Working and schooling from home: The balancing act
Updated: Mar 26, 2020
Flexibility is the name of the game when working while schooling from home as I have done for over 12 years. Plan on interruptions while children are working on classwork. Each child will be different, needing varied amounts of help. A middle schooler might handle a math lesson independently except for a few questions, whereas a 4th grader may need you to keep them focused every few minutes. Allow for exciting rabbit trails in children’s learning. If they are super excited about a science experiment and it is taking longer than expected, cut out writing for the day and do extra writing the next day. By the same token, if you are deeply engrossed and super productive on a work project, it’s OK to let the children occupy themselves for an extra hour or two and spend more focused time on schooling the next day.
After main subjects are complete, send children on to play or read while you get more focused work done. Even during your focused work time, It is good to connect with them/check on them at the basketball hoop or fixing a snack for 5 min here or there. Understand that you will not get as much done when parenting while working, but you still can be very productive. Your workday will just need to stretch out longer, or you pick up some hours on the weekend. My rule of thumb is each hour of working from home while parenting equates to 45 minutes of working at the office. Keep careful track at first so you have a sense of how much time you should be spending on work tasks overall.
Third, and most importantly, involve the children in your work any way that you can. If you are a teacher searching for videos to show your classes, invite your children to watch and discuss them with you. If you are creating a spreadsheet, point out a couple of formulas you are inserting. If preparing orders to ship, show them the invoice and how much goes into your pocket versus costs for taxes, shipping, and overhead. In all of these conversations, try to include mathematical language about percentages, totals, net, gross, etc. Work can be a sweet time with a child snuggled up reading next to you or sleeping on your lap.
Double dip often, meaning that if the children learned a fantastic social studies lesson while searching videos with you, this can count for their school social studies lesson for the day. If they wrote for science, have them correct the grammar and have that count for writing as well. If you measured and collected data for a science experiment, math is done for the day too. As long as you are hitting the main subjects often and meaningfully, the children will learn and be motivated to learn.
Finally, give your balancing act careful consideration. Too much is too much. If you are overwhelmed, try to find ways to cut back your work schedule or get extra help from someone. Senior citizens are great choices to listen to a child read over the phone or answer homework questions. When I went through the process to cut back, it took a while for the dust to settle as the family learned to live on less. Surprisingly, we developed a greater contentment for the things of home. My husband became a master at smoked meats on the grill, and we discovered our back yard! Overall the key to a successful work-at-home while schooling experience rests on flexibility, creativity, and balance. Enjoy your children, and get to work!