We live in an age when there is a new question being asked in many households: is it possible for a parent to do a job and children do school all under the same roof? This may have been a question you and your spouse never thought you’d be faced with. My family has done it, sometimes with more success than others. Keep reading for some tips on how to keep the peace so your entire household can thrive.
"For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God" Hebrews 3:4 ESV
My Family’s Experience
My own bona fides on this subject go back a number of years. We have both homeschooled and adults have worked under the same roof for many years. The commentary below is largely from our experience. The tips below on working at home and homeschool are borne of success, but also what didn’t work.
Choice you made or choice made for you
First, if the confluence of school and work at home is on the horizon for your household, make peace with your spouse about why. Is it a choice your family made? Is this a choice made for you by current events? In either case, call it out and make peace with the reason. Next, it’s time to make it work with a plan for everyone in your family to be successful.
Make some rules
Here's some specific tactics to not only survive, but thrive with this new arrangement.
Designate Dedicated space
The way you use the space in your home can help you all to be successful. Make a space dedicated for adults to work and kids to do homeschool activities. I’m not talking about building an elaborate space or even a fancy home office. Designating a small space on a table is enough for a child to understand the concept of “when I’m here, it means I am doing work.” The same goes for adults, it helps children understand that when you’re in a specific space, you are working and interruptions should be limited.
Schedule with purpose
Your work or school arrangement may require a schedule, but even if it’s not required by external forces you should keep a schedule anyway. Remote work can lend itself to freedom, but children need structure and you probably do too. Make a schedule for kids and adults alike. Also schedule in times when it’s “ok” to be taken away from your work. The signal at our house is a closed door. If I’m at my desk, I am working and can be approached by a kid. If the door is closed, that means no interruptions.
Eat Meals Together
As much as possible, enjoy meals together. This is a major benefit of everyone being at home. How often does your family get to enjoy lunch together on a weekday? Savor that time together and embrace the fellowship.
When is it ok to interrupt?
When you work at home, you need to let children know when it is or is not ok to interrupt. It’s can’t be from 9-5. There needs to be time throughout the day or an easy way to let your son or daughter know what is or is not all right. This will take work, but will get easier over time.
Working at home and schooling at home does not mean you are required to remain inside. Take breaks during the day and go outside, even if it’s for a few minutes here and there. Playing a quick game of catch or another outdoor activity is even better.
Communicate with work colleagues
Speak with your co-workers and let them know the status at home. Be upfront about either homeschool or homeschool-esque learning taking place at home while you are working. A good employer and good colleagues will give some grace on this. They might even be in the same boat as well!
Note the Financial Benefits
This new arrangement, however long it persists, has a few surprising financial benefits. The average American drives about 220 miles per week. If you cut out commuting to work and school, how much less gas will you need? It’s not just gas either. Fewer miles driven means fewer oil changes, depreciation, overall maintenance, and sometimes lower auto insurance rates can all add up due to less driving. There’s also the potential for less spending on clothes/dry cleaning, lunches out, and more to add to savings.
Save room for some grace
You will have a bad day at some point if everyone is under the same roof seeking balance. It will happen for someone, maybe even you, will make a mistake. Have grace for each other and move forward. It’s part of being a family, right? This has the potential to be one of the greatest things that has ever happened to your family. Make it happen.
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