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Let me start off by admitting that we have never before truly appreciated how much our parents and our kids’ teachers make our lives easier. We were of course very grateful and mindful of all the time our children spend with them, but only once we were forced to spend 24/7 together, in a house that has no office space, trying to work two jobs, homeschool two kids, and keep two dogs happy and calm did we realize how much we depend on the help of others. Learning how to juggle it all wasn’t an easy task but we’ve finally managed to figure it all out!
How to Juggle it All: Work, School, Play & Self-Care
This post is a guest post submitted by Julia Robson
This is the story of how we managed to make it through, and keep everyone as happy as they could possibly be in these strange times:
Section off the house
The first thing we realized needed to be done was designating different areas of the house for different tasks. Since both my husband and I had to now work from home, and we had to come up with a schoolroom, we turned the kitchen table into the school, and the living room into the office.
If you can, set up a specific area, especially for school. Our kids were happy to “go to school” every morning to the kitchen table – especially as we also first started eating our meals in the living room, so as not to crowd the same space.
The best advice I can give you for setting up office space is to not turn your bedroom into a place where you work – I know the TV can be a distraction in the living room, but you wouldn’t believe what working in bed can do to disrupt your sleeping patterns.
Let everyone at work know what hours you’ll be working
If you, like myself, are your own boss and work for yourself, you’ll have the incredible luxury of setting your own working hours irrespective of your company’s or colleagues’. This on the other hand can mean you’ll do work last thing, which may lead you to feeling sleepy and drained all week.
I realized that I could basically work around everyone else’s schedule (as my husband was set 8 to 4 working hours), so I set aside 3 hours a day when I was available for clients for calls and emails, and just worked at times when I could, whatever they may be on a given day.
If you need to structure your day around work, try to be as organized as possible and get everything done as early on as you can, so you have time for the unexpected later in the day.
Do the worst first
I always think of my philosophy professor when I say this, but eat the biggest frog first. If you keep pushing that most dreaded task further and further, it will just become more tiresome.
For me, this means getting up an hour and a half before the rest of the family and doing the washing, cleaning the kitchen, getting a workout in, and starting meal prep if it’s meal prep day.
I know that getting up early may not seem like the most enticing prospect – but trust me, when you are up at 6.30AM, it makes your day last longer, even if you are back in bed at 9PM.
Adapt and be ready to learn
If you’ve also never homeschooled before, chances are you will be just as lost as we were. It took us quite a while to realize we needed to stop trying to be teachers, and keep being homeschooling parents.
While we certainly all want our kids to be as educated as they can be, we can’t expect ourselves to teach like the professionals.
In real life, this translates into a lot of learning and observation. I started off assuming both of my kids are equally attentive and inquisitive (even though I already knew this was not the case), I somehow started looking at them as strangers in my “classroom”, as opposed to my own children whom I know and love.
I soon figured out I a) need to remember a lot of forgotten knowledge from primary school and b) they needed different schedules. We soon moved from learning at the same time to mixing play time with school time, and I think it has worked fine.
Use all the help you can get
While I’m sure your teachers will provide plenty of resources, we soon discovered we need to augment them with our own. So I went online and spent hours every weekend looking for interesting ways to make learning more fun.
We also set up story time with the grandparents via Zoom (thank god for the internet), and one of the parents from my youngest’s class organized virtual study dates for 5 kids in a group, so that was a huge help as well.
Don’t rely on the resources you have at your disposal alone, and try to think outside the box as well – these are not regular times, and since we are all spending so much time at home, we need more activities readily available.
Schedule in time for yourself
Finally, with everything else going on, I can’t stress how important it is to find some time for yourself – even if you have to do several different things at a time, make sure there is something in your day that makes you feel better.
For me, it’s my morning protein shake after my workout and my afternoon coffee – I love both quite equally. And I also always try to listen to an audio book while cooking or doing the laundry, so I can feel like I’m doing more than just my chores.
We need to find a way to include the little things that make us happy even in our busiest days – and if that means multitasking, then so be it.
I hope some of these tips help give you some ideas on how to juggle it all: your work, homeschooling and home life during these unsettling times.
Remember you are not alone and that everyone is to an extent going through the same thing – so just keep doing your best and the storm will one day be over.