Thursday, September 24, 2020

Working at Home? Here's How We Make it Work

 Back in March 2020, Adam and I were bombarded with questions about how to making working and schooling at home work together.

It's not surprising that people came to us. After all, in many people's eyes, we were the experts. The trailblazers. The experienced ones. We went from out of the box to everyone's new normal.

That felt weird.

In March, everyone was just getting their footing as they were thrown into this new world. Some tried really hard to create a home classroom and a home office. Some embraced the couch. Some people created color coded schedules for the kids while maintaining their work hours. Some people started to panic that this was unsustainable. All totally valid. 

Everyone sort of stumbled to the summer and breathed a sigh of relief. Although some went back to school in person and some stayed virtual, everyone had the summer to figure out a plan, and those who stayed remote had (for the most part) their feet underneath them.

Now, with more districts going back to distance learning, those who thought they didn't need a long term plan are starting to worry again, so I'm bringing the advice again.


If you need to help your kids log into their classrooms at 8:00 every day, try not to schedule your meetings and phone calls for 8:00. It's not always possible, but it's something to aim for. Obviously as a full time homeschooler, my schedule is generally flexible, but there have been times when Adam has to take the lead. He tries to schedule the bulk of his meetings for times when the girls won't need him. 


If your kids need something and they see you, they're going to ask. If you're sitting in your office on a headset all day, it isn't always obvious to everyone when you're on a crucial call or close to a tight deadline. Everyone in our house has barged into Adam's office while he's on a call at least once, simply because he wasn't speaking and we didn't know. So we figured out a system for his office.

Door Closed - unavailable. Fire, excessive bleeding only. Keep the volume down in the vicinity of the office.

Door Cracked - busy, but may be able to answer quick questions. Knock quietly and wait for a response.

Door Open - working, but available.

I don't have a door, because I don't have an office. I try to do the bulk of MY work when the girls are in their classes, but that isn't always possible. So I let them know by saying things like, "I'm in a door closed situation right now. Emergencies only."


If you don't tell them, they don't know. Most of the time, when Adam is annoyed that we've disturbed a call or a meeting, it's because he forgot to tell us something (or forgot to close his door). It happens. When all of us are in the house together, we need to get very good at letting each other in on what our day looks like. I was really annoyed that Madison almost missed an Outschool class, but I'd written it in her agenda and hadn't thought to remind Adam about it. Madison doesn't typically worry about the time, and she figured one of us would let her know it was time to log on. I'd told Adam in the morning, but he assumed that Madison could do it independently. It was just poor communication. We've gotten much better about it.


Adam is fortunate to have an office, but he's been working at home for over fifteen years now. We planned for his office when we bought this house. We didn't plan that we'd also be homeschooling two kids and I'd be writing on the side. We don't have a school room or an office for me. But that doesn't mean that we don't all need space.

As the years have gone on, we've figured out ways to make sure that everyone has a space that they can call their own to get their work done. The girls and I use rolling carts from Michael's to organize our supplies so we can move around the house. Sometimes we can all be in the same room, but when we need to separate, we can. My BIG rule is that if you are on the phone, you need to find a place where you can close the door. This rule is broken very infrequently, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine. 

There's always an adjustment period, but it is totally possible to have EVERYONE working from home while keeping your sanity. Remember: when you get stressed and frustrated - and you will - that being at home because of a pandemic is totally different than being at home during the normal times. Stress is inevitable right now. Be flexible, be gracious, and it will work for you.

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