is organized and I finally realized that it was OK for me to be doing it “this” way. What’s my other alternative? To put my children in school full time, which is something I don’t want to do, just so that I can work for a few hours a week, make some money and satisfy a part of my soul.

It’s not perfect, but I have come to realize that if I want to continue to do something that supports my internal need for continuing to grow and also allow my kids to grow and learn at their own pace at the same time, there cannot be perfection. So I think I’ll take perfection out of the first line of this article....

Born in England and transplanted to the US, Dawn works as an Intuitive Astrologer Coach. She and husband Steve, a network engineer, Zak, and Max are continuing to learn what they want to know on a daily basis. Dawn can be found at Dawn combines the metaphysical arts with the business world and shows other women how to design a home based business they love and combine it with being home with their children.

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