Being a work from home (WFH) parent sounds pretty enticing for those who have yet to try it.
But working from home with little ones presents its own set of unique challenges.Due to the current global crisis of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many parents are now forced to work from home and are learning the high and lows of #wfhlife.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom (SAHM)—who is always working from home—or new to this work environment...it’s tougher to get things done when your whole family is home.
With schools, daycares, and non-essential businesses closed, our conventional ways of living are gone. And many parents are left no choice but to become professional jugglers—working from home while caring for their kids.
So, if this whole work from home gig seems all too challenging...that’s because IT IS. And we think you should cut yourself some slack if you don’t get everything right.
There’s no perfect way to parent during a pandemic.
Even though you're working from home, life looks very different for everyone right now.
a. the normal pressures of being a parent
b. the pressure to be a professional
c. the pressure to add some type of normalcy to your family’s lives
d. ...and then there’s the pressure to find toilet paper!
There’s way more than usual on your plate. So, don’t be hard on yourself.
Instead, embrace the learning curve that working from home is. And do your best to navigate working from home life while social distancing is in place.
So how exactly do you do this??
1. Rewrite your WFH lifestyle
First things first, you’ve got to remember that you aren’t simply “working from home”.
You are “working from home during a pandemic”. There is a big difference.
If you’re feeling the pressure to still be the perfect employee or prove that you can be just as productive working from home, you might want to ease up.
Many employers understand the major impact COVID-19 has had on parents. If you need to implement more work-life balance to your schedule, make sure to discuss this with your employer. You may find that they have already limited their expectations of you, considering the state of emergency we’re all in.
Once you’ve gotten past the employee guilt, practice setting realistic expectations for the week and leave time for plans to shift. If everything doesn’t go as planned, be open to spontaneity.
Your little ones will enjoy it!
If some parts of your day just aren’t working out or cause too much stress, tweak plans as you go. Remove the routines that don’t work and implement simpler ones. Whatever you do, try to be flexible & keep it simple.
2. Consistency is key-ish
While we think color-coded Quarantine Schedules are simply adorable, they also come with a lot of pressure.
During this time of uncertainty, rigid schedules may not be the best way to go. However, both you and your child will benefit more from some type of consistency.
Health experts suggest that children feel more safe and secure when they know what to expect. So, incorporating some level of predictability into your family’s schedule is important.
Instead of creating a lengthy schedule, work in time blocks of 30-45 minutes. When creating time blocks, keep your child’s age and developmental stage in mind. Depending on their age, you may need to consider shorter time blocks that suit their attention spans.
We think our Busy Baby Mat is one great item to have on hand, especially when you're looking to keep your little one content for different lengths of time. It’s perfect for babies starting around 4 months and will help to develop their fine motor skills while you work.
3. Manage Time with Your Busy Baby
If you have more than one kid at home and you feel overwhelmed, we don’t blame you.
Being home with your baby is one thing, but when all your kids are home, it can be a lot harder to keep your baby content.
When and if you can, try optimizing your baby’s downtime. Work while they play, eat, and of course sleep. Using the Busy Baby Mat during playtime and mealtime keeps them entertained for longer periods. Which allows you more time to answer emails!
And because we know all busy babies get needy sometimes, try placing the mat on your work desk while your baby sits in your lap. It’s honestly one of the best ways to multitask while working from home.
When you’re not working at your desk, you can also use the mat in other areas of your home. Stick it to the side of the fridge or dishwasher to keep your baby occupied while you whip up dinner in the kitchen. You can also attach it to any glass door or window for ample playtime.
If you’ve got a busy toddler on your hands, don’t forget to add the mat to your toddler’s next session of arts and crafts! Use the mat with washable markers and let your little one create a masterpiece while you work.
Aside from those extracurricular activities, the Busy Baby Mat is ideal during any mealtime. And to be honest... mealtime is pretty much all the time when you’re stuck at staying at home.
These are just some of the ways you can keep your baby occupied and get a little work done, without increasing screen time. Although easier said than done, experts suggest continuing to be mindful of how much screen time your child has. Instead, parents are encouraged to use this time to get creative and introduce more screen-free activities to young children.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about getting too creative. Our Busy Baby Mat offers screen-free activities nearly anywhere in your entire home. All you need is a flat surface!
4. Don’t forget about YOU
Many people underestimate the mental toll working from home with little ones can have. Mentally, you are always “on”. With very little downtime or space to take a break from your actual job or your job as a parent. Now that you’re at home more, try adding simple self-care activities into your days.
One great form of self-care is to meal prep. Even if you’re only meal prepping for breakfast or lunch, planning meals will help you avoid dropping everything to make a meal for yourself or your baby.
You can also meal prep dinner to save yourself a few nights of cooking. By taking off the stress of cooking dinner after work, you can focus on spending time with your family instead.
Other than planning ahead for mealtime, give yourself permission to actually “sleep when the baby sleeps” on occasion. This advance is given to new moms all the time but we’re not sure how many moms actually do this.
And we get it...it’s much easier to get things done when they’re sleeping. But sometimes taking care of yourself is more productive than checking off the next task on your to-do list. If you can’t settle down for a nap with your baby, try enjoying some downtime while relaxing with them as they play or eat.
Also...if you don’t plan on sleeping when your baby sleeps, plan some self-care into their nap time instead. Get refreshed with a simple home facial or manicure. This might also be the perfect time to fix that messy mom bun into a neater mom bun.
5. Create Some Space
With “stay-at-home” orders in place, creating personal space in your home is probably unrealistic. So, we’re not suggesting that you separate yourself from your kids (even though we wouldn’t judge you if you did).
However, many people new to working at home underestimate how important having your own workspace is. If you have the room and tools to do so, create a special workspace for yourself.
Add trinkets and photos that keep you inspired on the challenging days.
Whatever you do, just remember to take care of yourself.
Working from home with kids can naturally cause increased stress levels. And that stress will trickle into the relationships you have with your family. But, by implementing a little self-care each day, you help to create more balance for yourself and prevent the high levels of stress #wfhlife can cause.
So, throw the idea of being the perfect work from home parent out the door. And, instead...
Take care of yourself and your family.
Be open to change.
Do the best you can.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Remember that you are resilient.
And most importantly, remember the learning curve applies to your children as well. Even if they can’t quite put it into words, the changes brought on by COVID-19 have an impact on their little lives too.
So be kind to yourself and your kiddos. You’re all in this together.