How has your workload been during lockdown?  Have you been furloughed, or are you working at home at the same time as education your offspring?

It’s a strange time for everyone.  Supermarket workers are still being relied upon to keep the food chain running, and medical staff are helping to keep us alive.  Police are keeping the peace, and many others are having to leave their houses to keep our country running during this time.  And others are now working at home.  This may mean having to try and keep up the same level of productivity whilst having far more distractions, plus slower broadband and missing resources that you need to get the job done.

Home education

And being a home educator!  As lovely as that sounds, it is not what many of us have planned for.  And A girl and a boy reading at the top of a wooden slide. Working from home: coping during lockdownif we had chosen to home school our children, we wouldn’t be doing it via Google Classroom and instructions from school.  We wouldn’t be trying to do our own work at the same time.  We would be out visiting museums and learning about the environment.  Friends would call in, and we would spend some time learning in groups.

The age my children are at means that for some of the morning, they can work without a great deal of input from me.  My work has changed significantly.  I’m discussing ideas with colleagues on Zoom, and arranging how we can serve people virtually.  I can be quite flexible in some areas.  There are less times when I need to be in specific places than there were before lock-down.  However, some things just have to be done.

Working at the same time

I was feeling particularly wobbly last Tuesday morning.  The kids started their work early (only so that they Young boy carefully extracting blocks from a Jenga tower. Working from home: coping during lockdowncould finish sooner), but by 9.45 am I must have been up and down the stairs about twenty times.  When my daughter insisted that this was now the time to make a wormery, I nearly wept.  I had meetings arranged for 10 and 12, and something had to give.  Fortunately she eventually agreed that we could do this later in the week.

I am lucky – my line manager has been amazing.  I made a list of what I thought I needed to do during this time, and she has chipped a few things off.  They may only be small things, but as a result I feel much more able to complete my other tasks.  It feels like a Jenga tower – the blocks are small, but if you keep adding them to the top, the whole thing will crumble.

Staying sane

As a family, we have had to set some boundaries so that this time works for all of us.

1. The children are now working downstairs in the same room as me.  This has its benefits, in addition to Two laptops on the same desk with notes being made in between. Working from home: coping during lockdownthe negatives.  One child cannot keep any thoughts in their head.  They all spill out.  The other cannot stop whistling.  It appears that I am not the worst co-worker in the world after all.

2. No arranging Zoom meetings for 9 am.  I need to check in with the kids to make sure they know what they are doing at the beginning of the day, rather than putting my work first.

3. Secondary Maths can only be looked at on Thursdays and Fridays.  The other parent, the one with the Maths degree, can sort that out when he is working at home.

4. Suggest other things that the children can do if they get stuck while I am busy.  If the Science experiment requires the finding of empty Pringles containers, drawing pins, PVA glue and Blu tack, it can be done another day.  Choose another subject.  Don’t just go on YouTube because one lesson needs some parental support.

What boundaries have you had to put in place during lockdown?

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  1. I am finding this new way of life amazing one day and not so much the next!

    My son is in year 7 and is being sent a crazy amount of work a day, It is overwhelming for him and for me. I can’t offer the spport that he’d get in school because I am working from home.

    I have found that the harder I go on at him, the less he does. I am now trying to manage my time a little better as I seemed to be the only person in my school that was working my normal hours, most were doing a few hours a day. This does allow for more home schooling time which is so much better for us all.

    Mine is also a talker… makes working interesting to say the least!

    Great advice for staying sane!

    1. Aargh! It’s not easy, is it? My daughter is also in Year 7 and didn’t finish her Science within the hour this morning. I was on a call then from 10-12 and when I came back she’d finished the other two lessons so was playing a computer game. And the Science? Not even considered. Hmmm!!! Good luck xx

  2. If I am honest life in lockdown is no different to normal life, we have been living like this for 5 years as my daughter has an illness, so that part of lockdown has been fine. It is just the shopping and not being able to go out

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s illness. I’m sure you could teach us all a few things about social isolation. It must be hard not being able to go out at all, though x

  3. I worked from home before this all began… aside from my daughter being with me constantly, my working life hasn’t changed. What has changed though is my hair colour! 😉 I’ve noticed a few extra greys that weren’t there before lockdown… homeschooling is erm… interesting!! Sim x

    1. It’s my fringe that’s bothering me – I’m not at the point of cutting it myself but I am not sure how much longer I will cope without being able to see 🙂

  4. The constant chatter and whistling comment had my laughing so hard. C has finally let me do a weekly time table for her so we don’t waste time choosing what to do next. L just thinks that I am asking him to do too much ALL of the time. He can’t possibly do a Learning Challenge AND some topic work in the same day! I am so glad that I don’t have to go to work atm. That would have broken me. You are doing an amazing job.

    You are not on your own with the secondary maths. I had one of our friends who is a secondary maths teacher video call C and explain how to do it. I had no idea.

    1. C cubed plus C squared minus x = v. What is v? It’s too much! They were chattering and whistling today, too. I just wanted to get ONE short document finished. Not a chance! I do appreciate that we are in a fortunate position compared to lots of people, though x

  5. My wife has been working from home for over 10 years. I’m on my 3rd year, and, while it’s been tough at times, we’re enjoying each others company. I love working from home! I do feel for those who have to balance work and educating their kids. I imagine it can be a challenge.

  6. I already worked from home before all of this but was used to one of the children being at school all day. I’ve had to move my day around the kids as my partner is now doing different hours due to being a keyworker – so my original working hours weren’t conducive to the running of the rest of the day. It has been tough to get used to but I am lucky I have been able to make it work.

  7. Its been tough for many people adjusting, and doing things in small bites with the ability to check in on the kids has been our best route, we can set challengers and homework etc while we do work, with suitable breaks for both sides, great advice and article.

  8. I work from home but I usually do most of my work when the kids are at school so now I have changed my plan to get work done over the weekend as both my children have to use my computer to access their homework during weekdays. Just like you, my husband does zoom meetings so I have to make sure kids are aware that dad has a meeting and all noise levels to be as low as possible. It is hard but we are trying to make the most out of it

  9. I have tried just to have a routine. Not to just lounge in my PJs during the day and get ready. It can be so stressful especially with home schooling’. You are doing great

  10. My husband is now working from home so we have been enjoying trying to spend more time together and a slower pace of life however you’re right normally homeschooling would involve trips to museums, parks etc and we are missing that!

  11. I’m lucky that my sons are 16 and 18 so don’t need any input from me – I really admire anyone who is juggling distance learning and working from home

  12. I don’t have kids so definitely have the working from home thing a lot easier than most. I am finding it okay but I started a new job last week and it’s strange meeting everyone for the first time over video calls x

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