Schools are closed. Kids are home. You still need to work, and you don’t want your kids’ schoolwork to slide while you’re home, right?
I’ve been working at home for almost 12 years AND homeschooling for almost 9 years. Here are my top tips for working at home and homeschooling while on Coronavirus lockdown.
1. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself AND your kids. This is NEW for all of you. It’s not summer. It’s a complete and total surprise. So, be easy on yourself and them. However, routine is going to be your friend more than you know.
2. Set A schedule for work.
I recommend getting up before they do for some uninterrupted time. Don’t expect it to be perfect. You will be interrupted.
3. Set clear expectations about when you will do things. I spend about 20-30 minutes with my kids before I have to sit down to work. Then, I tell them that Mommy is going to work for x amount of time. I take a break or end my work when I say I will. Sometimes I set a timer. This really helps them know that I’m not abandoning them. I also chat about what they CAN do while I work.
4. Make a meal plan. Three simple, filling meals with two snacks. Post the times or they will eat crap all day.
5. Assign kitchen duties for the day. One kid unloads, another loads, another clears off. That’s their chore all day. I also do this with cooking. I assign a kitchen helper so I can spend time with one kid at a time throughout the day. Big kids can make breakfast or lunch. I also assign a drink maker. Even younger kids can get water from the fridge spout.
6. Mandatory chores and outside time (at least an hour in the morning and afternoon). They NEED exercise and fresh air. Save this for when attitudes are rotten. Outside changes everyone from grumpy to happy quick.
7. Set up a learning toolbox. Order some workbooks and set up an approved list of educational shows and movies and even YouTube. Work on lagging skills during this break. Incorporate any assigned e-learning your school provides.
8. Insist on mandatory reading time. We do 20-30 mins twice per day. Audiobooks count. I LOVE the app called EPIC! It will read to your younger kids and has lots of classics if you can’t get to the library. This is either available through your school or they have a month’s free trial.
9. Kids 7 and up can learn to type for free. Three weeks of daily practice is an excellent stepping stone for helping your kids gain one of the most important life skills they’ll need in their future.
10. Adopt the eat, work, play, rest routine. It worked on your babies. It works on all kids.
11. Give your big kids a big project to work on while they are home. Have them redecorate a room, or read a biography and write a paper or put a video together on their subject. (Help then break it down into steps.)
12. Set up stations for play. Play dough, art supplies, Lego, board games, etc. This helps them rotate activities and not tear up the house.
13. Focus on keeping the main living space clean. We do three 10-min pickups a day right before meals (no food until it’s clean). Then do dishes, bathrooms and laundry, bathrooms, and beds. Don’t try to deep clean the entire house every day. You will lose the battle. One area per day.
14. Pay older kids to have day camp with younger kids. They keep them out of your hair and play with them. There’s a lot of life learning here.
15. Pay your kids to do big chores. They can vacuum under furniture, weed out winter clothes, organize the garage, clean out kitchen drawers, pick up sticks in the yard, clean cars and wash curtains.
The main point: Set reasonable expectations. Be clear on the rules. Do what you say you’ll do. Put the kids to work. Don’t stress about a little too much Wild Kratts. Wash your hands, and enjoy your kids.