Schedule? Ha! What’s a schedule?! That’s what life says when you’ve made plans, right?
With the coronavirus keeping us and our kids at home, many families now have to juggle parenting, work, and teaching. It’s overwhelming, to say the least.
Log on to Facebook and within minutes you’ll see a stream of memes about parents filling in as teachers while the schools are closed. But what makes it less funny and more anxiety-inducing is that many parents have to balance teaching with doing their full-time jobs in a much different setting than they’re used to.
I can only try to offer some resources to help your day go a little smoother and help you pull out a little less of your hair while juggling it all. There are many homeschool moms way better at this than me. But consider this a lite version of how to try and muddle through this new normal a little more organized.
Because to me, organization is sanity.
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Tips for being a stand-in teacher
At my house, we’re calling it “Mommy School.” We’ve been talking about it over Spring Break, sometimes joking, but mostly I’ve been building it up like it’s the first day of regular school. The reason is that I want my kids to take it seriously. And frankly, I want to take it seriously myself. A few hours into it with whining kids, I will be tempted to throw in the towel if I don’t have a plan and a schedule.
– Have structure – Get dressed in the morning and have a school start time
The first task in the morning after breakfast for us will be to make beds and get dressed. I’m not saying there won’t be ANY pajama days at “Mommy School” 😉 but I’ll try to keep that from happening as much as possible, so the kids take this seriously.
– Have a plan/schedule
I’m working with my kids’ regular school schedule to give them some sense of normality. We’re scheduling a certain subject each hour like Language Arts, Science and so on.
Need help keeping the day organized? Grab this printable pack that includes:
- Daily schedules you can customize for each hour or half-hour
- Weekly goal sheets
- Assignment sheets
– Include downtime and fun and quiet activities
I’m also keeping in the regular downtime they would have at school with a few more added in like quiet reading time, recess and special subjects like art and music. If it’s all serious learning all the time, I will lose my audience.
– Have a designated ‘school’ space
We’ll be using the kitchen table for instruction time to give it a more legitimate feel. If they’re doing school work on their bedroom floor it doesn’t feel important enough and thus they’ll take it less seriously.
– Keep in touch with teachers
During this unprecedented time, our teachers are blazing a new path as well, becoming virtual teachers. We will make assignments from their teachers a priority and supplement them with other activities. And it’s good for the kids to interact with their teachers to keep them motivated.
And don’t forget about coaches and directors of extra-curricular activities too. Some dance and drama teachers are doing virtual lessons. It’s a great way to maintain face time with important adults in kids’ lives and keep them stimulated and encouraged.
Tips for juggling teaching and working from home
Many parents will also have their own work to juggle, calls to make, virtual meetings to attend, and deadlines to make. It will take even more planning to balance it all without going insane by noon.
– Get up earlier than your kids to get some work done before ‘school’ time
This is a staple for many working moms with young children, and it’s perhaps no more important than right now with kids of all ages at home. Getting an hour or two of alone time to knock out important tasks, respond to emails, map out the day’s goals will be invaluable.
– Use a 40/20 or 20/10 schedule
This is a suggestion I’ve heard about from fellow moms and seen on Facebook over the last week and it sounds like a great idea for juggling work and parenting.
Designate 30 or 40 minutes (depending on the age of your children, older kids can handle longer stretches) of time when your kids work on schoolwork, an art project, or read a book when they need to be self-sufficient and leave mommy alone. Then the following 10 or 20 minutes are for un-divided attention from mom. During this time you completely turn off your computer, put your phone away and focus on instructing, reading or just playing with them.
– Ignore household chores
You have enough on your plate already with work and school, don’t pile on dishes, laundry, and cleaning to it or you’ll drive yourself crazy. All those things can wait until later.
– Plan lessons. activities the kids can do on their own
The more self-sufficient they can be, the more you can get done. Avoid crafts or projects that require a lot of supervision, unless it’s during your 10 or 20 minutes of full attention time mentioned above.
– Use unconventional lesson plans
Heck, why not throw in some life skills into your lesson plan that might also benefit you and your to-do list like washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cooking dinner. What better time to add in some chore-learning?
Here are a few ideas:
- Make a meal plan, find recipes, and write out a grocery list
- Make a grocery budget with prices, include tax and factor the total cost
- Mix homemade cleaning supplies and use them around the house
- Plant fruits and vegetables and tend to them, pick them and cook with them
- Cook a meal, measuring ingredients and factoring cooking times
- Fold the laundry, what percentage is for each family member
- Reorganize closets, cabinets, and pantries
– Give yourself a break
The point of this is to get through it. And however you do it, do what’s best for you and your family. You are doing a good job. You are doing the best you can.
And at the end of the day, just remember that this is all temporary.
A few ideas if you’re feeling overwhelmed:
- Add in an hour of meditation or yoga
- End the ‘school day’ early when things aren’t going as planned
- Start the school day later if you’re feeling extra tired
- Add ice cream to the lunch menu
- Bribe your kids into getting the work done… extra screen time after ‘school’ or dessert with dinner
If there’s one good thing about this massive shift in our regular lives, it is perhaps the new appreciation we hopefully have for other people and professions. Working moms appreciate the daily balance of stay-at-home moms, stay-at-home moms are impressed by homeschool moms, and all parents feel new-found amazement for the patience and stamina of teachers. I hope we never lose this new appreciation.
And we need to give ourselves a break and feel good about the success of another day conquered with our kids, hopefully, healthy and happy.
Whatever your current situation, however you’re handling this, rock on mom!
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