"Overwhelming," "stressful" and "challenging" are just a few words that can describe working from home while homeschooling your kids.
Rhonda Franz of Captain Mom, who has an M.A. in Education/Special Education, acknowledges that homeschooling as a long-term lifestyle choice is different from what happened when schools closed this past Spring due to the pandemic and parents were forced home to learn how to work and educate their children at the same time. “I refer to it as ‘schooling from home,’ and differentiate it from homeschooling. My family has been thrust into it this semester. My three boys are at different schools and on three different blended schedules.”
Whether you have also been tossed into this new life or have chosen it purposefully for your family, not only can you survive this unprecedented time, but you can join the ranks of those who are thriving!
Go easy on yourself/no comparing. This includes getting rid of any parent guilt you have over your kids not being in all of the activities or being on their screens too much. Sarah Lyons, a writer mom of six, says, “I think the most helpful thing I’ve learned is that your best is enough. It’s okay if you have to let some things go (housework), and it’s okay if you are working at your own pace. Doing your best and being aware of what your kids can handle is more important. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what works for your family.”
Carve out your workspace. I’ve always preferred to work at the dining room table, so I can see what’s going on at all times. When it’s mealtime, it’s easy to move my laptop over to a small bookshelf nearby where I keep anything I need for work and homeschooling. However, there are times when I need a place to focus on work for a while, and that’s when I move my little operation down to the storage room where there’s a Formica table, chair, plenty of light, and quiet. Maybe you have a real home office where you can work. If that’s the case, fantastic!
Create and post a routine. While schedules are rigid and only induce more stress, a routine lets everyone in the household know what’s coming next, so arguments and feet-dragging will diminish. My family sleeps in, which means I work in the mornings, then I put work away to focus on homeschooling until 3pm so my kids know I am entirely available to them. They know when TV time starts at night, what their chores are, and when I’m available for requests (and write them down for me). You might work best at night when the rest of the house is asleep, work best on weekends, or maybe you work well in 30-minute increments every day, task-switching between homeschooling and work. But…
Routines will get disrupted. Some days, homeschooling will be thrown off course if you need to work overtime, and some days your job will have to be put on hold because you have a sick child, but it all evens out in the end. You are not going to be caught up on the latest season of anything, you might not have much time to read a good book, and your social media perusing might be non-existent except for during school breaks. Just know there’s going to be a lot of juggling, pivoting, and communicating.
Everyone pitches in. Slap up a rough draft of a chore chart as fast as you can, then tweak it as the whining begins (from kids and spouse!). This way, everyone sees what they need to be doing on what days, which takes decision-making out of your court as you point to the chore chart. For small kids (they love to help but you gotta train them early!), you can post a picture of the chore along with descriptive words of the chore. You’re going to want to virtual hug me someday when your teens are doing their own laundry like mine do, then heading off to do their chemistry homework without being harangued.
Solve the daily dinner dilemma. Creating an easy meal plan that rotates will be the best thing you ever did for freeing up time in the evenings. Take full advantage of the instant pot, slow cooker, leftover night, grocery delivery, and takeout delivery night. If you have older kids, now is the time to teach them the basics of cooking so they can toss together a casserole and pop it in the oven while you finish up that last bit of work for the day. Meal-prep on weekends, and always remember that if you made dinner, you don’t have to clean it up. While your family takes that over, you can get back to your job, homework help, or heck, even a well-deserved shower! Pam Barnhill of the Homeschool Solutions podcast has a course called Put Your Meal Plan on Autopilot so you can get rid of a lot of the decision-making.
Practice saying no. You are at home, so there will be people who expect you to be able to easily change your schedule, answer every text in a timely manner, and sign up for community and sports volunteer positions, for example. Make your routine clear to anyone who should know, then sit back and say no as often as you need to, so you can maintain your sanity, marriage, and family time.
Don’t forget to take to heart what June from the blog, This Simple Balance, says: “Give yourself so much grace to try different things until you find the right balance and routines that work for your unique family.”
Kerrie, thekerrieshow.com, has been working from home for 19 years and homeschooling for 14 of those years.
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