First of all, let me dispel the myth that one cannot work full time outside the home and homeschool one’s children. It can totally be done, as I have friends who have done it, even single parents. That is their story, though, so I’ll let them tell it. (Please comment with links if you know of online success stories!)
My story is hopefully a much easier one: I have volunteer and paid work that requires me to spend a lot of time at my keyboard, but these same issues apply to needing to carve out time for work, study, homekeeping, homeschool planning, or simple sanity. I’ll post about my ideas, and their success or failure, under the tag Work At Home Parent. (I get that folks might be more used to the more common ‘Stay At Home Mother’ label, SAHM, but dang it, folks – ‘staying home’ is WORK, darn it, and plenty of men and non-binary parents do it also, so WAHP fits best, at least as far as I’m concerned.)
Today’s Quandry: We are whole-life and lifelong learners here, but workbooks give us a foothold with the 3Rs, so we use them. New rule for my Minecraft and YouTube loving kids is that they need to do 10 pages of any of their workbooks to earn their computers for the following day. That worked great, until kids started getting behind, and wanting to do their pages on the day they wanted to use their computers. I went with that for a bit, but now that we’re settling into new schedules, and I have paperwork piling up, not so much. You can imagine the interruptions and divided attention, I’m sure.
I like to do my work in the morning, when the house is usually at its quietest, and I am at my most productive. It also lets me have a care-free rest of my day, since I know I’ve already gotten accomplished at least a solid chunk of what I need to do. That works great, as long as my kids aren’t grumpily and sleepily wanting help with their homeschool so they can go wake up properly to the latest CupQuake video. Then they ‘pester’ me with things that are NOT issues when they are fully awake and *not wanting to be off doing something else*.
By ‘being nice’ and letting them do their work to earn their computer on the day of that computer time, I was actually making workbooks feel more like a hurdle to jump through! Duh! So, after about the fifteenth time I got interrupted during my editing this morning, I made a decision: they would have to earn their computer time for any given day BEFORE that day started. That way they’ll either wake up and get to go watch their computer, or know that they are NOT getting their computer that day, and they can go do something else, saving their workbooks, if they want to earn time for the following day, for later in the day when they are awake, can choose their own time and place to do it, and when I’m not trying to get stuff done myself. Big D managed to do her homeschool for the following day for a week before she fell off track, and every day she did it independently, but as soon as she fell behind, she suddenly needed help every morning. *The pressure of the instant ‘reward’ made her a less confident and more distracted learner.*
So, after 45 minutes of such stress this morning, I told them that today they could go use their computers as they wish, but that they needed to do their ten pages at some point today if they wanted their computers for tomorrow, no exceptions. They liked that idea. They ran off to play, but I bet they’ll be back at their workbooks this afternoon, played out from soccer and a playdate, and ready to work.
(Note that they only HAVE to do their pages if they want free computer time. Sometimes they do the pages only for this reason, but sometimes they do them just because they want to, and don’t think about computer time. Sometimes it is both. Big D especially seems to have a real increase in her feelings of self-efficacy when she gets her pages done for the following day before her siblings even wake up in the morning! I worry that this is setting paperwork up as ‘work’, but, well, it is, and setting it up as something rewarding, both inherently and for compensation, is something I’m ok with.)