For some reason I always imagined that working from home even with my kids at home would be easy. It would be like all the Pinterest posts I’d seen – some gorgeous, thin mom dressed to the nines in athleisure wear while her kids played calmly on the floor in a perfectly decorated living room. I had all these ideas that I’d somehow be able to work almost full time, and keep up with my normal day-to-day routine.
I was wrong.
Before I started working, I was definitely not giving myself enough credit for the work that is staying at home with your kids. I also wasn’t appreciative of the free time I did have. So give yourself some credit. Always give yourself credit. 🙂
When I was in college, my friends and professors used to tell me that in college there were three important things; good grades, a social life, and enough sleep. I had to choose two. Sure enough… for the record, I chose the social life and the sleep most semesters.
I feel like working from home is similar. You can have a clean house, plenty of sleep, or free time. You get to choose two.
In the year I’ve been working, I’ve bounced around trying to adjust everything so I can have all three of these things instead of just the *recommended* two. Unfortunately for everyone, it is usually my house that is most neglected. Here are my top four tips to working with kids in the house.
Utilize any time your kids are asleep. I work very early in the morning with VIPKID, and as big an adjustment as that’s been, it gives me the space I need to do my job well without cutting into my time with my kids. I also work during naptime, but my 4-year-old has grown out of naps and keeping her in quiet time for longer than a half hour at a time has proved tricky.
Keep the things your kids need close at hand if you do have to work while they’re awake. If I know they might wake up while I’m working, I make breakfast before I work and have it set out on the table for them so that all I have to do is plop them in their chairs when they get up. They get breakfast, and I can finish writing up my reports. My kids love Crystal Lite juice, so I pre-make cups for them just in case. I also keep coloring and painting materials, hot wheels and puzzles if they finish breakfast before I’m done. Whatever your kids are doing can be educational as well. Teach the alphabet or counting.
Give yourself permission to do the things you told yourself you’d never do before you had kids. Things like watching cartoons for more than twenty minutes at a time or eating more than one piece of candy in a day. Keep these things as in-case-of-emergency extras. There have been many days where one or the other of my kids does not want to play quietly while I’m working. They’re running through the house screaming like banshees, and darn it. If I could just get five more minutes, I could be done for the day. So we turn on the T.V. (which TBH is not strictly monitored in my house). I give them a new toy (my son is really into these little hot wheels, and my daughter loves anything princess), or a piece of candy. I try not to let it be a long term fix, and I know that when they’re acting this way, it’s because they need Mommy-time, but I will be a better Mommy if I’m not worried about the last thing on my work list. It’s better to bribe them a little, than to be anxious and short-tempered.
Take breaks when you, or your kids, need them! The joy of working from home is that most of the hours are flexible enough to let yourself take a break. You’re a mom, or a dad first. I think working from home makes me enjoy my time with my kids more than I did before. I get to hear them laughing together, and catch them getting into trouble (my one-year-old’s guilty face is heart-melting). I get to tuck them in for naptime, and bedtime. I get to eat chicken nuggets with them, and go to the park. Even on the hard days, it’s wonderful. Since getting my job with VIPKID, my time with my kids is less stressful. I can take them to the zoo without worrying that $10 is going to break the bank. I can splurge on ice cream or some little treat. I’m not so worried about how we’re getting from one day to the next.
Make it work for you! All moms are expert jugglers, and if you’re working it’s just adding a different kind of ball to the mix. Figure out what works, and don’t be afraid to change it up.
You all are rock stars! We’ve got this. 😀