One of the most significant changes in the life of Start Up Marketeer in recent weeks has been having all our children home from school and nursery! Whilst it’s been lovely to spend more time with them, the small issue of homeschooling has thrown up some unique challenges. As any small or medium business owner will know, it can tough to balance home and work life in the best of times! Now with the challenge of homeschooling our children as a result of coronavirus, the task has got a whole lot harder!
Thankfully, we’ve done our best to come up with a way that works for our families and we wanted to share some of our advice with other parents who might be struggling. Read on for tips on balancing homeschooling and running a business, without getting burnt out.
Sort your work into categories
Time management is key for keeping your business going whilst trying to homeschool your children. You will need to get brutal about what work is urgent, what can wait and what can be forgotten about until your children are back at school! In an ideal world, lockdown would be the time to get everything done that you wouldn’t normally do - and that was definitely true in the Easter holidays! - but the reality is that homeschooling and running a business will probably take up the majority your time, even on the best of days.
Write lists wherever you can to categorise your work. You might like to try a traffic light system - red for urgent, amber for important but not urgent and green for delayable. The reds are the things you need to get done regardless of your homeschooling commitments so these should be done first thing in the morning, maybe whilst the children are having breakfast, or late at night when they’ve gone to bed. Ideally, you’ll also find time during the day to slot in a few more work hours, so remember to tackle the most important items first.
Multitask where you can!
The other thing to bear in mind is that not all your work needs all your attention. For instance, you might be able to sort some tasks into things you can do whilst your children are watching an educational programme or when the dinner is cooking. Grab time wherever you can and be prepared to be flexible with your work!
Multitasking only works so well - it’s not advisable to be negotiating an important agreement whilst watching Peppa Pig! - but it can help to make up some of the hours that you lose through homeschooling. You might find that you need to work on the weekends as well, in which case your multitasking can take the form of supervisor and small business owner. Set your children chores to do that can be accomplished independently. You can still act as overseer, but you can also use that time to get some much needed work done!
Keep your clients informed
In the UK at least, we’re all equally affected by the lockdown measures. This means that if your clients are UK-based you can probably get away with being a little bit late with certain emails or some regular tasks - the important thing is to be open and honest with your business partners or clients. Chances are, they will have children themselves or family members with children and will know the pressure you’re under. Appeal to their human side and be clear about what is and isn’t manageable at the moment. Honesty now will be much easier than guilt and apologies further down the line.
Communicate with your children too
As well as communicating changes to your clients, you should try to lay out the changes with your children too. Be clear with them about the new rules for lockdown - when in the day Mummy/Daddy need to be working, what that means to them, and what they should do if they need you. This conversation can help to make the transition from play time to work time a little bit easier.
The same goes for your lockdown routine. It can make a big difference if you have a set routine on weekdays to help the whole family know where they need to be and when. Wake up at a certain time, have breakfast, brush teeth, start work and then build in break times through the day. You’ll probably want to schedule some exercise or outdoor time in there too! By establishing a routine with your children, you can help them get used to life at home, even in the absence of formal schooling. It can also help you to plan your day in advance, so you’ll know what you’ll be doing when.
You’re all in this together!
The best advice we can give is to try to work together as a family as much as you can. As many of us are limited to only spending time with our families at the moment, it’s really important that we all pull together. That means sharing out chores and responsibilities amongst you. Even under-5s can help with some housework like putting away their toys or setting the table for dinner. They’ll be pleased to have the extra responsibility and it’s one less thing on your plate!
The same goes for adults too - everyone in the household can help with homeschooling, it doesn’t have to all fall on one person. Emilie’s daughter is doing all her lessons online, so she needs someone to sit with her and help with the technology; her partner has taken up the task whilst she looks after their youngest and tries to get work done at the same time! If you have any other adults staying in your household, you could ask them to chip in too. It might take some adjusting to get used to the new schedule, but it is possible!
Don’t forget to take time off
With all the juggling of work and homeschooling, you might feel like you have no time for anything else. However, it’s really important to try and carve out some time in your week to spend with your family. For your wellbeing and mental health, you need to take a time out once in a while. Don’t let yourself get to the stage of burnout.
Step away from your laptop and turn off your phone and allow yourself a chance to relax as much as you can. You can’t be there for your family or your business if you don’t look after yourself so make sure you take a break when you need it. Stay safe and stay strong! You’ve got this!