Mary Hood, Ph.D.
Should Moms Try to Help
Supplement the Family Income?
Many homeschooling moms truggle with the role they feel they should play in supplementing the family
income. They know in their hearts that
their primary role should be to manage the
education of their children, but also have a
desire to help out their husbands when they
see them struggling to pay the bills.
When I was a young mom, I got a brilliant idea one day. The paper was advertising that people were needed to deliver phone books around town. The pay
seemed good, and I had the “
homeschooling van” that had lots of room in the back
for phone books. I pictured the kids and
I loading them up in the back, and then
stopping at the end of a street with a little
red wagon, while the kids took turns delivering a phone book to the smiling people
in their ivy-covered houses.
In reality, I wound up getting an order for
400 phone books to go to the top floor of an
office complex, and hauling up books without
a hand truck while the kids whined and complained. I slunk back home sheepishly and
asked my husband if he would mind dropping off a thousand phone books at the loading dock on his way to work the next day.
Another time, I decided it might be a
good idea to take a job as a seamstress. The
nice ladies who advertised for help were
doing embroidery work and needed someone to stitch the pieces together at home. It
sounded ideal until one of the kids got jam
on the finished product. This time I didn’t
need to involve my husband, because the
ladies were there to pick up the rest of their
laboriously crafted pieces almost before the
phone was back in its cradle.
Over the years, I’ve taught Lamaze
classes, given piano lessons, babysat other
children, worked as a freelance writer, and
tried to make crafts for sale. Each time, the
work seemed to take away from my abil-
ity to do a good job with my children, and
rarely wound up generating enough money
to make a serious difference.
However, through some of these efforts,
I did manage to purchase a few things that
we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise: a backyard swing set and aboveground swimming pool, a nice recliner
for my husband to sit in that I sort of appropriated for my own use, plus a variety
of extracurricular activities such as dance
lessons, participation in baseball and theatre groups, and the very occasional special
treat for myself.
Do I still believe in trying to supplement
the family income while homeschooling?
As usual, the answer is yes and no, depending on a number of things.
I had to be willing to look dumb, ask a million questions, and read as much
as I could in order to learn how to navigate the work-a-day world.