In the current situation around the world, many parents are forced to work at home with kids. Schools are closed, but your work has not. I have been a work at home mom for the last 4 years and at a time like this, I thought it would be useful to share some tips that worked for me as I continue working from home.
WORK AT HOME MOM HACKS: TIPS TO SURVIVE WORKING FROM HOME WITH KIDS
Chalk out a plan for the day, both for you and for the kids. It doesn’t need to be rigid. I like to make schedules in 1-hour time blocks for our son. This gives me enough time to set up and wrap up activities once done.
Here is a look at our schedule during this phase of social distancing
Wake up by 7 am
Free play as I make breakfast [I set up boxes of legos, magnetic tiles or his wooden trainset at night in our living room. He heads to the living room every morning and starts to play as I prepare breakfast.]
Breakfast [On days when he doesn’t want to play, I involve him in breakfast preparation.]
Free play [ with mom and dad]
Schoolwork/activity books/or some sort of sensory bin [I work during this time as I supervise his activity. My husband either works out at this time or plays with our son]
Lunch prep [depending on how our days’ work is progressing, either my husband cooks lunch or I cook lunch. When he is not around I usually make super simple meals that don’t take more than 20-30 minutes to prepare or build a lunch plate using leftovers and some pre-prepared veggies ]
Quiet time [more on this below]
Reading and one -on -one playtime
Snack time [Our son helps me make his snack on most days. Over the years I have managed to come up with many simple recipes that keep his tummy full between meals, and also fill in on those nutritional gaps. I compiled our favorite, healthy and child approved recipes in this Toddler Snack ebook. If snack time is a challenge for you, you must try these recipes. ]
Park time [currently our city is in lockdown and none of us are allowed to venture out of our apartment building so we use this time to do some yoga, dancing or other indoor physical activity]
Bedtime [I work another hour after his bed time]
Prepare the kids/talk to them
Whatever be the situation you need to talk with your kids about what is going to happen and what is expected. For younger children, you can use simple instructions and guidelines to help them get an idea of what is expected as you work from home. They need to know that mommy will require time to herself when she works on her laptop.
3. Set up activities to keep them busy
Here are some activities and toys you can use as per the age of your child
For Preschoolers: The same ideas as above along with, audiobooks, puzzles, learning books and activity books.
Meal planning and meal prep will be your savior when you are stuck at home with work and kids. You won’t have time in the week to prepare elaborate meals. Use the weekends to stock up on essentials and batch prep some veggies and snacks that can be used during the week. Here is a blog post on how I meal plan.
5. Get the kids involved in chores
With kids at home get them involved in home chores. Involve them in simple tasks like fixing their own snack (make a smoothie, make energy balls, most 3-4 yr olds can fix their own snacks with a little help and supervision.) putting clothes to wash and dry, feeding the pets, watering the plants, folding clothes, and putting away toys.
6. Dedicate 15 minutes to self-care each day
It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself as you work from home. Dedicate 15 minutes each day to some type of self-care activity, it can be as simple as a face cleansing routine or coloring in a mandala book. Taking this time out will help you feel refreshed in between the monotony of the day.
7. Schedule calender reminders for recurring tasks
For things like payment of bills or renewal of services, I set a reminder on my phone for the 1st of the month. This way I don’t forget about my bills and make payments when I have money at hand.
8. Quiet time
Work with your kids to build in a 30-minute quiet time into the day’s schedule. Most 2 and a half-year-olds are ready for some quiet time and independent play. Start gradually with small increments of time. Start out with 5 minutes of independent play, then 10, 15 minutes until you can go for 30 minutes of quiet play. For the quiet time, I usually leave open-ended toys like magnetic tiles, bristle blocks, some puzzles he can solve on his own, or coloring sheets.
I also make it a point to do some activity together once quiet time is over so that our son feels reassured that mommy is around and willing to spend time with him once quiet time is done.
9. Keep distractions away
This is a big one. With everyone using social media as a way to interact with the world it is easy to be distracted by the 100’s of notifications each day on each of these social media apps.
When I am immersed in work, I start by keeping my phone away. This simple act has improved my productivity by leaps and bounds.
Having a set time to use social media apps is also an excellent way to stay away from mindless scrolling of feeds.
10. Plan a strategy for your business tasks
Get working on high ROI (return on investment)tasks first. This is something I started recently and has taken off much of the pressure I put on myself to learn and do more all the time. You only need to focus on tasks in your business that convert the most. The rest of the work can be done at a slower pace. This strategy has helped me increase my income and create a more self-sustaining business.
Make a list of all your daily work-related activities. Which ones among these are directly related to income growth. Focus on these activities first. Every day the first 2 tasks you do should be those that bring you income, after that the rest of the day can be used for support activities like administrative duties (emails, taxes, budgeting) or maintenance of the business (talking to customers, networking, taking courses, fixing bugs in your blog themes, etc.).
I hope these work from home tips work for you as you navigate your way through these challenging times.
There will be days when everything goes wrong, and you will feel defeated. But give yourself some grace. These times are harder for our children too. No one likes to be cooped up indoors all day long. Count your blessings and be grateful for whatever you have.
Soon you will find your own rhythm as you work from home and the kids too will settle into this new routine.
Until then, stay strong and power through mama.