Mar 17, 2020 How do you find an equal balance between work responsibilities and the day-to-day chaos of raising children?
As the world is forced into lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many parents are working from home. But work-at-home parents face many challenges and struggles.
Thankfully, there are tips and tricks I use to find a balance between work and taking care of two small children.
While it’s difficult and distracting working from home with children, it’s not impossible! It can be done with these 7 tips!
1. Reserve Time for Cuddles
Since you’re under quarantine and working from home, quality time with your children is more important than ever! Reserving time out of your day for any type of one-on-one time will help balance your time better between work and children.
A bonus of reserving quality time every day with your children is that you will feel less guilty when you must devote uninterrupted time to work.
What does quality time look like? Anything that devotes your attention solely to your children! Cuddle up on the couch and watch their favorite cartoon, read some books, or sing nursery rhymes together. Anything you can think of to show your attention and love, while leaving thoughts of work behind.
Trust me, when it comes time to work your children will be better behaved knowing you started your day by showing them extra love!
2. Ask For Help
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you need to handle every responsibility on top of work. If you are married and your spouse is home as well, employ his/her help with the kids. If you are single, bring in some reinforcements like a grandparent or a nanny for extra help caring for your children.
Communication is key here! There’s no shame in asking for extra assistance to help with your children so you can focus on your work.
3. Use Naptimes
Hopefully, your children are still at the age where they will take a nap!
I have a 9-month-old baby and a 3-year-old. Although naptimes come easy for my baby, my toddler is growing out of naptime. Most days for naptime my baby sleeps in my arms and my toddler plays while I work on my phone or write with pen and paper. The days both kids sleep at the same time, I try and cram as much work as possible into this short amount of time on my laptop.
If your child/children take naps, make it a goal to push through naptime and try to do as much work as possible!
Once your child/children wake up, you will feel extremely accomplished knowing what hard work you put into such a short amount of time.
This is the best work at home tip I’ve done for myself! Time-blocking is simply that – blocking out sections of time to get things done.
Because you’re working from home now, it’s important to take everything one day at a time.
Instead of time-blocking an entire week of work-related projects, time-block one day at a time. Make sure to include kids and housework into your time-blocking!
Here is an example of my time-blocking schedule:
6-8 am: Wake up; diaper change; breakfast; check emails; 1st load of laundry; quality time with kids (reading); make a work to-do list
9-11 am: Brush teeth; get dressed; baby bath time; snack time; work; quiet playtime; load dishwasher
12-2 pm: Lunch; naptime; play outside (weather allowing); write an article; structured preschool activity; vacuum
3-5 pm: Listen to music/dance party; prep dinner; snack time; 2nd load of laundry; trampoline/indoor slide
6-8 pm: Dinner; toddler bath time; pajama’s; bedtime story; bed by 8 pm
8-10 pm: Work; self-care routine
This time-blocking schedule does change often throughout the day and always includes housework. With kids, you can’t stick to a rigid schedule. But time-blocking is a lifesaver for not procrastinating housework or work-related things.
5. Remember Self-Care
I’ll admit, working from home with children is exhausting. The work and kids will pull you in a million directions. That’s why balancing the two is so important!
But, just as important as balancing work and family throughout the day is personal self-care.
Now that the Coronavirus has hit worldwide, we’re all remembering to take care of ourselves more. Self-care, however, is more than hand-washing and taking vitamins to avoid sickness.
Self-care is about sparing time in your busy work at home schedule to take time just for you. I time-block self-care after 8 pm when my children are sleeping. You could also schedule a self-care routine by waking up early before your family.
To relieve stress, here are some self-care ideas you can start today:
- Apply a facial
- Take a bubble bath or shower
- Read a book
- Eat a bowl of ice cream
- Listen to music
- Practice meditation
- Work on a puzzle
- Chat with a friend
Self-care allows you time to recharge from the stress of the Coronavirus pandemic and the stress from balancing work and family.
6. Work Where You Can
Most people who work from home will tell you to dedicate a space or an entire room to an office space. When you’re home with your kids during this time, don’t waste time creating an office space (unless you have children who are old enough to understand the concept of “workspace”).
If you have small children, work wherever you can! There’s no point in creating a workspace that your children will regularly invade. My workspace consists of my laptop on my lap. This makes it easy to move quickly and anywhere in the house the kids are.
Since I’m not restricted to an office room or space, I’m able to take my laptop and work on an article in the kids’ room while they play.
7. Create Learning Activity Totes/Bins
Part of striking a balance between working from home with children is finding learning activities to keep your children entertained while you work. The best way to do this is by creating activity bins to provide an educational distraction. These bins (or whatever structured playtime you create) will save your sanity as you temporarily work from home!
Since schools across the United States are closed due to Coronavirus, my son is not attending preschool and will not attend occupational and speech therapy evaluations for Autism. I now must supplement some of what he would learn in preschool. That’s where activity totes and bins come in!
My son is in the process of being evaluated and possibly being diagnosed with Autism. We are now trying to get him the therapy he needs to help his speech and language regression and overall behavior. He has a lot of catching up to do!
The activity totes and bins I’ve created are centered around helping with speech, language, counting, and expelling extra energy.
Here is every activity tote and bin I’ve created for my preschooler!
Feel free to steal the ideas or customize them for your own children while you work at home.
- Mr. Potato Head – Helps identify body parts and where they go on the body.
- Refrigerator letter magnets and a small cookie sheet – Helps with letter recognition and spelling.
- Bug snatch – Use painter’s tape to tape plastic bugs on a hardwood floor or wall and have your preschooler “free” and collect the bugs. Helps with fine motor skills.
- Flashcards – Helps with word and object recognition.
- Drawing/coloring – Helps with fine motor skills and concentration
- Sensory toys – Fidget spinners; stress balls; tangle fidgets; light up balls; bubble wrap; tinker toys, etc. Helps with concentration, fine and gross motor skills.
- Ball pool – Use a small kiddy pool or an indoor popup reading tent (four sides needed). Helps with sensory issues and gross motor skills.
- Indoor small plastic slide – Helps develop coordination and gross motor skills.
- Indoor personal trampoline – Burns off extra energy and helps gross motor development and coordination.
- Wooden puzzles – Helps with problem-solving, critical thinking, and fine motor skills.
- Speech Blubs app – Helps with speech and language development.
- Play floor mat with cars – Fosters imagination.
Keep in mind that my son is dealing with speech regression and sensory issues. The learning activities above are geared toward his needs. To create your own activity bins, center the learning on areas your child struggles with.
Activity bins are essential for providing a calm and educational environment while you work! I highly suggest taking some time while working from home to create different bins of activities. You can even create bins by finding like objects around the house.
When you’re working from home with children during the Coronavirus lockdown, it’s important to find a balance between work and taking care of your children. Although it’s difficult dealing with daily distractions and increased responsibilities, working from home while taking care of your children can be enjoyable!
To help you try some of the tips while you’re on quarantine to occupy your kids and increase work productivity!
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