I vividly remember the day my husband (who will henceforth be referenced as Rich) and I realized we will have to a) both work from home, b) have both kids at home and c) attempt working from home while homeschooling kids in lockdown.
I honestly felt like closing my business then and there (I own a small marketing agency, and Rich works in IT). I had no earthly idea how we were going to cope.
However, in the weeks that have gone by since then, we have been lucky enough to have not only survived, but started thriving just a tiny bit in working at home while homeschooling kids
Here is my guide to getting through working at home while homeschooling kids – without the option to at least take everyone out to the park as a distraction.
1 – You will need time to adjust
Before we get into the tips on working at home while homeschooling kids, I just want to say that if you are feeling, or have felt, as frustrated, at wit’s end, emotional, scared, anxious or desperate as I have – don’t give yourself a hard time over it.
We are all facing something unprecedented and scary – so you can’t really expect yourself to suddenly be able to work, teach, cook, entertain and juggle everything with little to no forewarning. Just try to stay as positive as you can, and take it one day at a time.
2 – Routines and chores
The one thing that has made getting any work done possible is having a routine: since our kids are 9 and 7, we already had a routine down of getting up, breakfast, school, homework, playtime, etc. – we just had to figure out a new one.
The other thing that keeps us going is delegating chores to every family member: the kids take the dogs out in the morning, Rich takes out the trash, I do the dishes, we all make our own beds, and so on. There is rarely a task we have to discuss, because we already know who is doing it.
2.1 – Family message board
Last year, we established what we call the Robson Family Bulletin Board – it’s a chalkboard attached to the kitchen door – where we plan out our days. This is now a lifesaver, because we have sections for work/school/play/meals, and we can track who needs to do what in preparation for which task.
Another thing we have started doing (and it works!) is wearing different hats. Rich found this tip online somewhere, and we gave it a go. First, we made everyone a different set of hats: a hat for do not disturb, a hat for fun time, a hat for chores. We use them a bit liberally, so the girls will put on their red hat (leave me alone hat) even when they are playing or reading, but it works – as we all know if we can interrupt each other.
2.2 – A family planner
I am very big on planners (I have 3) – so I’ve added a fourth one for the family: I write down everything from what we are having for dinner, to what are we doing for which subject in school, to what kinds of activities we do in the evening. It has made a huge difference, and the kids also like looking forward to their favorite meals.
3 – Resources and activities
I’ve also found that we need more than what our teachers provide in terms of schoolwork, because we seem to be getting through that quite fast (especially the math stuff). So we found these math workbooks online and they have been a great help. We are also playing a lot of word games online – I never really thought I’d appreciate the internet as much as I do.
We’ve both accepted the fact that we will never be as good as their teachers, and are just trying to keep it fun and as educational as we can.
We have also learned that if we leave a lot of books, coloring books and puzzles out for them, they are more likely to go play with that, than demand some of our attention. It can backfire though, so be warned.
4 – Time management
What we have ultimately realized is that the most important aspect of working at home while homeschooling kids is managing time, so here is how we do it:
We no longer stick to weekends as times off – I work Sundays, Rich works Saturdays, and we usually both take at least half of Tuesday off.
I get up an hour before everyone else and work – Rich stays up a couple of hours after we go to bed to work (he also sleeps in).
We have given up multitasking: if we are with the kids, there is no sneaking an email in or making a meal (unless we are making it together).
We all have time for ourselves (kids included) – and Rich and I have couples time. No phones (well, there are phones in me time), no distractions. It did take us weeks to implement this though.
Batch cooking has also saved us a lot of time – we make a lot of our lunches and dinners in bulk, and we tend to get all four of us involved, so it’s both quicker and more fun. Also makes more of a mess, but I’ve since discovered this and it has stopped me from freaking out about stains I don’t take care of on the spot.
I hope some of these tips help you with managing your working at home while homeschooling scenario better! I know I’ve barely spoken about either school or work, but we’ve come to realize that everything on this list has made more of a difference than being focused when at work. Let me know how you are getting on!
Julia Robson is a small business owner, digital marketer, avid latte drinker and an expert in writing team briefs in under 30 minutes, as well as mum of three (two humans and one doggo). Follow her writings on Medium here.