I don’t know if anything has tested our multi-tasking abilities as moms better than 2020 has. This year has brought many of us into new roles and we’ve had to navigate new challenges within our households. Some who were working outside the home are now adjusting to working remotely from home, several have had to balance daily housework with having the kids home and helping with virtual learning, and those who were already working from home have had to overhaul their schedules to allow time for both. And let’s just be honest…that is a LOT to juggle and not feel like you are dropping the ball somewhere!
This year I began my seventh year homeschooling my girls (and this is the first year I’ve had all three of them doing lessons) and since the beginning of my homeschool journey, I have worked from home. In July of 2019, my husband began working from home as well. I LOVE the flexibility and the time with my girls that working from home allows me, but, it can overwhelm me easily if I’m not organized and prepared for my day. Below are five tips that I have found help me to stay on task and be the most efficient with my time (most days)…
Tips for homeschooling AND working from home
- COORDINATE A SCHEDULE
With school, work, meals, laundry, house cleaning, kids activities, appointments, birthday parties, date nights, etc… it has helped me tremendously when I sit down at the beginning of each month and spend some time taking an “inventory” of what we have going on in the upcoming month. I then write it all down in my planner. (Yes, I think I will forever be a paper planner girl…I just like writing everything down).
Once I’ve done this, my husband and I will sit down and go over everything briefly. At the beginning of each week, I like to take a few minutes to review the upcoming week. At this time I will pencil in my work hours for the week based on what tasks I need to complete and what our schedule looks like. I also take some time once a week to review the upcoming week of school (I actually “plan” out our school in quarters) to ensure that there are no supplies or projects I need to prepare for the upcoming week. I also follow a weekly cleaning card system that I implemented a few years ago from one of my favorite local IG Accounts/bloggers A Bowl Full of Lemons. My girls also follow a schedule for chores and school. Since my husband and I both work from home they also know that when Dad is working I am the one they come to for help and vice versa.
2. DEDICATE SCHOOL AND WORKSPACE
When I first started working from home it was REALLY hard for me to stay focused and productive. In the beginning, I would try to stay in the same room as my husband and daughter with my laptop. I found it would take me twice as long to accomplish tasks because I would try to help with the baby if she needed something or I would find myself watching TV with my husband instead of staying focused on the work I needed to finish. Once I created a space away from the distractions where I could focus I was MUCH more productive.
At first, my “office space” consisted of sitting in our master bedroom with the door closed, my computer on my lap and my paperwork spread out on the bed…not glamorous, but I was alone and my husband did his best to make sure I was uninterrupted. When we moved to South Carolina last year it was the first time in 12 years of working from home that I have had my own dedicated “office”. To help me get into “work-mode” while at home I like to shut my office door, put on some light music (I’ve created a “work” playlist on Spotify), diffuse some essential oils or light a candle, and make sure I’ve got a glass of water. Likewise; we have a dedicated space where the girls do school each day. For us, this space is our kitchen table and it allows me to sit with all three girls and help them as needed but also work in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast and prepping lunch. If the girls need a quiet space to read or work on a project they can take their book or clipboard to their room.
3. SCHEDULE IN FREE DAYS & BREAKS
Working from home and homeschooling can get VERY mundane and I’ve learned over the past few years that I (and my kids) need breaks every few weeks from our schedule. Sometimes I schedule day trips or outings and other times I just pencil in a “day-off” and we decide that day what we want to do. It helps us to reset and recharge and we all look forward to our “break days”. We also will take spontaneous outings occasionally if we finish school early or if we get our tasks for the day done ahead of schedule.
4. MAKE SURE TO SCHEDULE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
This is a REALLY hard one for me so I am preaching to the choir here. I am really great at making sure that everyone else is taken care of but when it comes to taking time for myself I run into self-imposed roadblocks. I feel guilty for taking time for myself and constantly feel like there is something more productive that I should be doing in place of self-care. However; I will say this and try my best to listen to myself…if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others well! You must not pour out from an empty cup. Fill your cup first and then you will have a better ability to fill the cups of those in your family. I always think about the announcements that flight attendants give prior to ANY flight. When they get to the part about what to do in case of loss of cabin pressure they say…”If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”
5. DRESS THE PART
This is another one that I am not consistent with BUT I do find myself much more productive and I feel better about myself when I take the time to get up and get myself ready for the day. I have always been pretty “low-maintenance” when it comes to getting ready. Simply getting dressed, putting on some eyeliner and lip gloss, and running a brush through my hair can make a big difference in my day. I am a get-up and go person so the trap I fall into is I get up in my tank top and workout pants and start my day. Then girls wake up and then I don’t allow myself the 20 minutes it would take for me to run upstairs and get dressed and ready. This is something I really want to work on because it definitely makes a difference in my day and is an example I want to set for my girls.