When it comes to working from home, homeschooling your children, and relaxation time, it may seem as though there are not enough hours in the day. These top 10 tips should help you find balance and reduce stress throughout the third lockdown.
1. Your weekly planner
First things first, you need to make sure you have an organised schedule for the week. Create a family planner, separate from your own work diary, that the whole family can feel involved in. Display it in the kitchen and colour code it or use symbols so the children can better understand each day’s activities.
Maintain their regular school hours so they can easily adapt back to normal when the time comes. Use these hours to create a lesson structure and remember to factor in relaxation time, daily exercise, and social time.
Perhaps you could leave half an hour free each day for a member of the family to take turns choosing from a list of activities, giving them an element of control and enjoyment.
2. Establish a routine
School provides a much-needed routine, which you should attempt to emulate through homeschooling. For example, make sure to wake your children up at the same time every day, have them get dressed and join you for breakfast so that you can all prepare for the day ahead. Once breakfast is over, talk them through their schedule for the day, highlighting their break times, lunchtime, and fun time.
Establishing a significant shift in routine from the weekdays to the weekend will have a positive impact, making the weekends still seem more fun.
3. Make the most of digital tools
You will most likely be relying on digital tools as your key resources when it comes to homeschooling. Researching educational apps and websites that your children can spend time on while you get on with your own work will save you time in the long run.
Have an important meeting? It is ok to allow your children to play games on their computer or games console for an hour or so.
As your children are spending more time on computers than ever before, make sure to turn your parental locks on and have a discussion with them about internet safety, so they know to talk to you if they are approached by any new friends online.
4. Daily exercise
Allow time for your children to blow off some steam by playing on the trampoline or kicking a football around, as it is not healthy for anyone to be stuck indoors all day.
Set up a scavenger hunt in the garden, take them on a bike ride, or schedule PE with Joe each morning.
5. The importance of negotiation
Although you need to prioritise their health and education, homeschooling can be a tough transition for some. Use this opportunity to teach your child important life skills by rewarding them for their work. For example, if they finish their science project in the morning, they can play for an hour in the afternoon.
This will only work if you deliver on these promises. However, if done correctly, you will find your child to be much more motivated when it comes to difficult tasks.
6. Fun time
This is just as important as the rest of your weekly schedule. Whether they have colouring books, a jigsaw, or simply want to watch television, set aside dedicated times for them to get creative and enjoy themselves.
Choose a recipe from a cookbook and let them help make dinner or bake cupcakes together that they can enjoy as a treat throughout the week.
7. Social time
Adapting to homeschooling is particularly hard for children as they are isolated from their classmates and friends. Use a free platform such as Skype or Zoom to set up virtual playdates where they can laugh and talk with their friends.
You could strategically organise these for particularly busy workdays where you can free up some time for yourself, or you may even want to set up a coffee morning each week for the same time to connect with other parents to share tips or any problems you may be facing.
Your children need their own space, and so do you, and it is important that this is respected by both parties. For example, you may set a rule that they have to knock before entering your home office or you might dedicate some alone time for you and for them.
In the same way you might unwind after they have gone to bed of an evening, you will want to provide them with their own space to reflect and relax, too. This might be their bedroom or games room, for example.
9. Seek support
You may look to other parents for support or tips, but it is also important to communicate with your children’s teachers. Let them know what is achievable in the time you have, as they are likely to offer further support and help you find balance.
Search online for support from homeschooling Facebook groups or online forums that can offer tips and tricks to help you throughout the week, too.
If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, focus on small tasks, one at a time, and tick off completed tasks from your to-do list so you can visually see all you have achieved each day.
Remember, even if your children are struggling to adapt or concentrate in a new environment, praise them with positive reinforcement so they remain happy and motivated.
This is a stressful time, and you are doing the best you can, so cut yourself some slack. Try not to beat yourself up or compare yourself to other parents, as everyone’s situation is different. Take the positives, however small.
Although we cannot change reality, such as lockdown, we have a choice on how we perceive it. Take this experience one step at a time, feel grateful to spend quality time with your family, and allow yourself time to reflect and unwind after the stress of each day is over.
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