Have you organised your home and time to be effective for kids to learn AND adults to work during the home-based learning PLUS work from home?
We are all playing our part social distancing to fight the spread of Coronavirus but how do you best organise your space and time so that kids can do home based learning while parents work from home? Our regular contributor, professional organiser and time management coach Nathalie Ricaud from Get Organised and Beyond, tells us how to best get organised for both kids and adults.
1. Define workspace and HBL space
So you don’t have a home office? Don’t panic. Choose a quiet corner of your home where you can work undistracted. Once you’ve selected the best space for kids and adults, keep to the same arrangement if it works.
For kids: Make sure your child has a good chair and table space for school work – this is especially important if they are practising hand writing or using a computer so that their posture is correct. Get kids involved in arranging their workspace with what they will need.
For parents: If you have young kids who need help with HBL and there is no one else at home to help them, you have two choices: work alongside your kids (be warned this can be frustrating if your child needs constant help) or see if you can adjust your working hours to accommodate your kids in the morning and for example do your work in the afternoon and evening. Which brings us to our next point…
2. Manage your time
Make a schedule for everyone in the family. For little kids you can draw pictures of the schedule while older kids can read a list. Schedule everything in: work, kids activities, online classes, chores, meal times, exercise, social interaction, entertainment etc. This will allow you to focus on each task without procrastinating or wasting time deciding what to do at any given time.
For kids: Remember that it can be hard to expect younger kids to stick to a rigid schedule if it does not allow enough time for play and free time.
For parents: Schedule in work phone calls for a time when you know the rest of the house won’t disturb you (for example, when kids are having screen time). Schedule in when you check social media and read the news so that you don’t get swept away in a tide of stressful information that can distract you from the rest of the day.
3. Get all your equipment ready
Make sure you have everything you need easily accessible once you sit down to work or do HBL. Don’t let your schedule go off track because kids need to hunt for their favourite pen — get this all ready the day before ‘school’ starts. This includes downloading any apps or conferencing technology needed for lessons. We find it’s good for kids to have important links and e-learning resources already open on their browser so they are ready to go.
For kids: Assign a box for each child to have all their gear; school work, iPad, pencils, workbooks etc. If you have a compact space you can easily clear up after work/home school and put everyone’s gear in their own box and hide it nearby in a cupboard or on the floor to free up table space. IKEA has a trolley on wheels (RÅSKOG, $59) that can be handy for keeping everyone’s gear nearby. You can also use a shoe box for each child or a school bag.
For parents: You may need your laptop, phone, earphones, pen, notebook, diary, current projects files etc.
4. Set boundaries
Let everyone in your family know what their new schedule is. Get kids involved in designing a realistic schedule — maybe it resembles the one they have at school?
For kids: Children may find it easiest to keep to their regular routine as much as possible – this includes normal bedtimes — not later bedtimes because there is no regular “school” in the morning.
For parents: If you are working in a separate room to your kids, set boundaries for not being disturbed. Agree that if the door of the room where you work is closed, then you shouldn’t be interrupted. Nathalie recommends that “If you have young children who are unable to read, put a stop sign on the door they can easily recognise.” Give kids an alternative – maybe they can write their question down and ask you later. Can they ask your helper (if you have one) for what they need instead?
5. Be realistic about everyone’s work capacity
Working from home with kids is tough. Nathalie says “Be realistic that you may have to scale your workload during these times so that you don’t become frustrated with yourself or your family. Now is the time to look after your mental health more than ever. Maybe aim for six hours of real work compared to the eight you put in at the office. The best way to achieve this is to end each working day by planning your next day. List down all your tasks and estimate the time it will take you to do each of them. If you have too much on your plate, ask yourself for each task whether you can delete it, delay it, diminish it or delegate it so you can focus on your true priorities.”
6. Schedule in Fun Time
It can be hard on your relationship with your child if your interactions are purely centered around following schedules and doing homework on time. After all, us parents aren’t trained to be teachers and kids do act differently with their teachers and classmates compared to at home. Make sure you put your fun parent hat on in the afternoon, at bedtime or on weekends when you have time. Play board games together, read stories and have fun with your kids.
7. Look after yourself
Nathalie advises that you should take extra care to put your own oxygen mask on first. It can be tough being with kids, partner, and managing everyone’s schedules in a tight space. “Self-care is more important than ever during these unsettling times to help keep our spirits up.”
For parents: Use the time you used to spend commuting each day to do things that will bring you joy or calmness, like social interaction through regular video calls to friends and family.
For kids: Kids need time to play and decompress. They may not have time to do this in their regular school day due to schoolwork, enrichment classes and outside activities. Use this time to let them play, explore and learn through having fun.
Read more: How We Self-Care
8. Be kind
Good luck in organising a space and schedule to suit your needs and that of your whole family. And remember, be kind with yourself, your children, your work colleagues and employees – these are stressful uncertain times and we are all just doing our best.