Over the past few years, I have gradually made the transition to work-at-home homeschooling my 6-year-old and 3-year-old kids.
Normally, working while homeschooling takes a while to figure out, so please give yourself grace if you’ve been suddenly flung into this situation.
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This is not normal homeschooling. This is crisis schooling.
The balancing act is challenging, even if you’re used to multi-tasking under pressure, because we weren’t meant to parent alone on top of work.
However, preparation and a positive mindset can make the days go more smoothly.
10 Survival tips for work-at-home homeschooling parents with young kids
Here are 10 survival tips that I’ve learned along the way!
I hope some of these insights can help your work-at-home homeschooling days!
1. Be grateful
If I wake up feeling like it’s a lose-lose situation, then I’ve already lost the battle.
But if I start the day by thanking God for each and every blessing, our whole family is already on a better path.
I try to read a few bible verses to suppress the overwhelming feeling of worry and focus on the next steps I can take.
The poem above by Chelsea Lee Smith has specific examples of how a change in mindset can set the stage for a positive day.
Remember, so many people would love to work from home but cannot!
2. Have realistic but flexible expectations
Working at home and homeschooling is going to look very different from a 9-5 desk job or traditional school schedule.
With kids around, work will usually have interruptions, and both of my kids have sat in my lap at some point while I finish typing at my computer.
Therefore, back-up plans, such as working when kids sleep, will be needed to maximize productivity.
As for homeschooling, academic coursework usually takes much less time compared to traditional schools.
Toddlers and preschoolers can simply play with open-ended toys or whatever they want.
For example, they are learning math for free – without workbooks – simply by lining up toy cars or building with blocks.
For older kids, a common rule of thumb is that elementary school takes ~1-2 hours per day, middle school ~2-3 hours per day, and high school ~3-4+ hours.
However, the pace will vary with each child.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you can adjust learning to your family’s schedule!
If you’re a week behind in spelling, it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
3. Declutter, declutter, declutter!!!
- Eliminate potential problems in advance. Too many options (eg, art supplies, toys) can be overwhelming and counterproductive.
- Clear up your workspace so it’s easy to find what you need.
- Prepare your home by following this helpful guide: Play Area / Homeschool Room Before and After: 11 Tips for Decluttering
4. Encourage independence
- Safety is the first priority.
- Remove any toy or material from the space that requires significant parental help and supervision.
- Example 1: No Legos for my toddler unless Daddy’s home to help!
- Example 2: Put food in containers that kids can open independently.
- Set up a self-serve water and healthy snack station.
- Books should be reachable and accessible to kids.
- Offer non-toxic cleaning supplies within reach to encourage clean up.
5. Have a visible work-at-home homeschooling schedule
- Create a visual routine chart or written schedule of the typical day. Kids can help draw pictures or write the schedule depending on their developmental level.
- During the work block, point it out on the schedule and prepare work materials.
- See our work-at-home homeschooling routine details here
6. Connect with your child
- Start the day giving undivided attention to your child (eg, put away your phone/computer)
- Check-in with cuddle breaks
- Young children may need to sit near parent during work time. Offer work that seems important and similar to parent’s work so he or she feels included.
- Hug them and pray through their tantrums.
- Apologize if you’ve lost your temper.
- Thank them for their patience.
7. Plan ahead
- Dedicate one night or weekend to plan simple learning activities. Throughout the week or month, you can gradually introduce these activities.
- Meal planning can be blocked off to weekends to remove some burden from the weekdays.
8. Everyone helps with chores
- On a daily basis, involve children in practical life skills (aka chores)
- Here are our favorite cleaning supplies for kids!
- Don’t worry if you can’t get to every chore. Laundry can stay in the basket if you need to get other stuff done or go to bed.
9. Special tips for work-at-home homeschooling parents with babies
- Babywearing! Walk around while carrying baby in a sling or baby carrier to help baby nap. Then you will have free hands to work during naptime.
- Set up a safe “yes” space for babies and toddlers to explore. The Kavanaugh Report has a helpful guide for creating a Montessori-inspired baby space.
- Remember that this age group does not require structured activities. Everything in the world is naturally new and exciting!
- Welcome older siblings to help so they feel important. Gradually, they can learn important skills, such as how to change a diaper and give a bath.
10. Take care of yourself
Drink water, eat healthy, and call a friend or relative for support.
A few times a week, try to block off some time for exercise that you can do next to your kids or after they go to bed.
Last but not least, if you’re a believer, the best self-care is to spend time with the Lord. Throughout the day, even if I have a few minutes here and there, I try to pray for God’s truth to nourish me and my family.
Do you have other survival tips for work-at-home homeschooling parents?
Please share in the comments below!
We are all learning as we go, and we can encourage each other!
More about work-at-home homeschooling
- Homework Routine: 6 Tips for Survival and Success
- Schedule Challenges with 2-and 5-Year-Old Kids Learning 3 Languages
- Kids Art Cart, Storage System, and Organization Tips