Schedules – Finding What Works
One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling, and about working from home, is the flexibility you have. If something isn’t working, you can change it up to fit your needs. In this 2nd part of our series on how to balance homeschooling while you work from home, I want to talk a little bit about figuring out a schedule. (this actually ended up longer than I planned so we’ll split this into 2 posts) The main thing to remember when you’re trying to sort out exactly how your day should look is you have to do what works for you. No one knows your family life better than you so that makes you the expert when it comes to figuring out what is most practical. I know it can seem overwhelming to wade through all the responsibilities and time constraints you have while you get to what works, so I wanted to give you some tips and tell you what has worked for me over the years.
Let’s start with a few questions:
• When are you most fully awake and functional? Are you a morning person or evening person?
• When are your kids most awake and alert? (that’s a pretty important one for homeschooling)
• Is your job confined to certain hours or can you work basically whenever you want to?
• If you are married, what is your husband’s work schedule?
• What are your state’s requirements for hours of homeschooling?
Answering the questions above will help you figure out your most productive times and your kids’ most productive times, plus what works for your family’s calendar. We’re going to tackle those first 2 questions this week.
I am generally a night person. If you find me up at 5 AM, please take me back to bed – I’m sleep walking! 🙂 My friend, who I partner with in many business ventures, lives on the west coast. I’m in OH. Being a night owl works well for us when we are doing a project together because I can be chatting with her and figuring out strategies at 1 AM while it’s still “normal” time for her. But, after a year or 2 of doing so, I realized that for me, it wasn’t working as well anymore. I “need” a lot of sleep at night to function and if I was going to bed at 3 AM, then I ended up sleeping until noon and we didn’t get started with school until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. That might be fine if I had nowhere to go, but add in an appointment or evening meeting and it just didn’t work. I am now in the process of slowly tweaking my sleep schedule. I won’t ever be someone that goes to bed at 9 PM and gets up at 5 AM, but my goal is to be in bed by 11:30 PM so I can be up by 8:30-9 AM and feel rested.
I find I am most productive right after I get up and then later at night. I can still work during the afternoon, but I find I’m more scattered and unfocused. We do school in the morning and I can work on the computer some while that is going on (depending on what the kids are doing that day), then I can have school done so I am free to concentrate on work again in the evening. So far, that basic schedule is working well for us.
Think about when you feel the most focused and alert so you can be present for your kids while they do school. Things usually go better when I am able to really pay attention to my kids during their school time and then work after. I can often get a few minutes to check emails or answer a question in one of the Facebook groups about selling on Amazon, but trying to do work that requires my full focus while they are doing school usually doesn’t end up going too well.
It’s important, especially as your kids get older and are more independent for their lessons, to know when they do their best work. I didn’t wake up one day and decide that early morning was not the best time for me. I struggled all through school because I was so sleepy for my first few classes, but then in the late morning, early afternoon, I was wide awake and productive. At night, I had a hard time falling asleep early enough to feel rested for the next day. Your kids have those times, too. (actually, all of us except 1 of my boys are night owls) That doesn’t mean if you have several children that you just do schoolwork all day and all night to accommodate them – Mama needs a break!! But if you can try to work with their natural rhythms, things will be easier on all of you. I had 1 boy who just couldn’t get his sleep patterns regulated. No matter what we tried, he was wide awake late at night and then slept in during the day. I purposed to get him up earlier with the rest of the kids, but it was so hard for him that it affected his learning and both of us ended up in tears most days. Once I relaxed and started working with his body clock instead of against it, things went so much better. I was able to get school done with the other boys while he slept. Then I got him up and was able to focus solely on him. When he got to be a teenager and his learning was more self-directed, he often studied at night.
It took a couple of years of trial and error to figure out what worked best for both of us. He was way too tired and scattered in the morning to really learn anything and even though doing school late in the afternoon worked for him, I was cooking dinner and cleaning up after 5 kids and I just couldn’t give him the attention he needed. Our schedule had to be a compromise that fit everyone.
Take a few minutes to think about your most productive times of the day. Then think about each one of your children and when you notice them being most alert, full of energy, happy, etc. If it’s in the morning, then try to do your schoolwork before lunch. If they function better after they’ve had some time to wake up slowly and get ready for their day, start school a little later. I would usually try out a new schedule for at least a week or 2 before deciding if it was working for us or not. We all have good days and bad days so to truly get a feel for what benefits everyone, you need to give it a little time. Next week, we’ll talk more about schedules and I’ll give you some examples of how my school/work days have looked.
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