When everyone is suddenly home

All of the sudden everyone is home all the time. Together. And the places to go? Most of them are closed, too.

If they aren’t already homeschooled – kids will be home.

If possible, many parents are suddenly working remotely, telecommuting from home. Sometimes both parents, sometimes one comes home into the established homeschool environment.

This can be a challenge in the best of times! I’ve been canvassing friends and family for their best practices for continued productivity and all the togetherness.  How can we share spaces and internet and work and still be kids?

Have reasonable expectations

Your attitude makes a huge difference. When my husband has had to work from home in the past on Snow Emergency days, we establish give and take expectations.  His expectations are that we’re schooling and won’t be completely quiet, that we need to go on with our day. Our expectations are that he’s working and we’ll try to be respectful of that. 

In other words: treat each other as you want to be treated. 

We are a homeschool family, though. If you are in a situation where you’re all home and have work for two parents and school for the children to accomplish, parents will likely need to take turns between supervising lessons and working. Be patient with yourselves and your kids. This is a challenging situation for you all. 

One of my friends wrote about how she and her kids will be “practicing dealing with big emotions.” There will be big emotions in a time of crisis – fear, resentment, selfishness – expect them and have a plan for mitigating them. 

Remember that your kids are kids. They will need to play and occasionally be loud throughout the day without being constantly shushed. Expect it and respect it. Don’t let your kids hear you wishing they were back in school or you can’t wait for school to open back up. Love on them: build them up, don’t tear them down. They’re scared too.
Free Homeschool Morning Time Plans

Have a plan

Find a routine. Get up in the morning. Get dressed, make beds, do chores, eat breakfast together every day.  Don’t lounge in pajamas and expect to be productive.

Do the things you would normally do as though you were going to the office and to school – because you will be, just at home.

Talk about specific times for meetings and online classes when internet use may be in higher demand. Make a schedule for the day that works for everyone.

It may take a while to figure out the routine. It’s an organic thing working with kids and unlike working with adult co-workers. Don’t make a rigid schedule, in my own personal experience and in my experience helping hundreds of moms homeschool consistently an orderly routine where you “do the next thing” regardless of the time on the clock is invaluable. I do have a post about establishing a scheduled-routine that could be helpful … but extend a LOT of grace to your self, spouse, and child(ren).

Remember: this isn’t vacation (unless it actually is). All of you have duties and responsibilities.

Think about logistics

Try to set aside separate areas for work and for school. My husband tries to work in a part of the house that’s away from our school room. Other friends recommend setting office work up in a room with a door and an en suite bathroom if possible. Keep using your travel mug and water bottle so you can stay closeted away. Dad and/or Mom still “goes to work” that way. Take turns. As you can, work off hours when kids are asleep. Whoever is working for that time can use headphones to help them with the separation and noise of the rest of the household.

Be respectful of the parent who is working – do not interrupt unnecessarily. Don’t “just for a minute” … even if you might text or call during the regular workday, try to avoid it when you’re all home. It’s hard to focus when all the things are going on around you. 

If you’re the parent who is working, be respectful of the study situation. Don’t interrupt, don’t go play and tease, stay in your office and work steadily – your mere presence in the house may be disrupting to homeschoolers or distracting to those who are trying to do some school work in unusual circumstances. One friend said homeschoolers – moms and kids – should “pretend dad is at work and not there.” 

Consider establishing a quiet time where everyone is in a separate place for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Naps, audiobooks, quiet activities in a place where you don’t see another person. I know one family who turned couches to the wall so more than one child could be in the main room, but they could have their own “space.” When you’re all together all the time, that quiet separation becomes very valuable. 

Have a school area where your students can be focused and working. I understand many districts are sending home computers with students, but I would still recommend a central location – not a bedroom – where they can be supervised and helped as needed. The kitchen table would be a good place. Take advantage of each parents’ gifts when it comes to lesson work. 

If you can take work or school outside, do so – even if it’s on a patio. My brother, who has successfully worked from home for 20 years says his #1 advice is to not be stuck at your desk. If you move around, though, remember you’re the disruption, not the schoolers.

All work and no play is a bad idea

A friend of mine suggests the “fill the cup” principle. If work isn’t tied to exact times, spend an amount of time focused just on the kid(s) first, then explain you have to go and will come back later. Give to them of yourself. This is uncharted territory for all of us and, as mentioned before, they may have big emotions of fear and confusion. This is a time you can use to really build up your family.

Spend time together. Focus on them first.

  • Make sure they understand the day’s plan. 
  • Play a game.
  • Tell silly Dad jokes
  • Read a book together.
  • Watch a show
  • Draw some pictures – even if you’re no good at it
  • Make a craft
  • Share your hobby with your kids
  • If you’re a believing family, read the Bible and pray together.
  • Take a walk – it gets all of you fresh air and gets the wiggles out. 
  • Try out our free Month of Morning Time 

Free Homeschool Morning Time Plans

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  • Becky F. says:

    Thank you for this post! My family is one that have found themselves suddenly home – hubby and I are working from home and our children will be schooling from home. (They are currently on spring break – a happy coincidence that has allowed me time to figure a few details out thankfully!) I have friends and family that have successfully home-schooled, and I admire them for it. I have read a couple of posts on how to set up the day – right now that’s my concern – and I’m glad you’ve laid out some options. Thanks too for the reminders for patience and grace. Stay well! 🙂

    • Dawn says:

      Hoping for the best for you! One day at a time and working as a team <3

  • Betsy says:

    Such great advice, Dawn!

  • Angela Wolf says:

    Thank you for this post and for your advice!
    I have little experience with homeschooling – I teach my youngest daughter and the eldest daughter goes to high school. We have been home for three weeks now, the four of us are at home every day, it is very different from the usual daily routine.
    Usually, we would study with the daughter from 10 to 14 and then she would have time to play, and I would have time to do housework and cook dinner for the family. Now not only the younger one needs attention, but the older one as well, and both need help with the lessons (the older one has very difficult tasks from school). And now for three weeks (or maybe more), we have chaos.
    And the main reason I’m worried is too much pressure on all of us. I wish the kids would get more rest and play while they’re at home. And I also want this time together to give us more happy moments.

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