Son of Mompreneur Dr. Shellie Hipsky of Inspiring Lives International and the Global Sisterhood
It started with an email that went something like this one from our superintendent of schools, “Parents/Guardians,
Because of growing concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus...”
With those words, parents (some of us who had not previously worked from home) were now not only doing that but were also becoming our children’s homeschool teachers for an indefinite period of time.
Although I now lead two companies and I am the editor-in-chief of Inspiring Lives Magazine, a national magazine for empowering women, I am fortunate to have an extensive background in education. I’ve been a special education teacher, an assistant principal, and—with my doctorate in Educational Leadership—taught future teachers as a tenured professor for a decade. But let’s get real here, it’s a very different story to teach your own kids while being a mompreneur during a time of global crisis.
I sprang into action after I made sure we had adequate food supplies. I created a specific homeschooling schedule, mapped out our time, created activities, and pulled together our kitchen eating area into a learning environment so that I could teach my kids.
The first week of staying in the house while home schooling seriously felt like a month. And while some schools are doing online schooling, mine won’t start that until next month if we are still not able to engage in in-school learning. And now moms around the world are looking at our calendars wondering when life will get back to normal or if this is in fact “the new normal”.
Thankfully, my children and I, and my businesses, are thriving during this uncertain time; yet, I am such a believer research to find out how I (and my readers) can do even better. Because my VIP 1:1 clients and EmpowerU Master Class students are all fantastic women business owners and mostly moms as well, I went straight to the source and gathered tips on how to balance having our kids at home instead of at school from mompreneurs around the U.S. It is my hope that these strategies in the areas of scheduling, treating our kids as our co-workers, incentives, and utilizing technology will help you during this time and beyond.
Time is On Our Side
Children of Mompreneur Brea Hiatt of Solbela Beauty
Most children need routines and a schedule for security. I was surprised how my son really took to our “Hipsky Homeschool Daily Schedule”. He has been actually looking forward to the next blocks of time and has even been helping to keep me on track with it. While it is important to create routines, remember that these things are subject to change. Let yourself off the hook if you don’t reach your goals for the day or stay in synch with your plan. Here are some great tips from other moms for planning out your days until the Covid-19 event is over:
“Routine, Routine, Routine. With little kiddos, place items on lower shelves so they can be independent and help themselves to snacks, drinks etc. Get out of the house “together” for mini breaks to stay sane.”
- NaTasha S. McNeil, Classik Media Group
“My husband and I split the workday. He gets mornings and I get afternoons. My advice is to speak up for your needs if you have a partner, and make sure you're taking some time to yourself throughout the day.”
- Mariah Oller, Harvest and Moon
“Still having toddlers at home - The same way I schedule my work hours is the same way I schedule time that I totally focus on the kids! My typical work day is waking before the kids to get a few hours of work done, and then work again during nap hours - At which time the big kids are instructed to have quiet time in their room to get much needed alone time they also need now that they’re going to be cooped up with the rest of the family! My husband and I also have set days we each get to focus fully on clients while the other focuses fully on the kids - We get more done this way than both trying to work and juggle kids at the same time!”
- Marta Greca, Media Creative Agency
“Start the day a bit earlier. See if you can accomplish some work when they are still sleeping or occupied.”
“Make a list of what you want to accomplish in that day. Everything from work tasks to household tasks. Make it realistic and know there is a chance it could change”
-Amber Hansel, Time Management Mamas
“Time blocking. I try to set a timer and read or help with school, then set a timer so I can work on business while they play or work.”
“With my kiddo, time management is so important. I make sure to dedicate my time to my work while she does hers so it doesn’t interfere with our together time.”
- Dawn McPherson, Set Me Free
Children of Mompreneur Christine Furman of Momspiration412
“For younger kids...
Momspiration412 is going live every morning for "Start your day with EduPlay." EduPlay℠ has been a great resource to many during this time, offering daily morning videos, ideas and activities for the day and more. Setting schedules, routines and expectations for kids will help to provide order and organization anytime but especially during time of uncertainty. Kids like to know what is next and like having a schedule in place. A good schedule/routine will not happen overnight. The key is to stay consistent but be flexible.”
- Christine Furman, Momspiration412
“For older kids...
- Block out 2-3 hours in which they can do their schoolwork with minimal guidance and focus on your work (not chores). Give them a very specific list of tasks/assignments they need to accomplish during that time, so they know exactly what they’re doing and in what order to minimize unnecessary interruptions.
- Involve them with chores—everyone does a task or two in the specific area for the day (in a bathroom, one cleans the sink and mirror, one cleans the floor, one cleans the toilet, etc).
- Get up a bit earlier to take a moment to organize your day and jot down the tasks you’d like to get done with only 1-2 being a priority. Realize everything else might just be a nice bonus.”
- Mar D., Windborne Farms, LLC
“As an entrepreneur, posting a schedule visible in the house holds me accountable to what I have to do in the day. So my son and I will both have our individual schedules, I’m making sure to allot some fun time, meal breaks, etc. Our school district has used google classroom for instruction with videos since he was in 4th grade. So he’s use to it. I don’t see him having a hard time adjusting.”
- Michelle Caba, FAMA Agency
“Setting up working stations where we each can see we are working on something important is how we rock and roll here, taking the same snack breaks, lunch breaks, and movement breaks. Structure is the key and with that structure comes productivity for all.
- Francoise Owarish, Summit Mediation Center
Baby of Mompreneur Erica Harrell of It's Done Virtually by Erica
I adore my Inspiring Lives Team that works so hard behind the scenes at my non-profit company the Global Sisterhood 501(c)(3) which helps women and children around the world through our humanitarian work, hosts fundraisers, and publishes Inspiring Lives Magazine. Almost my whole staff is comprised of mompreneurs who are striving to make a great life for their families and themselves. So often over the years we have had our children work with us—from by our sides helping pass out promotional materials at big business shows to preparing mailings at the office. When it came to the concept of having our children be like our co-workers during homeschooling, it sounded like a natural fit and that great lessons would be learned. Here our mompreneur experts explain:
“We sit down and clock in together, take a break together, and clock out together. In order for them to take it seriously and in order for me to get my work done, the ONLY way I see it working is to make them think we are both at work, maybe even dress the part, make it a whole thing....get our coffee, log in (clock in), do our work, take breaks, do water cooler time (potty breaks and hydration breaks), and then back to work, lunch break and go to the break room and take out our lunches we packed and chat, clock back in and finish out our day.”
- Monica Malik, Monica Malik Consulting
“While your kids are home ... put them to work assisting you. If you run a business, you can pay them. Remember they are very savvy with social media. Put them to work and watch your platforms spike.”
- Regina Robinson, Suited 4 Success College Planning Services
“My children are now my coworkers. They have tasks to accomplish daily as we complete orders, make new merchandise, and package orders for shipping. Find small tasks for younger kids. They love to feel like they are a part of something. Explain to the older ones how important it is for these tasks to be done and for the business to continue to work right now. Also, a great moment to show them how to be grateful for having these moments together.”
- Liz Ramirez, Beautifully Broken Boutique
“My oldest daughter loves engaging her younger siblings in learning a lot! She keeps them busy while I’m at my computer writing or researching things. And I’ll encourage them to switch things up from time to time. My daughter loves it when she is my “assistant” in my office space and typing things into the computer! So that’s always nice when I see her face light up when I ask her to help me in that regard. She loves to help organize my office space as well!”
- Kara Peters, VA by Kara
“I set my daughter up in my office right next to me. We work along-side each other. Leading by example.”
- Kim Naim
One of the Children of Mompreneur Marta Greca of MEDIA: The Creative Agency
My creative son has ADHD and a learning disability, and he has been excelling with the online learning this first week of homeschooling. Whether he’s exploring the online animated curriculum on Adventure Academy or an online field trip, it has really opened up the engaged learning potential for my kids during this time. Also, we have been using a company, Varsity Tutors, to teach him in person in my home for over a year. We have been able switch his lessons with his tutor to online. Plus, my middle school aged daughter who excels in higher level math has often used the Varsity Tutors on-demand feature which is wonderful for learning difficult topics from true experts in the subject matter. Let’s look at what other online learning is happening in the homes of mompreneurs who are teaching from home right now:
“There are so many great links on the computer to keep them learning with games. I keep saying my kids are going to feel what it feels like to be a 1980s kid because they will be outside a lot if the weather gets nice.”
- Rachel Dayoub, Bella Bronze Tanning
“Learning apps are a godsend. Prodigy lets them learn math through a roleplaying rank-up type of format. My boys (10 & 9) especially love it. BrainPop and BrainPop Jr. have free versions with educational topics across all disciplines. Duolingo gives the kids a chance to learn a language. XtraMath and Quick Strike Math are good for mathematics. Typing.com, if the kids have access to a desktop or laptop is fun, too.”
- Angela Mosley, Inspiring Lives Magazine
Children of Mompreneur Caroline Martin of A Steel City Building Maintenance
Incentivizing learning may sound like a bribe, but especially in tricky times like this, I say “go for it!” If you get the hard work out of the way and earn the fun work or something special... you and you kids are more likely to get it all done.
One clever friend of mine even set up a system with her best “quarantine snacks”. This mom set up her chips, chocolate bars, and cookies like a store in a big basket. They were labeled with credits. The kids had to earn the credits through schoolwork and chores to earn the yummy treats. During this time of the Covid-19 crisis it was also an ingenious way to make the snacks last. Let’s see other tips for having kids earn rewards while doing their schoolwork:
“I work from home with 2 under 2 during the school year and 6 kids in the summer (for the next few weeks, too!) They have a checklist of what they need to do before they can use electronics for fun - brush teeth, get dressed, clean room, read or do something educational for 40 min, go outside for 40 min if possible, ask mom how you can be helpful. Then you get some electronic time. Good times! I have kids at the following ages:17, 13, 12, 7, 2 and almost 1 years old.”
- Bethany Wentz, Dream Big Honduras
“We do a lot of this already. They get rewards for playing nicely and staying out of the office if I’m doing a call. I usually say they can pick a movie and have popcorn or something in the afternoon if we get through the morning ok. At 5 and 7, now mine are doing a lot better with work-from-home and have learned to play quietly.”
- Cori Wamsley, Cori Wamsley Writing Services
As parents are relegated to stay home night and day except for essential circumstances, we truly are in this together. As you can see, there are tons of resources, tools, and ideas of how to balance it all during these uncertain times. Be sure to check in on others to make sure they are alright. Share ideas, including this Today Show Parenting Community Blog post, so that we can all add to our strategies. Remember, too, that plans change, and you can’t always stick to the schedule. Most of all, stay safe and healthy while teaching your kids as you work from home!