When I first started homeschooling my kids, I worked part time outside the home: sometimes two full days a week and other times only 3-4 hours per day. We managed to fit school time around my work schedule.
Because teens need just as much attention as elementary kids, I eventually began working from home. While shifting to a work from home situation has been a blessing, it has also been a challenge. Here are some ideas that have worked for me as far as managing homeschool while working from home.
Stick to a Routine
This would look different for every family depending on your situation. I do not like a strict schedule because I like the freedom to be a little unpredictable. I do, however, like a routine.
Here is a typical daily routine:
- wake up
- eat breakfast
- get dressed
- pull out our school books and supplies
- begin working on school
- break for lunch when everyone is hungry
- finish any remaining school
After all school is finished, the kids are free to play or follow their own interests, and this would be the time that I have to work on any of my projects that need to be completed. After working for a few hours, I would begin making dinner. After we eat dinner, we do chores, and then we either have free time/family time or get ready for bed depending on how late we ate dinner. During the free/family time, I may work if necessary, but usually we spend time together as a family.
This became my motto when I was working outside the home, and it has continued to be my mantra even when I work from home. I simply cannot accomplish everything that needs to be done when I combine housework, cooking, homeschooling, and work.
If you have young children at home, spend lots of time training them how to do chores and when to do them. It will pay off when they are older. Now when I am busy or gone for the day, I can simply say what I would like to have accomplished before I come home, and they are responsible to see it through.
Of course this system isn’t perfect, and there are days that chores are neglected, but as long as we all put forth a decent amount of effort, the day to day tasks of homemaking don’t take over our lives.
Another thing that my children had to take ownership of was in the area of their education. Of course I could force all kinds of knowledge down their throats, but no one likes coercion. In fact, if you cram knowledge into them, they will remember precious little of it. I found curriculum that allowed me to simply act as the manager of their learning. Of course I helped them gather any necessary supplies or books that were needed, but they were responsible for making sure the assignments were completed and the reading was finished. I was still there to offer my guidance and to encourage them in their learning. I have become their cheerleader, and the curriculum has become our tool instead of our master.
Everyone has good days and bad days. I have learned the hard way to simply go with the flow. If I sense that we need a day out of the house, then we take a field trip. If someone was sick, we simply snuggled on the couch and watched educational videos. If a child or two needs to work on a personal problem, then we tackle it together. If habit training needs to be worked on, we work on it. The same goes for any outside classes that the kids may take. Sometimes we just need to take a break from our regular studies and spend some time outside doing physical activity and getting fresh air.
Working from home has allowed me to be present with my kids. I am available and willing to help problem solve at a moment’s notice. Even if the routine of the day is completely upside down by the end of the day, it’s okay because I know that I helped my child through a crucial moment in their growth. When your children are grown, what they will remember is not the math lesson but that mom (or dad) was always there and willing to help.
Daily Office Hours
Having daily office hours have allowed me to be productive in a somewhat uninterrupted environment. In a perfect world, I would never be interrupted, but life happens, and sometimes we do need to put work aside.
I try to commit a couple afternoons a week to my work. But since I don’t like to sit with my back to my family all afternoon, I often save some things to do in the evening when everyone is sleeping.
Working and homeschooling takes dedication, hard work, and creativity, but it is worth it. Remember you have a short few years to spend on your children. They will never be this age or in this stage again. Enjoy each moment as best as you can and learn to balance everything. Patience, perseverance, and priorities will help along the way.