Most of us have gone from “regular school” parents to homeschool parents overnight. I am a “regular school” parent who also works full time from home. When everyone is in the house together for a long period of time, things get real! And Fast! After speaking with some friends, I realized I wasn’t alone. Here are a few obstacles we’ve hit (so far) during Covid19 social isolation and how we overcome them.
The kitchen becomes a 24-hour buffet and mom is a human vending machine. So we have set the boundaries of meal and snack times. If you’re hungry, you need to wait until the next meal or snack time. Over time our bodies adjust to eating times. Normally we are all on different schedules for eating because some of us go to school and some to work and some stay home. Now we need everyone on the same schedule so we have to set those times and hold to them.
The house gets messy faster. More People at home means more toys dragged out, more dishes used, more trash created, etc. Our solution is the “5 minute clean”. We do it three times a day. I set a timer and everyone frantically cleans for 5 minutes (think your mother in law is about to come over and you rush around picking up everything in your path). That resets the house and I can vacuum an uncluttered floor, wipe down counters and freshen whatever needs it. I also pick a zone every day to thoroughly deep clean (office, playroom, kitchen, etc.)
There is sooo much togetherness This is good but can be overwhelming for my introverts of the family. Our solution is that bedrooms are sacred for the person who sleeps there. Meaning, you can retreat to your bedroom anytime you need it. You must also ask permission before going into another person’s room and they have the absolute right to say no. This gives everyone some space. But this also means there is no monopolizing of community spaces (playroom, dining room, living, etc.) Everyone knows they do not have the right to claim those spaces for themselves. If you need your own space, you go to your room.
Recognize that homeschool is not a traditional “regular school” The most important thing to keep in mind about temporary homeschooling is that it simply isn’t school. Kids who are used to the school environment won’t be as focused. The social interaction with other kids will be impossible unless with siblings. The combination of the two can create a stressful environment. Try not to be a “regular school”.
Work off a schedule Kids will work better if they are following a schedule. With the help of your child, try to recreate a schedule similar to the one at “regular school” to help them easily transition back when the time is ready. Add things like chores, family dinner, outside time and quiet time to the schedule. Try to mix things up each week so it doesn’t get monotonous.
Stop comparing and don’t try to keep to someone else’s daily routine. What works for them probably won’t work for you. It is okay to talk to your friends to get a general idea of some of the things they do then you can customize it with how your family works, learns and functions the best. You will drive yourself (and your family) crazy if you try to do exactly what other people are doing. Here is an example of ours:
Teaching children of all ages. I have a first grader, eighth-grader and a high school senior… Needless to say, I am constantly going from one kid to the next helping and answering questions. This is a mental shift from one extreme to the other all day. I can be helping my 7-year-old with basic math, then turn around and help my 17-year-old with Algebra 2 (I have no idea what I am looking at half of the time BTW). Having them work on math at different times gives me the opportunity to help each one individually without the others calling me for help at the same time.
Here is an interview I recently did with a mom who has been homeschooling her kids since kindergarten. I love the advice she gives on how to see it as a chance to allow each kid the opportunity to learn how they can focus best and optimize their potential.
Mamas, this is for you… Find a way to relax and disconnect at the end of the night. Our kids need us to be rejuvenated the next morning. No matter how stressful your day was, find time at the end of the day to unwind and destress so you can wake up the next day and do it all over again, and again and again… Take a long bath, watch your favorite show on television while eating a bowl of ice cream, read a good book or just sit in silence and do nothing.
What did I miss? Add your obstacles and opportunities below!