Ep. 131 Homeschooling and Working Only 15 Hours a Week

homeschool mom and daughter
I'm Ashley!

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One of the number one questions I get asked when people find out that I homeschool my kiddos and only work 15 hours a week is, they want to know, how in the heck do you do it all? And the answer really, honestly, is I don’t, and I can’t. And I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning.

But in today’s episode, I wanted this to be a little bit different than traditional episodes. Normally there is a structure and an outline. And I want you to leave with action steps and takeaways.

But in today’s episode, I really just want to get personal with you. I want to let you in on a little bit about my life. And I actually have found it really fascinating to listen to these types of episodes. So I hope that you enjoy it. And if you’re ready, let’s jump right in.

Hey, Mama, welcome back to the show. I am so excited to be here with you today. And to try out this new format of an episode. Now, don’t worry, I’ll still have the other more traditional episodes, as always, but I wanted to sprinkle in some of these more personal episodes that are less scripted. And just more like we’re having a conversation face to face.

And I actually got this idea from XOMcKenna on YouTube. If you are a DIY junkie, like me and love, like home renovation and home decor, she has several different channels all about this. But she just started a new podcast or not a new podcast, just a podcast in general. And it’s literally her just sitting in a chair. And she’s just recording a conversation based on what people have asked about her life.

And so I thought it would be really interesting. And I found myself really fascinated, even though I wasn’t learning action steps and strategies and all of that good stuff. But it was so cool to just learn more about her.

So I’m excited to get into a little bit about that in a minute. But I wanted to just take a minute and introduce myself.

So in case you are a new listener, my name is Ashley Freehan. And I am the founder at The Purpose Gathering, which is an online education and education platform and a community most importantly, that helps Mom photographers feel seen, heard, validated, and supported.

Now the education piece, of course, I think is so important as well. But I really feel like the community is lacking, especially among mom business owners. As you know, we have so many different struggles and so many things that we’re juggling. And I just feel like it’s very different.

So I have a free online community that I’d love to invite you to. Basically, inside this Facebook group, I am really excited to talk a lot more about productivity, time management and efficiency for mom photographers.

Because if I have heard one thing over the years that mom photographers struggle with it is time management and making sure that there’s a balance between how much time do I spend with my kids? How much time do I spend on work without feeling guilty? How do I navigate that guilt? So that’s something that’s really important to me.

Also, because you are a podcast listener, this is where I share a lot of my updates. And so if you’re ever wondering, like what’s new with Ashley, listen to the first few minutes of my episodes, and I’ll catch you up with where I am at. But as most of you know, I am the founder of the Side Hustler to CEO program, and this is the first announcement I have made about the program. And I actually have decided to pivot the program. And really specifically focus on helping mom photographers organize their photography business.

So I want to walk you guys through all of the different steps in which it takes to organize all the parts of your business, clarify your goals, learn how to quarterly plan, and learn how to manage your time efficiently. Also how to manage your home efficiently.

I don’t know about you, but if my home is not in order, then my whole life It feels chaotic. And when I sit down to work, I just don’t have any energy or brainpower left. So this new coaching program is going to help you streamline your business and your personal life and it’s all about time management and task management.

So I actually am opening up a waitlist to anybody who is interested. I’ll open this waitlist to you guys before I open this program to the public. It is in the infant beginning stages, I just have an outline, basically. But I would love to hear from you what you want help with and what you need help with the most, because I’m definitely looking to you guys for guidance when I create this program.

So if you’re interested in hopping on the waitlist, you can head to

Okay, so let’s chat about homeschooling and how I do that while I only work 15 hours a week.

So essentially, if you’re curious about why we decided to homeschool, or you want to hear a little bit more about the backstory, check out this episode that I did on the podcast about it, which I think will kind of give you just like a really good baseline of where I started and kind of how I got started.

So I talk about some resources in there. And people in my life who gave me the courage to actually jump in and homeschool. Because I will say that I was very skeptical. I did not think that I had what it took to homeschool my kids. And if I’m being honest, I sometimes still don’t feel like I have what it takes.

It really is a day-by-day decision to look for the good and to focus on the positive.

And I actually have really struggled over the past year and a half. And obviously, I get emotional talking about it because it does feel impossible sometimes. And the self-doubt is real. Like I’m not going to lie And I feel like I am right where I’m supposed to be and I feel so deeply that this is the path that I am supposed to be on with my kids. And it’s hard. I am not going to sugarcoat that one little bit, it is hard.

And my other homeschooling mom friends who own businesses- It’s so helpful to have them because we can build each other up when days are hard, because they are hard. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself, is that I don’t ever do anything the easy way.

Like I have never been someone who takes the easy route. Like ever. I picked up a pair of running shoes and was like I’ve never run a mile but I will run a marathon and I did in five months.I didn’t run the marathon in five months, I trained for the marathon and five months just to be clear. I had both of my kids completely unmedicated very naturally when my nurse practitioner told me she didn’t think I’d be able to give birth without an epidural. I said, “Watch me” and totally did it.

I mean, you can ask my parents when I was growing up, I never did anything the easy way. I always want I’d never took shortcuts. And so that is just who I am.

But homeschooling is hard. And I have really had to over the past year and a half check priorities, like what’s the most important thing in my life, and it’s not my business…. And it shouldn’t be our business. And there was a time in my life when it was my business, right?

I was so focused on my business, and I let my family just completely take the backburner. And I don’t want that. And so this homeschooling journey has really showed me how important my kids are, and that my relationship with them are important. And that even though the days are hard, and I feel like giving up a lot that it’s worth it.

So I just want to share with you guys some of the things that I have had to put into place to really help make this happen. And essentially, it starts with scheduling and really making sure that I have time set aside for school and time set aside for work. And you guys have heard me talk about this on my podcast
and this is going to be a huge component of the new group coaching program I have.

We’ll be talking about creating your ideal week and really taking control of your calendar, and creating pockets of time in your calendar to do specific things. And this was hard for me at first because I am a right-brain creative. Organizing and scheduling do not come naturally to me.

It’s just something that I have found, that having more structure has given me the freedom to actually know that the things that are most important are getting taken care of.

And then we have flexibility in time to do fun things. And so I have predetermined work blocks every single week.

So on Mondays, my mom watches my kids for three hours, and I also have a trampoline park membership that I take my kids to. And so that’s a two-hour-a-week work block. I could take them more, but it just doesn’t always work with our schedule.

Then I get about five hours of uninterrupted time on Fridays when they go to a homeschool enrichment program. So right now I’m sitting at 10 hours for the week.

And then on the weekend, I basically will have my CEO work block. And that is usually two to four hours, just depending on the time of the month. So I like to have one for our work block once a month to plan for the next month.

And then those two-hour work blocks on those other off weeks are just more basic SEO work. So not like a lot of planning for the month, but more so just maintaining what I already have.

So that’s what my week looks like. And then of course, there are pockets of time where, you know, my kids are busy, they’re at the park. And so I might spend 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there doing other miscellaneous things, but I don’t really count that as solid work block time.

So essentially, I mean, if you add that up, I only have about 12 to 14 hours per week, that’s carved out. And now sometimes, depending on how busy our weekend is, I sometimes have to or not have to choose to skip my work block on the weekend. And that makes it even less time that I get to spend on my work.

So as you can imagine, I’ve had to just get really strategic about what I do inside of those work blocks. But that’s not what this episode is about today.

This episode is about how I homeschool and, only work 15 hours.

So then what the rest of our week looks like is my kids both have jobs, and jobs outside of the house.

Because it’s really important to me that my kids learn entrepreneurship. I’m an entrepreneur, I think it’s really such a blessing for them to be home with me, and so I can show them what it is like to run a business.

But they both have a job outside of the home. And so I have strategically created this to happen on Monday mornings. So my daughter is starting a new babysitting job, but she had one for about a year. She’s actually had one for a really long time. But she’s kind of gone from one family to the next to the next just based on their schedule and what they need.

So she just got a new babysitting job that she’ll be doing Monday mornings from nine to noon. And then my son has a dog poop cleanup business that he does Monday mornings as well. And he has two clients.

And so this I feel like part of school, right? They are learning how to interact with other people. They are learning how to persevere when they don’t want to wake up and go do the job.

This has especially been hard for my son, because he likes the money. He doesn’t necessarily love the job, but he likes that it’s consistent and that he’s making really good money. I mean, this kiddo cleans up two yards a week for 20 bucks, and it takes him less than an hour.

And I’m like, Dude, you’re making great money as an eight-year-old. So they have this that’s their own. And so I love this because I’m also able to incorporate real-life teaching with money management, right?

They each have a debit card through an app called green light. I think you pay $5 a month for the service. There is an app on your phone, and you can easily transfer the money we get paid through Venmo. We easily transfer the money to my bank account, and then I can disperse it into my kids’ bank accounts.

And then you can do the same for like chores or family contributions. If you do that in your family allowance, that type of thing. And then the kids are able to look at their balance.

We’re able to talk about tithing because that’s really important to us. We are a Christian family and we believe in following God’s word that says to tithe and so I’m able to teach that to our kids as well which is important to me.

And some of these things I just feel like we didn’t have time for when they were in public school because they were out of my house for seven hours a day. And nights and weekends are busy. know that a lot of you can relate to this.

And so one of the things that I really love about homeschooling is that we get to have these opportunities that we normally wouldn’t have, because we have more time.

If we want to go get breakfast or lunch with our family, we can. Same with friends. Our schedule is so flexible that we are able to adjust if necessary. Now, I will say that I do like to keep a pretty consistent schedule, because I do feel like consistency and rhythms are really important when you’re homeschooling because it’s really easy for your kids to fall out of the habit of schooling, and then just be like I want to play or I don’t want to do this.

So there is a lot of resistance with homeschooling.

But what I’m learning is trying to just let go of the idea of making school at home or replicating school at home.

So I don’t want to take the classroom that my kids were used to in public school and reproduce it at home, because that’s not the point of homeschooling. Homeschooling is supposed to be a lot more free, a lot more flowing, a lot more fun, a lot more, you know, really staying focused on what my kids are interested in, and not necessarily just following the curriculum to a tee.

So I personally really struggle with the methodology that I use. I asked over on Instagram what you guys wanted to know about my homeschooling journey. And some people had asked, “What’s your methodology?”

Like I don’t I honestly don’t really have one right now. Right now, it’s still trying to figure out how to build character and my kids.

While schooling, it’s really important to me that I am raising godly children who have character traits that we resonate with that match up with our family values. And that, to me is way more important than how good they are at math and how well they write.

So I haven’t really had to deal with, like I mentioned earlier, the self-doubt, like am I doing enough? Am I a good enough teacher for my kids? What will other people think? What if my kids are faced with a question they don’t know? Will they feel dumb? Will they feel when they’re older that they’re held back some way in some way because they were homeschooled?

You know, I feel like there’s so much stigma around homeschooling and that kids are antisocial, when they’re homeschooled, and they’re awkward, and they’re weird. And I don’t know, I guess those stigmas still sometimes bubble up inside of me.

And it’s hard to think about what will other people think and so a lot of homeschooling is dealing with a lot of inner work and struggles and doubts and fears.

And also, what I’ve noticed with homeschooling is that I am learning so much about my kids that I did not know when they were in public school. And I think because they’re home, and they’re more free with us, they’re more real with us, and they don’t put on a mask with us.

And I think that was like the biggest struggle that we had when they were in public schools. They would come home a complete wreck both of my kids, it was like, I don’t know what they were doing to my kids. But as soon as they came home, they were a ball of emotion.

And I don’t know if you guys experienced that. But I think it’s because they are on their best behavior and keeping it together all day that they come home and they’re just like, I can’t pretend anymore. Like I can’t do this anymore.

So although homeschooling is so hard, and there’s a lot of big emotions, I try to view those as opportunities to help my kids learn, grow, and mature.

And so that has been a hidden blessing, which also sometimes feels like a curse because I’m like, Okay, guys, I literally don’t have enough of my own energy to deal with all of the emotional meltdowns. But I think it’s really interesting because as my kids are getting older, I’m realizing how much more important it is for me to be mentally stable, and to take care of myself. And so I’ve just been really trying to focus on how to stay sane.

And so I wanted to share that with you guys as well that we’re really struggling with my oldest right now and she’s dealing with some pretty significant OCD tendencies and resisting bedtime and she’s staying up until really, really late.

I mean, we’re working with a counselor and a naturopath and it’s just been physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. And for the past 10 days, we’ve noticed that it’s gotten significantly worse. And so we’re really struggling. My husband and I are both extremely sleep deprived, he hasn’t gone to the gym in 10 days, and I’ve only started waking up again at 6am, which is my time, and how I replenish and how I stay sane in the past two days.

So things are getting better. But I have noticed that if I don’t have that self care time in the morning, I just have no patience, zero, I’m extremely irritable, flying off the handle. The mom guilt is real.

It’s really interesting to me that God just keeps bringing me back to this idea of trust and surrender, which is hard for me because I like to be in control of things.

And that’s not how being a Christian works, right? God is in control. And I really just need to submit to Him, with my kids and with my relationship with my husband. And like all of this, though, I feel like, if I didn’t homeschool, I wouldn’t have time to think about any of this.

Because I would be so wrapped up in my work, that I wouldn’t be able to stop and pause and be like, Wow, there are a lot of things we need to work on. As a family, there are a lot of things that are weighing us down. And it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just so interesting to me that reflecting on this and doing this episode right now, is really convicting.

And it’s such a blessing. I have been so negative lately about homeschooling, and wanting to send my kids back to school because it feels easier. But I know that it’s not this time and these refining moments are going to just help us become a stronger, more dynamic family.

And so I just encourage you, if you have ever thought about homeschooling, and you’ve wondered if it’s hard, clearly, it’s hard. It will rock your world in so many different ways. But I’m telling you, it is so dang worth it. And it is it’s just really hard to put into words.

Let me explain it like this. Because all of you can relate to this, whether you homeschool or not. You know how being a parent is so hard? Yes. So rewarding. Like, you would explain that to someone, right? Like, oh my gosh, like, my kids are so hard. Parenting is so hard, but I love my kids, and I love it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That is how I would explain homeschooling. It is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. And I’m not gonna lie when I say that I struggle if I’m doing enough, I still have all these doubts and insecurities Am I gonna mess my kid up?

But you know what, I just keep coming back to this idea of like, you know what, my kids are going to learn whatever it is that they want to learn. And that’s exactly how we are as adults. I don’t remember anything from my elementary years, honestly, except for the people that I met and the experiences that I had, like the field trips that we went on and the projects that we did.

And so that is my hope is that I can give my kids so many more experiences, so much more family time, so much more character building, so much more mental health, and really digging deep into what is most important in life teaching by them real life skills, because book knowledge is important, right? But again, we can learn anything we want to learn if we want to learn it, but learning those street smarts and how to be a good human, and how to be a Christ follower. Those are not things that our world teaches.

And I didn’t even get into my convictions about the public school system because I don’t really feel like that’s, you know, something I need to talk about. I feel like if you are convicted about the public school system and where it’s going, then this episode will resonate with you even more.

And if you go listen to my previous episode, Episode 64, I talked a lot about the toxicity in public school and that is one of the huge reasons why we decided to homeschool. So I’m not going to get into that right now.

But I just wanted to share this with you, I just wanted to give you this raw, real open conversation about homeschooling and what it looks like, but how rewarding it is to be able to be the biggest influence that my kids have, and that they are around other families that value the same similar things that we value.

And yes, I know that our kids are growing up in the world that looks like public school, right? I get, you know, I used to have pushed back on that to where it’s like, well, our kids are going to have to learn how to be around other kids that are not Christian or that don’t have the same values as us.

And that is 100% true. But I want my kids to have more fully developed brains and more experiences, sort of creating their own methodology and their own belief system before I just, you know, throw them out into the wild, which is really what I feel like happens in public school where, you know, I can’t censor everything for my kids all the time.

And I am not, by any means leading my children through a life that’s completely sheltered. But what I am doing is I’m the one having the conversations with them about things that they will potentially hear out in the world. I am the one that is shaping a lot of their values and ideologies.

And that is because they’re with me, so much of the time, and they’re not getting that peer influence, that they would be at public school. So that to me is worth the trade-off of the hard days, the fighting of wanting to do schoolwork, and like I said, we’re only a year and a half into homeschooling. And I hear that after year three things get easier. So I am just persevering and holding out for year three, when things become more natural, right, we’re more in the rhythm of schooling, we’re able to do a lot more.

Like right now we just are focusing on math, writing, reading, and character building. Those are the main things and then I sprinkle in a bunch of other things, but not like in a traditional curriculum type of way.

So if you guys have any more questions or are curious about anything that I didn’t mention, I would love to do a follow-up episode and just continue talking about homeschooling and how impactful it has been, how eye-opening it has been, and how challenging, yet rewarding it has been.

It’s really just one of those things that I feel is so hard to explain, unless you’re going through it.

But please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram. I love hanging out in my DMs. Join our Facebook group, I will again put the link below and if you want in on the new program that I’m launching, join the waitlist for that as well.

If you enjoyed today’s episode and would like to share it out on Instagram for me, I would absolutely love that. You can tag me @thepurposegathering and maybe inspire more mamas just like you who are curious about homeschooling, and if it’s something that you would be interested in that could fit in with your lifestyle.

But as always, Mama, I am here rooting for you, and you are not alone on this journey.



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My mission is to help fellow mom business owners experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for mompreneurs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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