If I had a magic wand, I would use it to solve the financial struggles of the sadly growing number of single homeschool moms. Too many women are finding themselves forced to reluctantly consider separation and/or divorce. This choice leads to new, seemingly insurmountable problems, with the most critical issues being how to support yourself and your children, as well as how to finance the divorce itself. It is hardly an inexpensive process, and when children and custody issues are involved, fees add up quickly. There is no easy solution, but there is hope. It can be done. I don’t believe there is any one blueprint to resolve financial issues, but rather solutions that are personally available and unique to each woman. The strength and guidance needed to evaluate, enact and remain steadfast in your purpose will rely heavily on your relationship with the Lord and following His lead.
When I specifically think of the type of faith it takes to be a divorced, single homeschool mom, I think of the often-told story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I marvel at a faith so strong that they willingly and without hesitation accepted their fate of being callously tossed into a fiery furnace. They defied Nebuchadnezzar and steadfastly resolved and determinedly announced that they would not serve his gods or worship his gold statue. They accepted God’s decision for their lives even if it was His decision to allow them to perish. Now that is unwavering, single-minded and ardent dedication to and faith in a God who has the plan. They ultimately understood that God’s purposes were paramount to anything else. Don’t doubt that He has and will continue to rescue you, in His own way and in His own time, from your fiery furnaces as well.
No matter where you are in the separation/divorce process, I would like to say how deeply and profoundly I ache on your behalf. Too often I hear of another woman basically forced to leave her husband due to untenable behaviors (These days these behaviors most often involve pornography; think of the high profile case of Elin Nordegren). So now what? In 1Timothy 5, there is guidance for how to treat widows. I believe it applies to our situations as well. Turn to family first. In the short term, you will need to be someplace where you feel emotionally safe in order to weather the divorce process, which is not friendly to women in our positions. Hopefully that place will be in the family home. If not, maybe there is a family member you and your children can stay with in the short term. Hopefully your family will support your decision to homeschool or you will jump into yet another fiery furnace! Another option would be to approach your church and ask them for assistance, either in the way of rent money, or help with rent, from the benevolent fund or some type of church housing or housing provided by a church member. We cannot receive if we do not ask, so we need to ask! Otherwise, you will never know if there is someone out there looking for a tenant for a rental house, or looking to gift someone with a sanctuary, even if it’s short term.
Regarding your financial future, if you do not receive a sufficient amount of support from your ex-husband, you will most likely have to work, if only part-time, while trying to school your children. The new challenge is to figure out how to work and home educate. There are many options if you are willing to be flexible and advocate at all times for you and your children. As for me, my ex-husband has been willing to pay me to educate at home because our son is dyslexic. It would be more expensive to send him to a private school. I have also had a clinical educational psychologist support my efforts to home educate my son. I received training to assist him, and we have been able to demonstrate progress through the testing by the psychologist. I have worked part-time on and off to help when extra expenses have arisen. However, once I am done home educating, I will need to work in order to support myself. So, the long-term financials are always ever present in my thoughts and plans. I daily lift my situation up to the Lord.
As a widowed mom of two young children, I immediately filed for Social Security Survivor’s Benefits. These benefits are based on what your husband had paid into Social Security, and they only pay the “Mom” portion until your youngest turns sixteen. It has been a great help to us! Benefits stop for your children when each one turns eighteen, so in two years our benefits will cease from this source. I am constantly looking for jobs to consider for my future. Remember that we don’t have to stay in one job forever; when your children are grown you can re-assess your job situation and go from there. The other thing that I did was to move in with my dad. This cut down on how much I would have to pay each month and gave the kids stability as we grieved the loss of my husband and their dad.
So what are the options to a single, homeschooling mom? Home daycare is one of the first ones that come to mind. It can be lucrative, but it will take away from your homeschooling time. I know a lot of single moms who opt to make their money this way. Another option is to find a job where the children can come with you. You could work at a gym either as front desk help or in the childcare department if your gym has one, or work at a martial arts studio. I am the office manager for a local martial arts studio, and my son trains for free while I work. Another option is to find a job where you can work evenings or nights while a family member or friend watch the children. I know of several women who edit books from home and yet another who runs a virtual call center from her house in the evenings. There are lots of viable options, but you have to get creative and reach out to those who can help you. Local churches need secretaries to answer phones and prepare bulletins for Sunday. Many may be willing to let you bring your children with you. I also have a part-time health and wellness business in which I enroll people into a nutritional system. This provides extra, needed income, and I can do it in the little free time that is available to me.
Whatever you decide to do, you will have to learn to adjust to the new balance in your life—one where work and schooling counter-balance each other. If your children are young, then it will be important to help them adapt to the new way of life. If your children are older, you can use this as an opportunity to teach them to be independent and to help you as a contributing member of the family. Don’t underestimate the support that your children will give to you as they see you working hard for your family and the character that this will develop in them.
As a single homeschool mom none of your decisions will be easy. There are going to be many trials, but your hope is not in this world, but in the Lord. If you are convinced it is your calling to home educate, He will equip you in every way. God bless.