What’s Your “Work from Home” situation?
*Just a quick note: Before you jump into this post, this was originally sent to my email list during COVID 2020. In the midst of the quarantine, someone in our Facebook community asked the question, regarding tips for working from home. Of course, I started typing away. But… I never turned it into a post here. Fast forward two years (holy crap, I know I can’t believe I waiting that long too) and here we are shaking things up in this space. I’ve gone through and edited it for ‘summertime because hello some of you never went back to the office and kept working from home. Enjoy.
It’s time friend that I ‘go there’… We’ve been home quarantined now for at least a week.
Have you truly got any work done?
A lovely friend in our FB group posed the question: “Jen, I need tips on working from home” (in so many words…)
It got me thinking, who else is either on the struggle bus of getting their actual work done or has been dropped into the “work from home with little humans” game?
I’m here for you. Really, I’m here. If you were physically here, I’d be giving you a bear hug right now. Then fixing you a coffee. Possibly feeding you too.
Here’s how we can break this down to help you gain some control and start marking off tasks on your to-do list.
Working from home with kids
Before we begin let’s put a few things on the table…
- As brilliant and wonderful as you are, do not expect perfection. Perfection is boring. Little humans cause chaos therefore DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION.
- This takes discipline and creativity. Think of your schedule and the kids as a puzzle. There is a way to make them fit you just have to keep turning the pieces until it does.
- Every day is a chance to start again. Keep trying. Give yourself some grace but go back to the points below until it works for you.
- You have to fill up your cup. This HAS to be a priority. Whether it is watching a show, reading time, long bubble baths, WHATEVER. YOU HAVE TO SCHEDULE THIS IN. Once a month I get a massage, I go to the gym 3x a week, I work out at home, and if I’m working super late I’ll put on an old episode of Grey’s before I go to bed… Find your THING and work it in.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. Whether it is your spouse or MIL. ASK!
Now let’s begin. This is how I approached working from home years before COVID-19 hit:
- Identify the schedule you need to perform your job. If you have the freedom to schedule client calls and build your schedule great. WRITE IT DOWN. If you have your day scheduled for you. Dear friend, we will need to get uber-creative. Still right down your work hours. (9-5pm and lunch at 12pm?).
- Write down the kids’ typical day. Do they nap? When do you feed them? When do they wake and go to bed?
- Make a list of “activities” that you have to work into their schedule. For example, if you home school. Make a list of the items you know they need to be working on. For the summer, what camps, etc are they attending? Don’t forget if you have the flexibility have a loose plan of fun days that you plan to do with them. Maybe it’s going to the splash pad or play dates with friends. WRITE IT ALL DOWN.
- Now that you turned all your puzzle piecess over let’s put it together!
Setting yourself up for success:
These are my must-do/ critical items.
- Layout clothes for EVERYONE the night before. (Kids and you included Momma!!)
- Jot down your meals and snacks for the next day. Trust me on this one. When I do this, it takes the ‘thinking’ out of what I’m going to make. That extra time I gain can be applied elsewhere.
- Take a notebook and draw a line down the middle. On one side write “HOME” and on the other write “WORK”. This is my version of GSD (get stuff done) list-making. Write down your top THREE tasks you HAVE to get done the following day. Trust me, brain dumping this the night before so when you wake up you are not scrambling what to start on first. You will waste no extra time. And right now time is a precious commodity.
- Get some sleep. If you have super small babies… this is a struggle and do what you can. If your kiddos are toddlers.. sleep training is tough but I swear worth it for the working-at-home Momma. If you want help with sleep training contact me!
- Get up BEFORE the kids get up. Don’t argue, just do it. Have your ME TIME first. This could be your workout time, Jesus time, and coffee time. Just get up and get ready. (Side note, all the above is what I do daily.)
- On your workdays, when the kids get up, march them into the bathroom and have them start getting ready. Let them gain independence by dressing themselves, brushing their teeth and combing their hair. (Tip: work to sleep train the kids so they are on a close schedule of sleep if they are close in age. I realize not every child is the same, but you will be surprised what sleep training does…) Now that everyone is up you are ready to roll!
- Follow your schedule the best as you can. Remember, stuff happens and that is ok. Just keep coming back to your schedule.
- *Keep to a bedtime routine…religiously. I’ve traveled all over the US with my kids… but we do not mess with the bedtime routine. It’s their signal to ‘get ready for bed’. Our routine is a bath (now showers), brush (teeth and hair), book and bed. Please note my kids usually get bathed every other day and I sometimes alternate kids to make it easier on me.
- Before you sit down or go to your office, prep for the next day. Do you have meals listed? Clothes laid out?
- RINSE AND REPEAT.
*#8 for the summer I am trying to be more flexible with this but I also note when they start going downhill I march them home or inside for bed. Even if it’s still light out because we back fun play-filled days in if the weather is nice especially.
If you are thinking, “Jen, that is well and good, but what do I DO with them?”
This may not be the ‘right way’ but it works for me. When I originally wrote this email to my list of readers we were in quarantine and my day would usually consist of bouncing between tv time; independent play; activity/ lesson with me; tablets (games and kids Youtube.. monitored) and letting them into my office on the floor with books, my dry erase board and whatever else to keep them quiet if I’m on a call.
For the summertime I have help. My in-laws have the kids two times a week. On those days I cram as much work and meetings in as possible. On the other three days, I plan to schedule out our activities and chunk in work time when I can.
I learned VERY quickly how to utilize the smallest of windows to knock out tasks. If they were playing quietly together, I busted out emails or responded to my team. If I’m waiting to pick up a child from an activity, I bring my laptop and work in the car. Remember, the name of the game is GET CREATIVE!
Are they eating at the counter and have to take a call? Here’s what I did when they were littler (4 & 2 ish): I answer the phone, politely ask them to wait, then turn on Mickey while they eat. That buys me at least 25 minutes to wrap out a client call. I know tv might not be your jam and that’s ok, I do try to limit screen time but in my reality it’s ok.
I’m also VERY transparent with my clients. I worked hard to build a schedule where I trained them that I am not available 24/7. I have small humans and I love the work I do for them. BUT if they want to work with me they will be flexible with me and the fact they may hear a small human voice on the other end of the phone.
Before the kids wake up, nap times and after bedtimes.. that is sacred. Do your most challenging tasks then.
IT IS HARD WORK. Will my kids one day see how their momma built business(es) and still managed to make them chocolate chip mickey pancakes on demand? Probably not, but I know they see my work ethic, my hustle, my determination and my ambition. I’ll take that over worrying about too much screen time any day.
Momma, *YOU GOT THIS*. ❤️
I know I’m intense but if you are like me you got GOALS. Discipline will help you achieve them.
I’m here for you!