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Juggling your workload with your children's workload


This article has been written by author and blogger Annie Ridout is the author of The Freelance Mum: A flexible carer guide for better work-life balance.

I chose my daughter’s school because it’s creative and relaxed; no uniform, first names for teachers. We’re able to give support at home - for instance, reading with her each night before bed - and so didn’t feel it was necessary for her to be in a high-pressured school environment. We like that the school values play in the early years.

But even in this laid-back primary school the kids bring back a school book to read twice a week. You’re expected to read it together, encouraging the child to try reading out loud, and fill out a reading diary - a picture, or description of the book. This sounds like a small bi-weekly task, but getting a five-year-old to sit and read takes some patience.

This is made more complicated by the fact that my husband and I work from home. I’m a journalist and author (of The Freelance Mum: A flexible carer guide for better work-life balance) and together we run an online course business, teaching freelancers and entrepreneurs how to do their own PR, or set up a new business.

So we’re often grabbing half-an-hour to tap out some emails or copy while the kids play or watch telly. We’ve developed a work-life balance that enables us to do the school and nursery drop-off and pick-up every day, but we make up for lost time when we get home and they’re occupied.

However, we’re committed to helping with learning and we’ve found the best way to work it into our weekly routine is to do it first thing. Our two-year-old son wakes the house around 6am, so we have two and a half hours before we need to leave to school. My daughter usually wakes with good energy so is able to concentrate on reading.

Post-breakfast and pre-preparing for the school run, we set aside half an hour to read, and she’ll often then be inspired to practise her writing. My husband might sit and run through digraphs with her for 10 minutes while I keep our son entertained (and quiet). Together, we’ll then do some counting or number work.

I think it’s more common to do homework after school but for as long as we can, we'll stick with our morning routine. It works to combat it when we all have more energy. Also, I think it sets the kids up for a day of learning, rather than bolting on tasks that they feel too tired to do after a full day at school.

Annie Ridout is the author of The Freelance Mum: A flexible carer guide for better work-life balance. She's also editor-in-chief of digital lifestyle and parenting magazine The Early Hour, and works as a freelance journalist for national news and women’s magazines and has written for the Guardian, Red Magazine, Stylist, Metro and more. She lives with her husband and her two children in east London.