We homeschooled until the 2022 school year and most of that time I have worked while homeschooling. It's hard, doable but hard. There were days I want to pull my hair out, and then days, I would get so much done. No two days looked the same.
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the last few years of homeschooling and working from home.
Lower Your Expectations
I see you out there, setting up these amazing schedules full of high expectations. LOWER them and then lower them some more. In fact, don’t have expectations on how this will go because, trust me, it WILL NOT go as planned.
You don’t need the perfect space or the most expensive curriculum, or even the perfect schedule. So stop stressing over these things. RIGHT NOW – STOP!
While you’re lowering your expectations for yourself and the kids, realize the house will never be spotless again and learn to live with it.
Throw Out The Schedule
Just throw it out now. Seriously, you don’t need a detailed schedule stating what time everything is going to happen. Instead of a schedule, go with more of a routine to your day. It may also take you a few days, even a few weeks, to find the right daily routine.
Work In The Inbetween
With the kids home and needing your attention, being able to sit down for a full 6-8 hours in a wack to work is most likely not going to happen. This is when you have to work in the in-between, where you work around life.
Keep your laptop open to what you’re working on so you can come back to it as you have time.
Do the small things first. What can you do in 15-20 minutes? Make a list and do those things as you have time throughout the day.
Create a time during the day for a nap or quiet time. Little kids can nap or rest in their beds while big kids can read silently or watch a movie quietly. Take this hour or two a day to work on bigger projects, make phone calls, and get stuff done.
Wake Up Earlier or Go to Bed Later – this is another thing I do. My favorite time to work is from 10 pm – 2 am when the house is tranquil. On the flip side, 7 am – 10 am before everyone wakes up is a great time for me to work.
Work isn’t going to look the same but you can still be productive through out the day if you’re willing to shift your mindset and schedule a little bit.
Set The Kids Up For Independent Learning
This is one of the best things I ever did. If you’re working from home and homeschool, it’s something you need to do too. The more the kids can do on their own, the more time you’ll have to focus on work.
Think of yourself as more of the facilitator than the teacher.
Independent Learning for Toddlers and Preschoolers
YES, even toddlers and preschoolers can learn independently with the right tools. For toddlers and preschoolers, you can set up learning bins and trays to explore on their own. Tot trays are hands-on learning activities for toddlers with simple activities they can do on their own. Preschool trays are the same made for preschoolers.
Independent Learning for Elementary, Middle School and High School
There are a few things you can do here, or you can do a mix of things.
One of my favorite ways of handling independent learning at this age is called workboxes. These are boxes where you put the child’s work for the day, and they go through each box getting it done.
The way that works best for my youngest was a folder system. Like the workboxes, I put her worksheets and everything she needs for each day into a folder. She can start her work without me and knows what she needs to do, only seeking me out when she needs help.
We also use Audible a lot for books and reading.
One more thing, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Paramount+ and Disney+ are full of documentaries and educational programming perfect for science, history, and social studies.
How will I know if my child needs help?
This is a tip I learned from another homeschool mom. Designate each child a clothespin or clip of some sort. When they need your help, they clip the clothespin on your sleeve, and they move on to the next subject, lesson, or quiet reading until you have time to help them. This allows you to know someone needs help when you get to a stopping point, without the nagging and whining of “mom, mom, mom.”
Online learning is a great way for kids of all ages to learn independently and these days there are a TON of online learning options. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Calvert Homeschool Online
- Power Homeschool
- Teaching Textbooks
- ABC Mouse
- Reading Eggs
- Adventure Academy
- Kahn Academy
I know this is easier said than done. However, getting out of the house into the sunshine and fresh air is important for our health.
So take the work outside and sit on the porch while the kids play in the yard or at the park. Take a walk or a bike ride around the block at lunch time. Just get outside at least once a day, it’s good for you.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
At our house, breakfast and lunch were on the kids to get themselves and have been for years. When they were little, I did a little prepping ahead.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be hot or even fancy.
Toast and yogurt, cereal, oatmeal in the microwave, heck I even taught my kids how to scramble an egg in the microwave. You can set out everything they need for breakfast the night before either in the fridge or on the counter (if it’s dry goods).
Lunch is the meal that always got me when the kids were little. Either I would work through lunch and forget, and then they were starving at three o’clock, or I would get annoyed because I had to stop at noon to feed someone and then at one to feed someone else.
I put an end to this by preparing ahead. I bought lunch containers and put each day’s lunch in the fridge and did this a few days at a time. Again it was nothing fancy – sandwiches, cheese, crackers or meat and cheese with fruit, yogurt, chips, etc. The kids could grab and go when they got hungry.
Unless you have someone to cook for you, your slow cooker, pressure cooker, and air fryer will be your best friends. Seriously they will be.
I also suggest doing as much prep as you can on the weekend to save you time during the week. Also, stick to easy meals that you can make in under 30 minutes. Now is not the time to try and be a gourmet cook. Save that for the weekends.
Give Yourself Some Grace
Homeschooling is hard. Working from home is hard. Together they are SUPER HARD! Some days will be great, and you’ll be all #homeschoolinglikeaboss, and other days, you will be in a corner crying with a bottle of wine. You’ve got to give yourself a lot of grace. You got this. It’s not going to be easy but in the end it will be worth it!