Forget about Work-Life Balance: Tips to Survive Living with Children
Work- life balance. Such Bullsh*t, Right?
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what IS working for me as I navigate being a mom, getting in full-time hours at work, taking a course part-time, continuing my epic quest to find the Hidden Land of Abs, and balancing three spinning teacups on my head.
I know you’ve got a list, too.
Fifteen years as a teacher has given me an advantage when it comes to orchestrating an at-home learning environment that semi-works. One year working closely in the private sector with small business owners gives me the empathy to know that this life is hard.
So, right off the bat, repeat after me: Life is not perfect. This homeschooling thing is not perfect. I will do what is best for me.
With that, I love seeing what other people are doing as we work from home, so I thought I’d also share my schedule.
Schedules and Environment
The first step in teaching has nothing to do with teaching at all.
Forget about the workbooks, the websites, empower, any of it. Children respond to routines and environment. If you want your kids to calm-the-fudge-down, they’ve got to know what’s coming and what to expect. There is a reason schools have clocks, bells, and brooms.
Set up a structured routine, place it somewhere prominent and don’t deviate until they’ve got it down.
And while we are on the topic of environment: have at least one place in your house that gets tidied. Have you heard the saying “outer order, inner calm”? Kids feel it, too. If there is one room in your house that regularly gets tidied of the markers, stray lego, and comic books, it will serve as a physical reset button.
Try to resist the temptation to lock yourself in that reset room.
Now for the educational resources
There are a ton of amazing resources out there. So much so that, if we are being honest, it’s completely overwhelming.
Educational tools are like ice cream. If you try to sample every flavour, you’ll end up with a bellyache and serious aversion to cows. Instead, try two or three, use them for at least a week, and see how it goes. Give your kids the gift of an experimental mindset. Tell them this is what you are trying for the week, and we can discuss changes next week.
Get input from your kids
Yes, that’s right: talk to your kids. Give them some autonomy.
For example, I wanted my kids to work on coding. I gave them three choices for coding websites/programs. Each gravitates to a different style, but all of them enjoy what they are working on and none of them complain about coding. You can be sure, it’s because they feel like they are in control.
Also, allow for their input for larger scheduling changes. At dinner one night last week, they told me that the hour of “quiet workbook time” I had scheduled in the morning was too long for them. I could see this in their behavior as well - bickering escalated as the hour wore on. So we agreed to cut it down and institute a mandatory outdoor recess, regardless of weather. They got their much-needed movement, I still got my silence.
These ideas are the foundation of what’s working for me. Remember: you do you. If one little thing resonates, great, but ultimately, you got out of bed this morning and you faced the day. And sometimes, that’s enough.
What do you think? What’s working for you during this crazy parenting time?