Homeschooling (especially more than one child) is a full-time job. In fact, it’s as much work as, well, working a full-time job. Nevertheless, the realities of schooling from home haven’t changed the fact that the coronavirus may potentially drag on for upwards of two years. This has led numerous schools to adapt their curriculum and activities to an online platform, forcing millions of students to continue their education from the safety of their homes — which happens to be precisely where many of their parents are also scrambling to shift to a productive work from home (WFH) situation.
Tips to Thrive While Remote Working and Homeschooling
With so many parents and children both attempting to be productive within the four walls of their homes, things can quickly feel a bit overwhelming. This is even more poignant for those who have opted to fully homeschool their children.
Fortunately, there are a few different things that you can do to ease the stress and help you both survive and thrive amidst the “new normal.”
Build a Flexible Schedule
One of the first things that you should do is create a single, unified schedule for both you and your child. Incorporate every school and work responsibility that you can think of, from attending meetings and classes to working on projects, assignments, and homework.
As you do this, don’t try to cram everything between 9 and 5. Remember to lean on the flexible nature of both remote work and school in order to build a schedule that is uniquely suited to your family’s ongoing professional and academic demands. Start by adding in the inflexible engagements (such as a live class or a Zoom meeting with your boss) and then work in any flexible responsibilities for you and your child where they fit best.
Having a firm grasp over your schedule also provides you with a bird’s eye view of how much time your family is spending in front of a screen. Children should only spend a couple of hours in front of a screen each day. Having a schedule can encourage you and your child to look for alternative forms of entertainment or to even rework your current schedule so that less overall time is required in front of a screen.
Get (and Stay) Organized
Along with your flexible schedule, you’re going to want to start out your remote work/school journey as organized as possible. You can do this by:
- Making sure your child has a good device, headphones, and a microphone.
- Downloading any required or helpful classroom apps.
- Checking (and upgrading if necessary) your internet to ensure that it is stable, dependable, and fast enough for your needs.
- Gathering your own WFH tech such as a webcam, microphone, and external hard drive.
- Finding proper physical spaces for work and school (more on that below).
Once you’re organized, work time into your schedule specifically dedicated to staying organized. This helps software, hardware, and work and school spaces to remain functional, efficient, and productive.
As you organized and prepare, consider where you and your child will work. This will largely depend on your particular situation. If you’re in a studio apartment, you’ll likely need to work in the same room, in which case you’ll both need good sound-canceling headphones to help everyone focus. If you’re in a large house in a rural area, you can likely set up separate rooms for school and work.
If your child is in kindergarten, you may need to spend more time helping them, in which case you can have them work by your side. If they’re teenagers, they can have their own space that is totally out of sight and out of mind as you work.
Regardless of the specifics, setting up a formal boundary system can be helpful in maintaining productivity. If your teenager is in their room attending a class, they shouldn’t be disturbed; if you’re in your office on a Zoom call, you shouldn’t be disturbed; and so on.
Finally, with so much time being spent online with work and school, it’s essential that you take time to keep your family moving. There are many ways that you and your children can stay fit and healthy even while you’re working. For instance, you can:
- Use exercise balls for a portion of the day.
- Start or end the day with a “walk commute” (i.e. go for a walk.)
- Try standing at your desk as you work at times.
Whether you’re taking a break to exercise or getting some activity in right at your desk, it’s important to keep up with your family’s physical conditioning.
Blending Remote Work and Homeschool
Structure, organization, boundaries, and exercise. If you can address these four items (both initially and as you go along), you can create the best possible scenario for both you and your children.
The ongoing pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into everyone’s lives, but the truth is, simply wallowing in a victim mentality isn’t going to get you far. Instead, take stock of your situation. Then consider the four tips above and look for ways to thrive, even in the midst of the challenges that you currently face as your family attempts to maintain work and school within the four walls of your home.