For what it’s worth here’s my take on home schooling whilst trying to run a business...
First of all I didn’t want to just leap into writing some of the same old obvious points and whilst some of them do exist my recent experiences have taught me how to make the most of the ‘challenging’ situation many of us find ourselves in.
What makes me qualified to talk about this in the first place. Well I’m a father of 2 girls, only one of which is at school age and even she is only in reception whilst the other is now 21 months and is probably quite enjoying having her big sister around that bit more, but it is certainly ‘fun’ trying to entertain one whilst trying to teach another and attempt to do work of my own whilst key worker Mum is doing her hero bit at Manchester Children’s Hospital.
So here’s goes...
Don’t be afraid to lower your expectations;
We all learn from mistakes right? And yet I don’t want my little girl(s) to make any, which makes no sense at all. I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve been guilty of telling her answers, helping her with her writing and finishing sums for her so that she can say the right answer when it comes to her live sessions with the teacher. But I’ve learned that she’s got to make these mistakes in order to learn. She has to spell things wrong, write her letters back to front from time to time and struggle to work out 2+3, it’s okay.
I’ve also had to learn to lower my expectations of myself...my capacity to do as much work as I’d like to quite simply isn’t there. I don’t have the time I did before and therefore I’m more honest with myself and those around me as to how much I can get done. This means I’m no longer making promises I can’t keep and I’m not driving myself into the ground staying up all night trying to play catch up each evening and stressing myself out further.
Try to find some sort of routine;
This one is often an easy one to throw out there but isn’t all that easy in reality. The first thing to note is that routine doesn’t have to mean that you do the same thing each day. You might have more of a weekly routine than a ‘perfect’ daily routine.
The easiest way to structure your day around yourself and homeschooling is often to work around meal times. What are you going to get done before lunch and what are you going to get done before tea/dinner (whatever you call it).
It’s also important to note that you don’t feel like the working day or teaching day has to be the classic 9-3.30, the day is yours. Take longer breaks between lessons and don’t forget to have fun. We’re often signed into a live lesson at 9.15am so Joe Wicks PE doesn’t always work for us, but making time for exercise of some sort is another great element to your routine. Weather permitting we like to get out of the house and get a change of scenery here too which helps to freshen us all up and get some exercise in.
This one has become increasingly difficult to get right since the introduction of home working back in March last year, but throw in homeschooling too and it is vitally important that you try to set some boundaries to...
1. Make time for your own work (you’ve got food to put on the table after all)
I’ve found getting an hours work done in the morning, normally whilst the kids are having breakfast and watching telly, helps to set me up for the day. I at least feel like I’ve done something even if it’s only replying to emails. I can often squeeze more work in during the kids lunch hour and I’ll admit I’m not afraid to let them watch more TV just before tea as this gives me another window of opportunity to tick some work off.
2. Make some time for yourself (you can’t drink from an empty cup).
When it comes to making time for myself I’ll do my damnedest to make sure my laptops down by 8pm, just to give me a bit of breathing space and allow myself to wind down before bed. I used to be really big on switching off over the weekend too and I still do in the main but I’ve found that couple of hours on Saturday morning and Sunday evening helps me to balance things better across the week whilst still giving me the down time I need to start again Monday morning.
Stay Connected but...
In these times it is vitally important that we stay connected to our friends and loved ones but when it comes to homeschooling don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other parents.
I think everyone is finding themselves in their own unique position amongst all of this, whether you’ve got 1, 2, 3 or 4 kids etc, you’re trying to work from home yourself, perhaps there’s only one of you at home, multiple live school sessions per day or none at all and of course one day can be completely different to another when kids are involved.
Support each other, celebrate your successes and share your challenges with friends but believe me there is nobody doing a better job than you!
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it won’t be long before your kids are back in school, but also to consider that we will never get this time back with our kids, blink and they’ll be gone, grown up and flown the nest. Make sure you take some time to try and enjoy this quality time.