When I left the classroom five years ago to pursue a career in Real Estate, I did so because I WANTED to work from home and provide an income for our family, while being at home with our kids. With the current conditions in our world right now, I know there are some of you that NEVER planned to have to work from home with your children, and you’re currently unsure of how long this will be your new reality. Mixing work and home life is definitely not easy, and comes with a multitude of daily challenges.
I’d love to tell you I have all the answers on how to make this a seamless transition for you, but I’ve been doing it for five years and I’m currently watching my 16 month old take bottles of acrylic paint out of a drawer and line them up on the floor. This is AFTER I just rescued him from the patio after he crawled through the dog door while I was pouring a cup of coffee. I don’t have all the answers, but I can offer some helpful tips as you enter this uncharted territory!
1. Make a *flexible* schedule for your days
I’d love to tell you that I’m the mom that wakes up super early, runs a half marathon, eats a healthy breakfast, reads a book and has a whole cup of hot coffee BEFORE my kids ever even wake up, but that’s just not me. I’m finally enjoying my toddler sleeping through the night, so I enjoy my sleep until shortly before my kids wake up. I drink coffee, respond to emails, post to social media accounts & pick up around the house while they eat breakfast and play for a while.
I prioritize the items that I know are doable while they are awake, loud and getting into things. I save the tasks that require more silence and focus for nap/quiet time. Some days things don’t quite go as planned, so I have to do a few extra tasks after the kids go to bed, but that’s okay. You have to be flexible with modifying your schedule with whatever the day may bring.
2. Have a scheduled nap/quiet time.
This is easy for me since I still have a toddler who naps twice a day. I use the morning nap to get in one on one/learning activities with my 4 year old. I set up an activity for him while I get in a quick workout and shower, and then we play together for a bit before the little one wakes back up. I use his second nap as a quiet time for my 4 year old and a time for me to buckle down and get things done like phone calls with clients, blog posts, writing offers, etc. I do the most I can while they are both asleep/quiet that requires silence.
3. Rotate toys/Have a dedicated play space
I have a home office, and on the lower tiers of my book shelf I have open ended toys and books at their level. They know they can come into my office and play with these items at any time, and if they do decide to come in there while I’m working, they can get the toys out without having to ask for my help. Rotating the toys every week or so helps keep them stay entertained and interested in the toys for longer durations. Setting boundaries for your kids on where they can play/ making them feel like they have their own space is important.
4. Space out cleaning/home tasks throughout the day.
Working from home is challenging for many reasons, but for me it’s very challenging because I need order and a tidy work space. Being home all day, you notice the piles of laundry that need to be folded, the dishes that need washed, the dresser drawers people can’t seem to close all the way, and the laundry laying on the floor next to the hamper. (WHY?!)
It can be hard to not want to take care of those things right away. I personally like to make beds, do dishes and start a load of laundry in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast/playing. I feel like if I can start my day off with a clean home, the whole day will go more smoothly (at least I can hope). We pick up as we go, and don’t let big messes pile up. If you have bigger kids that can help, now is a great time to make them chore schedules if they don’t already have them. This will help the entire family keep their sanity while being home together for a while!
5. Snacks on Deck
I will never understand how the tiny humans can consume so many snacks, but they do and it keeps them happy and entertained for 3 minutes, so keep them coming. I am not concerned about the amount of toilet paper in our house right now, but I DID rush to the store to stock up on some snacks. When our house is getting loud and crazy and it’s too hard to get work done, I turn on a show and we have a snack (I have some coffee & sneak a chocolate bar) and everyone calms down. At least for a few minutes before they’re back to their rowdy, mess making selves, but it gives me a few minutes to gather my sanity before tackling more tasks.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You will NOT get all the things done every day and that is okay. You will not check every single task off of your to do list every day, and that is also okay. Some of your work will get pushed to the wayside, and deadlines may be moved so you can focus on your kids’ needs, and that is okay. Your kids will spend a little more time than normal watching TV so you can get things done, and that is okay. This advice stands for full time work from home moms, as well as the ones who will only have to experience this for a (hopefully) short duration.
You can NOT and you will NOT always get all of the things done in a day that you need to, and you have to give yourself some grace, especially if you are a rookie to this new reality. Moms already have the hardest job on the planet. Right now we are being asked to continue our outside of the home jobs on TOP of taking care of our kids and families every day AT THE SAME TIME. Take care of yourselves, your kids, stay healthy, and we will all get through this one day at a time. We are cheering you on, moms!