The Modern Working Homeschool Mom (an interview with Molly Nickles)

The modern homeschool landscape doesn’t always look the way you might have expected. There’s a lot less calico and a lot more variety than the old stereotypes might have suggested. In season 2 of Homeschool Conversations, I’m going to be including several interviews with working homeschool moms, moms who work part time or full time while also homeschooling and caring for their children. With the current societal shifts, I think many more parents will be finding themselves in a similar situation. I hope this working homeschool mom mini-series is an encouragement! Plus, you’ll see that there’s plenty of variety even among working homeschool moms! Today’s interview is with Molly Nickles from The Modern Homeschooler, and I think you’re going to love it.

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Who is Molly Nickles?

Molly Nickles is a working homeschool mom. She and her husband, Ben, have 2 kids ages 13 and 11. Ben is a tech systems guy for the public power company, which makes them a tech-heavy family, but they read books just as much as they play video games! Molly started her homeschooling page, The Modern Homeschooler, as a way to connect with other moms who might not fit the “homeschool” stereotype. In addition to homeschooling her 2 kids, Molly works 25-35 hours a week as a content specialist for TalkBox.Mom, a foreign language curriculum company.

Molly Nickles Modern Homeschooler

Watch my interview with Molly Nickles

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Why homeschooling? {1:00}

When Molly began dating her now-husband, he told her that he only wanted to marry a woman who would homeschool their children. Well, ok then, Molly thought! She knew she wanted to marry Ben, so she figured she had time to be convinced to homeschool.

When she was pregnant with her oldest son, she would overhear wonderful teachers complaining about how their hands were tied by the public school system. She began to realize that homeschooling meant they wouldn’t be tied to any outside system.

Their family has homeschooled from the beginning, and their kids are now in the 8th and 6th grades.

Developing a homeschool style {2:40}

“Every year it changes,” Molly said! Over the years they’ve gone from Abeka to eclectic/classical options.

Molly also brought up a good point I loved: Lots of times you hear advice to pick curriculum that works for your kids (and that’s certainly one part of it), but don’t ignore the importance of picking something that works for you as the teacher!

“I need it to work for me because I’m the one teaching it,” she said.

(I often say that Mom’s enthusiasm is the secret ingredient to keeping our children motivated in their learning.)

Modern homeschoolers don’t fit the stereotypes {4:50}

The ability to choose among many options as well as the perception of homeschoolers has changed dramatically over the past few years.

It was hard at first for Molly to find a place among homeschool moms. She didn’t have a farm, sew, raise chickens, or have a dozen kids. But the face of homeschooling is changing! There’s a place for all sorts of different homeschool moms.

I, personally, love the variety of homeschool moms there are now. We often learn as much from people who are different from us as we do from the people who are more similar to us. Our strengths and weaknesses are different, and that helps us learn and grow.

Joys of working while homeschooling {10:45}

Molly has always worked while homeschooling. Early on, she worked full time as a professional photographer. She chose photography jobs that would work within her homeschool schedule.

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“When you’re a working mom, the biggest thing is to be able to find something that works in your schedule.”

“Morning time is always school time,” in the Nickels family. Molly prioritizes keeping those morning hours reserved for homeschooling.

Molly quit photography November 2019 because she was working 80 hours a week as a wedding photographer in the summers, and they wanted to change some things for their family. Now she works for Talk Box.  Molly gets up at 6 and works for 2 hours before school starts at 2:15. She then works from 3-7 and 5 or 6 hours on Saturday.

Her husband works 10 hour days, so it works for Molly to have a 10 hour day between school and work.

Molly loves working while homeschooling because, she said, “It shows my kids work ethic…It shows my kids what it means to work hard.”

Also, because Molly’s family loves to travel, her work enables them to have room in the budget for those family travel times.

She also finds a few ways to include her children in her work when appropriate and professional.

One of the reasons why I (Amy) enjoy working while homeschooling is to show my kids a fascinating picture of adulthood in all its many facets: marriage, family, friends, church, community, volunteering, and creative business endeavors. I think that It’s good for kids to see how varied adult life can be.

Now with the rise of online options it is even easier for homeschool moms to find flexible ways to make money from home.

Challenges of working while homeschooling {19:20}

Molly acknowledged that having only 2 kids, and having her youngest child being 12, gives her a lot more flexibility. She couldn’t work in the same way she is now if she had more children or lots of littles.

“The hardest thing is the kids’ perception of Mom working,” she said. Sometimes her kids complain, “Mom, you’re always working,” even though she’s not working as much or more than her husband. But because they can always see her while she’s working, it can affect their perception of things.

She also communicates very openly with her kids about the additional benefits her work brings to their life (Netflix, for instance).

It’s sometimes hard to make sure that her business doesn’t infringe on homeschool hours (and sometimes the other way around). To combat this, she has taught independence early on.

“There’s a constant conversation of making sure my kids are perceiving what I’m doing correctly,” Molly said. “My ultimate purpose is to make sure my kids are trained.” She will do less work if or when that is necessary. Her kids know that her priority is their training.

Molly also said that she sacrifices sleep. But perhaps that’s not as hard for her as it might be for another mom: “I am a bit of a purple unicorn,” Molly smiled. She has always needed very little sleep, even since she was a young child. She feels like because God has given her this as a gift, she needs to use it for His glory.

She also finds time for running and focuses on good nutrition.

“If you train your children to want to educate themselves…they can educate themselves for what they need to, when they need to,” Molly encouraged.

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Questions for each Homeschool Conversations Guest

What are you reading lately?

What is one thing you would say to a new homeschool parent?

“When you ask for advice, make sure you’re asking the person who would have the right answer.” It will be easier to find what works for you if you ask for advice from people whose education style you like instead of just asking your bestie who has a different personality or educational approach. “Look at children you admire and ask that parent what they’re doing.”

Find Molly Nickles Online

The Modern Homeschooler

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