The recent shift in working from home has been a major adjustment for most of us (me included). I’d be lying if I didn’t say that before I began working from home, I thought those that did had it e a s y.
I mean, if I were able to work from home regularly, I’d surely be doing it while lounging by the pool for hours with a frozen margarita in hand while the hot summer breeze whisked over me…right?
But then reality hit, as it often does.
My fantasy was quickly squashed by my ever-fighting (or crying) toddlers, the fact that I hadn’t changed my leggings in an embarrassing amount of days, and a messy mom bun that hadn’t been touched in way too long.
And the first few weeks I was working from home, I found myself missing my desk in my office desperately.
Luckily, I’ve found a few tricks that make working from home with kids a little easier and help you feel more productive with your days. Whether you work from home on the regular or are temporarily part of the WFH clan (like me!), keep on reading to see how I survive my days and keep my boss and clients happy.
You might have a schedule for your kids day-to-day, but what about for you?
Just like you would at work, establish “office” hours so your family knows when you aren’t to be interrupted. While you might not be able to get in your usual eight hour days, set aside a couple hours a time throughout the day to cross things off your to-do list.
Then, create a list for what you need to accomplish during that time. Need to schedule some phone calls? Answer emails? Create content? That way, you don’t sit around doing a little bit of everything and can cross items off your to-do list instead.
One of the major perks of working from home is the flexibility. If you can’t get in the zone or one of your babes is having an off day, push off your work for during naptime or when you’re in a better head space so you don’t waste valuable time (because let’s be real, every quiet second counts when you’re a mom).
Resist the urge to binge Netflix and eat all the snacks once you’ve wrangled your kids to sleep. Instead, utilize this time to work on projects that require your full concentration. Whether they sleep for one hour or more, you’ll be surprised how productive you feel when you push through your procrastination and just do the work.
If you have big kids who no longer nap or toddlers that think naps are for the weak, then implement a quiet time in their bedrooms. Set a timer, and tell them they can’t come out until the timer goes off.
This buys you anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half of time where you can knock out projects (and, if you’re lucky, maybe your toddler will pass out).
It honestly doesn’t matter where, as long as you’re consistent with it.
It doesn’t have to be a perfect home office, or even a desk. Mine is at the dining room table, but it can also be your couch, in the guest room, on your porch – literally anywhere.
Having one consistent place to go signals to your brain that that spot = productivity.
To avoid distractions or unnecessary trips, try bringing everything you’ll need with you to that one spot. When you’re constantly getting up to get water, find a pen, charge your headphones, you’re more likely to get distracted by your kids, spouse, chores, or laundry.
When you bring the essentials with you, you can stick to your spot aside from necessary trips, like using the bathroom or making a meal.
Interruptions are a part of motherhood, but managing them while working from home brings its own challenges.
For the most part, employers will be understanding if an interruption occurs while on a call or video meeting, especially during these times.
If you’re on an important conference call, make sure to hit the mute button to avoid any unexpected shouts from toddlers. When scheduling meetings and calls, talk to your spouse about times they can take over parenting duties so you don’t have to worry about being on mom-duty.
If your spouse still goes to work, ask the grandparents or a trusted babysitter if they can come over for a few hours so you can get some work done. If you live in a small house where it’s hard to get away from the noise, lock yourself in your car (this is what I do!) or send the kids outside for a walk.
Kids, and especially toddlers, thrive off of routine. They like to know what’s expected of them each day, and once their routine is down your days will become smoother than butter.
For toddlers, this might mean a schedule that looks something like this:
7am – Wake up & Breakfast
8am – Get dressed for day
9am – TV time
9:45am – Outside play
11:30am – Lunch
12:30pm – Nap
2:45pm – Snack
3pm – Screentime
3:30pm – Clean up room
4:30pm – Outside Play
7pm – Bedtime routine
8pm – Bedtime
This way, you also know when to schedule important calls and can plan out your work day a little more effectively as well.
Older kids don’t need an hour by hour schedule. Instead, try creating daily tasks they can check off while you’re working through your to-do list. This can be things like; take the dog for a walk, read for 45 minutes, pick up your room, etc.
This is the most important tip of all.
Working from home, especially with kids, is unbelievably challenging. There’s little to no structure, and it can be hard to convince your brain that even though you’re home, you still need to be productive.
You will have bad days where you barely get anything done. You will also have great days where you feel like the queen of productivity.
And both of those scenarios are okay! How productive you are does not define you as a person, employee, or business owner. Everything won’t fall apart at the seams just because you had an off morning or slower week than usual.
Beating yourself about that won’t get you anywhere, either. Be patient, offer plenty of grace, and understand no one is perfect.
With a little bit of trial and error, plenty of communication with your team (and spouse!), and creating a solid schedule for yourself AND your kids, you’ll have this working from home thing nailed down in no time!
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