I wrote the first part to this story back in May which you can find here When the kids are all at school…..part 1.
It has taken me most of this year to find my rhythm. I still haven’t ticked off lots of things I thought I would once I had all the kids at school. But I have made some key learnings.
I don’t have 5 x 6 hour days
When I thought how this year would pan out last year, I mentally calculated that I would have 5 x 6 hour days to do my work in and I would not have to work evenings or weekends. I took on freelance work and blog work with this assumption. This was unrealistic and it caused me great angst for the first half of the year as I resented having to still do work in the evening and on weekends.
During the hours the kids are at school, I still do lots of home stuff. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, errands etc. Once I accepted that this was the decision I was making to best look after our family, I lost my resentment and started working out how I could blend the two more efficiently.
I will use all the time I have
Coming in from school drop off and with no meetings etc, I would do some jobs around the house and many times before I realised it, it would be after 11.00am. Without a place to be or deadlines to meet, I would use up a lot of time doing tasks around the house, that in all honestly I could have done much quicker.
To help me with this, as noted in my last post, I needed to go back and write down my week to see where I was spending my time. I needed to put time constraints on the home activities I was doing so that I didn’t then have to work for too many hours in the evening.
Below is what an ideal week looks like for me. Please note that not everything is written down in the schedule, nor do some of the activities take the whole hour block – it is indicative of what I am doing at that time. For example the hour of homework before dinner maybe just me listening to the reading of the preppie and testing one of the other kids on their spelling words which takes only 15 minutes for the both activities. The weekly prep time over the weekend is interspersed with playing games with the kids, taking the dog for a walk and playing outside.
I can’t wag work
I love working from home and the flexibility it affords me. This means that mostly I can still do things on a whim like:
- Stay for school assembly
- Catch up for coffee with friends after school drop off
- Do canteen duty
- Help out with PMP and other things
But, if I do that, I have to make up the hours somewhere else across the day or week. If I don’t do the work it doesn’t get done. I now think much more about whether I can really afford the time to do these things and moderate how much time I spend on these activities.
I need to prepare for school holidays
I do love the school holidays. I love having not to be out of the house by a certain time, not making school lunches and being able to spend more time with the kids. I do however have to prepare for them:
- I block my calendar out in advance so I don’t book meetings or work appointments during these times.
- I limit the work I take on around school holidays.
- I plan strategic use of technology time. The younger kids will have a two hour block in the afternoon on the days we are home and I will work during this time.
I need to be disciplined
I have firm boundaries for when I can go online for work. Working from home it is so easy for it to creep into family time. I don’t work before the kids go to school and I don’t start work again until the youngest three are in bed.
When I am working during the day, I need to make the best use of my time. I drifted quite a bit in the first half of the year, thinking incorrectly of course that I had all this time. This meant my workload for the last half of this year has been busier than I would have liked, but I have learnt my lesson.
I know to be productive I need to do these two things:
- Have a main goal for what I want to achieve each day, with a supporting detailed to do list.
- Eliminate distractions of social media. I use the Self Control App for Mac. It allows me to list the sites that distract me and I can set a timer for a period where I am unable to access them (even if I turn the computer off and back on again!). I then only go on social media on short selected spurts.
I find the house too quiet
I still find the house too quiet on my own for five days a week. I listen to lots of music, podcasts and am just starting some audio books too. I look forward to the kids coming home – not so much when they are fighting or speaking rudely to me, but on the whole I like the after school time when the house comes alive.
Now as we get closer to the end of another school year, I have a little sadness. The youngest is so well entrenched into the school routine and his independence grows every day. I know this is how it should be, but as I also have an almost 16 year old, who prefers not to hang out so much with the family any more, I appreciate more, all the hugs and kisses the little ones still give me and their keenness to want to spend time with me. That will change so I intend to soak it up and enjoy it as much as I can.
Did you have a last child go to school this year? How have you found it?