I started Baba+Boo 10 years ago with two children under two, and since then I have been finding the balance between juggling work and my children. I juggle a brain full of work-related stuff, a passion for the planet and the need to be there for my children, both physically and mentally. It’s fair to say that this is a pretty tough gig.
As if this wasn’t enough, you also get a whole load of guilt thrown in for good measure. Are they doing enough reading? Are they spending too much time on screens? Are they getting enough fruit? My brain loves thinking. It chooses to think about everything. The biggest battle I’ve found working from home with children is to choose the battles in your brain.
… and make lists. I find these are the answer to most things.
I am seeing so much stress online about homeschooling and ensuring the children are following the same curriculum as what they do at school. In my opinion, we need to reframe this. We are so lucky to get this time with them. To watch how they learn. To see what they love to learn and to watch them follow their passions. I don’t proclaim to be an expert in homeschooling or juggling work, but I’m going to share my learnings over the years in the hope that this can be of some help.
The thing I have found the most important, and the most helpful, is to change the order of the day. I have been saying for years that I get more work done in the school holidays because I get longer blocks of time to sit and focus, and these are not interrupted by school runs.
Today’s school day of 9-3 is a product of a very different time. It harks back to times when mothers stayed at home, and when the children we’re needed to help out with the family business when they returned from school. Today’s landscape looks much different. According to the Office for National Statistics, approximately 74% of all mothers are in employment, so for many, the school day doesn’t suit.
For me, 12-6 is so much more productive. In school holidays, I start work at 7 when the children are fresh in the day and happy to play with toys or have some screen time. I work through to 12pm and then after that, we usually go out for the day or do family activities. So this is the routine we have set for the next few weeks. They will have some time to chill in the morning, do some of their school work and then in the afternoon, I will follow their lead. Today we’re making lip balm for science and doing a bit of art/maths by designing a stair gate for our pup (whose picture would appear if you googled ‘stealth’ in a dog dictionary btw). Tonight we will do a bit of journaling and reading.
My daughter doesn’t like reading, which is a big blow for me being a bookworm, but I am going to take this time to read with her more. I don’t get chance much usually because the school/work timetable means I am exhausted from my day being in blocks of 3 hours, and not really achieving much.
There is a term called ‘unschooling’ which has always interested me. Schools are set up for crowd control and are not always the best places to learn, especially for children who learn in kinetic ways for example. This is the path that we will follow while we have this chance.
‘Unschooling’ advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. This means putting your faith in your children and letting them lead their own educational journey.
Here is a great article which explains the benefits of this type of learning.
I’m lucky in that my children are close in age (I am glad that I am seeing the benefits from those dark days of having two children so close together) and they have similar interests and enjoy each other’s company. I’m looking forward to them teaching me. They are already teaching me to live in the moment and also reminding me of the importance of play. My anxiety fell away during a game of tiggy off the ground earlier this week!
We also need to reframe the term lockdown. It should be called slowdown. So my advice is to slow down and take a breath. As long as we all come out of this with our mental health intact and with smiles on our children s faces, then, in my opinion, we’ve done well.