First, some background information. My children are 9, 5 and 3. My husband also works from home. Most of the time it’s helpful that he is home. Some of the time, it makes this a little bit harder. I say this because you can absolutely homeschool and work without a partner at home. It took me YEARS to feel okay with this arrangement. He only recently started working from home. I have been working from home since the beginning. But don’t expect to have it all figured out in a few months.
Blocks Of Time
I strive to have a daily rhythm versus a schedule. For me, this makes it okay when things don’t go according to plan. I schedule the day into a few 3-hour blocks of time. There are certain things I try to get accomplished during each block of time. Then, I outline my work task list into 20-30 minutes increments. For example, “outline moms.com article” versus trying to complete the whole thing at once.
This works best because that is about as long as I can put my kids off if they need or want something. I can say “go play until I am done with this work” and I can usually complete a 20-30 minute task before they come back. If I need to switch the blocks of time around I do. Homeschooling is a 3-hour block that we usually start in the late morning. But I can move that to the afternoon if I need to.
Let S#*! Go
As a perfectionist, type A personality, this has been really hard for me. I want the house clean, the laundry folded and put away, the homeschooling magical, the meals healthy, my work done ahead of time and I want it all done perfectly. Um, hello. Not possible. So I’ve had to let go of a lot of stuff. My house gets messy and sometimes we have cereal for dinner. But my kids are happy, they are learning a ton, my work is done well. Also, I have my sanity. Which is worth its weight in gold.
Take Care Of Yourself
Another really hard one for me. As moms, we always put the needs of our families first. All of the experts tell us, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Yet, we do. For long periods of time. And then we snap. I battle with this one, but I do take care of myself in small increments. When the walls feel like they are closing in on me, I take a drive. I make myself a cup of my favorite tea first thing every morning. I take a nap in the afternoon if I am feeling especially cranky and tired. I cry uncle when it comes to cooking dinner if I’ve had enough. I take a hot bath in the evening. I give you permission to do these things too.
Look, if I was trying to make gourmet meals every night and do the most intricate crafts each afternoon I would be losing my ever loving mind. Keep your meals simple. Rotate the same 5 meals for a couple of weeks so you only have to grocery shop once. Use paper plates if that helps you. Let your children be bored and learn to entertain themselves. The best gift you can give yourself is children who will play independently for long periods of time. Cut back on extra activities if you need to. Say no to birthday parties. Whatever you need to do to make your life simpler, do it. It will make space for homeschooling and work to be more manageable.
Create A System
When we decided to homeschool, I told my kids that they would be responsible for chores around the house. With us being home ALL THE TIME, things inevitably get messier than if we were at school and an office all day. They clean up their areas after homeschooling. We have a system for laundry, dishes, and my favorite–our 10-minute Tidy. At 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm we all stop what we are doing for a 10-minute tidy. Everyone pitches in to pick up the toys, loose socks, empty cups, flush the unflushed toilets, take the dogs out, etc. It makes a HUGE difference in the overall clutter of the house.
Embrace The Flexibility
The best part of homeschooling is the flexibility it gives you. If you need to homeschool in the evenings or on weekends and let some things go during the week, that’s perfectly fine. If you usually homeschool in the morning, but have a meeting one day, move everything to the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Be flexible!
Is homeschooling and working from home easy? No. Has it made us a tight knit family, with kids who enjoy playing together everyday? Yes. Have we learned valuable life lessons about priorities, simplifying and what matters most? You bet. Give yourself and your family some grace. Do the best you can with what you have. I promise, it is more than enough.
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