Last Updated April 26th, 2018

Is It Time To Update Your Education?

Is It Time To Update Your Education?

One thing every stay at home mom should think about is what she’s going to do when the kids get older. Are you still going to be a stay at home mom or is it back to work? Or maybe it’s time to update your education.

For many these days, the hope is to continue on in a home business. That’s what I did when my youngest hit school age. I love what I do and can’t picture changing things all that drastically.

Others would rather go back to work. You have your retirement to think of, and unless your husband is earning very good money, it’s going to be hard to fund that for both of you if you never work again.

While you’re a stay at home parent is a great time to think about improving and updating your education. It’s not that you have tons of free time; we all know kids will take up as much time as you can spare, and then some. But it’s a great time to be thinking about where you would like your career to go, and get the education to make it happen.

Is A Degree Necessary?

That depends on you and what you want to do in the future. It might be. It might not be.

If you’re planning on following your dream career when your children are a bit older, you don’t want your skills to be outdated. Pursuing a degree or certification can help you reach that goal. Keeping up with the literature on your area and networking with people who are currently working in your industry can help as well.

The things you need to do will strongly depend on what it is you want to do.

For example, before I discovered my love of running an online business, I had been planning on getting my Master’s degree in instructional design. I took some courses in it when I was in college, and it was fascinating to me. Not quite so much now, though. In some ways, however, it’s not that far off from what I do now.

An advanced degree or certification is important to that field. If I ever want to go into it, I would need to return to school to have a shot at getting a job in that area within a reasonable time frame.

Not all careers need a degree, of course. Sometimes you can gain experience on the job; other times you may need a few classes that you take on your own to qualify, but not a full degree. Take some time to figure out what’s best for getting into the career you want. You can always continue to upgrade your education once you have your first job in your career.

Traditional College, Online College, Or Online Courses?

You can look into a traditional college in your area, but you may also want to look at online colleges or programs. They range from being a waste of money to being an excellent investment.

My daughter’s kindergarten teacher, for example, got her Masters degree from Western Governor’s University recently. At least one of her kids is going there as well, as I understand it. They’re quite happy with that program. Judging from online reviews, it’s definitely not for everyone. So long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and feel comfortable with it, you could do well there.

Some online programs can help you work at home. I did medical transcription from home for years. While that industry has changed quite a bit since I left it, there’s still demand for medical transcriptionists. Make sure the school’s program is updated for current needs and that it has a good record of placing people within the industry. I like Career Step. They offer more than just medical transcription or medical coding programs. Not all of their programs are for jobs you can do from home.

If you just need to update your skills, there are a lot of online courses you can get. Take a look at places such as Udemy and ed2go. You can learn a wide variety of skills for business, technology, marketing, and more. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while raising your kids, taking a few courses to update your marketable skills is a great idea.

If you want to start a home business, you may just need to take some appropriate training from someone who has done it. Gina Horkey, for example, has found success as a virtual assistant, and her virtual assistant training course might be what you need to start your own virtual assistant business from home.

Yes, it’s going to take some time away from your family. That can’t be helped. But since you aren’t going to have to drive to school, and may even be able to decide the time at which you do your classwork, it can take away far less time than traditional classes in a college or technical school.

In some fields, there’s no replacement for hands on training. If that’s the case, you will have to go to a school in your area. Online just won’t give you the experience you need. You will need to seek out a program that will work with the arrangements you can make for your kids, whether that’s classes when your spouse can be home, when a family member can help out, when the kids are in school themselves, or when you can put them in daycare.

What About the Kids?

Even online courses can be hard to handle when you have kids. The time commitment on top of everything else you do can be challenging. What can you do to keep the kids out from underfoot while you update your education?

The first thing you should do is figure out when the kids are going to be an issue. If you have classes at particular times, that may be your biggest challenge, whether you attend classes elsewhere or at home. If the times are more flexible, as with self paced courses, it may be easier to make a schedule that works with your established routines.

A supportive spouse may be able to help you make the time to take courses without the kids. They can take a turn being in charge of the kids. This may take some work with children who are used to the stay at home mom or dad being the one they ask for EVERYTHING, but they can learn otherwise.

You may also need to consider childcare. This may include finding a paid sitter or daycare, or having friends or family help. If the kids are old enough to play with friends when you need to study and the friends’ parents don’t mind having them over a lot, you have a cheap way to get the kids out of the way.

Kids who are old enough may also enjoy the time learning to be more independent. It’s good for them. Have expectations for what they do while you study, as well as rules for when they can interrupt you.

It’s rather like working at home in many ways. You have to decide when you’re available and when you need to work on your education. Giving yourself a regular schedule will help, both in terms of completing your education and in giving the children a routine. It will help you have more productive workdays, so you can finish your studies more quickly.

Updating your education as a stay at home parent will require some sacrifices. It’s not an easy thing for many people to do. It will be worth it if you decide that it’s time to get back into your career, whether you work at home or elsewhere. A better career will mean so much to your job satisfaction and bring in income your family may need. The time spent now on education will be worth it later.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 2nd, 2017

Encourage Your Child’s Creativity With Destination Imagination

Encourage Your Child's Creativity With Destination Imagination

Every school year, my kids talk about which clubs they want to join. My son does archery, which doesn’t start until later in the school year but is a lot of fun. My youngest daughter chose Destination Imagination this year. It’s a club I strongly recommend if you want to help your child be more creative. My oldest daughter has participated in Destination Imagination in years past, and I think it was a good boost to her creativity.

What Is Destination Imagination?

Destination Imagination is an organization that encourages kids to come up with creative solutions and apply them in a variety of ways. The kids are challenged to use a variety of skills. It’s not all technical, and it’s not all performance.

The challenges the kids choose from change from year to year. There are some basic types – fine arts, technical, scientific, structural, improvisational and service learning, as well as a challenge for younger kids. The details, however, are always different.

Choosing a fine arts challenge doesn’t mean your child won’t use their skills to build something. Choosing a scientific challenge doesn’t mean they won’t need to come up with a story to go with their presentation. Teams build multiple skills as they complete their challenges.

Then come the Instant Challenges. Your team won’t know what their Instant Challenge is until they walk into the room at the competition. They’re sworn to secrecy about the challenge until after the world competition is over. This is so that no team gets an advantage on the Instant Challenge by knowing what it is in advance. There are penalties for revealing what happened at an Instant Challenge after you’ve taken it. The revelation can impact more than your own team. Keeping the secret until after the World Competition is a huge deal, even if your team isn’t going that far.

Teams can practice Instant Challenges on their own before competitions, as old ones are released. These involve a lot of very quick thinking and planning. One of the most important things the kids have to show is teamwork – no leaving a team member out of the challenge.

Every school year, Destination Imagination puts out a variety of challenges for teams of children to work on. There are regional and state competitions, and an annual world competition for teams that make it that far.

Destination Imagination is run by volunteers, and that includes any team your children may join. Be prepared to volunteer, whether as a Team Manager, Appraiser at a competition, or other roles. Teams must provide a certain number of volunteers at competitions in order to participate. This can be difficult, especially if you have a small team, but it is an absolute requirement. It’s best to choose your volunteers as the team forms.

What Do Destination Imagination Teams Do?

The kids on the teams with Destination Imagination must do all their own work. Adults aren’t even supposed to give them ideas. The kids sign a statement at competitions saying that all work is their own – having an adult help can disqualify the team. Adults can teach kids skills needed, but the kids have to figure out what they need to learn and ask for it.

This is where the kids learn a lot about creative thinking. The solutions the kids come up with are amazing. They might build things out of old toys, cardboard boxes, or anything else they can figure out a use for. They might spin a tale that will keep everyone laughing.

There are some expenses you may need to help pay. Each challenge has a budget that the teams are not allowed to go over. Expenses must be tracked to prove that the team did not spend more than was allowed. This helps level the playing field. Keep your receipts, as they will be turned in.

Expect a scramble to get things done as competition time approaches. The kids will almost always seem to be running way, way behind, but somehow it comes together just in time for competition.

What Can Adults Do?

Adults can handle the required volunteer roles their kids need in order to compete. These roles may involve a couple training sessions. Appraisers have to learn how to grade team projects. That means at least one day of training done in person, usually at a reasonably local school. You’ll try out some of the old Instant Challenges with the other volunteers there so that you better understand what the kids go through. You’ll learn what to look for.

Being an appraiser is a lot of fun. They encourage silliness and silly hats. The idea is to make things comfortable for the kids as they present their ideas.

Adults can also be Team Managers. The role of the team manager is to keep the team on track, not to give ideas or help make anything. The team manager can store the team’s supplies, but there is a point at competition, where they aren’t allowed to help with so much as carrying supplies. They also cannot give guidance during the competition itself.

Being a Team Manager can be a heavy commitment. Teams will meet at least weekly as they make their projects, and may need extra meetings as competition approaches. The year I managed my oldest daughter’s team, I sometimes had them come over to my house to work. One student used my sewing machine to make a backdrop. Weekends get gobbled up as the team works hard to get everything done on time.

Adults are allowed to teach kids skills as well. If the kids on the team don’t know how to make something, they can find an appropriate adult to teach them the skill. The adult may not make the item for them. Adults may also make sure the team is using tools safely.

Overall, the entire process with Destination Imagination is a lot of fun. Everyone will probably be tired at the end of the competition day, but it should have been a good day overall. Whether your team makes it to the state competition or even World shouldn’t matter as much as what they’ve accomplished together.

I’d like to finish off with a TED Talk shared by the California Destination Imagination Facebook page. It’s about raising successful kids without overparenting. It goes well with DI’s rules.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 15th, 2017

5 Things Your Family Can Do To Watch The Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse

Many people are excited about the upcoming total solar eclipse. Most of us won’t get to see the total eclipse, but will get to see at least a partial eclipse. Even this can be a lot of fun. These are some things you can do to enjoy the eclipse safely with your family.

Get Solar Eclipse Glasses

You can order solar eclipse glasses from Amazon for your family to use during the eclipse. Make sure you buy glasses that are safe for use during a solar eclipse. Amazon had to recall some glasses because they weren’t certain that they were safe for the eclipse. They decided that they would rather recall the glasses than have people risk their eyesight and permanent damage.

Whatever you do, do not look directly at the eclipse without proper eye protection. The damage can be permanent. If you want more information you can look at the NASA website. They have excellent information on when you can remove your glasses if you are in an area with a total solar eclipse.

If your children are using solar eclipse glasses, make sure they do not peek around the dark lenses to look at the sun. This can damage their eyes. If children cannot be trusted to keep their solar eclipse glasses on, find another way to allow them to enjoy the eclipse, such as watching it online.

Watch The Eclipse Online Or On TV

NASA will be live streaming the eclipse. This will run from noon to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Science channel will also broadcast the eclipse. Obviously watching the eclipse on television is completely safe because you will not be exposed to the excessive brightness of the Sun.

Make A Pinhole Camera

You can make a pinhole camera to observe the eclipse as well. The advantage to this is that you will not be facing the Sun directly. There are instructions on the NASA website.

The basic idea is that you poke a hole in one card, then you project the image onto another card. This allows you to see an image of the eclipse without actually looking at the sun. This is a very good idea if you have young children who cannot be trusted with the glasses.

Take Cell Phone Or Camera Pictures

Using your cell phone camera or any other camera can damage the camera if you point it at the eclipse too long. The heat from the Sun can damage components inside the camera. If you want to take pictures, you will need a solar filter for your camera.

Do not expect exceptional pictures with your equipment unless you really know what you are doing. Cell phones can only do so much. The same goes for most cameras. If you have ever tried to take a picture of the Moon, you know how difficult it can be to take a good picture of it with a regular camera. The same goes for a solar eclipse, except you need to protect your camera. If your equipment isn’t up to the task, you will probably get very poor results. It can be fun to try regardless, so long as you protect your camera, eyes, and lenses appropriately.

Take A Look Around

The sun is not the only interesting thing during an eclipse. As things get darker around you, you may notice that birds and animals are reacting as though it is evening. They can be quite confused by this.

We watched a partial eclipse when I was younger, and one of the best parts was seeing how confused the birds and animals were. Things were getting dark quickly, so they acted as though it was night already. Our cats could not understand why we weren’t calling them in for the night and kept wandering around looking at us. They knew something was different, but not what.

It can also be interesting to see which stars you can see during the eclipse. Think of them as what you would see in about 6 months at night, although the visible planets may be different.

Shadows are very interesting during an eclipse. You will note that the shadows around you change shape especially under trees and places where just bits of sunlight break through. It is somewhat like the pinhole camera in that the shape of the eclipse is projected through the leaves.

Take time out of your day to observe the solar eclipse, whether you get the total eclipse or just a partial one. It’s an event that doesn’t come around too often, especially for such a large audience.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 17th, 2017

How To Use Udemy To Improve Your Home Business Skills

One of the hard parts about running a home business is learning how to do all the things you need to know how to do. Some things are better outsourced, but other times it’s the most effective to learn to do it yourself. When you don’t need a formal degree or certification, it can make a lot of sense to pick up new home business skills through Udemy.

Many kinds of courses are offered through Udemy. There are courses that cover many aspects of running a business, such as marketing, social media, finance, office software and tools, branding, analytics and more.

These are not courses that will get you college credit or make you certified by an accredited agency for things. A well chosen course can help you learn to run your home business better. They’re good for when knowing how to do something is more important than where you learned it.

I’m taking some courses there myself. One is on social media marketing, and one on podcasting. They’re areas I would like to be better at or just plain get started.

My oldest daughter uses Udemy too. She’s trying an app development course because, like most kids her age, she dreams of making a really popular app. She’s also taking a course on 3D animation, because she wants to be an animator someday. I bought her an Intuos tablet to help her with that goal, and the course to give her some guidance once she learns the basics included with her tablet. Now she just has to get around to it, a challenge many people face.

Some courses do offer a certificate, but they only mean so much. It’s not like you’re attending an accredited school or anything. Still, there are times when showing that you’ve finished any course is enough, especially if potential clients can take a look and see what was involved in completing that course.

If you sign up for a course, make a plan so that you’ll actually finish it at some point. Commit to doing a certain amount of it each day, even if it’s just one item a day. One of the courses I’m taking has 82 items, so that’s about three months or more if I don’t do anything on weekends. It’s all too easy to sign up for a course and then do nothing with it, so have a plan for when you’ll actually do the work before you pay your money to sign up. Otherwise it’s money down the drain.

One of the great parts is that you can repeat each item or course as necessary. You get lifetime access. Keep an eye out for discounts on courses you really want to take. Udemy has some pretty good sales every here and there.

How Do You Pick The Right Course?

If you’re going to spend money on a course, or even take time on a free one, you want to know that it will be worth your while.

Take a good look at reviews for any courses you’re considering. Not all courses will be worth your while. Course levels range from beginner to expert in most areas, so you can find the courses that best suit your needs.

Courses offer a preview video so you can get an idea what is offered. There’s also a “What Will I Learn ?” section that gives an overview of the topics covered.

Also take a look at the requirements for the course. It will cover the equipment and prior knowledge that you will need to be successful with the course. There’s not much point in signing up for something you aren’t prepared to learn.

And of course there are student reviews. Don’t give too much weight to any reviews that are along the lines of “best course ever.” Pay more attention to reviews that really get into what was good or bad about the course. Negative reviews can be particularly informative. There also may be reviews of the course on other websites.

If the course doesn’t have a lot of reviews, see if the author has other courses which have been reviewed. This will give you an idea as to how good they are. You can also look them up online and see if they have a website where you can learn about them.

Udemy has a 30 day guarantee. If you’ve tried the course and it’s just not what you need or not good enough, ask for your refund. They might get difficult if you do this too much, especially if you always complete the course before requesting a refund.

Do not assume you will get a lot of interaction with the course creator or fellow students. Some will interact with you, but others pretty much leave you on your own. Considering that people can sign up at any time and be at any point in the course, I’m not surprised by this at all.

If you want to get the most from the courses you take, treat it as you would any other class and be ready to take notes. If the course is at all worth the time, there will be things you will want to write down to remember better and refer back to easily. Most of us don’t memorize things based on one hearing, after all.

Udemy even offers programs for businesses, so they can get their employees trained in different areas online. There’s exam prep for various certificates.

You don’t have to stick to learning about business. There are also music, fitness and personal development courses.

And don’t forget that you can also teach the skills you know on Udemy. You can use Udemy’s tools to create and sell an online course of your own. If you’re good at something you can teach online, Udemy could become another income stream for you. You retain all control and rights to your content.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 16th, 2011

How Do You Combine Working at Home With Homeschooling?

This has been quite the challenging year for me. We made the choice to homeschool my oldest, as the neighborhood school was doing poorly. I knew at the time that it would be difficult to add in the time it takes to properly homeschool a child to the time I need for working, but sometimes that’s what you have to do.

Despite the quite reasonable concerns of many, it went pretty well. The school year is nearly over and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make working at home and homeschooling work.

Be Realistic About Time Commitments

Homeschooling takes a lot of time out of the day. How much depends on the curriculum you choose, the rules you have to follow in your area for the program you choose, and how fast your child works on assignments.

Many homeschoolers manage to get it all done in much less time than their kids would be in school. That’s not always the case and you should be prepared for the fact that sometimes days run long.

Sometimes kids try to goof off rather than work on assignments. They may need a lot of help on some assignments, and less help on others.

You’ll have your own obligations to have things ready for your student each day. Some assignments will need advance preparation on your part, which may take away from time in the evenings that you had hoped to work.

With all that the homeschool requires, you still have to keep up with whatever time commitments you have for your work. This is especially important if your family relies on the income to get by financially.

Heavy Duty Time Management

If you’ve worked at home or homeschooled, you know how important time management is. Put them together and you have some serious time to manage.

As with working at home, adding in homeschooling means talking to your spouse and the other members of your family about where you’re going to need extra help. You still have all the rest of your daily routine to manage around the house, and you shouldn’t expect to be doing it all alone. Look at chores the kids can help with as well as places you need more help from your spouse.

Many homeschool families have a schedule. They’re often pretty flexible, so that you can change things around at need. Nonetheless, they’re necessary for most families, at the very least to help ensure that everything gets done that is needed.

You will quickly become aware of your child’s best working time. My daughter often does well in the mornings, getting her going again after lunch is often difficult, taking a day from one that had looked like an early finish to a late one.

Your schedule will also help you to remember when you need to work. You should still try to take at least one day a week off to enjoy time with your family, but that means you need to be absolutely certain you’re getting everything else you need to accomplish done on the other days of the week.

Be Sure Your Work Is Flexible Enough

You aren’t going to be able to cope with both homeschooling and working at home if your work schedule doesn’t cooperate. I work for me, so it’s pretty easy to make things flexible enough that I can deal with both schedules. Tiring, but possible.

Most times, you’re looking at the ability to mostly work evenings and/or weekends. If your child is self directed enough, you may be able to work as he or she goes through the schoolwork, so long as your work may be interrupted as questions and problems arise.

My work computer and my daughter’s school computer are side by side, which has been a great advantage since I can be interrupted when she needs me. It’s not like she wants me hovering as she writes a report or works a math problem, but if she has a question it’s nice having me available to her. Because I don’t usually need to talk to people on the phone for my work, this isn’t a problem.

Are we homeschooling next year? No, the situation at the neighborhood school has changed, as they’re becoming an International Baccalaureate charter school in the fall, so we’re giving that a try. The district decided to close the old school at the end of this school year due to poor performance, pretty much justifying my homeschool decision, I’d say.

I did enjoy the homeschooling, and if it weren’t for the change in the neighborhood school, would have continued with it. California Virtual Academy was a great choice for us, and now I know what to do if we ever have such problems with a poor quality school in the future. Their program is really challenging but fun to work with.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Feedly
Home With the Kids on LinkedIn

Are you ready to work at home? Subscribe to learn about blogging and other ways to earn money from home.



Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.