Home learning, schooling and working – Part 2/3

Colorful boardgame

Anyone who follows me or reads my blogs, will know I like a plan…”prior planning prevents p*** poor performance”. I’m one for a routine, not rigid but there to establish boundaries, needs, wants and goals. My achievements as a househusband have their foundations in my planning…room for improvement I’m sure. Home schooling has taught me lot and I thought I’d share with you some insights.

It is important to keep to the children’s routines at home as much as possible. As a family we often feel much calmer and more in control when our brains connect with familiar patterns. With routine should be inbuilt downtime too. Only last weekend – we shared the meaning of the word ‘pragmatic’. There is only so much structured play you can have in your home with limited access to outside. I have had to relent on ‘gaming’ and allow greater time to computerised games (think how out of sync the kids usually are in the school hols). Luckily, we are a household of board games too…so for every ‘Roblox’, ‘Fifa’, ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Pokemon’, I get to play a game of draughts, chess or snakes & ladders’.

Establish Boundaries
We try to start the day at the usual time. Our boys are early risers. It’s been hard but before we go to bed remote controls are hidden. The idea being the boys are more inclined to get their heads around  ‘school work’ out or just play together before breakfast. We then set about having breakfast with home learning starting at 9am.

It does mean that my partner and I rise a tad earlier to get a couple of interruption-free hours of work in before the family starts their day. Being more pragmatic has meant that usual boundaries are relaxed and we are more flexible (e.g. gaming and more screen time). My partner and I have alternate responsibilities during school term (see below). This means we are both able to get some uninterrupted work time and the boys get some quality-focused time from us too…that’s the theory. In practice, it is hard work and needs the buy-in of us all.

Reward systems and consistency are important too.

Catch ups and game plans
We use our ‘together time’s, e.g. lunch and dinner and down time to have a little catch-up on the day, days and weeks ahead. It helps to break down the monotony and look at what was good or not so good previously. It helps us to address our expectations, the use of laptops, computers, mobiles, a case in point and when we are working or schooling.

Before my partner became ‘furloughed’, we had to be honest we were not capable of completing 7-straight hours of work with all of us being home. Our current circumstances brought on by Covid19 is discussed, and used to help the boys to understand that there will be times when we cannot be disturbed.

My sons are used to me being at home more often than not, as I often work from home and as a househusband, they understand my need to be in “do not disturb mode”. When working with clients from home, my office space (corner of our bedroom) is totally out of bounds. A sign and mini clock on the door makes the point.

Have fun
We can choose to learn, grow, connect and evolve and come out of this difficult time by doing all the above. However, it will be made much harder if we cannot have some fun. So, although a stickler of discipline, plans, routines and strictures, I have become more pragmatic. It will be different for us all. Relationships are fraught with the unknown. Pressures and expectations during these difficult times will be acute. Building in some fun, flexibility and time to reflect has proved to create greater connectivity within our family home. Without doubt, the boys’ relationships are stronger and more connected – still fighting daily like cats and dogs, there is an element of fun and adventure. After all, family life and the time we spend together is what holds us all together. 

My partner and I are knackered. There have been more cross words used in and around a full house. It has been hard, it has proved difficult, but there have been so many positives too. We know more about each other’s work, pressures and expectations – that means we have been able to share ideas and concerns and coming up with solutions (that didn’t last long, she is now on furlough…but you get my point).

Similarly, downtime means that we can share thoughts and plans for the days ahead. Just hoping it’s not monotonous.

We have a timetable. It reflects the timetable the boys use at school which they dictated to us. It shows the timing of lessons, breaks, lunchtime, lessons, PE and the like. Before the Easter break, my partner and I shared our own work timetable which incorporates the boys home learning. This allows us to be sure and aware of commitments in terms of calls to be made, conference-calling, reports, projects, networking etc al and downtime.  

Close-up of a stopwatch

The timetable has in-built break-out sessions for both of us. Key to the above was working a 3-day on then a 2-day off rota. You work three days as lead ‘home learner’ while your partner is responsible for breaks and dinnertime; and, if you are on a day off, it means you were on cover. You were not the one leading the lessons but you would be on stand-by. We have continued this post-Easter and bveing on furlough.  It seems to work, adding variety, space and time to our days.

Business man walking a red tight rope

Hopefully, you found this interesting, this is what, my family and I have experienced, and what other parents might be experiencing too.  Parents remain the most influential people in a young person’s life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to contact me.  I’d more than happy to hear your points of view and see what we can share and bring to the attention of helping others during this period in terms of further positive change.

It’s good to talk.

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