Like many parents, I struggle with time. Not only do I have a baby, but I also work from home and homeschool my son who is in Grade 4.
When we decided to enrol Alex in a Distance Learning School and to homeschool, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. And so far I have found that it can be really hard, but it can also be so fulfilling to help your child grow and find pride in his education. Here are the time-saving and survival tips that we live by.
1. DON’T replicate traditional school
You only need 2-3 hours of “book” time. The 1-1 attention you can provide is far more efficient than the traditional school setting. The time depends on grade level - for Grade 4 it’s closer to 3 hours, for Kindergarten only about 30 min.
2. Combine topics
Don’t waste your time, or your kids, by tackling topics separately. For example, we covered Language Arts, Science and Computer Skills in one project/day. We read about how the WWF protects the Ocean and Alex practiced his writing skills by writing down how they do that. Next, he created a fun story about what he learned using Scratch coding.
3. Allow wild + free time
I am a millennial parent, and millennials are the most anxious generation in history. Recent studies suggest that this may be related to my generation's use of social media, and the high expectations set by it. We live in an age where constant comparison makes us feel like we can never be a good enough parent.
This anxiety has caused us to be overprotective, helicopter parents that supervise our children 24/7. Allowing your child unsupervised play will not only help you gain time, but you provide your child with the joy of independence. And I do mean joy. I remember telling my son at nearly 9 years old that he is allowed to play in our neighbourhood without me. He was ecstatic. For my own benefit, I required him to check in with me every 15-minutes (I know over-anxious), but we eventually graduated to 2-3 hours of unsupervised playtime - just as long as he was with another kid (safety in numbers). I truly did see a difference in his behaviour during this time, he gained confidence, he was more likely to step up and show his newfound independence by making breakfast or babysitting his sister while I showered.
Alex scratch coding
Working from Home
I have been working from home since I had Alex over 9 years ago. And I have lived the struggles of being distracted by laundry, the TV in the living room, and the nearby fridge that caused me to gain weight.
1. Practice flow
Flow is a mental state of focused attention, also known as “being in the zone”. When you are in the zone, not only do you enjoy work more, but you are far more efficient. As a designer, reaching flow has always been crucial in producing the best results. But with today’s distractions, reaching flow has become that much harder. I schedule focused time in my calendar, and let my team know that I will be disappearing for an hour or two. Emails and phones on silent help me to reach that flow.
2. Dedicated workspace
When you don’t have a dedicated workspace, one of two things will happen. Either you won’t be able to focus, or you will have trouble turning off work and end up working too much. Neither are good. I used to work in my living room, and even when I logged off and sat on the couch to relax I found I couldn’t stop thinking of work. Physically distancing your work is important, even if it means reserving a desk in the corner that you only use for work.
3. Daily routine
Get up early, make your bed, out of pyjamas (yes all of it, not just getting the top part dressed for Zoom), wear make-up if you wish - everything you would do if you were physically going to work. A daily routine not only boosts your mood but also productivity.
Women traditionally carry the majority of the mental load. The minuscule and numerous behind-the-scenes work of household management is both taxing and often invisible to the other partner.
1. Redistribute responsibilities
Move away from delegating “asking your partner for help” to assigning responsibilities. For example, my husband is in charge of medical appointments for the kids and our dog, and I never have to think about these, which eases my mental load.
2. Share your calendar
Communication is key, especially when redistributing responsibilities. We keep each other up to date by having a shared calendar for each person in the family. We even sync our work meetings so that we can avoid scheduling meetings at the same time and end up holding a baby in the meeting, though this still ends up happening pretty often with our busy schedules.
All of these strategies have helped me keep my head on straight and my family organized throughout the past year. But, not every day materializes as we expect. It’s important to remember to take it easy on ourselves as we are all still navigating unfamiliar waters as this pandemic evolves. What has been helping you save time and stay sane these days? Share with us in the comments below.