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How the hell do you work from home and homeschool at the same time?
It’s something we’ve been asking a lot lately. If you’re in Ontario like me, it’s something you’re going to ask yourself again.
Trying to do both isn’t easy. It can feel like one has to be put to one side for the sake of the other. That usually means the work has to be put to one side to support the children. After all, as moms, we’re going to put our kids first.
However, working is also putting our kids first. It puts the roof over their heads and shows children, especially young girls, that they can have jobs, be parents, and manage it all if they are careful.
No, you don’t need to be perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect parent. However, you can juggle it if you have the right place.
Here are my five top tips to work from home and homeschool at the same time. They’re the tips I followed last time and tips I’ll be following again this time.
Set your schedule for the day
The first thing I did with my kids to be able to work from home and homeschool at the same time was to set a schedule. They knew what they had to do each hour of the day.
That schedule was created with them right next to me. We’d chat about what was good for them to do, avoiding too much schoolwork in one sitting, too much screen time, and too much time pestering me when I needed to do some work.
If there were some hours in the day, I needed blocking off completely to work, they’d know those hours and we’d set quiet activities for them to do.
Children tend to react well to a schedule because it becomes a routine. They don’t wonder what they’ll do at the end of each activity, and they know each of the activities are something the like or there’s one they like coming up soon.
Give the kids some time off schoolwork
The kids don’t need to do schoolwork all day. Sure, they’d be in school between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., or whatever your school day is, but that doesn’t mean they’re physically learning something during that time.
My kids get two “nutrition breaks.” This is when they eat some of their lunch and (usually) play outside. Things have worked a little differently this year, but they’ve still had those breaks to step away from their schoolwork.
Young children, whose brains are rapidly developing, need a nutrient-dense diet to help them as they process the world around them. Without the right nutrients, toddlers and preschoolers might struggle to develop the skills to maintain concentration, which becomes increasingly important as they get older.
They don’t always learn by sitting. They have reading time, some tablet/Chromebook time, gym time, and other activities. So making your kids sit at a computer to learn for six hours isn’t good for them. It’s not what they’re used to.
When you work from home and homeschool, you need to give them a break now and then. Our schedule includes breaks and time away from doing physical learning.
My kindergartener gets about an hour or two of physical learning each day. My Grade 3 daughter will get about three hours of physical learning. The rest is doing other activities. And this moves us onto my next tip.
Play-based learning is a thing
It’s okay to let them play! When I work from home and homeschool at the same time, I allow play time. In fact, I encourage it at times.
Play time is when I get a lot of my work done. It’s when they can entertain each other and I can step away from helping with the schoolwork. My elder daughter’s teacher supported me with the idea as we worked through the schedule for her.
Play-based learning works. We have board games, craft boxes, and musical instruments. They learn counting, coordination, get to do art, and so much more. You’ll be amazed by how much they can learn. I love playing Scrabble with one of my daughters because it shows me her problem solving skills and the words she knows.
Let them play!
Work earlier in the morning or later at night
Now for when you’re supposed to work from home during all this. There will be times that you can work from home and homeschool at the same time. My Grade 3 girl doesn’t need much hands-on help with her schoolwork. When she was in isolation back in November because of a COVID case in her class, she just got on with things and I got on with things.
My Kindergartener is going to need more help, but for less time. She won’t need to do as much physical learning. The last time she did school at home for a snow day, I worked with her for about an hour split up into two sessions. That was enough!
But you’re not going to get through as much work as you usually would. That’s okay! If your employer has a problem, they’re not a good employer and probably don’t have kids to understand the problem of province or state-wide lockdowns. If you’re working for yourself, you have more control over your schedule.
If you can work earlier in the morning or later at night, consider it. You can make up hours and get some work time uninterrupted.
I prefer late at night. I’m a night owl and as much as I’ve tried to work earlier in the day and get to bed earlier at night, that’s just not for me. But I know plenty of people (like my husband) who are early birds. Do what works for you. Stop living with the rule that you have to get up at 5 a.m. to be successful in business. That’s not the truth!
Don’t tell yourself you can’t work from home and homeschool
Finally, my tip that is probably going to be the hardest thing to do.
Stop telling yourself you can’t.
We are our biggest problems. We get in our way because we can’t see how we can possibly do it all. It all goes back to the question of how the hell do we work from home and homeschool at the same time?
It takes practice, and it takes patience.
When you tell yourself you can’t do something, you’re setting yourself up to fail. If you struggle, you’ll tell yourself that you already knew it was impossible and give yourself permission to quit.
Nope! You’re not failing because you’re struggling. You’ve not wasted time because you made a mistake.
It’s all about being kind to yourself. This is a stressful time. Most people don’t have to work from home and homeschool. Those who choose to homeschool have plans to manage work at the same time. We don’t because homeschooling isn’t something we intended to do.
You’re not failing your kids because you don’t understand their schoolwork. Their teachers are around to help. Get them to send a quick email if you can’t figure it out. But never tell yourself you can’t do something. And don’t tell yourself you’re failing.
You got this, Mama!
What are you worried about when it comes to working from home and trying to homeschool at the same time? Let us know in the comments below.