Many people are suddenly homeschooling their children in today’s environment. Just because you own your own business does not exempt you from this duty. That means that not only are you answering employee questions, striving to guide your business through this tough time and adjusting your budget and cash flow situation as it changes constantly… you’re also now a teacher. Katina Peters has homeschooled her daughter, now 8 years old, since kindergarten while simultaneously running our firm. We sat down to discuss just how she manages the balancing act and what tips she has to share with us on how to homeschool while running a business.
First, we will address some general topics that can help you run your business in a virtual environment, then we’ll break down some schedule suggestions and homeschool-specific tips.
What we cover in this episode:
- 00:26 – Intro
- 01:28 – Work Ethic
- 03:32 – Communication and calendars
- 05:22 – Schedules
- 15:00 – Homeschool tips
- 19:15 – Planning ahead
- 23:29 – Friendly “mute” button and keeping a sense of humor
- 24:51 – Flexible structure
If you’re new to working from home, one of the biggest challenges is making sure that you maintain that same work ethic that you typically have in the office. It’s important to stay focused, which can be especially difficult with the state of our world at the time of this podcast release. Working from home can allow you to adjust your schedule, so you may not be working your typical 8:00 am to 5:00 pm schedule. Your hours may need to flex around other schedules, especially if you’re homeschooling your children. You may work early mornings before the kids are awake, during times when the children are taking breaks, or in the evening after dinner. It’s going to be challenging and that means accomplishing your tasks in a flexible manner, doing whatever it takes. You still have to follow through with your commitments to yourself, your team and to your customers.
Communication and calendars
Communication: This is a crucial component in any circumstance as a business owner for the success of your team and business. The importance of communication is compounded when you’re not in the same office with your team, clients, and customers. It’s imperative to make sure you’re talking to your team and clients regularly about what’s going on, as well as any procedural changes. We don’t believe over-communication exists with distributed teams. A proactive approach will serve you well working and collaborating in a virtual environment.
Calendars: Working with calendars will allow you to block off time for specific tasks. Whether it’s to be with your family, provide homeschooling, or time that you have set aside to focus on work. Utilizing calendars with your team will help everybody understand what your schedule looks like. It also allows you to look at everyone else’s schedule which makes it easier to arrange meetings and create deadlines. Everybody’s schedule is going to be different based on what they have going on, however, leveraging the calendar will allow for better collaboration and is a great tool to plan out your day and week.
We recommend creating a schedule to establish consistent times for work, homeschooling or time for yourself. If you’re struggling to find time to focus, get up early before your children wake up or work at night after they’ve gone to bed. Schedule naps or quiet times and try your best to be consistent. Utilize this quiet time for any work for which you need undivided focus. During these scheduled quiet times, your children can be reading, coloring or working on crafts. We mention Pinterest as a great site to find ideas if you need some inspiration.
Address different age groups
For those of you homeschooling children in different age groups and grades, try to coordinate everyone’s time. Katina suggests getting your older children started on something they can work on independently and then start with your younger children in lower grades as they will need more hand-holding. If you have toddlers, they may enjoy a fun craft or game while your older ones are studying. There are also printables, which are available and sorted by grade-level to support any subjects they may be studying.
Importance of breaks and play time
It is important to understand that children will require breaks, especially younger children. Try to take at least a 10 minute break every 30 minutes or so, to avoid boredom and keep them from sitting for long periods. Children need to have the mental time to step away and give their brain a break. Make this fun! Do a little dance party or a fun game to get their spirits up if they are frustrated. Playing and being outside is very helpful and can be educational for children. Let them get some fresh air, plant a garden, ride their bike, and play with toys.
Schedule time for yourself to switch your mindset
It’s important for us as parents to get out of “work mode” prior to helping our children with their school work. Most of us aren’t teachers by profession. We need to understand teaching our children is much different than what we do for work. Take 30 minutes to step away from your work, read a magazine or relax for a bit prior to jumping right into helping them.
Playing with electronic devices can be good and there are many educational resources that can even be beneficial. There are still many studies showing that this should be limited though. There are resources available like ABCmouse.com that provide “edutainment” for children if you need an hour to be on the phone. This resource is great for children age 2 – 8, and at the time of this release, they are offering 2 months for $5.
While most people did not get the luxury of planning ahead for this very unique situation, you can begin to plan ahead with your new normal and create schedules you’d like to incorporate now that everyone is home. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. Give yourself some time to figure out what you’re going to do and put a plan together for at least a week. Put a plan together for each child so you know what they can be doing when you have meetings or need to focus on work. It doesn’t need to be exact but it will ease some of your anxiety and help with stress knowing that you have a plan.
Friendly “mute” button and keeping a sense of humor
As more of us are working from home and experiencing video conferencing and phone calls with kids in the background, use your mute button! This reduces the background noise for everyone attending the meeting and can be a lifesaver if you have a toddler throwing a tantrum or kids yelling about their video game in the next room. If it’s a meeting with just a few people, tell the other participants that your child is there. This makes everyone aware of your situation should you get interrupted.
Remember to keep a sense of humor. Yes, these are trying times but you can find a lot more joy and happiness in the crazy things that can go on at home if you can laugh about them. Enjoy this extra time that you’re able to spend with your family and try to find the laughter and joy when you can.
One of the things to keep in mind when you’re working from home and homeschooling is what Katina calls a “flexible structure.” Yes, we all need a structure and a plan in place, however, it’s important that you’re flexible with that structure. If you don’t structure anything, you’re definitely not going to get anything done. However, we want to keep it flexible because working from home, things come up that can change that schedule and don’t always go as you expect. You want that structure in place and stick to it as much as you can, but you also need to know that your plans are going to shift and be able to roll with the punches.
If you’re new to working from home, one of the biggest challenges is making sure that you maintain that same work ethic that you typically have in the office. It’s important to stay focused, which can be especially difficult with the state of our world at the time of this podcast release. Understand your hours may need to flex around other schedules, especially if you’re homeschooling your children.
We discuss the importance of communication and calendars in working with your team and communicating how you’re working homeschool time into your day. This will help avoid work calls during the time you’ve dedicated to working with the kids.
Schedules and consistency are HUGE in successfully managing your business while also managing your household. This is especially difficult right now and we are not saying that this is something that will happen every day, but it is something to establish and do your best ot maintain.
While talking about the homeschool tips, we talk about how to manage kids in different age groups, play time and breaks, the importance of scheduling time for yourself for mindset shifts and the ever evolving opinions on electronic devices. Planning ahead goes hand in hand with scheduling and consistency we mention above, but it’s worth the discussion.
We then talk about the importance of the handy dandy “mute” button and why keeping your sense of humor is key in all of this! Recognizing that you’re going to need a flexible structure is also important. Yes, we all need a structure and a plan in place however it’s important that you’re flexible with that structure. We want to keep it flexible because working from home, because things change and don’t always go as expected.
Working from home, running a business and homeschooling your children can be stressful, especially in our current environment. We hope these tips, reminders and the links and resources below can help you navigate through this tough period. Remember to stay focused on your business and enjoy this extra time you have with your family.