How the pandemic taught me to become a work from home expert with kids-My 6 tips to have the most productive days with them

Hi! Happy Monday ❤️ If you live where I live we are getting some more rain today. Most of you know that I work from home some days and some days in the office! I love it. Today I thought, “Why not write a post to other moms out there who also work from home or work a hybrid schedule like me? Let me take you back 3 years ago when our office was shut down one day suddenly, all schools and daycares closed down as well. We were suddenly left to learn how to set up our office at home, our kids had to learn to do school virtually and we also had to keep our little ones busy who did not go to school.  For almost 3 years I worked full time from home with an elementary aged daughter and a 3-year-old to keep busy. Currently, I am on a hybrid schedule, but my oldest girls go off to school all day and I do send my little one to daycare for most of the day. This is only because he is at that stage where he needs to be busy, and he loves interacting with other kids and park trips and activity time. I am able to keep them home when they are sick which allows me to not take sick time off which I love! I usually pick up my toddler by nap time since he sleeps best and longer at home. I like to think of myself as a work from home employee who has it mostly all figured out by now. However, it was not always like that. I got here with a lot of trial and error and a lot of days of not knowing how the heck I was going to get anything done. I want to share some of my own tips that really helped me back then and help me to this day have a productive work from home work day.

Start your day early

Doing this will set the mood for your whole day. I can’t stress how important this is. Waking up earlier before the kids did allow me to get ready for my day. I was able to get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, change, make my coffee and set up my workstation for the day. I was able to make them a small breakfast for when they woke up. This saved me so much time from having to step away from my work time to cook or fix them something when they woke up. The worst feeling (and I have been there too) is waking up right before you have to clock in, haven’t set up your work area and at the same time your toddler wakes up cranky. Add having your oldest come to you because she is having school computer problems. It was not fun.

Set realistic goals for your day

When I first started working from home, I would want to work in the same fast paced mode as when I was in office. Completely uninterrupted. GO,GO,GO mode. The first weeks, I would get frustrated if I had to stop in the middle of what I was doing to help put together a kids puzzle or if I had to get another snack. Sometimes, when my husband would get home I was already so worn and stressed out from being home all day while trying to finish my workload and having our kids around. I learned fast that I had to implement a healthy balanced routine in order to survive and continue to be a good mom and employee. I started to comprehend that if my little one needed me to take a break and play with her, it was ok if I did. I didn’t have to feel guilty for doing it and I didn’t have to feel behind on work. I could always finish my work throughout the rest of the day after giving them that time. Change was hard on them as well. Fatima, my littlest was used to being around her daycare friends during work hours and not home waiting for me to give her time. I also worried about screen time and how much they would get while I was working. Ideally, I wanted to still keep them active with going outside, crafts and exercise and tried putting that in to our days. As time went by in lockdown. I was able to get an early feel for what my day would be like and just do the best I could. Some days, I kicked ass. Some days I still did, just not as much as the day before. LOL.  You can do it all when working from home but not in the same speed when you have kids with you. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have management like mine who understood then and understand now that we wear different hats besides being corporate employees.

Create your workspace

Ok, so this is very important too. It sets boundaries for your littlest ones. You need to have a designated work space where they know that it is “Mommy’s work place” and they need to use inside voices if on phone/ Zoom meeting. This is the space where you work and focus solely on it. It is meant to be distraction free but also allow you to leave this space on your break or lunches and step in to your home space. We don’t have a big home, so I first set up my computer and monitor on a coffee table I moved to one side of my living room. Throughout time in lockdown, I decided not to use all my screen monitors and just stick to my laptop, so I returned the monitors back to my office and started setting up in my kitchen table. I started using just my laptop. When it was lunch time, I would simply just close my laptop and move it. During summertime, I even took my laptop and was able to work outside. Also, this is just an extra tip for your workspace not kid related. Keep your desk simple. You don’t need lots of frames, or pens, or things on it. The less clutter you have the better you function when in your designated space.

Set and Stay on a Schedule

This one is really important to me as well because this is what really allowed me to enjoy the blessing of working from home and being with my kids. One of my rules was work during work hours, Clock out during your designated break/ lunch times and leave your work at your work station. The more comfortable I got with working from home, the less I tried to work while my kids had lunch time or snack time. I realized that if was on the same schedule as my daughter’s school schedule we got to spend more time together. So I scheduled my lunch time during her lunchtime.  I took my breaks when she had hers and my middle child was able to have lunch with us as well. I bonded more with them and wasn’t trying to be both places at once.

Prioritize your workload in order of importance

Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize. at the start of my morning. I look over what I have to do for the day and decide what needs to be prioritized. I worked on the most important things first thing in the morning before the 2 littles are up and ready for the day to begin. During the pandemic I would also utilize nap times. Now, if I do bring my baby boy home earlier for naptime this is my golden time to get more stuff done. I do a lot of talking on the phone with borrowers so I always make sure those are done in quiet times so I can complete them uninterrupted. Then in my other parts of my day, I do the rest of my work that does not require as much urgency. There will be quiet days as well where you can get those extra snuggles in-between.

Working from home allowed me to be with my baby from birth until now. And I’m forever grateful ❤️

Give yourself Grace

Literally, doing both is HARD WORK. Some days will be better than others and it’s ok. Be patient with yourself and your kids and know that you are so lucky to be able to spend that time at home with them. You are pretty much working two jobs at once. Listen. Your home might be messy, and your kids might be driving you crazy some days, but every day is a new chance to reset. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and re fill your cup. Take the kids to the park, go on a run, or take a trip to the store. Give yourself a chance to step out of the home/ workspace when your workday is over. Your body and mind will thank you. Hopefully, you can take something from this post and use it when you ever find yourself maybe overwhelmed working from home with kids or maybe feeling like you’re not moving as fast. You’ve got this!

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