Homeschooling at Work – How to balance family and WFH?Written by Ana Mladenovc on October 04, 2021
Balancing career and parenting was (and still is) a challenge for many working parents. However, with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown, and global switch to remote work and online learning, the situation became progressively worse.
All of a sudden, parents had to learn how to navigate the parenthood and education of their children and still thrive in a completely new setting. What’s more, they had to adjust to the “new normal” fast, without support and resources to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Working from home is a privilege.
It might sound odd to say it, but working from home is a privilege many cannot afford. Throughout the years, many families opted to have a single breadwinner and a person (usually a female) who would stay at home and take care of the children and household chores. And there are several reasons why this was (and still is) the case.
The main reason why there were so many stay-at-home moms were finances. Childcare comes at a hefty price, and in most cases eats up every dime parent makes. And if we add on this the cost of gas for their daily commute, work wardrobe, and food, it’s easy to understand how, in the end, working parents are paying to be employed.
The cost of having a family is grave with one child, and having another makes the financial situation even worse. To sum this up, throughout the years, it was more financially interesting to stay at home and give up on a career and let one partner work, than to keep the job.
The Covid-19 pandemic made things worse for the moms that were staying in the office.
According to the McKinsey study, pre-pandemic, working mothers had similar ambitions career-wise as other women in the workplace. However, with the beginning of the pandemic, this equation was altered. More than 30 percent of working mothers started considering leaving their jobs and dropping their career progression altogether.
The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic was striking for all, but mainly for women. Another study from McKinsey shows that working mothers are around 10 per cent more likely to be struggling with mental health concerns. Other studies show that the impact of remote work on working mothers was much harder than on working fathers.
Before the pandemic, statistically, women did more housework and childcare than men, almost as if they were doing double shifts. Now, with the global switch to remote work and homeschooling, women are taking on an even heavier load.
Working mothers are more than three times more likely to be responsible for housework and caregiving. And as the situation becomes to unravel, and as we starting to adjust to the new normal of juggling remote work and homeschooling, women are even more worried about their performance and fear employers’ negative perception because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Joggling homeschooling and remote work aren’t impossible.
Despite grim numbers, joggling homeschooling and remote work aren’t impossible as they might seem. It just requires more planning and fine-tuning than usual.
With that being said, I decided to share with you a few tips on how you can successfully manage homeschooling responsibilities and still excel in your career.
Be flexible while organizing.
If you can plan ahead, a good thing you could do to make the remote work and homeschooling easier is to organize work around your family’s needs.
Chances are that you already know what are the times when you’re more likely to be distracted, and when are more quiet periods where you can sit and focus on more pressing and harder tasks.
If your spouse is working from home too, you can divide chores and responsibilities for maximum efficiency.
But always have a plan.
Managing homeschooling with remote work cannot go without meticulous planning. With that being said, it’s important to write down your tasks and goals for the following day, since it will help you organize better and be more efficient throughout the day.
When we know what we have to do, and what we have planned for the day, we are allowing our brain to work on autopilot in the morning and start our day without the anxiety of what comes next.
Wake up before your kids.
What helps me do my job efficiently is a peace and quiet. That’s why I always make sure to wake up two hours before my family and tackle the most pressing tasks right away.
Having some alone time in the morning can help us get into the zone, and set the right tone for the rest of the day. Furthermore, when we finish something before the house is buzzing, we won’t feel the rush and anxiousness about the things that need to be done.
This counts for the napping time as well – it’s always a good idea to time your tasks to the kids’ napping time as you’ll be sure to get things done faster and easier.
Work shifts with your partners.
Families who have two adults in their home can go through homeschooling and work from home problems much easier than single parents.
In case you and your partner have flexible schedules, you can assign chores by shifts that will allow you to spend an equal amount of time working and helping kids with their education.
Divide household responsibilities.
Assigning chores to each family member, by their capabilities will help working parents take some work off their shoulders and teach their kids how to be a part of the team. By assigning everyone something to do, more things can be done in less time and it’s a great lesson for kids to learn straight away.
Set clear boundaries with your kids, and give them something to use when they have to wait for your attention.
Joggling work with personal things can be daunting. Sometimes kids don’t quite understand that you’re occupied with some other things and they want your undivided attention.
To prevent unwanted interruptions and find the middle ground when it comes to joggling personal and professional life, I suggest sticking to a predictable schedule. You can, for instance, set a timer that will send clear signals to your kids when you’re available for them and when you’re working, or have a prepared list of “go-to” activities such as art projects or reading until you’re finally available for them.
Boost up the communication.
If you want to stay organized while managing homeschooling with remote work, make sure you communicate with each family member about their assignments and responsibilities on time.
Communication can be made easier with tools such as calendars, chore charts, and reminder lists that can help everyone stay on the same page. Furthermore, you should make sure to regularly check in with your family members about the things you’ve completed and the things you still have to do.
Talk about the assignments that can be done independently, but the ones that will require your assistance as well. Set the expectations right and be open to suggestions.
Have a dedicated workspace.
Setting up a dedicated workspace in your home comes with a wide array of benefits. First, it helps you to focus, minimize distractions, and set boundaries between personal and professional space.
Having a dedicated work area can help you and your child form boundaries when it comes to your schedule. It will also help you organize better since you won’t be spinning around looking for the work essentials. And, as a bonus, you’ll set the right example for your child too, as they will be mirroring you.
Create an ideal learning environment.
As much as it is important to have a dedicated working area for yourself, it’s important to set up a space for learning activities. You should also allow your kid to personalize their learning space with murals, paintings, academic visuals, etc.
Lastly, kids’ learning space should be equipped with proper lighting, ergonomically proofed chairs and tables, that will aid their academic development in the right way. However, you should keep in mind that kids can learn in different places and situations – with friends, on a patio, yard, etc.
Some studies even suggest that changing locations throughout the day will help them remember things they need to learn much faster.
Plan some stress-free meals.
“Mom, Dad, what’s for lunch?” “Is there anything I can snack, I’m hungry?”
If this sounds familiar, then you must be working from home and managing homeschooled kids at the same time. If you experienced this situation on your skin you know how distracting and nerve-wracking it can be.
For high-intensity days, I recommend preparing some plans for easy to prepare meals and snacks to avoid being constantly interrupted.
Generally, it’s advised to have a weekly meal plan and do the meal prep during the weekend, to avoid worrying about this during the workday – since you’ll have to manage multiple things already.
Work on stress management.
Stress can be pretty contagious. If one family member is anxious, the rest will feel it, and quickly become agitated as well. And if that happens mess and decreased productivity is guaranteed.
It’s important to have some stress-relieving activities throughout the day that will help you unwind and manage stress in a better and more constructive way. Find some space to fit “alone time”, have a walk, or do a 30-minutes workout that will be just yours and help you unwind and recover.
Talk to other parents
Sometimes we feel isolated in our struggles, thinking it’s happening only to us. However, there are millions of parents around the globe that struggle as much as you do, trying to navigate work and homeschooling. Sometimes the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is to talk with others and share your experience. Chances are is that you’ll discover that you aren’t alone and that you can get some tips and tricks you can use.
Managing remote work and homeschooling responsibilities is not, by any means, an easy task. However, following these simple tips, you can make your days more manageable and slowly build a routine that will help both you and your kids thrive.