All across the world, parents have been struggling to keep up with work responsibilities and to help their children navigate home-based learning. Unfortunately, for most parents having to work from home and monitor your child’s progress on home base learning is nearly an impossible feat. But hundreds of thousands of parents around the world have been forced to do just that. So how do we survive? How do we ensure that we are being competent at work and also making sure our children are getting a good education? There is no easy answer but here are five tips that I’ve come up with through homeschooling my children that may be helpful to you.
Make a schedule
Making a schedule is one of the easiest things that you can do to ensure there is some structure too you and your child’s day. Creating a schedule allows your child to have expectations about what will happen throughout the day. It also allows you to create your work schedule around blocks of time in which you are not needed to monitor your child’s progress. For people with children who are relatively young ages 5 to 10 they may need more monitoring while doing home based learning. For people with children who are older those children may be more capable of self-directed learning. In either case having a schedule allows both you and your child to have firm expectations around when you can and cannot be bothered.
Your schedule should cover your day from the moment that you wake up to the moment that the children go to bed. This way you are able to determine how much rest and downtime you’re giving yourself throughout the day. Plan short breaks for the children so that they can take time away from their studies. Planning a walk outside or a bike ride or even a short nap is a way to allow you are children and yourself a break from the routine. Be flexible with the schedule, if you need to make adjustments then do so. Don’t over commit to keeping the schedule the same throughout the entire school year.
Making a schedule does not mean that you have to rush the work period if anything making a schedule allows you and your child to manage expectations about when work will be completed. For example if your child has project that is due in one week having a schedule and allowing for adequate breaks in between allows you to ensure that it will be completed by that date. Pacing yourself also means that you allow for breaks in your schedule and your child schedule. There is definitely a tendency to either over or under work while engaging in home based learning. But the flexibility in home-based learning should allow you to create a pace that is comfortable for both you and your child. Pacing yourself and pacing your child’s work also allows for more communication about the difficulty of work and the trouble areas that your child may have.
Here’s an example: My son is participating in an online high school based in the United states. But because we are in Singapore many of the homeroom classes are held at a time when he is asleep. Because of the time difference he is not able to interact with other students in his class in real time. This means that he is not as informed about how long it takes to complete certain assignments. He is forced to make his own schedule and work at a pace that is comfortable to him. In this case pacing yourself works to his advantage because he is able to use strategies better best suited to his learning style.
Manage expectations at work
As a working parent who has to deal with home base learning in addition two responsibilities of a job it is super important to make sure that your manager nose about your child’s home based learning. You should communicate to your manager the need for you to have a flexible schedule or at the very least breaks in the day so that you’re able to stay on top of your child’s home-based learning. As uncomfortable as it may be, it is extremely important to communicate to your manager the pressures that you are facing at home. Without communicating your additional home responsibilities you leave yourself exposed an at risk of being painted as a poor performer at work. Additionally most employers have adopted new policies that you may be able to take advantage of. Employers are well aware of the additional pressures and stresses that home based learning has placed upon employees.
Make sure you research your company’s policy’s about flexible time for parents that have children that are doing home based learning. You may be surprised to find that your company has policies that you can use to your benefit. Communicate clearly to your manager the time that you are able to log on and the time that you’re able to log off. If you do have to go into the office ask if you can have a flexible schedule that allows you to have more time at home during the week.
Pay Attention to Nutrition & Exercise
I myself am guilty of rushing through lunch. For breakfast, I’m usually pretty good and I usually manage to make myself something relatively healthy like fruits or yogurt or a protein shake. But home-based learning and additional time pressures it is even more important to make sure that your nutrition is adequate to be able to fuel not just your body but your mind as well. For example, I find that when I’m eating very clean like lean needs lots of vegetables and lots of fruits I have much more energy to do my work period I also have more focus while I’m reading emails or creating content, or providing guidance on business matters. The importance of good nutrition cannot be overstated when you are a mentally or physically demanding period.
If possible plan out your menu for the entire week. Do grocery shopping on one day of the week and purchase all of the food that you will need for that week to prepare meals for the children. Now that the children are home you will have to make sure that they have lunch as well, so you will save time by planning meals in advance.
And when it comes to exercise even a 30 minute walk every day can work wonders for you. Exercise helps with respect to heart health mental health and just general overall well being. If possible and if your schedule permits try to block out time for exercise that both you and your child can do together. I myself like doing yoga and workouts on YouTube with my children. It gives us a chance to bond and be silly but I burn calories in the process.
Celebrate the Wins
Being a mother is difficult enough on its own, but being a working mother is next level difficulty. But if you have to be a working mother and you are responsible for ensuring that your child completes projects or does assignments on line in is actually paying attention to the computer you need to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. You need to celebrate your efforts in trying to hold everything together. It is not easy. The world is still adjusting to the impacts of COVID and home-based learning for children is difficult. It also adds many stresses and pressures on parents.
In order to celebrate the winds take time out to acknowledge the things that have gone right gone. Treat yourself 2 a quiet evening without any husband or kids. Treat yourself to a warm bubble bath and your favorite book and scented candles. As a working mom you deserve credit in navigating the challenges of home based learning.
Give yourself room to make mistakes
I’m not a perfect mom. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a perfect mother. Having to be fully present at work and play the role of a doting mother at home is an impossible feat. Women should give themselves room to make mistakes when it comes to home-based learning and to not feel guilty about not being able to support your child’s learning all the time. If you miss if your child misses a homework assignment and you were not able to supervise a project it’s OK. You cannot be all places at all times. You cannot do your job and your child’s homework assignments.
Home-based learning for working moms is the equivalent of trying to ride a bicycle and breastfeed at the same time period some women can do it, but most cannot. Use these hacks to make the experience more enjoyable for you and your child. Remember to make a schedule that gives both you and your child structure during the day. Pace yourself both you and your child need to have clear expectations about when work will be done and allowance for other disruptions that may occur in your life. Ensure that you’ve had a very detailed and documented conversation with your manager about your new responsibilities at home. Check out your company’s policy’s on flexible working hours for parents. Make sure you are eating well and staying hydrated, nutrition is super important during these times. And most importantly manage your mental and emotional health by celebrating wins and giving yourself room to make mistakes. If you can use these hacks to make your life easier during this trying time 1/2 of the battle.