Working from Home and Homeschooling – How are we coping?

2 weeks ago
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Home schooling is hard. And I’ve discovered that home schooling while trying to stay on top of your own work and care for a baby (and sometimes your three year old too) is basically just carnage and the best that anyone can hope for is that we all just scrape through the day alive and fed.

But this is the reality millions of us find ourselves in, trying to balance teaching our children at home with getting sh*t done. So how are we doing it?

I chatted to several parents who are juggling the chaos of WHF with home schooling in lockdown 3.0. We asked how they’re coping with managing their job and the job of home teacher and when they think the schools should return.

 

Jamie Baird – Steeps One Shot

jamie baird

On the first lockdown we had the twins at nursery and our eldest in primary school. The first 8 weeks at home with them all, (which all seems a bit of a blur now) went quite well I think. The schools were doing their best they could, as it was a complete unknown to them, but I quickly adopted the attitude that my kids weren’t going to miss a huge deal as long as they did some daily english, maths etc. Both the school and nursery set work for us but lots of play, craft, garden time was also had by all! My fitness training business had completely stopped so I was at home, except for a few zoom sessions. The twins went back to nursery in June and they were there throughout the whole summer, which was a blessing. Getting 5mins of peace is difficult and getting longer to concentrate is even harder. I get up super early to do work and then I work super late to get more work done and the gap in the middle I do a bit but not a huge amount. On this third lockdown we have all 3 kids at home, again super challenging but choose your battles. Joan will sit to her phonics, Angus is not the slightest bit interested and wants to build things with cardboard. Mabel is doing her 2 zoom sessions with some Sims thrown in the middle. I refuse to get stressed or put pressure on the school as there’s just no point. 
 
I think sticking to a loose schedule is really important, getting dressed for the day, breakfast, lunch, playtime, dinner, etc. just as you would in your past life. We all, deep down, like a bit of routine and without it the wheels can well and truly come off the wagon. 
 
 
In my opinion the schools should go back as soon as the teachers have all had the vaccination and they should be high on the list of getting it. Keeping the schools closed till after Easter does give the Government more time, however the kids do need the interaction with their friends and the routine which school provides. 
 
Jamie Baird is a fitness trainer and he runs his own business as Founder and “Chief Steeper” of Steeps One Shot, a powerful, plant-based wellness shot. 
 

Magda Wilcock – Founder of Valentina’s Minis

We are homeschooling from about 10:15-14.00. Thankfully our school is helping out with Zoom classes every day between 9:15-10:00. As our daughter is only in year 1, she does need a lot of attention. It can get very stressful at a times especially with a baby as well to look after. 
 
As I’m working only from Thursday night till Saturday/ Sunday, depends on demand. I do all my baking in the evenings after the kids go to sleep and I work until late in the night. Throughout the week I’m managing my little business from my phone as we only have our FB page at the moment. I’m pretty much 24/7 on, taking orders or answering customers’ questions. 
 
I do try not to use my phone while I’m homeschooling preferably. 
 
I would love all the kids to go back to school ASAP as homeschooling isn’t the best for them in my opinion. Children’s morale is slipping and they are losing their attention and are keen to learn with their friends again. We do need school to open. Kids are missing their social lives, proper education, and especially routine!!
 
I do understand it’s not safe at the moment, but I cannot personally wait for school to reopen. And I know it doesn’t make me a bad parent!
 
Magda Wilcock is the founder and  owner of Valentina’s Minis (a small cake shop she started back in December 2020).
 

Lyndsey Lee – LCL Virtual PA

Lyndsey Lee

I am used to working from home as I serve my clients remotely anyway as a business owner and virtual assistant. I had a set routine and managed my day effectively to complete client work and my own business’s needs. During the first Lockdown home schooling was my only focus as almost overnight my work dried up. Suddenly my husband was still out at work and I was stuck at home with my 8 & 2 year old. We managed an hour or three every day but very quickly found it unbearably tough with a toddler at home to stay focused and to keep my eldest motivated to do the work set by the school. This time round, luckily the nursery is still open and my toddler disappears between the hours of 9 & 3. Husband is still out at work but now my business is thriving,  all of my clients are very much “business as usual” this time round.

The challenge this time is managing our day and finding that balance between school work and client work. Most of her tasks are set out on a platform called Seesaw and we have to submit everything through there. The teachers have done amazing  video lessons and set tasks that have to be completed on the platform. Here lies problem one. The only working tablet we have at home is too old to support the platform used by the school, phones are too small to see the work clearly, and the only way we can access the work is through my work laptop. This means while she is watching a lesson for 20-30mins, I still can’t get on with any of my own work. So we have to time block. We dedicated the first 3 hours of the morning to solely focus on Home-school tasks. I sit with my daughter and go through tasks set, helping her out as much as I can.  Then from midday she sits behind me at the dining table with a notebook and pen and works through any tasks that she can get on with by herself, although it’s very rare that I’m not asked to assist on even the simplest of tasks. I have to try to squeeze as much of my client work into the 3 hours of the afternoon I have left before collecting my youngest from nursery. Anything I don’t get completed then waits until my husband is home from his job in the evening. He takes over with the kids, cooks dinner and gets the youngest ready for bed, all whilst I remain seated at my desk working through the rest of my client tasks and if it’s not too late by the time I’m done, I try to spend a bit of time focused on my own business. Even with our time blocking in place she is falling further and further behind on the tasks set out by the school. We simply do not have enough time in the day to complete it all. I’m very concerned that this will affect her abilities to keep up with her peers when she finally returns to school. Will this have a knock on affect on her ability when it comes to her year 6 SATs? In this respect I’m grateful I only have the one to home-school as I would dread to think how I would keep my business running and provide for my family if my other daughter was a couple of years older and already in school too.

I’m torn on when the schools should reopen if I’m honest. On one hand I’d like them open as soon as possible so my daughter can get the education she so desperately needs but on the other hand, the fear of the evolving virus and no vaccinations for school staff in sight, makes me want to keep her home and safe in our bubble. I do think that February half term was maybe a bit ambitious, I still feel the 8th of March maybe too early to ensure everyone’s safety but I sit here now praying that they are back before the summer term and not out of school as long as they were the first lockdown.

Lyndsey Lee is business owner at LCL Virtual PA and helps business owners manage their memberships and their daily admin. www.lclvirtualpa.co.uk

Emma Rowley – VA Mentor

It is hard! I work from home anyway running my own Virtual Assistant and VA Mentoring business so having to fit in homeschooling is really tricky.
 
My son is 11 and in Year 6 at Primary School, so he isn’t at an age to need too much supervision, but does need pushing to get the work done otherwise he will just be on his xBox all day! So I have to sit in his 30-minute class Zoom call every day then try & motivate him to do the work. He is only doing the minimum – Maths, English & reading as it was too much of a struggle. And he loves school and is a high achiever, he just dislikes doing it at home.
 
I also have a 20 year old daughter who is currently in her second year at Uni but is struggling mentally with not being able to mix socially with her friends.
 
I have all my hopes resting on March 8th for schools to be back!! 
 

Emma is a VA Mentor to new & aspiring Virtual Assistants, helping them start & grow their own profitable businesses.

 
 

Homeschooling and WFH – the impossible task

While our piece is only anecdotal takes from a handful of multi tasking parents, it’s clear that home schooling and working from home is a near impossible task. Are we at increased risk of burnout? Stress?

Of course, Covid has proven such a phenomenal force to reckon with. But I’m a firm believer in the resilience of Britain’s smallest businesses and here’s hoping that we’re seeing the bounce back soon.

Stacey MacNaught
Stacey MacNaught
Stacey is an SEO and content marketing specialist by day. She's the founder of MacNaught Digital, which owns Micro Biz Mag, and has been writing copy for over a decade. She lives in Oldham with her husband and two sons.