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 4-Part series for parents working from home!
Your WFH Go-To Guide for Parents Working from Home (because of the Pandemic)
This series is a 4-Part Series. Today we are going to talk about expectation, flexibility, and planning for remote work. And in future episodes we will talk about childcare, home chores, routines, working patterns, etc!
Amidst all the scheduling, kids routines, cleaning the house, organizing life, and actually taking a shower…sometimes we forget that we have to work. Like actually work.
Some of us put in 40 hours. Some of us have a fluid work schedule – long weeks here and short weeks there. Some of us get paid according to how much we work. A slow week = less money.
At the end of the workday, the working is what keeps everything going. Want to afford your kids shoes? Put in more hours. Want to take a vacation? Find a new way to make money on the side (or find a promotion).
It doesn’t stop.
Fortunately though, there are ways to make it easier. Let’s dive in.
(PS. If you are looking for jobs for SAHM moms that can earn you money now, check out my master list here!)
Let’s start by asking ourselves some questions.
- Your WFH Go-To Guide for Parents Working from Home (because of the Pandemic)
- Questions for parents working from home:
- Work at Home Resources for the Working Parent
- Formalize Breaks
- Be Realistic with Your Expectations
- Set Up Some Ground Rules for Kids
- Plan Ahead
- Get Help & Child Care
- Want to chat more about these tips?
- Read more about parents working from home!
Questions for parents working from home:
- Do I have a good schedule for my work and breaks, or do I need help?
- What kid ages are we working with this season?
- Are my work resources working right now? Does my laptop keep a charge? Do I need new cables that extend longer? Car connectors?
- Can I adequately get all my hours in with our current setup?
Before you start, ask yourself these questions. Give yourself a baseline of where you are and what you need. When you are ready, dive and see how these questions will guide each section of this guide.
Work at Home Resources for the Working Parent
The Questions I ask about work at home resources:
- “How can I add corporate mentality to my home environment?”
- “What is wasting my time right now”
- “What are ways to be more productive?”
Every day for the last 5+ years, I have worked from the comfort of my living room.
In sweats. Maybe with my hair unwashed.
I am so grateful for the discipline of working at home. It’s during times like these that I realize how tricky working from home can be! Here are some of my favorite NEW work-at-home tips that I have perfected in the last 5 years.
Toggl: One of the hardest things about working from home is clocking in. It is so easy to sleep late, spend extra time eating breakfast, give into every child’s crazy morning schemes. I have found that clocking in forces my hand. Toggl’s basic plan is always free – and it has extensions and apps to make it easy to use on any device or browser. And it makes you literally clock in with your literal hands. This really helps keep you going in the morning.
Personal Emails: I do a lot in a day. I work. I watch children. I make meals. I clean my house. But two things I cannot add to my daily tasks are personal emails and mail/bills. Those are evening and Saturday chores only. I mute my email notifications from Gmail and don’t check the mail until the end of the day. Of course, I still receive texts, but often leave them unopened if I know I can respond to them later.
1Password: I have used 1Password for years now, and don’t know how people do it without a secure password vault! 1Password is a secure password vault that will create long-form passwords for you, save every one of your passwords for every site, and sync across all your devices. On my phone, 1Password will auto-populate the password it has saved for a site, so I don’t have to remember anything!
If I have learned one truth about working from home with kids, it’s that breaks are going to happen, whether we like them or not. So, one thing that helps me is planning in the breaks. Instead of being surprised when I have to jump up to change out my kids’ toys, I plan ahead when I’m going to take breaks. See more how I plan ahead below!
Also, if you have any work periods that involve just listening (non-video calls, phone calls, training sessions), use that time for multitasking. Either nurse/feed your baby during those periods – or use those periods to empty your dishwasher! I am often be able to care of my kids while fully listening and engaging in the meeting/training.
Every season or so I invest in something new to make my work easier. It might be my earbud/AirPod situation, or my phone and computer chargers. Here are some of my favorite must-haves for parents working from home.
AirPods: I got a pair of Apple Airpods few years ago, and they have changed my home life. Because I have a lot of 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. These are the best for being in a conference call WHILE you hold your baby and breastfeed (on mute/video off haha!). I use these while I am washing dishes. Giving baths. Taking out the trash. Cooking dinner. I am not exaggerating. They are the best.
Long Phone Charger: I don’t what mom can function with just the short charger that comes with new phones. A 6 foot charger is a necessity for every new mom. This one is super cheap, and has lasted me though years of work trips, hotel nights, and just working from home.
Be Realistic with Your Expectations
Do you stay awake at night completely worried that you are doing the right thing for your kids? Or not doing the right thing?
Yeah, me too.
Here are some things that help me be realistic with my expectations for our family. Especially as I work at home without childcare.
1. It’s ok to be home a lot
This is one of those things that stresses me out the most. We are home A LOT. Isn’t this bad?
I have realized that IT IS OK to be home a lot. It is ok for your kids to rotate the same toys over and over again. It is ok to keep a small circle. IT IS OK.
2. You are enough for your kids
You are your kids mom – not another mom. Not another entertainment source. You. And you are the best for them.
Even if we stay away at night completely convinced that we have screwed everything up. It’s ok. We probably have. But we are also enough for our kids. Just know that.
3. It’s ok to say “no” to things
We can’t do everything! We HAVE to say no to things! During some seasons, we say no to extra childcare. Sometimes we say no to extra toys. Some seasons we say no to busy schedules. It’s all ok!
As you go into this season of working from home without childcare, just remember that it’s ok to say no to things. You don’t have to compete with what other moms are doing!
Set Up Some Ground Rules for Kids
I create ground rules for my kids based on a general family goal that we have.
When I think of kids activities, I think variety is the best goal. Too much reading without exercise is a bad thing. Too many crafts without reading isn’t great either. Too much screen time without creative, independent play, is not that great.
So, when my daughter wants to do an activity, I usually ask myself:
- Has she had creative independent play today?
- Has she read books?
- Has she had any physical activity yet?
- Does she need to do any homework?
- Does she need face interactions with real people?
In the same light, you know your family best. Know what your priorities are for your family, and use screen time to get you there!
So what can you do now to sketch out your new working at home schedule?
Spend a few hours writing out how to divy up your time. How many hours will you need to work? How many hours to focus on your baby? How many hours are your kids’ nap times? Do you need to have alone time? Work out? Time with your family?
Spend this time to focus on your new life, and working from home with a newborn will fall into place. To see my complete schedule with a little kid, check out my hourly schedule here!
Let me introduce my free block schedule that works for just this.
WITH THIS FREE 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.
Click here to learn how it works, and test it out! Hopefully it will help put all these
Get Help & Child Care
The Questions I ask about childcare:
- “How much can I afford per month for childcare?”
- “What season are we in? Do I need to watch them and work?”
- “How will my childcare decisions weigh on our mental health or family dynamic?”
Depending on your budget, you may or may not be able to afford childcare or a nanny. THAT IS OK. Don’t feel like “just because everyone else goes to full time daycare, I have to to.”
If you are in a season where your kids are at home, it is possible!
I am firm believer that parents working from home can also watch their kids. Yes, sometimes I have complete meltdowns because it can be so hard. But, it is possible.
To be able to watch your kids and work, you have to teach your kids independent play. That is the KEY to all of it working. This isn’t something that happens overnight.
Instead, you have to practice independent play with your children. (Here’s a complete guide for how I teach my kids independent play.)
Start with 15 minute blocks of leaving your kids (starting young!) to play in their play area (bedroom, living room, play room, playpen, crib) and increase as they learn to be creative. Read more here on how I slowly teach my kids to play by themselves.
To learn all my tricks, see these articles:
- How to work at home with kids 8-5.
- What to do when your kids stop napping.
- How to combine your playroom and office.
- How to teach your kids independent play.
- See how I make my craft closet ACCESSIBLE to my daughter so she can access it without me here.
- Recommended Screen Time by Age
Want to chat more about these tips?
Make friends with other moms when you need naptime tips…or just someone to chat with while you are nursing at midnight.
This is a judgment free zone. A listening ear. A way to meet likeminded friends.
You aren’t alone! Join other moms who are juggling with the same stuff that you are. Ask all your questions and even find friends in your own area! Click here to be join the Modern WAHM Facebook Group.