Are you one of the millions of parents working from home – looking for clever ways to make it easier? Well then you have come to the right place! This will be a four part series for parents working from home, learning how to maneuver working at home with childcare, schedules, your daily routine, and keeping up with daily chores. Join me for the 3-Part series for parents working from home!
This series is a 3-Part Series. Today we are going to talk about your work from home routine, schedules, and home chores. To see all the episodes, check them out here:
- Episode 1 – How to Start Working from Home: Expectation, Flexibility, and Planning
- Episode 2 – How to find childcare while Working
- Episode 3 – How to create a work & home routine that works for you
Maybe the hardest part about working from home is the fact that we have to create completely new patterns and routines. When so many of my friends started working from during the pandemic, they had to start from scratch and re-learn how to create a routine that works.
I’ve been doing this work-from-home thing for almost 10 years, so let me show you how to create a work-from-home routine that really works.
How to create a work from home routine that works for you
My home and workspace routine changes ALL the time. I bet yours does too! The truth is that even if you are a pro work at home mom, your routine will change every time you, or your kids, or your partner has a shift in their schedule. That’s ok!
I can’t tell you how to create a specific workspace routine that works for your family, but I can tell you how I manage our ever-changing schedule, and how I use goal setting to help shape my family work schedule every year.
I use a one-sheet printable digital routine builder as a family/work exercise to see how I spend my time every day. It is the only thing that works for me when it comes to improving my work and productivity.
This scheduling solution coordinates all your work, family events, your meals, your kids activities, and self-care time…and then lets you rest.
WITH THIS SYSTEM YOU CAN…
- Keep separate schedules for you, your kids, your home, and your work.
- Compare every day of the week to see where you have extra minutes to optimize and use wisely.
- Prioritize your top to-do items, and and say “no” to what can be saved for next week.
- Add in cleaning chores and kids activities based on how much extra time you have.
Using this planner can be a one-time exercise to help you find extra time in your day. It doesn’t have to be used every day all year!
If you are looking for a single schedule planner to help you identify a bad habit of productivity, and give you family and work inspiration, grab this single scheduler and see if it helps!
How to wake up early
I hate waking up early, and really don’t do it well. As I write this, I barely wake up in time to drive my kids to school. That’s what season I’m in.
But, I also have had seasons where I woke up at 5 am, did my workout, and even had time to read, journal, and spend some time on myself. These are the tips that work for me!
First, the key to waking up early is to identify your goals and make them measurable.
If you just say “I want more time to workout,” you will lay in bed at 5 AM and talk yourself out of it.
If you say “I want to take a walk outside, see the sunrise, and have a cup of coffee before my kids wake up at 6 AM,” then you have a measurable goal that has to happen at a certain hour.
For me, I wanted to work two work hours before my kids woke up. To make this happen, I would need to start by 5:30 or 6 AM. There are no alternatives. That’s it.
If you are considering making the 5 AM switch, I encourage you to make a goal that can only be accomplished by you during the morning hour. Leap for the moon.
Second, guard your morning block.
Don’t wake up early just to read all your emails and check Instagram. When I do those two things, I feel incredibly unproductive and tired.
Instead, I put my phone down. Ignore emails. I even don’t engage with my fellow employees for the first hour or so, just so I can focus solely on the project at hand.
Ignore the world. And let yourself focus on you. It’s amazing.
What To Do While You Are Getting Ready
I have a series of “Quick Routines” that I do every morning when I get ready. I rotate them, but often I try to do the following each morning:
- A 10-minutes News Podcast to stay up to date every morning!
- I miss my yoga classes, so I try a 10-minute yoga flow each morning. This is my favorite video so far.
- I often like to listen to a quick Bible study app that gives me time to rest and think each morning.
- Hair and makeup! I find that if I spend some self-cate time on myself, I get in the right headspace!
How to date your family
When you start working from home, you almost have to re-learn how to have a family.
Creating a home working schedule that works with your partner/spouse, and your kids, is very hard, and involves a lot of adjusting. If this part is hard for you, don’t worry! Don’t let anyone tell you that it should be easy.
In this section, we are going to talk about watching your kids while you work, working with your partner at home, and keeping in touch with family and friends out of town (or just in another home….thanks pandemic.)
Learn how to discover what your family needs, and how to find solutions that fit your home.
When it comes to your family, your internal questions and your family solutions will change a LOT. One season you will be in a great cadence with kids, work, and life…and the next season things fall apart.
My husband and I have gotten very intentional about asking each other weekly questions: Are our children happy? Do we need to make any family changes? Have we had intentional time together recently? What do the family members each need in the coming week?
These check-ins give you permission to change things up, and make sure the right things are prioritized.
When I am talking to my friends, I try to never say “We always do this…” because there is no “Always”. Things change so much, that each season brings different patterns.
THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE ASK OURSELVES:
- What does each child need from us this week?
- Which time of day is the hardest, and what do I need the most then?
- How much money is childcare worth to us?
- How can we keep our relationship as the most important thing?
Give yourself permission
You know how in an airplane, they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first? Well, it’s the same in life. Your kids need YOU to be healthy and prepared. You need to be first.
I know what you are thinking. I know what I’m thinking! I don’t have time to focus on myself! That is not how this works!
Well, lately I’ve been trying REALLY hard to listen to my body. What do I need. What do I need to make this thing succed?
First, I think we need to be honest that we are experiencing great fear, anxiety, stress, and even depression. These times aren’t normal, and it’s ok to be NOT be ok.
Second, I think we need to be really kind to ourselves. We need to give ourselves grace. Let ourselves live in our pajamas. Feed our kids cereal. Skip the cleaning routine. IT’S OK.
Once we give ourselves what we need, I really think we are able to focus and make good decisions. Let your body talk to you and listen.
Here are some things I’m really trying to give myself right now:
- An outlet for relieving stress – I do a thousand things every day, and some days I forget how stressed I am and that I need to vent and yell and get it all out. There are several things I’m loving right now. One is an anxiety workout from MommaStrong that really is just a lot of me punching the air. Sometimes I need calm yoga before bed to let my mind wander. Sometimes it’s a meditation from Insight Timer. Whatever it is, let your body have an outlet.
- Permission to be not care about appearance – I’m not the kind of person that needs to be dressed up all the times, but I really do like to feel clean, well-dressed, and in general just taken care of. But lately, I’ve really been leaning into sweatsuit and mom-bun routine. No makeup. No hair. Sometimes, it’s ok to remove all that pressure and just not care. Be yourself. Be happy. Take that pressure off.
- Big-picture view of the seasons – I think we try to be good every day. Eat well. Exercise. Have our ducks in a row. But the truth is, some seasons don’t have any of those things. This might be a season where you overlook the “should do” list, and just let it go. One day, you will get those things back. Things will change. But right now is a season where you don’t have to.
- Mom friends right where I am – There are seasons for friends. Some friends are great when we want a party. Some are great if we are sad. But if you are struggling with not having a job or childcare, find moms who are there too. Check out our work at home mom group here to meet some faces and hear from other moms who are also in the trenches.
If you want to read more of the ways that I take care of myself when things are hard, check out this quick article. I hope you find ways to put yourself first, and then decide what’s next.
No Pressure Exercise
Are you looking for the best mom workout for your busy life – and don’t know where to start?
Yep, me too.
I hate working out. I hate finding new workouts that fit my schedule. And I just really hate being a responsible adult! Please tell me I’m not alone.
In the past, I have tried all these exercises:
- Pilates classes
- Gym membership
- Fitness swimming
- Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred
- Accountability groups
- Fitness apps at 5 am (read more about my morning routine here!)
- Zumba classes
- Spin classes
You name it – I’ve tried it!
I really have loved most of these – and they have all fit my life at different times. But, I really think that when I became a mom, my physical abilities changed. I was dealing with postpartum recovery, weird prolapse body issues, and just a complete lack of time and motivation.
Stand up/Sit Down: Years ago, I worked at a customer service job in the back cubicles of the office. Along with my fellow employees, we scheduled “Stand up. Sit down.” exercises every hour at our desks. It was great!
To do this, we set a timer for the top of every hour. For one minute. we would stand up and sit down 30-40 times. It really wears you out! Try it! This is an excellent way to do some mom workouts and keep your blood circulating while staying “seated” at your desk.
Walking: Right now (while I am writing this), my son is home with me for 2-3 days a week. I have discovered that I can put him in the stroller (give him a quick lunch IN the stroller), and get in a little quick walk in the fresh air during my lunch break. This quick walking option for mom workouts gives me the chance to get in some cardio, raise my heart rate, and sweat a little.
BONUS: I listen to my latest audiobook while I’m walking!
Last year, I got a pair of Apple Airpods, and they have changed my life. Because I have a lot of remote work meetings, I use these the most during my work day when I need to switch between work meetings and music or a phone call I am taking. But, I also listen to SO MANY audio books. And, every day I pretty much wear these around the house and listen to a book. While I am washing dishes. Giving baths. Taking out the trash. Cooking dinner. I am not exaggerating. They are the best.
How to do Boring Tasks
If you have any work periods that involve just listening (meetings you join in, important calls, training sessions, or a conference call) use that time to multi-task. Either nurse/feed your baby during those periods – or use those periods to empty your dishwasher! I would often be able to care for my daughter while fully listening and engaging in the meeting/training. Set reminders on your phone to remember which chores you want to do per day!
I often have my Airpods or noise-cancelling headphones on while I am doing laundry, watering plants, or even giving my kids a bath at night. It is possible to work, and take care of your home and family at the same time!
How should you clean your house?
I have tried everything to keep my house clean. I wish I could just hire someone and make it magically be done. But honestly, I like cleaning, and I want my kids to see their mom clean. So, I keep trying everything.
I wish I could tell you exactly the best cleaning schedule that works, but I don’t even know that. Instead, ask yourself these questions:
- “What does ‘a clean house’ mean to me?”
- “How can I save steps when I’m cleaning?”
- “What is my monthly cleaning budget for cleaners/cleaning?“
- “What are the pain-points with my cleaning routine?“
So, instead of just buying all the pretty cleaning products at Target, ask yourself these questions to create a mental shift for you. Changing how you think about a clean house might make all the difference in the world!
Start by asking yourself “What is a clean house?”. Write down everything that makes your house feel clean. Don’t worry about laundering your curtains and cleaning your ducts. Don’t add more than 5 items to your list.
If you only cleaned 5 things each week, what are the 5 clean things that matter the most to you?
My 5 that I focus on each week are:
- Washing all the dishes and running the dishwasher each night
- Cleaning up toys in the living room
- Cleaning up the clutter in the kid’s rooms
- Wiping down all counters (kitchen counter and bathroom counters)
- Vacuuming kitchen, dining room, and living room every 2 days
Everything else? It might not happen. But do these 4-5 things on a regular basis, and it will be enough to make me feel clean.