Gini Dietrich

So You Work from Home AND Homeschool. Now What?

By: Gini Dietrich | March 19, 2020 | 
0

WORK FROM HOMEEarlier this week, I wrote an article about how to work from home, especially if this is your first foray into doing it day after day after day after day after day after day.

While I absolutely encourage a structured day, a routine, and a start and end time, it doesn’t work as well within a 9-5 confine if you’re now also homeschooling.

🤯🤯🤯

Some of you may have toddlers, elementary, middle, or high school kids home. And, sure college kids, too…but you don’t have to homeschool them, even though I imagine they’re still disrupting your day.

And, while the older kids need less of you, you still are responsible for them doing something other than playing video games, starting at their phones, and watching TV.

One’s experience is not better or worse than the other, but I can tell you I am so grateful my kid is in first grade and not preschool. And there is only one of her. I’m not trying to manage schedules for multiple children.

I have a client who has three children between the ages of two and seven. I bow down to her. If she gets anything done, I’m amazed and in awe.

A structured schedule for her means working in the early morning hours, during naptime (if she can get them to go down), and after they’ve gone to bed each night…assuming she’s not so exhausted, she can barely think.

And forget about phone calls and video chats. Those are pretty much out the window, at this point.

Though, I keep telling our clients and my team, if anyone is understanding about how long it takes us to get things done and having to cancel or rearrange meetings, it’s now.

It’s rough and I’ll admit the tears are flowing freely in my house (mostly from me).

But people understand so be understanding with yourself, too.

(I wrote that last sentence more for me than you. It’s really hard!)

Can You Work from Home While Homeschooling?

In the comments of my work from home article on Tuesday, I was asked, “How do you do this when you have kids at home?”

The answer, of course, is it depends.

But I will tell you how I am doing it and hopefully you can glean something useful from this.

First, I have to keep reminding myself that it will take me significantly longer to do things and I have to be OK with that.

This part is very challenging for me because I am at my best when I’m productive (as I imagine most of you are).

But  you have to give yourself a break! (Again, a reminder to myself.)

No one human alive has ever experienced something like this and we’re all trying to muddle through together.

If only we could share homeschooling responsibilities with other families in our classes. But nope. We’re stuck in our homes, handling this allll alone.

Next, time block your day, if you can.

For instance—and I fully realize this won’t work for all of you—I am writing this at 4:15 a.m. Do I love getting up that early? Heck no. But it allows me to do some uninterrupted and deep thinking.

Time Block Your Day..Best You Can

Here is how I’ve time blocked my day, best I can:

  • 4-7ish a.m.: Write, plan, deep work, create to-do list of things don’t require massive amounts of brain energy
  • 7-8 a.m.: Get the dog and the child outside for some exercise
  • 8-9 a.m.: Exercise myself (I’m lucky that we bought a Peloton years ago so Mr. D and I are both using that right now)
  • 9-11 a.m.: Check in with teacher via recorded video; start schoolwork; start on list of tasks that can be interrupted
  • 11 a.m.-12 p.m: Lunch and “recess” outside for the fresh air and to get out of the darn house
  • 12-1 p.m.: More schoolwork while I try to get more work done
  • 1-4 p.m.: This is when I try to time block meetings and Mr. D takes over for a bit
  • 4 p.m.: Check in by recorded video with the teacher and send recordings of schoolwork in
  • 4-5 p.m.: Free playtime and break for cookies or candy or some sort of snack while I finish up what I can for the day
  • 5-7 p.m.: Dinner, bath, straighten up house
  • 7-8 p.m.: One last hurrah of uninterrupted work while the small one watches a bit of TV
  • 8-9 p.m.: Read books or tell stories
  • 9 p.m.: SLEEP (OK, if I’m totally honest, I barely make it through books or stories…I always fall asleep before 9:00)

I’m not going to lie and pretend this is all hunky dory and it works perfectly every day.

This is really hard for me because I crave routine and structure. The constant interruption (“Mom, how do you say this word?” “Mom, what’s 18 + 18?”) is A LOT.

I mentioned the tears earlier? Yeah…the unpredictability of it all is what causes my meltdowns.

But I know the only real time I can get anything done is in the early hours so I haul my butt out of my warm bed, fill my water bottle, sit down at my desk, and get to it.

The rest of the day I have to be flexible enough to take it as it comes, which is really, really challenging for me. Perhaps that’s what I’m supposed to be learning in all this—how to take it as it comes.

I should also note that the above schedule may very well change if we’re doing this longer than April 6 (which it sounds like could very well happen).

It’s NOT One-Size-Fits-All

Some of you may be better in the evenings and into the night.

If that’s the case, use a good three or fours after kids’ bedtime to do your uninterrupted work.

The point here is to time block as much as you can and create a plan beforehand so you can be productive.

Do not waste your blocks of uninterrupted time to scroll through Facebook, participate in conversation in the Spin Sucks community, attend virtual happy hours, or respond to emails.

You can do all of those things during the schoolwork hours, when you’ll be interrupted one hundred million thousand bazillion times.

Block your time (best you can), have a plan, and put your head down and get work done.

You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in that short amount of time without interruption.

And if it means getting up super early or staying up late, so be it.

We all have to do what we have to do right now.

Do the Best You Can

Every night, I write a diary entry on my Facebook page about this isolation.

I’m doing it for myself, so I have something to look back on years from now and can be grateful for how far we’ve come since this moment. But I’ve found my friends enjoy it, too.

Last night, my buddy Josh Wilner wrote in response to my diary entry, “You have to watch this video. Read the captions. And then read the comment from teachers. It’ll make you feel better.”

He was right!

This is the most accurate description of what we’re all experiencing right now. I kind of wish I had recorded it—though I don’t think it would have been nearly as funny in English.

Do the best you can.

While we’re all coming at this from different experiences, we are all going through it at the same time.

What works for me may work for some of you and others may look at it and their heads will explode.

That’s OK!

If there is a day your kids need to stare at their phones or watch TV all day, that’s OK, too.

Do the best you can.

And, if we can help with time blocking or figuring out how you can accomplish something while also homeschooling, or you just need a shoulder to cry on, the comments are yours.

We will get through this together!

(Another sentence I wrote for myself.)

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.