Surviving as a work-from-home parent
Hello all my fellow stay-at-home peoples! I hope you are all surviving during this wild time in our lives. Right now is a true test for you as a person, an employee, a business owner, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. I can tell you one thing IT IS TOUGH!! Make sure you reach out to your family, your friends, fellow moms and dads, neighbors, or just wave at someone walking by. We all need it right now.
DISCLAIMER : I was going to post this last week, but I became ill (not with coronavirus, but mastitis if you must know - not an ideal time to come down with a fever and flu like symptoms though). I felt like a complete failure as a parent between physically feeling ill, mentally feeling down, and ended up feeling like nothing I was writing I was actually doing myself at that point in time - onto a new week I am definitely feeling more motivated and trying to do the best I can!!
Luckily, I have some experience with my kids home each day while I work. I now just have the added job of being a teacher to my 3rd grader and kindergartener. We have had good days, we have had not so good days. BUT, we are surviving!
I wanted to write a post with some tips I have found helpful with this new life we live in and what I have used in years past as a work-from-home mom. Some of these tips I have used before all of these events have taken place, and some I have added in to my routine as we move into these different times. So - lets begin!
#1 SEMI-SCHEDULED DAYS
My husband and I try doing semi-scheduled days for our boys . During the summer, my kids are home with me, so I have learned what works best for us in our days all together. They start the day by eating breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing teeth (my middle son would, and sometimes still does, stay in his pajamas all day if we let him), we schedule in times for screens (when I am putting the baby down to nap because then they are quiet), scheduled school times (right now twice a day), scheduled lunch time, outside time, scheduled time apart (to read, draw, hang out by themselves, not drive each other crazy), scheduled family supper, and then we usually spend time together in the evenings either playing a game, family walk, watching a movie, or just hanging out. We are pretty consistent when the boys get down for bed each night. Because of my work schedule and sanity, I like them to go to bed on time! I find time to work during the quiet times, homework times, squeezing minutes in here and there throughout the day and almost always after they go to bed at night. Some of my days can be pretty spotty when I get work in. With a semi-scheduled day in place, I can usually depend on certain times to work. Summers gets busier because then we have the added in sports and activities to schedule around. I do all of my work from a laptop so I can be mobile. I work upstairs, downstairs, in bedrooms, or even outside. You have to be pretty creative when to get the work done with 3 kids surrounding you. Also, I will admit to giving them extra screen time when I am in absolute need of meeting a deadline. I know, it isn’t ideal, but hey - we still need to keep our career going. My kids are pretty flexible, they know when I need to get work done and are helpful (for the most part) when they know I have deadlines to meet. I think my kids thrive on the routine. They have been asking me a lot lately, “what does our schedule look like?” or “what does our schedule say we should be doing?” Let me tell you, it definitely is semi-scheduled, because life with children is unpredictable. My 5 month old is still figuring out life on the outside, so let’s be honest, he runs the schedule right now :-) I do my best, alongside the chaos, to provide a semi-scheduled day.
#2 BE ORGANIZED
Right now I am trying my best to be extra organized. Over breakfast and coffee each morning I gather all of the homework together for that day and set it out for the boys. Then it is all ready for when they sit for their morning and afternoon sessions. Once it has been completed, I cross it out on the agenda given by the teachers. The teachers have done a FANTASTIC job at clearly organizing everything out for us parents to know exactly what to do. As for my work, I make sure I have a clear deadline for each of my projects so I can work on each thing accordingly. LISTS are a necessity in my life. Also, hand writing everything out makes me remember it more for some reason. Right now I have lists for each boy, my work list, a list of stuff to get done around the house, a list of extra things I need to do, etc. You would think being home all the time I would be crossing off like crazy - but between kids school, my work, and daily house tasks - oh and a 5 month old, I haven’t been able to cross off a lot of those to-do items. BUT, I usually just move them for the next day and eventually complete the tasks.
# 3 EATING
How much are you eating right now? And how many times are your kids asking you for food?! Holy moly! Here is a fantastic tip I just heard from my friend Dr. Karla Wolford from EHP CrossFit and Elevate Human Potential - (click on image to see post). This definitely needs to be implemented pronto! I am trying to do my best at making homemade snacks as well (energy balls or snack mix) but obviously with time constraints it is important to just have other healthy stuff on hand - bananas, almonds, yogurt, apple sauce, etc. My husband is not a huge fan of the pouched apple sauce (you have to pay for the packaging you know!) but I think it is worth the convenience! Or, you can totally buy the reusable pouches and make your own - more power to you!! I also plan my evening menus at the beginning of each week and purchase all the ingredients for each recipe. This saves you time for grocery visits and planning each day. I have each day written out of what we are eating. For lunch I have a rotation of easy to fix lunches.
#4 TIME FOR YOU
TRY TRY TRY to make time for yourself - even if it is just 5 minutes. Hopefully you have a supportive spouse who is willing to take on the chaos for awhile. Especially during this time at home right now, I make it a priority to get outside and walk for 15-30 minutes each day by myself. In this photo I am doing a ruck walk (weighted backpack on a 3 mile walk). It is refreshing for me, and I am not sure I could deal with life as well otherwise. I also try to squeeze in a workout if possible - lately I am limited in time with a nursing baby so it consists of a quick 20 minute work out with a YouTube video, a 2 mile run if I can get out for 20 minutes, or if time allows I am doing my virtual workouts with my gym. Exercise has always been my saving grace mentally. I also try to find some time to do daily faith based exercises - watching a video, reading the Bible, sitting in quiet and writing prayers in a journal, or reading the daily readings. I wish this one would be more of a priority - still working on that. So, find that one thing that helps you clear your mind - exercise, cooking, prayer, favorite tv show, reading, or maybe just a glass of wine in the bathtub :-)
#5 TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY
If this time at home has taught me one thing, it is that I need more peaceful time with my family. Our lives are usually so busy! We have a baseball game, a school event, a birthday party, art class, etc. and we are being pulled in every direction for our children’s lives on top of a career and maintaining our home from day to day. Taking this extra time the last couple weeks has really shown me that I have not been as close to my children up until now. Yeah, I don’t think we need to be shut in for this to happen, it is obviously to the far extreme (I am beginning to know all the daily patterns of everyone in our home), but, I have learned I need to take more time for them. More time to talk to my kids, more time to help them with their school work (I feel like this year with a new baby I have been completely absent with this), more time being silly and doing fun things together, and more times snuggling up and giving big hugs. I have heard more positive things from my 2 older boys this last week then I have heard in a very long time about me being their Mom (the note is from my 5 year old). Let me tell you, those sweet words are needed after these long trying days.
So - here are just 5 little things that will maybe help you through these times we are all going through - do you have any ideas you could add?! Comment on this blog and let me know! All ideas are definitely welcome right now for all of us. Thinking and praying for all of you! Stay healthy, wash those hands and PLEASE just #stayhome. Stay close to your family (and your family only) - and we can all come out of this stronger then when we went in (and if you stay home and away from people, hopefully sooner than later).