How a Mom of 5 Is Getting Work Done, Homeschooling and Staying Sane

As an entrepreneur, writer, author and recovery coach, I have worked entirely from home for the past six years. Some of my days, and every summer, have included doing it around my five children. There’s a reason I don’t normally homeschool: having the kids at school is a much easier way to structure your work day. That’s why this shift to home is mixed with excitement and worry for you and your kids. “How will I get anything done?” is a valid question. That being said, it is very possible to maintain productivity with a few best practices.

1. Start your day with something for you.

Whether it’s an at-home yoga DVD or a quiet cup of coffee. Begin the morning with self-centering.

2. Hold a family meeting if your kids are 3 and older.

Remind them that you still have to work, and they still have to participate in “school,” and that this is going to be a team effort to get through this.

3. Define your working space and create your home base.

For me, that is not in the same area as the kids. That nook might be a desk in their room, the kitchen counter or a lap desk on the couch. What is important is that it is a place where everyone can actively work and learn while having access to everything they need.

4. Schedule, schedule, schedule.

Concentration and creativity don’t do well with interruptions, so putting together a schedule is imperative. Depending how old your kids are, include them in the planning, or plan your work day and conference calls during naptime if they are still little. One important note: the actual classwork your kids might be doing right now will not take the same time that it would during an actual school day, so plan accordingly.

5. Swap hours with your partner.

You make breakfast while your partner works. Have your partner make lunch while you get an hour of work done. Find bits of time where you can divide and conquer.

6. Set boundaries.

My kids know that if my office door is closed, you do not knock, yell or ask me anything unless it’s an emergency. That being said, my office door is open unless I’m on an important call or video meeting. My kids respect this important boundary, and they should be allowed boundaries of their own, depending on their age. For example, headphones on equals don’t bug me!

7. Remember that kids are more capable of self-teaching and entertaining themselves than we give them credit for.

I encourage my readers’ “work time” to be completely independent. Instead of immediately asking me to come help, they can look in the text, online or in their notes. They usually figure out the answers themselves. I also encourage siblings to help each other. I will start an activity with them, and then step away when they have it under control, and return to my desk to get some more work done.

8. Put chores on the schedule for 30 to 60 minutes and make everyone chip in.

Turn on some music, and go to town. Kids are very helpful and capable. They might not do everything the way you like, but they will get better if given the opportunity. Have them take ownership over cleaning the litter box or feeding the dog. Think of all of the projects in the house that you’ve put in the “I don’t have time for this” category and start doing those things, or farm them out to your kids.

9. Keep your brain and body moving.

Take breaks and include your kids in a round of jumping jacks or push-ups. Take time to re-center and get the wiggles out, and check in with your kids so they feel reconnected and reassured. Sit down together for snacks and a puzzle.

10. Watch out for distractions.

You are home, which means no one is looking over your shoulder or passing your desk. This might be the killer of your productive work day if you start scrolling Facebook or Nordstrom. When you find yourself shifting gears, pull yourself back.

Remember at the end of this six weeks, eight weeks, or however long this isolation lasts, if our kids do nothing academically, spend more time on screens, or relax and lay low, it’s OK. If they develop as human beings and learn some life lessons, and we spend the time getting to know them, nothing is lost. See this as an opportunity to connect, create and grow.