What is outlined here is the ideal. Whilst there are some great suggestions and ideas here, real life will inevitably get in the way and life is not an ideal, picture perfect thing. Be forgiving of yourself and of your children. You are all coping in unusual times.
You do NOT have to do everything. You are essentially taking on another full-time role, one for which you have not studied, prepared or expected.
Whilst schools remain open for children of key workers, many of us will have been encouraged to keep them at home if at all possible. You should, of course, make the decision that is best for you and your child(ren). Your health (physical and mental) and safety are of primary concern at this time. Here are a few suggestions to help you balance homeschooling and working from home.
Talk to your line manager to ensure they are aware that you have school aged children. You may like to talk about the different patterns you will need to work, or how you will structure your day. If there are times of the day that you need to allocate to your children, let them know. The more open and honest you are, the better placed they are to help and support you. They may well be in a similar situation themselves, and will certainly have their own complexities that they are dealing with. Be generous with each other. Find out more about talking to children about COVID-19 here.
Be gentle; with yourself as well as your child(ren). You are all new to this. It is a strange time, and you will both have concerns and worries; good days and bad. If you want some good advice on how to talk to your children about COVID, you could start here. This page also has links to some great ideas around parenting teens during covid, and helping children manage their emotions during covid.
Own your emotions – it’s okay to tell your children that you are upset, angry, confused or finding it tricky. It may help them to be able to talk about what their emotions are too.
Create structure… – Both you and your children will benefit from some sort of timetable to your day, and it will be helpful to you all to share that. So, let the children know when you have a call booked for example, or a deadline approaching so that they know you might be more occupied and less easily disturbed at that time. This can also work for anyone else that you are sharing a living space with. For children, it’s helpful for them to know what they have coming up.
…But, be flexible – you don’t have to create a full, inspirational and learning focussed 9-3pm day. You also won’t be able to homeschool AND be fully focussed and present for your normal working hours. Think about how you can carve out some time for yourself and for your children. For younger, school aged children, perhaps they could do 30 mins of DEAR (drop everything and read) while you check in with your emails. Could they sit and watch an hour of David Attenborough while you’re on a call? Do your pre-school children still have a nap? Could you use that time to get some work done? Alternatively, shift your working hours. Do some first thing, and some in the evening. What is important is your output, not the number of hours in front of your computer.
Interruptions – Remember the clip of the BBC news reporter being interrupted by his child, and how he tried to ignore it and carry on. Why not introduce your children to your colleagues instead. Your children are curious about what you do at work, and who you might be talking to. Let them say hi and their curiosity may be assuaged.
Take breaks – Your children would have breaks at school, let them have them know. If they can entertain themselves during breaks, use this time for things you need some uninterrupted concentration with. Allow yourself breaks from your work. Use this to nourish yourself (mind, body or soul), or to spend some time being curious with them about their work.
Expect the unexpected – things are not going to go to plan. You (all) will have good days and bad days. Roll with them. File them under ‘done’ and move on tomorrow.
Productivity – your productivity will not be the same as it may usually be. Remember that this is not normal ‘working from home’. Even those of us who are well practiced at working from home will struggle to maintain focus and productivity.
A different curriculum – children are going to learn different lessons from being at home with you. It might be more about what your job is, and who your colleagues are. It could be getting them involved with household jobs will unleash their inner chef, their creative genius or their physics know how.
Allow them to follow their own interests and to get involved in ways they might not normally around the house.
Alternatively, there are a wealth of resources online to support learning in different ways. BBC Bitesize covers ages 3-18 in supporting their learning, and lots of celebrities have made output available to support learning e.g.
You can also find a good list from the BBC here