Please, please, please do a post about how to set up a home office and distance learning center.
Not only am I working from home full-time, but I’m “home-schooling” my kids full-time. Or rather, our home has become a 100% distance learning center.
There are papers and clutter, and to use your favorite word, “crap,” EVERYWHERE!
Laurel, you have no idea. I’m up every day at 6:00 AM. Three kids, one who’s 16, and if I’m not supervising his every move, will be playing video games and looking at anime. Then, there’s the newly hormonal 8th-grade “you-are-not-the-boss-of-me” girl. She’s a pretty good student but an utter slob.
Finally, there’s my baby, a second-grader who’s struggling with reading, still.
Three children at three different stages and in three different schools.
What were WE thinking?
Did I mention our cat who chews paper left laying around? You know, the old “the dog ate my homework?” Well, it’s no joke!
And, just to add one more layer of paint, my job as a publication editor can be stressful.
All of this is in addition to the pervasive fear we face, just venturing out of our home.
The husband has to fend for himself. He’s a physician, so there’s no working from home for him.
However, by the time 8:00 pm rolls around and on top of work, supervisory duties, cooking, and cleaning, I’m trashed.
If we could just get a handle on the paper, clutter, disorganization for my home office, and distance learning center, I think that would help alleviate a lot of my stress.
Please, help! I’m sure there are many in a similar situation.
Alotta Klutter – (But please call me Lottie)
Okay, thanks, Lottie. Those who’ve been reading for a while can probably figure out that this is a fictitious “Dear Laurel” letter. However, at least one of those kids was mine, as was the paper eating cat. The others are situations I have heard of over the years.
And yes, I know all too well that crushing fatigue that I experienced being a working mom and raising two kids, not during a pandemic.
My heart goes out to everyone during this difficult time. But, for parents now faced with a brand-new school year and no end in sight to our new way of life, I can’t even begin to imagine.
So, just know that you’re not alone and that most of us are muddling through the best we can.
Therefore, please feel free to either vent or share some wisdom that might help others to cope.
As for me helping you with your clutter mess due to the homeschooling–
If you read Sunday’s post regarding my bathroom vanity, you will fully grasp the folly of having me help you with anything having to do with organization.
It’s definitely not my strength.
However, I was a working Mom at home who did raise two high-maintenance boys into adulthood. That went on for two decades.
Therefore, for anyone interested, here’s my three cents.
In the case of Lottie, who more than has her hands full, I would see if it might be possible to hire an au pair. Ideally, of course, she would be living in your home. So, there would need to be space for her.
If all of the children have their own rooms, is it possible for two to double up? Perhaps your au pair is a college student or newly out of college. In exchange for room and board and a small salary, she would supervise the kids during the school day, make their lunch and perhaps even make dinner.
She could also help the kids tidy up their work stations.
Work Stations? Laurel, are you barking mad?
We live in a large city with two kids and two small bedrooms. Our entire home is 1100 square feet. And, no, we cannot move. We can’t afford to move. We paid over one million for our apartment and would be lucky to get $700,000 for it only five years later. That is if we could even sell it! As you know, after reading your post about Boston real estate, there is a glut of apartments for sale and rent in large cities.
Yes, I realize that many of you have enormous challenges in setting up a distance learning center.
But, this is when I think it would behoove you to enlist the help of professionals to help you clear out the current mess and create systems to make your home function more smoothly.
My own experience raising kids entailed family meetings and posted rules for conduct and expectations.
Rewards are given for completed tasks. Consequences are given if the rules aren’t followed.
YES! It’s horrible. You don’t want to be the police. I know that. I understand.
But, if you are still struggling with child-rearing, then you need to understand that your children aren’t your friends, not just yet. They are still learning how to be humans.
Yes, there are exceptions. My wasband and I used to call these “pretend children.” They are children who do what they’re told to do and virtually raise themselves without issue.
However, if you have “real children,” (rambunctious and sassy) they still need to be taught to care for their things and be given jobs to do around the house. They can be taught, it’s just more difficult.
In fact, this happens in their real classroom.
So, maybe just before lunch, there will be a 5-minute time to organize and tidy their things. The same will happen at the end of the school day, just before snack and free-time. Ten minutes- tops and done.
Please note that chores should be followed by a small reward of some sort.
I learned all of this because my younger son has special needs. However, these techniques will work for all children.
Now, did I say that they are going to comply? They might not– at first. That’s when they get a computer block on their games. Or, something like that. I used to hide my son’s Nintendo controls. When he did what he was supposed to do, he got them back.
OR, you could also tell them that in ten years, you are going to start a blog where you will write about them and their horrible attitude in great detail.
Okay, Mom. #whatevs #eyeroll
Just know that the hardships WILL pass. And, one day, your wild child may very well become your best friend. It happened to me.
As for your immediate needs in your office and in-home distance learning center, here are some things I recommend.
If you can swing it financially, I would call Done and Done for a consultation or in-home service.
Ann and Kate are geniuses at problem-solving your organizational issues and making the most of the space you have. You don’t need a lot of square footage to create a fully functional home learning space.
But, also know that Done and Done’s in-home services follow all protocols for wearing masks, distancing, and sanitization. Also, they offer virtual consults via Facetime if you are not comfortable having other people in your home.
Yes, it costs money, but a nervous break-down is going to cost you even more.
If money is super-tight, and spending it is only going to hasten the breakdown, then I would do the next best thing. That would be to sign up for their ten-module home organization course. This comprehensive course includes home offices and children’s rooms.
Also, I’m so impressed with the storage system for my bathroom vanity from the Container Store. If you recall, Ann from Done and Done Home recommended it for me. So, I went over to the TCS website to see what else they have.
Well, the Container Store has everything.
I mean, they have you completely covered when it comes to your home office and distance learning.
That is in terms of having places to put things. And, they are attractive too.
In addition, The Container Store offers free design and consultation services to set up your home office or distance learning center. Of course, they are ONLY using the products they sell. But hey, it’s FREE!
You could even involve your kids to pick out the pieces and colors they like best.
I think these carts are a great solution to help your kids keep their school stuff organized. Perhaps when they are not in use, they could go in a closet or be hidden behind a screen.
If you’re lucky, you can create a designated homework center in a separate space.
Since you might have two or more kids working on computers and listening to the lesson, they would all need to wear headphones. I imagine you’ve already figured that one out.
Please note that if you sign up for Done and Done Home’s organizing course or purchase anything at the link to the Container Store, I will make a commission. However, I only link to products, services, and brands that I love and have used or would use for myself or a client.
Of course, you do not have to have an office from the Container Store. Maybe you only need some drawer organizers and things of that nature.
This is another terrific article that might be helpful in creating your home learning center.
I know that some of you don’t have kids, but you might have grandkids. So, if this post might have some useful information, please pass it on to your grown-up children.
As for furniture, it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. However, a piece which will last a long time might be worth the investment.
Believe it or not, this stylish desk is from Pottery Barn Teen.
However, do check out these other sources.
Anthro always has interesting pieces if you’re looking for something with Boho flair.
I think it’s important to make your kids’ learning environment fun and appealing to them. So, include them in decision making. That is, unless they don’t care. It also depends if their learning space is separate or is going to be part of the family living space due to tight quarters.
Some may disagree with me. But, if your child’s best learning space is in their bed, then why not let them do that? They make laptop desks designed to use in bed or reclining on a sofa.
Speaking of tight quarters.
Pottery Barn has these very cool loft beds that maximize the available space. All you would need here is a bedroom that’s 8′ x 10′
I’m finishing up the post with a widget that’s filled with furniture that I think would be great for kids of all ages. And, some of it works for young adults, too.
However, my philosophy on kids’ furniture is that if the kids are eight years old or older, to do full-size furniture.
That is, unless they are especially tiny, or you have other even younger kids. I’ve never been one to make kids’ rooms typically juvenile, in any case. You can always change out the smaller accent pieces as they mature. There are a lot of great ideas in the widget.
Please click on any image below for more information.
Carolyn, in the comments, has an interesting situation with an older student who had a lot of equipment and needs space to spread out.
I gave her some ideas which you can see in the comments if you scroll down. (if you’re on your cell phone, you have to open a link to read the comments.)
Below is the Pottery Barn Modular desk. There are dozens of possibilities with different pieces and tops to create a lot of desktop and storage space.
But, here’s where I think a great bonding project would be to involve your middle or high schooler in the process of setting up their room. Maybe you could pick a time and research it together. But, as I always say, if your situation is an especially challenging one, I would enlist the help of a professional who can help you sort it out.
I hope that you found this information useful. Please share any tips you’ve discovered that have made your lives easier while your kids are distance learning from home.