By Sonya Barnes March 20, 2020
Working from home is not for everyone, but many people are finding themselves with this as their only option to earn an income these days. As a virtual teacher, I have talked to many parents this week that say their children are struggling with getting all their work done while they are also trying to work from home. They are feeling overwhelmed by all they need to do and no idea how to do it. And many parents are probably feeling the same with their own schedules. Factoring in trying to help their family and balance everything with so much together time and it’s no surprise that many are short-tempered, frustrated, or giving up.
Here’s are a few printable schedules to help you find balance with your routines, as well as a few helpful tips to keep your sanity. I mapped out times for you, but they can be adjusted based on the hours you decide to work. I highly suggest making this a family meeting discussion, especially if you have flexibility in your work hours. It will allow everyone to have hours that work for everyone’s schedule and goals—or to capitalize on sleeping in later, even if that means working a bit later to do so! All these schedules are back to back on time, so it’s okay to start a few minutes late or end a few minutes early for a brain, bathroom, snack or stretch break. The title is a link to a printable sheet you can use and pencil in your tasks or download and type in. I made these quickly, so forgive me if the lines are slightly askew.
This schedule is the most familiar for people. In this schedule, you break your routine into a different subjects or activities to do each day, then repeat the same for each day of the week. I created it in 30-minute chunks, which is about how much time most students can truly focus on a challenging task.
This schedule is great if you need more time to devote to a task, you just work on that task or subject every other day. This schedule is created in one-hour chunks so you can focus on more enduring tasks.
This schedule is my favorite because it combines them both, and it has a built-in reward at the end of the week if you are efficient or ahead on something. In this schedule you spend 1 hour on each task 2 days a week and, if needed, the end of the week allows for an additional 30 minutes to wrap up the task for the week or enjoy 30 minutes of free time as a reward to spend on something else that needs done or some down time. This could also be a good time to go through each task, ensure its completion, submit it, and communicate with teachers, colleagues, etc. to be sure it is wrapped up.
Helpful Tips to Fill Your Time
So, now that we have your work time maximized for efficiency, let’s talk about how you can fill some of that family down time. We may be inclined to binge watch TV, zone into our phones, or get lost in cyber worlds, and these aren’t bad, but will get old quickly, especially if you will be following this schedule in a full house for a long time.
- Create TV/main room rotations. Everyone deserves to get the big TV to themselves, so create a plan to spoil everyone
- Cooking/baking lessons. This could be a great time to teach kids some family favorite recipes. It can also be a great time to teach them how to portion plan and meal plan. Bonus—you’re showing them real world skills for math and science!
- Family dinner. This is a staple that is missing from many families. It creates the opportunity to talk about your day, what’s on your mind, and truly hear each other. Bonus would be cooking together, taking turns planning the meal, and taking turns to clean up.
- Learn something new. Pick up a new hobby or resume an old one.
- Learn something you thought you always should know. A fun fact about each president, the names of all 50 states (The Animaniacs have a fun song that can help with this), fill in a blank map, learning all the oceans, countries or continents. This could be a fun challenge between parents and kids to see who can complete it or complete it fastest.
- Learn to sew, knit, crochet, make clothes, grow a garden, build something. Many of these skills have gone thanks to mass production, but why not learn to be a bit more self-sufficient.
- Write a letter to a family member that lives far away
- Find a pen pal and start writing to each other—email or snail mail
- Create a video letter to send to someone—a boss, a coworker, a teacher—they’d love the personal contact to catch them up on daily life and it would be a nice distraction from the every day
- Play a board game
- Read a book…for fun!
- Write a story or play and share it with the family
- Work a puzzle—kids can make them by coloring a picture then cutting it out
- Family fitness/obstacle challenge. Find a family you love to hang out with and chat on video or speaker phone to come up with a series of activities that both could do with items on hand, then video your family completing the challenge. Once both have, share the videos together and watch while on a chat. Zoom can be a great platform for doing this online and you can all see each other to talk and share videos there from both sides. Zoom offers free accounts that you can host up to 25 people in your party.
- Deep clean/purge. If you have an area that is a trouble spot in your house, you now have the time to devote to it and get it under control once and for all.
- Create a help jar. You know that money you would have spent on gas, shopping, eating out, etc. that you aren’t spending now? You can set it aside and have it to help down the road if you lose income, to help a family in need that lost income purchase food, tip extra when restaurants resume, buy gift cards to help those in need, donate to an animal shelter, zoo, or homeless shelter that needs assistance due to less traffic.
- Journal. Paper, video—doesn’t matter. Journaling can allow you to get your thoughts out and make sense of them. It can be a great way to document this transitional time in life. Who knows, it could be a life-changing memoir that gets published someday.
- I’m sure this one has been told many times, but I will conclude with it anyway—keep your normal routines. Get up at the same time, get dressed, make your bed, do your chores, go for walks, eat meals—and if you didn’t have a routine, now could be a great time to create one!
I hope you found something helpful in this article. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed during challenges, especially when we feel like we have no control over the situation. We’re all in this together, so don’t hesitate to create a community you can talk with. Be safe. And wash your hands!
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