FOUR TIPS FOR JUGGLING KIDS WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
Most of our worlds have been flipped upside down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I put together this post to help you mama’s who are transitioning roles right now. A lot of us are suddenly work-from-home, stay-at-home, full-time mama, teachers, nurses, cooks, PE coaches, musical teachers. You name it – I’m pretty sure we are doing it right now trying to keep our households afloat while navigating uncharted territory.
Before I started my photography business, I was an RN working in the ICU. I worked three days a week, and was home the other four. It was a strange combo of stay-at-home-working-mom life. Now that my husband and I own our business and operate it mostly from home, we have a unique perspective on this whole social isolation thing. That’s because aside from taking care of our kiddos and going to photoshoots – this really is how we live our lives. At home, in pajamas, working, and running a household.
If you’re used to working outside of your home, and are suddenly finding yourself trying to work from home – while simultaneously having kids home from daycare or school – you might be on the verge of pulling your hair out. And let me tell ya, I totallllly get it! I’m a mama of FOUR. Three of my children are all under two years old. Lily, our nine year old, is in a gifted class, plays on an advanced soccer team, and has a social calendar that rivals most 20 year olds. I want to first off encourage you: you CAN do this. I’m gunna say it again – YOU CAN DO THIS. It might require more caffeine, or an extra few deep breaths per day, but it really is totally possible.
We work from home and juggle business, a four month old baby, toddler twins, an athletic and gifted school nine year old, the house, chores, laundry, self-care, marriage, our personal lives – all of it. Every single day. While this juggle might seem crazy to most people, it’s our normal. I’d like to say I can consider myself pretty efficient when it comes to managing it all. I’m definitely no expert, but we have learned a lot from living the way we do over the past few years and I’m really hoping I can ease some of your stress by sharing some of my tips to get through the day!
FIRST: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. LIKE, SERIOUSLY. LOWER YOUR STANDARDS. DONE THAT? LOWER THEM AGAIN
Toddlers don’t understand that you have a conference call. Busy school-aged children need help with their homework. You’re not going to be able to get the same amount of work done in a day if you’re normally working in an office and you’re suddenly at home with kiddos. And mama, that is OKAY! My best advice here is to work in segments. Since you won’t be able to sit down for 8 straight hours and work without interruption, plan to work in pieces. Planning to work in segments and setting that as the expectation will help alleviate frustration in the moment. Structure some “quiet time” where the kids color or read while you answer emails. If your children still nap, work during this time. Don’t feel bad if you have to use screen time for a bit to get something done. Like I said, be kind to yourself right now. This is all temporary and we are doing the best we can!
SECOND: PLAN AHEAD.
We plan meals ahead of starting our week. We utilize online ordering + curbside pickup for our groceries, and get everything on Saturday or Sunday. That way we aren’t finding ourselves hungry and frustrated with kids at our knees while we are clueless about what to eat. Plan the meals out and stick to it. I literally write them down. It doesn’t have to be extravagant stuff either. Some nights we do breakfast for dinner, which is always a hit! Another great option right now for families are casserole or crock pot dishes. Things that you can quickly toss together in one pot / pan and forget about it until it’s ready to eat. Do things right now to save yourself time and patience. It’s worth it! Planning our meals ahead alleviates SO much stress in our house and also has saved us a ton of money!
THIRD: EMBRACE MULTI-TASKING.
If you come to our house, you’ll notice lots of things happening simultaneously. Here’s an example of the first few hours of our day: Wake up BEFORE the kids in the morning, toss a load of laundry in the wash. While it’s washing, read, have coffee, and then get dressed. Next, get the kids get up and get them ready for the day. We make breakfast and answer an email or two while the kids eat. Put laundry in the dryer. Fold it wherever while the kids play on the floor, or don’t. It’s clean and dry, and some days that’s all that matters. If you have older children, incorporating them into the routine of helping with house chores is a great way to get them involved and teach them responsibility. While we tidy, we listen to a Podcast or worship music on the house speakers that makes us feel good. Take everyone for a morning walk while drinking a smoothie. Play an audiobook on the walk, or continue the podcast. Sometimes we use this walking time to talk about what work needs to get done. If we have a lot going on, one parent goes for the walk with the kids and the other stays home.
During nap time, run the dishwasher and have coffee / a snack while working at the dining room table or in our office. This might be editing, answering emails, handling finances – whatever is on the calendar for the day for each of us. When the kids wake up from nap, we *stop* working. We have lunch together as a family. Typically we take turns working in the afternoon so one of us is hands on with the kids. We always have dinner together unless we have a shoot or Lily has sports, and we work again after the kids go to bed. This is not your average work day. It is very fluid and flexible. It involves lots of starting and stopping. But guess what? That’s okay! Because eventually the work does get done. It might not look normal – but again, that’s okay! You might have to adjust your idea of what normal is temporarily to get through this season with sanity and patience. I’m telling you this because although it’s not traditional this is how our husband and I support our family of six. If we can do it, you can too!
FOURTH: DO NOT NEGLECT SELF-CARE.
When I say self-care, I don’t mean an extravagant spa day or a trip to get a mani-pedi. By self-care I mean the basics. Sleep, drink plenty of water, eat well, shower. Pray, meditate, cook. Whatever the heck you do that fills YOU up, you have to do that. It’s really easy to start getting frazzled when you aren’t taking care of your physical + mental self when you are with your kids 24/7 and working from home. It starts to feel like there is never a break, because there isn’t, and I know this from firsthand experience. When I feel this way I check myself and nine out of ten times I realize I’m having a bad day because I let my self-care basics slip. For me, these things aren’t an option. I have to do them so I can be a wife, mama, and business owner. I do them because I deserve it, and so do my kids and husband. When you’re stressed out it’s even more important to do these things to keep anxiety / depression from trying to creep in. Most of us are feeling the weight of what COVID-19 is doing to the world around us. This is a perfect time to get intentional and lean in to your family. I’m really hoping that as all of you adjust to this new temporary normal, you can refer back to this post to help you manage your day as stresses arise.
I will be posting more fun goodies on my lifestyle Instagram page as well as more blog posts to help serve my community from the comfort of my home! Please comment below with any suggestions or advice you may find helpful! Remember, we are all in this together!