This year is a first for me. All my kids are in school at last. My youngest finally reached kindergarten age. She’s still a little unsure about being away from home so many hours, but we already knew her teacher, so my daughter isn’t entirely uncomfortable.
What’s great for me is how much more it lets me work at home. My youngest was my clingy one. She really didn’t like me being productive, and sometimes made it difficult to get much of anything done. Now I have hours of time with no kids in the house, just kittens underfoot, behind my back, on my lap, walking on my keyboard… fortunately, they’re a bit easier to ignore most of the day.
The shift in available work hours for at home parents is amazing once the kids are in school. I’ve always been one to avoid using daycare for my kids, even though I know I would have been much more productive. Used grandparents sometimes when we lived close enough and it was convenient to the grandparents, but that was about it.
What’s great about this is I’ve gone from needing to work some on weekends to not needing to worry about that most of the time. It means more family time, and that’s wonderful.
Plan Your Day
The key to making the most of back to school when you work at home is planning your days out. Really think about when you work and when you run errands.
My kids’ school is close enough to walk to, so my kids walk together with me a short distance behind most days. We’re working on responsibility for my youngest, which right now means behaving well enough to obey her siblings as they go to school, especially at street crossings, and the older ones are learning to remember she’s with them, so they have to slow down a little and pay attention to her. The street right in front of the school is the worst crossing, as too many parents don’t watch out for other kids as they rush to do their own drop off, and there are no crossing guards.
Once the kids are safely at school, I walk about a mile and a half to the gym. There are a variety of hills along the way, so walking there saves me cardio time, and it’s pleasant. I think making time for exercise is important for anyone who can do it, and first thing in the morning works best for me.
Then it’s back home for a quick shower, snack, kitten cuddle, then to work. Work until lunchtime, when I can turn on the TV for a show or do leisure reading on my computer, then back to work until it’s time to get the kids. The older kids pick up the youngest from her teacher and bring her to me near the front of the school, then back home. After school is making sure the kids get their homework done, helping if necessary, figuring out if I need more work time, cleaning, or maybe even just relaxing if by some chance things have gone that smoothly.
I hope to eventually drop the part with picking up and dropping off the kids at school – it’s a really short walk in a generally safe neighborhood, but that depends on when they show me that everyone is behaving.
My schedule isn’t like that every day. Wednesdays mornings are my volunteer time at the school – the kids attend a charter school and there’s a volunteer requirement for the families. I also use Wednesday for errands – my routine is already messed up that day, so why not finish the job?
I find having a routine really helps with productivity. It’s harder to lose track of time when you’re on some sort of schedule. When you don’t have a boss to tell you what to get done and when, it’s smart to do so yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself – your schedule should be something you can live with. Just make sure you give yourself enough work time to get things done.