P is for Planning & Preparation
When I am not homeschooling, I work full-time for an agency as a project manager. I lead massive teams, projects and budgets and enjoy every minute of it. My unstoppable need to plan all the things, made the transition to Hybrid Homeschool fun. But let’s be honest, everyone doesn’t love planning.
Even if you’re not a planning obsessive compulsive like me, there are a few steps you can take, which won’t take much time, that pay off huge dividends. Here are some things I did to prepare for the transition so that I could juggle all of my responsibilities without losing my mind.
Make a Schedule
Analog (paper) planners are coming back into fashion. I personally like to manage my calendar electronically. Regardless of your preference, a schedule is a must. I like to plan out how my “regular” week is going to flow so that I have a framework to govern my life.
This means that each week I know when I am going grocery shopping, when I am going to work out (let’s be real, I usually skip this), when I am cleaning (I skip that a lot too), when I work at home, when I go to the office, and when I homeschool. I use a spreadsheet and just block out my activities each day. I try and keep it simple and repetitious because I am not the kind of person who wants to be ruled by a calendar. I find it less stressful to plan a rhythm that works for me, that I can live with and remember.
My Weekly Plan
I actually made this schedule well before we decided to move forward with hybrid homeschooling. It was important that I demonstrate (for myself and my husband) that this approach could work. Seeing my week in black in white, made it clear how much (or how little time) I would really have to instruct, work and rest.
Establish a Childcare Network
The hardest part of switching from public school to homeschooling has been childcare. Before, we would drop our daughter at school around 7:45 am and then she would go to aftercare until about 6 or 6:30 pm. We could go to happy hour, work late, and run errands as needed. Trips away were not a big deal as long as one of us was around to do school drop off and pick up each day.
With hybrid homeschooling, going out of town for work, or needing to run an errand on a day that our daughter is not at her tutoring program is almost impossible without help from our network. To keep things from completely falling apart because one of us is away, we’ve coordinated with family and friends who have agreed to babysit and administer her work if we are called away. These helpers are stay at home moms, folks who work at home and students with part-time work schedules. We obviously can’t call them at the very last minute, but it helps tremendously to have a network of trusted and willing individuals that we can contact when necessary.
Communicate and Ask for Help
From the beginning I’ve been open with my manager at work as well as the tutoring program we selected, about how we plan to make homeschooling work for our family. If I had the added stress of trying to conceal what I’m doing, this would not work. By being open, everyone has realistic expectations of me.
I also communicate a lot with my husband. He is not the primary instructor for my daughter, but I keep him in the loop as much as possible. This allows him to be my first backup when I need help. By talking in advance about what I foresee being hard, he is aware of what my needs are and is able to pitch in. For example, he usually drives our daughter to school on Wednesdays. This gives me one day a week that I can sleep in. He also cooks a few days a week, which gives me more time to recharge after a long day of work and homeschooling.
Keep Things in Perspective
These tips are not the end all and be all. Planning helps remove the chaos that can set in (even when you’re not homeschooling), but it doesn’t fix everything. Sometimes plans fall apart. I don’t like to be so rigid about my plans that I create new stress and new anxiety around being perfect in my adherence to them. If I am stressed about following my plan, the plan is no longer serving it’s purpose: alleviating stress and creating clarity.