It was often a mess. Kids screaming in the other room, something being broken broken, and my smiling face on a Zoom call with people who can definitely hear the chaos in the background of my life. I sometimes had to work through the night while my kids slept because I just couldn’t juggle a full work week, teaching them, and being a mom. There just weren’t enough hours in the day.
At the end of the last school year, many of our kids came home to learn as a pandemic swept through our country. It. Was. A. Struggle! My work suffered, our homelife got all out of whack, and don’t even get me started on common core math…
Now, as the new school year starts, many parents are having to learn how to wear a lot of hats again… fast. When you have to be an employee or business owner, teacher, and a parent, things can get hectic and impossible. Here are my tips for working from home and homeschooling. But, full disclosure, I definitely don’t have it all figured out!
Photo @ the Washington Post
All the Charts!
I love whiteboards, post-it’s, and spreadsheets! That may be sort of dorky, but those things really come in handy when you’re managing your own work schedule and your kids’ school schedule. I saw this really amazing chart online, and it was simple and flexible enough to be a great resource in any home! But, no matter how you do it, don’t underestimate the power of having charts to help you and your kids understand what needs to be done each day. Make it a big deal to feel the gratification of moving an activity from the “to-do” column to the “done” column and it’ll help your children see the value of completing the tasks put in front of them.
Keep things Flexible
Another reason why charts like this are great is because it creates a schedule that can be flexible. One thing I’ve learned is that rigid schedules just fall apart, leave me feeling more stressed, and often don’t take real life into account. If your kids get frustrated with a math assignment, normalize being able to shift to something else and to come back to math. If your kids are having trouble concentrating, which makes your workday nearly impossible, drop the schedule and go outside for a while! Run of some of that energy, have a snack, laugh a little, and go with the flow. The perfectionists or the Type A’s out there may struggle with this (I get it, I’m a recovering perfectionist!), but at least for me, I’ve found my expectations to be a lot easier to reign in when I allow our schedule to stay flexible.
Allow some Autonomy
This will look different for each child depending on their age and personality, but I think it’s important not to micromanage every single part of your child’s day. Not only will this make your work impossible to complete, it’ll also give your child some say over their own work. Maybe they want to do all of their least favorite things first to get them out of the way, maybe they like doing their favorite things first, etc. Not only will this help you to not hover over them all day long, it’ll encourage responsibility, establish trust, and make completing assignments that much more satisfying for them.
Things Won’t Be Perfect
There will be days where literally everything falls apart. They won’t stay on task, your work will not get done, Zoom calls fail, technical difficulties destroy everyone’s productivity, you yell, they cry, and lunch is a bag of chips. The TV and the iPad may come out a lot more than you’d like. This WILL happen! During this period, you won’t be a star employee. They won’t learn nearly as well as they would in school. You’ll be frustrated, they will be sad, things won’t be perfect. BUT you’ll get other things from this experience. You’ll have gratitude for things that once seemed second nature, you’ll get the feeling of watching your kids learn something from you, and you’ll all learn a little more about being resourceful and resilient. Make sure to manage expectations and know that things won’t be perfect.
No matter what you decide to do this school year, you’re doing the right thing for you and your family right now! We don’t know each other’s situations, so I think we should all remember not to judge anyone. Whether your kids are back in school, you’ve decided to homeschool, you’re doing distance learning, or a hybrid of some of these, you are doing the best you can with what you have! Give yourself and your kids some grace during this time!
Do you have any tips for working from home and homeschooling? Let’s help each other!
P.S. I talk more about business, parenthood, and real stories about trying to balance it all on my podcast. Listen HERE!