If you"re working from home with distance learners, our hearts go out to you! It"s really, really hard, but practice makes perfect. (Ha! We"re kidding.) Buckle up, exercise extreme PATIENCE, don"t be too hard on yourself, and take it one day at a time. Here are some tips to get you through the next few weeks of your new and unexpected normal. We send our love and sympathy! Take care and be gentle with yourself and others.
When possible, organize your work around your family"s needs and childcare opportunities. Save less critical tasks for times when distraction is likely, and reserve more high-stakes assignments for when you are distraction-free. If you share parenting and homeschooling responsibilities with a spouse, divide and conquerone works while the other parents, and vice versa.
Embrace a Relaxed Homeschooling Style
Roll with whatever each day might bring. Time often feels short when you"re working and homeschooling. If things don"t go the way you planned, make the most of what you are able to accomplish and pick up any dropped threads the following day.
Expect the Unexpected
Take regular breaks from your work to check on your child and assess how things are going. Expect interruptions and unanticipated shifts in priorities. The hot water heater will leak, the dog will get sick, the entire bin of beads will get tipped over, and you"ll discover you"re out of easy lunch optionsall in the same day! A big deadline will get moved up, your wifi will mysteriously stop working, and your inbox will be flooded with ASAP requests. Breathe, prioritize, give your child a big hug, and do the best you can. Some days will be harder, but some days will feel easier, too.
Manage Interruptions Proactively
How can family members best communicate with you to minimize distraction while you are working? For older children, a spiral notebook can be turned into an "Ask Me Later" book, where questions and thoughts can be written and kept safe until work time is over and you are able to address them. Teach them your parameters for urgent vs. non-urgent situations, and give them a helpful way to remember when it is okay to interrupt you during a focused work period. Remind everyone of how you would prefer they get your attention if it is unavoidable. (Stand at the door and wait for your attention? Say "Excuse me" Write a note on a slip of paper and hand it to you?) Of course, in a true emergency, all rules go out the window. Help your children understand how to tell when it really is a true emergency!
Offer Your Attention & Presence Whenever You Can
When you are not working, be as fully present as possible with your children. Let them know that they are the priority during your non-work times and make the most of it for everyone involved. Celebrate when you are done working for the day. Put away your phone and laptop and go about the very important business of reconnecting as a family.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Calendars, homeschool planners, chore charts, and reminder lists can help ensure that everyone knows what to expect each day. At breakfast or dinner, check in about the upcoming day"s plan, so that everyone is on the same page about what needs to happen. Review the times when an adult will be available to help them and when they will need to be on their own. Discuss which tasks are expected to be done independently, without much or any adult help, and which may need a collaborative effort. Be clear about your expectations and encourage suggestions from all family members about how to make things go even more smoothly the following day.