By Veronica Baxter
Many of us work from home, and in the days of the pandemic when school is partially or wholly remote, we are responsible for overseeing our children’s education at home as well.
How can we balance our own work with supervising our children’s learning? This article will give you five essential tips to succeed at both.
Tip #1 Make a Schedule – and Stick to It!
Children are used to a schedule. In school, there are set times to arrive– for each class, for lunch and recess periods, and to depart. There is no reason why your children cannot adhere to a schedule at home, and if they do, this will help you all get your work done.
You know what time your work demands. Schedule breaks, lunch, and snacks around that time, and then schedule your children’s day. If your child has to attend class online, be sure to include that in the schedule along with extra time beforehand to launch the application or enter the meeting. Include things like doctor’s appointments, haircuts, and the like.
A chalkboard or whiteboard with the schedule for the week can be posted in a prominent area. Review the week’s schedule with your children, and give them ownership of the schedule by allowing them to check off activities as they are completed. Create incentives for your children to adhere to the schedule. For example, you might schedule a movie night on a Friday and allow the children who successfully followed the week’s schedule to pick the movie or choose what type of pizza to order.
Tip #2 Have a Plan to Minimize Interruptions
Having everyone at home and accessible allows more opportunity for your children to interrupt your work and you to interrupt your children’s work. Discuss the importance of refraining from interrupting each other in order to let each other focus and do the best quality work they can. If the children understand that this is reciprocal, they will be more likely to comply – especially if they get to call you on it when you interrupt them!
Devise a system to deal with questions at a later time. For example, you might place an “Ask Me Later” notebook in a designated place, where at set times throughout the day, you and your children will check for entries and write an answer to any entries. When you are on your break, you might write, “What would you like for dinner tonight?” and your children might later write their preferences when they are on their break. They might write, “Can you help me with my science project later?” and you might write the time you are available.
Using this type of system faithfully will minimize unnecessary interruptions and still get questions answered and needs met.
Tip #3 Help Your Children Be Independent While You Work
There are many things that children can do for themselves if they are shown or if preparations are made beforehand. For example, they can get their own snack if you show them how or if you prepare snacks and label them in advance. Letting the dog out, sharpening pencils, changing the toilet paper, retrieving the mail… all of these tasks can be assigned to children and taught beforehand. Encourage your younger children to ask your older children if they have a question or need help.
Tip #4 Be Flexible
All of this being said, things will come up that interrupt your workday. The phone may ring, a delivery person may come to the door requiring a signature, or a child may not feel well. In these cases, just address whatever comes up when it comes up and move on. Adjust the schedule accordingly to allow for the time lost, and reschedule what should have happened during that time.
Tip #5 Stay Positive
It can be frustrating to work and keep your children on task. Remember, you are gainfully employed, your children are learning as best they can under the circumstances, and you are all together and healthy. Relax and know that you are doing your best to manage your time and your children’s time. This too shall pass!
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia, USA. She frequently works with Lee Schwartz, a noted Philadelphia divorce lawyer.