With the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, many families have found themselves working at home while homeschooling children. Are your school-age children starting their new school year remotely? Have you decided to homeschool at least until the pandemic is controlled? Is this change of lifestyle making it hard to keep your work-at-home rhythms and routines?
This buffet of tips can help whether you’re struggling with places for people to work or fighting mountains of laundry.
Pick one or two that appeal to you and give them a try. Keep what works and let go of what doesn’t. Come back whenever you need inspiration to make working at home while homeschooling a more streamlined process for your family.
Workspaces: A Place for Everyone, and Everyone in Their Place
Everyone in your work-at-home, homeschooling family needs a place of their own to do their work. Gathering all the kids at the kitchen table next to a parent might be a mistake. What works for one family member may not be what suits another.
So, what should you do instead?
These workspace ideas may help create areas for parents working from home and homeschooling kids, too.
For the work-at-home parent:
- Make sure the space you use suit your needs. There’s little as frustrating as not having adequate workspace, lighting, outlets, or other necessities. For small-space solutions, try this post.
- A means to ensure privacy when needed. A door is ideal, and soundproofing might be a plus. If those aren’t possible, try for a time and space out of the flow of family traffic.
For homeschoolers/remote learners:
- Create an ideal learning environment. Kids need adequate lighting and space to work, too. If you can, have a separate space for each learner.
- Personalize it! Add a few touches to help kids see the space as their own. This can be especially important if they’re adjusting to remote learning from a school environment.
Getting the (Work-at-Home) Job Done While Homeschooling:
When it’s time to focus on the tasks at hand, how do you make sure the work gets done? There are a few approaches to try. Some are structured, others more flexible. So, experiment until you find the blend that works for your work-at-home, homeschooling family. And don’t be afraid to adapt any of these tips to better fit your needs.
- Develop a daily schedule. You might be a to-the-minute type or prefer loose scheduling with options. Whatever your family’s vibe, having some degree of structure will make it easier to work, learn, and live together.
- Make time for breaks. That old saying about all work and no play isn’t just for the kids. If you’re pulling double-duty tending to your kids’ remote learning and your own workload, it can be tempting to use every moment. But you’ll be more effective if you give yourself time to refresh.
- Get good sleep. This is true for everyone in the family. It’s not only hard to work and learn if you’re tired. It’s hard to be patient or have a sense of humor, too.
- Expect false starts and missteps. Your whole family is learning and growing in new ways. There’s bound to be some trial and error involved.
- Establish beginning/ending rituals. These will make it easy to know when to work, and when the rest of life can happen. So light a candle, play music, have a silly little dance – whatever helps your family separate the day into work and play.
- Time Buckets (work/movement/rest). If scheduling doesn’t work well for your situation, you can try dividing your day into loose “containers.” This can help you balance worktime with time for exercise and free time.
For the work-at-home homeschooling parent:
- Set boundaries with your child. If your child is old enough to have some independence, let them know when you need to focus on work. If you need quiet or privacy, tell them.
- Get a head start. If you can, get some of your work done before your kids are up or ready for their day’s learning.
- Divide and conquer where possible. If you have a parenting partner who is also working from home, try taking the childcare and homeschooling duties in shifts. This will allow the other parent time to work uninterrupted.
- Arrange video chats with family members for kids while parents attend important meetings. This not only helps to keep your children occupied, but gives them family connection into the bargain.
- Keep lines of communication/expectations open with your clients. If you’re doing double duty helping your kids with remote learning, let your clients know how that may change your availability or capacity to handle assignments. After all, it’s better to say so up-front than after you miss an important deadline.
- Ask kids to help you do your work by respecting your time. Of course, this only applies if your kids are old enough to understand and independent enough to be on their own for the time you need.
For homeschoolers/remote learners:
- Let you child direct their own learning. If you’re comfortable with this idea, it can add a lot of freedom to your life, and free you up for your own work.
- Get help from the pros. Is remote learning new at your house? Talk with your child’s teacher to learn the best ways to support their learning.
- Try the camp director approach. What does this mean? Give your kids a loose schedule, some options, and a framework. Then, let them choose what to do when.
- Use a Kanban board to track activities. This simple idea might be the answer to who is doing what, when – and how much progress they’ve made.
- Encourage autonomy. Giving your kids freedom in their learning can help them develop independence. Maybe even better, it gives you more time to focus on getting your own work done.
Keeping House When Everyone’s At Home
Your home might feel a lot more… “lived in” now that you’re working at home while homeschooling. Are you desperately trying to find the time and energy to keep the chaos from taking over? Clearing the same spaces again and again?
Here are some tips that might help get the clutter under control.
- Ask for help from your kids. Even very young kids can toss toys in a bin or laundry in a hamper. Don’t be afraid to ask every family member to contribute – or to make housekeeping fun!
- Incremental progress. You might not be able to do everything you want to do with everyone at home. Can you take on a small step toward a larger goal?
- Expect things to look more “lived in” with everyone home. There’s really no way around it. If everyone in the family is home full-time, your house is going to look different than if the kids are in school. So, as much as you can, accept the new reality.
Can you find balance working at home while homeschooling?
Of course, it’s not all about the work, or the remote learning, or a clean house. There’s a lot more to life. Now that you’ve got some ideas how to handle those parts of life, it’s time to relax.
Try some of these tips to make leisure time more leisurely – even while working from home and homeschooling.
- Pay attention to your kids’ emotional well-being. Sometimes, anxiety will come out through play. Notice this and help your child build coping skills.
- Add a spirit of play everywhere you can. Housework, bathtime, bedtime, family time… even remote learning time can be a good time for an element of fun! Remember, kids need play to develop strong social skills.
- Play together. What excites your kids? Remember to make time for that in your day, even if only a few minutes. And don’t forget to share the things you love to do, too!
- Allow plenty of space for independent play. If play becomes too structured, it can stop being fun. Give your kids time and space to just be kids.
- Make use of the extra time in your daily routine. Do you suddenly have more time without getting kids ready for school, dealing with after school activities, or getting ready for the next school day? You can use some of this time to make some family memories that will last long after the pandemic ends. Play a game, go for a walk, do art – or just enjoy being all together!
Everyone needs friends:
- Kids need daily chances to connect with friends. Make sure they have time for video chats, playing games, writing letters, or other ways of staying in touch with friends they might not be able to see in person.
- So do you! It can be easy to get caught up in everything you’re doing. But you’ll be happier if you make time for your friends, too. More, you might even be better at your work and being a parent!
Working at Home While Homeschooling is Challenging – Take Some Time for You
- Get your exercise. Walk your dog, do an online workout, do cleaning sprints, heft your toddler… Make sure you include movement in your day!
- Centering rituals (yoga, coffee, reading). You’re taking on more than ever! Remember to give yourself space to find calm and peace. Create or embrace simple rituals that help you find your happy place.
Take a Deep Breath, and Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment!
Some of these ideas might be right for your family, and some may not. That’s okay. This isn’t intended to be a to-do list. Think of it more as a menu to get you started. Play with the tips you like, and get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Adapt tips to better suit your needs. Find new ones that work for you and your family.
Always remember that this is not one-size-fits-all. You and your family are unique. If you crave structure, ideas like letting your children decide how to learn might not work. If you are all easygoing and spontaneous, planning out the month in advance might be a disaster.
Be flexible and willing to try new ideas. Remember to listen to your family members. If you do, you may find that working at home while homeschooling is better than you imagined it could be!
Are you struggling to work-at-home while homeschooling?
What is your greatest challenge? Have you had any triumphs? Do you have any tactics that work especially well for your family?
Share them in the comments below!