Working At Home With Kids
When the schools closed due to the lockdown, I got the emails and the texts. I want to say to my mama friends who are working from home and trying to “homeschool” your kids, the last thing you need from me is tips on how I do it. I have dodged the question when it has come at me, keeping my answers vague.
To my mama friends, I give you all the love and virtual hugs you need.
I can’t wait until this is over and we have coffee together and you tell me the story of how you made it through and entertain me with all the ideas you tried to engage your kids with, while you found a way to work from home, with them being their kidselves around you.
How do I do it?
The truth is, I don’t.
It might seem like you are in my world, but only in the sense that your children are with you now, all the time.
Most of the homeschooling parents I know, have some kind of job or some kind of side business going. Some of them work part-time, others hold weekend jobs, some mamas take the night shift. Some like me, are freelancing and helping our husbands with their gigs.
Working and homeschooling can be done but when I have seen it done, fulltime like you are trying to do now, it is done with support. Daycare. Grandparents. Aunties. Supports and structures that aren’t available right now.
I don’t work full time and homeschool.
My work is sporadic, coming in a week here and not a week there.
There are weeks where I work full-time hours and there are days where I am racing to meet a deadline. There are some weeks I would rather not talk about because those are the weeks where my husband and I both have a deadline to meet.
And our home looks like a tornado went through by the end of it and there have been big feelings and tears and veggie dogs and pizza and yet we keep doing it.
But I planned for this before my children were even out of the womb, this is how life is for me and my family, there isn’t another way for us.
I chose this, having the kids with me all the time.
This is Not My Life
If I were in your shoes and I heard me, who has been known to say things like , “Life without school is so great! I love having my children with me all day every day”, I can imagine, I would feel supremely annoyed.
If I woke up one day and had to scramble to make the school drop off and pack lunches and get to work on time and deal with teachers and homework and… my heart is racing and my hands are sweaty thinking about it. I would have no idea what I am doing. I would wonder where am I? What is this and when it is going to end because this is not my life.
My brain would melt and I would crumple into a ball.
Mama friends, not only is this hard and stressful, it is also unfair. You didn’t plan for any of this working from home and schooling the kids stuff.
It is a lot.
Let Them Do What They Want
You can see why I have been reluctant to offer up suggestions on how I do this (really, I don’t do what you are trying to do now, seriously, you are doing amazing).
I have been pretty quiet on this because anything I would offer might sound like, I am telling you to let your kids do whatever they want.
I have noticed this sentiment is often an uncomfortable thought for a lot of my mama friends to try on but it is our unschooling way, to simplify it.
Doing whatever you want, is the dangled prize to be had, once you reach adulthood. I can understand, the visceral reaction is to balk at it when I put forth the idea and mean to let your kids try it on for size.
Letting them do whatever they want, does not absolve me of my parenting responsibilities, to keep them healthy and safe and to make sure they are aware and respectful of other people.
We are huge fans of harmony in our home, there are plentiful considerations to this, do whatever they want, way of life.
For instance, when my kids are out at the library, they know the importance of eating only in the designated eating area, when we are at the splash pad, they know bathing suits are required they do understand the whole following the rules of the establishment they are visiting.
Doing whatever they want, does not mean they aren’t learning to keep consideration for others and their environments in mind. Honestly, some days it feels like those heavy ideas are all we talk about.
During those times on my calendar when I am working those full-time hours, often towards a deadline, there are three things I keep in mind.
Three Things To Keep In Mind While Working At Home With Kids
1. Make Peace With The Mess
I can’t, at least not yet, keep our home company ready clean and work. I have learned to make peace with the mess. But clutter and mess trigger my anxiety.
So I compromise on the messes I can let go of, for now, that will let me work: toys all over the place in the living room? Sure. Art supplies everywhere? Fine. Piles of shoes by the doorway? Whatever. Sleeping areas look like a hurricane hit? Not my space. Dishes…no, I have to at least have the dishes done before bed. Cluttered counters? They make me want to crawl out of my skin. I have to have at least one or two clutter-free areas. Laundry? Meh. One of these days, the laundry is going to form into a laundry monster and eat me.
2. Lower Expectations
I can’t do it all, at all times. If I have work on the calendar for the day, then everything goes around that. There are days where we do look like Pinterest comes to life (okay, we never, ever look like Pinterest comes to life but we do look like we have it together a good majority of the time) but this week isn’t going to be that time. I’m not going to have time to work and dive into big projects with the kids. This is not the day where we look up all the questions on our fridge or take the models out of their boxes, or open the chemistry set. I try to prioritize connecting first thing in the morning, where we play a board game or read books and then the kids play around me while I work or find their way to a screen and we find our way back to each other during breaks and there is always nighttime.
3. Keep The Long View In Mind
I appreciate being around friends who have teens or grown-up children and have shared some of their seasoned wisdom with me. This is one that I keep in mind when I’m having a mental health day, too. On this day, this home is a mess, dinner is a casualty, nothing got done other than work, the kids are wearing clothes from yesterday…or the day before yesterday, is all for the now, it isn’t for always.
As time has gone on and my kids have grown, this has become…different than it was when they were babies, from impossible to doable, at least for me, some of the time.
Hang in there, my mama friends and I am looking forward to the coffee.