Working from Home with Littles

As parents of young children, we already wear so many hats, but now with staying safe at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, we wear more than ever.

Parent, teacher, entrepreneur, partner, child, supportive family member, housekeeper…. shall I continue?

You see, I’m pretty well versed in the work from home with kids grind. I was still working as a Software Engineer when my daughter was born. I was determined to wait to start her in day-care until she was 6 months old. This was hilariously naive. My husband and I set up shop in our formal living room. We had a rock n play, our desks, and a bunch of toys. We would switch off taking care of my daughter between work calls and projects. By the time we endured a month of this, I called the daycare and begged them to start her early.

Fast forward a few months, and I had left my Software Engineering job to pursue my dream of a web design business. I have grown this business with a baby on my lap since day-one. I have a few tips for everyone who is trying to figure out the daily work and parent grind.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re lucky because you can set your own schedule. Even if you work for someone else, employers are now more flexible than ever due to this pandemic.

1 // Start by mapping out your day, setting times for work, and times for parenting

Trying to work with little kids buzzing around you is a recipe for stress. Instead, try to set hours in your day where your main purpose is working.

People are so understanding at this time, so send out an email to your clients and co-workers notifying them of your schedule. Tell them the times that you will respond to email, and your designated work times.

Here’s my schedule:

5 – 7 AM – Wake up, grab a hot cup of coffee and map out my day in my planner. Make a list of top priorities for the day. Start with the most important task.

7 – 8 AM – Switch over to mom-mode. Make breakfast, empty the dishwasher, clean up all the crumbs, and start a load of laundry. Shower and get dressed for the day.

8 – 12 PM – Be present with kids. Do a youtube music class, color, play-doh, dance party, take a walk outside, and read books. Stay away from your email and computer as much as possible. Our kids need us now more than ever to be present with them, too.

12 – 1 PM – Make lunch, clean up, and put the kids down for a nap.

1 – 3 PM – Nap time. Ahh, sweet sweet nap time. This is your 2-hour window if you’re lucky. Eliminate all distractions. Ignore the pile of dishes in the sink and the laundry, and just work. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in two hours. Remember, work down the priority list.

3 – 5 PM – Movie and Snack – I create a big platter of fun and healthy snacks like apples, cheese, grapes, veggies, and hummus. I set it up on a tray in the family room and put on a fun movie. They love this time, and it gives me a chance to finish any leftover work tasks and start cooking dinner.

5 – 7 PM – Family Time – This is my favorite time of the day. We eat dinner as a family, go for a nature walk or play outside.

7 – 8 PM – Nighttime Routine – My husband gives the kids a bath, and I power clean the house. I don’t want to talk about the number of times per day that I clean up smeared peanut butter and goldfish crumbs everywhere! We read our books and say goodnight to the kids.

8 – 9 PM – I take a final hour to finish up any pressing client work. I find that this is key to starting the next day on the right foot, feeling accomplished and refreshed. Of course, some days are busier than others, and it may be a late-night. When this happens, I just pretend that I’m like Joanna Gaines before reveal day and power through the work.

9 – 10 PM – Time to unwind! This is my hour to myself to catch up on a show I’m watching or scroll Instagram. I try to turn off everything by 10 PM and go to sleep.

2 // Be Present

My next most important tip is to be present with whatever your task is. When in work mode, eliminate all distractions. Turn off the TV, get off Instagram, and put your blinders on to housework. Work down your list, starting with your top priority.

When it’s time to be present with your kids, really be present with them. They need us now more than ever. It’s a difficult time for them too, and you’re their only social interaction. Remember that our kids are our number one priority, and the work can wait until your designated work time.

Should a work emergency arise, turn on the screen time! Taking me to my next tip.

3 // Utilize Screen Time to your Advantage

Confession time – my kids watch TV, and I am okay with it. I try to be careful to only have the TV on or the iPad out when I need a break so that I can get some housework done, or reply to an email. That way, it’s way more engaging to your kids, if they’re not used to watching TV all the time.

I hope that these tips help you to achieve all the things on your plate. You got this.

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