It’s hard to believe, but school is already back in session in some states and just around the corner in many others. But this year, back to school looks VERY different due to COVID. While some school districts are allowing students to attend in person full time, the majority are using remote learning or hybrid learning.

If you’re one of the parents whose children are going to be learning remotely or employing a mix of remote and in-person schooling, you’re probably having flashbacks to earlier this year. There is a lot of stress, anxiety, and logistics to work out if you’re working from home as well.

And of course, you’re probably asking yourself a LOT of questions. How are you going to balance your responsibilities with your kids’ needs? Will you be able to work effectively while the kids are home? Are the kids going to be able to focus on their assignments? Can they work independently so you’re not being constantly interrupted? Just how are you going to get through this?

Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers. What we do have though are some tips and suggestions to make this school year a little easier so you can focus on your work!

Dedicated Spaces

If you’ve been working from home for any length of time or running your own business, chances are you already have a dedicated workspace. To make things easier and more organized for you and your family, make sure each one of your children also has his or her own workspace as well. It will help keep everyone focused and on task throughout the day.

Comfort Matters

Having a workspace that isn’t comfortable or well equipped is counterproductive. Be sure that your kids have everything they need before they start their day. The more comfortable and prepared they are, the less likely they are to complain or get distracted. Consider the comfort of their chair, the availability of supplies within easy reach, and organization of their workspace.

By the same token, evaluate your own workspace. Assess your comfort level and organization. Is there anything missing or anything creating unwelcome distractions? If so, make the necessary changes to maximize your productivity.

Establish Ground Rules

For you to be able to put in a full and productive workday, you need to set the ground rules with your kids. Make sure they understand the rules about when you are and are not available and that they respect your space and time. If they’re old enough, encourage them to reach out directly to their teachers with any questions or concerns about their assignments.

Take a Break

If your child is learning remotely, they may either be taking classes virtually or just being given written assignments. With virtual classes, chances are their teachers are providing break times throughout the day. However, if your child is receiving written assignments and trying to prioritize their work on their own, you can work with them to create a realistic break schedule that they can follow every day. You can set alarms for breaks or write out their schedule someplace they can easily see.

The same applies to you as well! Make sure you’re taking time for yourself throughout your day to eat, stretch, and unwind so you don’t get burned out and overwhelmed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

If you have any friends or family members who can give you an occasional hand, ask! Whether it’s occasionally helping keep younger kids on task with schoolwork or running errands for you, small gestures can make a big difference.

Make sure you also communicate with your kids’ teachers with any questions, concerns, or requests. After all, your children’s teachers won’t necessarily know what you need from them if you don’t tell them. Teachers are used to accommodating a lot of different families in varied circumstances. Many of them are also parents and understand the frustration and difficulties of simultaneously working and helping their own kids’ stay focused on schoolwork.

We’re All in This Together

Just remember, when it comes to balancing your own workday and your kids’ education, you’re not alone. Millions of parents and kids will be navigating the same situation this fall. Few things create more stress than feeling isolated and alone. Reach out to friends and family members to find out what works best for them (and to commiserate)!

Most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and practicing mindfulness every day can work wonders, even for this Herculean task.

You’ve got this!