City Lit Blog

Working from home when you’re also home schooling

Story added 25th Mar 2020


Many of us are a few days in to two new and strange worlds – working from home full time and home schooling your children.  Whilst working from home is an adjustment – it's something which many of us will have had some experience with.  Home schooling – not so much; and both together... well, one month ago it was an unthinkable concept.  But here we are, so how do we get through this, hopefully enjoy elements of it and maybe learn something along the way?

Do you have time to quickly undertake a teaching degree?

If no, then please accept right now that this is not going to be perfect either in execution or delivery.  On occasion, you’ll be ratty, they’ll be ratty, you won’t be able to find the ruler you literally just put down and the cat will cough up a hair ball which you’ll stand in with your bare foot.  But there will also be days when your children really impress you with what they know or how they connect concepts or how much effort they put in.  Give yourself permission to be Mary Poppins (slightly chaotic but gets the job done and the children adore her) and not Mary Poppins (Practically Perfect in Every Way).

Create a schedule (with a small ‘s’)

Think about your child/ren’s age/s and realistically how much work they can do independently and how much they’ll need your full attention in their school day.  Then plan breaks throughout the day and scaffold these learning periods around the breaks. You know your child best, so adapt accordingly.  This rough schedule will help you to understand when you’ll have blocks of time when you can be called upon to join calls and answer emails sooner and when you’ll be child-focussed and not contactable.

Discuss priorities with your line manager

So many of us are in the same boat at the moment and employers are having to be super flexible and realistic with their expectations.  Once you know roughly when you’ll need to be child-focussed, discuss with your line manager to work out what your priorities will be and when they can expect you to be contactable.  These are not normal times, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t work at your normal pace.

Carve out some time for you

No commuting time means that you might have an extra 30-60 minutes at the start and end of the day.  Think about taking that time to do something for you, whether that’s reading your favourite online magazine, going for a brisk walk or putting on a feel good album.  You have a lot going on right now and this time can help to keep your equilibrium. Mentalhealth.org also have some great resources and tips on positive actions for your mental health during this time.  You might also want to think about how to discuss what is happening with your children.  Mentalhealth.org also have this great page on how to discuss the situation with your children.

We've also got some tips from real parents about how they’re managing this mammoth multi-tasking scenario;

Make sure you schedule downtime as well as school work and exercise.  Set up a tupperware box with drinks and snacks for each child so they’re not constantly raiding the fridge or asking for food.  At dinner each night, discuss what went well that day and what you’d like to see done differently tomorrow – Amber

Go for a quick walk before breakfast – it'll burn off a bit of energy and almost guarantees they’ll finish all their breakfast, setting them up for the day – Chris

With a 4 year old and 16month old, working from home has been difficult, but I think the biggest lesson is simply that I can't put pressure on myself to work how I normally would. I’ve found a variety of free home schooling options that are fun and interactive and this has helped with my 4 year old but each activity can usually only last for 30mins before she becomes bored and we need to move on with regular play time breaks required.  I am having to learn not to become stressed with the blur of my personal mum life invading my professional life and accept situations like yesterday - I was on a call and the full contents of my kitchen cupboards were unceremoniously being taken out by my youngest or the fact it takes me 20 minutes to write an email that would usually take 2 minutes. So top tips- be as flexible and adaptable as the situation allows but most of all be kind to yourself as, with the best will in the world, this is not normal life as we know it and we just need to make it through as best we can – Emma

Try and make things fun, as it is a bit like ground-hog day!  And learn and work together. As ‘we’re all in this together’, why not share some challenges.  So yesterday, we did collective PE lessons in the garden; learnt about Ocelots; tried (and failed on my part) to understand some German phrases; and everyone felt part of my Microsoft Team video calls! – Phil

We have a schedule for the day and a list of school tasks which need to be completed for my 7 year old.  I’m letting him choose which task he does at which point in the day to give him a bit of choice – the only rule is he must finish all his tasks.  Luckily my husband and I can both work from home, so he takes the morning shift for home schooling and I take the afternoon shift.  That gives us each a chunk of time when we can focus on work and check in with our teams which is nice – Victoria

Top tip for working from home and home schooling a 7 and 11 year old is routine and organisation. We all made a timetable together on Sunday and so far it has gone to plan. Monday had some false starts (mainly my fault) but we are getting there. We start the day with the Joe Wicks PE workout. I am puffing at the end of it!  My wife and I have a shift system so I start the day with breakfast and exercise and she works 7.30-10am then we swap at 10am and she will do school work  with our 7 year old. Our 11 year old can work  independently and she watches the news so knows what is going on outside. Their school work is all set up with Google Classrooms so I've learnt a lot about how that works! From 3pm onwards the girls can play and watch TV and we go out for a walk at 4pm. I pace myself throughout the day and can always do things later at night if I have to – Graham

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