So… you want to know how you can work from home, help your kids with remote learning aaand run a household without burning out?
Sounds impossible right? Well it is not, I promise you.
Take a deep breath and exhale. Start by lowering your expectations.
The expectations we place upon ourselves can often make our days more stressful, especially at the moment given we are in the midst of a global pandemic.
Give yourself some grace and let go of what you feel like you should be able to achieve under usual circumstances and focus on what you can achieve during the current circumstances.
Make a list of everything that absolutely must happen every day. If you can do this each night or plan for a few days at a time, your future self will thank you. This list will be your priorities and are the non-negotiable aspects of your day.
- Make my Bed
- Get Dressed
- I need to fit in 4-5 hours of work time into the day. I know that I need to work uninterrupted for at least 3 of those hours but the other 2 hours can be a bit more flexible and slotted in around remote learning and housework.
- Eve has about 4-5 hours of remote learning content to work through and from the overview I can see that she will need some form of support for about 3 of those hours and the other 1-2 hours can be mainly done independently once she is set up and ready to go.
- 2 Loads of Washing – Wash & Hang/Dry
- Pay Water Bill
- Cook Dinner
- Morning Walk
Next make list of everything else that if you have the time to do it, it will get done but won’t be the end of the world if it’s not done.
- Vacuum & Mop the Floors
- Fold & Put Away Laundry
- Tidy the Living Room
- Sort out Paperwork
Order your list in terms of their urgency or importance. Anything on this second list is a bonus, if you do not get it done today, add it to the next day’s list.
I’ve got a big whiteboard that I use the daily overview from Eve’s Teacher to block out her work, my work and everything else in between on my list along with a cork board that I’ve pinned the next few days to a weeks school work overviews on.
That way I can clearly see what Eve will need support with and what she can do independently. Then around that I can block out my work hours for the week. This helps me to see where I can fit in work and where I will need to be a bit flexible. Blocking out my time also helps me reduce the overwhelm and maintain realistic expectations on what I can and can’t get done in a day.
I’ve been working from home since before the pandemic, so this isn’t new territory for me, but adding a kid into the mix certainly is, as Eve has been at School for almost 7 years as she’s in her last year of primary school this year.
I’ve surrendered to the fact that I need to be present from 9-2 on “school” days. So now instead of working during school hours as I normally would, the days I need to get in a solid amount of uninterrupted work in, I get up at 4:30am when my Hubby gets up for work after he leaves I make myself a hot cuppa and some brekky then I work from around 5:30-8:30am. I get 3 hours of uninterrupted work in, so I can focus on supporting Eve with her school work and fit in some housework during the time that she’s working independently through out the day.
Usually if I’m up early, I’m in bed early too so I don’t burn the candle at both ends.
Now you might notice that I put “make my bed” and “get dressed” on the list of priorities. Your probably laughing and wondering why I made that a priority. Well sounds silly but when I make my bed first thing in the morning it feels like I’ve already achieved something, so it starts the day off on a positive note and for me getting dressed is a form of self care that sets me up for a productive day and makes me feel good. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always happen some days I spend all day in my PJs or my workout gear and feel like I have achieved very little but that doesn’t stop me from trying again the next day.
Other things that I have found that have worked well are;
On weekends do something your future self will thank you for. Meal prep, I know it feels like extra work when all you wanna do after a long week of remote learning is chill but preparing some meals or snacks ahead of time means that on the days where everything goes to shit that the pressure is off and you can at least have an easy evening and maybe only need to throw on some rice or steam some veggies or something. You can even get the kids involved in planning and helping with the meal prep.
Having a dedicated work/study area is a great idea and gives you a space to work with little distraction but it is ok to be a little bit flexible too. Sometimes we work outside, on the lounge or at the kitchen table. There are no hard and fast rules, we are in unprecedented times after all, some days you just need to do what works best.
Check the days overview to ensure that you have everything you need before you start for the day. This helps to avoid distractions and wasting time during work and learning time from having to get up and down to get things. We have a remote learning caddy with supplies like glue sticks, scissors, lead pencils, erasers, sharpeners… you get the idea. We keep it loaded so its ready to go for each day.
Make sure devices go back on charge (and that the power point is actually turned on…) ready for the next day so there’s no frustrated outbursts in the morning because the iPad or laptop isn’t charged ready for remote learning. Trust me I learned this the hard way.
Take regular breaks away from the screen. Get up and have a dance or go outside and stretch or do some breathing exercises so that you can all come back to the learning and working space refreshed and refocused.
Start your day by moving your body, whether it’s yoga, stretches or a walk around the block. I have found moving my body helps to set me up for the day and starts the day on a positive note as well as helps my mindset & mood so much, especially since being in iso.
Get a quality nights sleep. Go to bed late, get up late. Get up early, go to bed early.
I know I’m guilty of staying up too late after getting up early just to catch up on work to meet deadlines. I know sometimes it has to be done because work is work, and it can’t be avoided so you just do what you have to do. But on those days where I have gotten up early and stayed up too late rather than getting up early the next morning, I try to take that time to have a little lie in allowing just enough time for breakfast and to set ourselves up for the school/work day and maybe fit in that morning walk, because I don’t know about you but if I’m tired and feeling worn out I can’t focus, I get snippy and I’m usually far less productive. I feel like that small lie in pays for itself later in the day as I’m able to get more done, than if I was to get up that hour earlier, feel tired all day and do sweet F-all.
Take time out. Schedule in some self care. If you don’t take care of yourself and fill your cup, then you won’t be much help to anyone else. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, it just needs to feel good & help you reset. As I mentioned earlier, I put getting dressed on my list because for me that act of dressing myself in clothes that feel good and sometimes even doing my make up for me is a form of self care. Usually once a month I go for a pedi with the girls, but right now that isn’t an option, so I’m finding ways that I can take care of myself at home that still gives me that same feeling.
Try and fit in some time for some family fun, I know it seems like you are spending all day together doing remote learning, but even something simple like a family walk of an afternoon or a family movie night in the loungeroom on a Friday night can be a great way to get in some quality time & relax as a family. It also gives you something to look forward to when you are in the thick of it during the day (or bribe the kids with… either or)
It varies from day to day though, if somethings not working for us, I don’t try and flog a dead horse. So don’t be afraid to change something if things aren’t working for you. There is no one size fits all approach to this, this is just what’s been working for us. Most days anyway as I’m not going to lie there have been days where everything has gone to shit and programs haven’t worked or Eve hasn’t been in the right mindset for school work, and we’ve just done what we can and taken an early mark.
But most importantly, more important than all of this, give yourself grace. Give yourself the grace to let go of what you cannot control and be kind to yourself. Some days you will get all the things done and it will seem like you have your shit together and then other days it will all just go to shit and that’s ok too. Just make sure you keep going. What matters most is you are safe and healthy.
Progress over perfection.