Oh, the irony. The day I commit to sharing a few practical, sage tips on how to balance WFH life, nothing has gone to plan. Daylight savings, I see you. Excuses aside, sometimes a curve ball (or many) gets the best of you. The to-do list goes untouched. The laundry pile grows. You miss a deadline. You’re late for school drop-off. You forget the one ingredient you needed at the store. And by the time your head hits the pillow, you lament about getting nothing done. You’re stressed and frustrated, wondering—how to work from home with kids… is it even possible?
First and foremost, take a deep breath. Secondly, it’s time for a reality check. On any given day, most of us are overly critical of ourselves. And this isn’t exactly a redeeming quality. So, consider this your gentle nudge to strategize where you’re tipping the scale too far in the direction of ambitious expectations and not enough in the direction of self-compassion. In the meantime, today I’m sharing how to work from home with kids. It’s no easy feat, but let’s not make it any harder than it needs to be.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Learn to Go With the Flow
If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: no matter how much structure we try to create—no matter how many good habits we build—there will always be things we can’t control. And if we let them, these things can breed a significant source of stress, anger, and frustration in our lives. The simple (albeit, nuanced) solution? Learn to go with the flow. Trust that this will serve you (tremendously) as you navigate WFH life with kids.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao-Tzu
If you’re a parent too, I’m right there with you. It’s a delicate dance between maintaining some semblance of a plan—and letting your children orbit around you (big feelings and all).
Swap Expectations for Intentions
With that said, learning to go with the flow is much easier said than done. I get it. As a type-A, multi-hyphenate woman, I much prefer a set plan to throw caution to the wind. However, going with the flow is like any habit. The more you practice it, the easier it gets. The other secret to going with the flow? Swapping expectations for intentions. Because let’s be honest: expectations are simply guardrails in disguise. They set you up to feel accomplished at best—defeated at worst. Instead, opt for intentions (especially as a parent!). In turn, watch your work day take on an entirely new meaning.
How to Work From Home With Kids
Being a work-from-home mom is no easy feat—even if your kids are in daycare, school, or you have a nanny. More often than not, it can feel like you have two full-time jobs. And it can be challenging to balance both (without sacrificing your own self-care). However, rest assured: you can be productive as a work-from-home mom…and keep your sanity intact. From one mother to another, below are my best tips.
1. Set A Schedule
Okay, yes—we talked about going with the flow earlier, but that doesn’t mean foregoing any type of schedule. In fact, the secret to productivity lies in setting a schedule for yourself and your child. Having a routine can help you stay on track and ensure that you accomplish what you need to. When possible, wake up at the same time every day and try to keep meal and nap times consistent. Set aside specific hours for work, and communicate your availability to your clients and colleagues. Boundaries, baby!
2. Start The Day Off Right
Scratch that—start the night before off right. Whether that means pulling out their outfits, prepping breakfast or lunch for them, or simply looking at the calendar to see what the following day has in store, a smooth morning is made easier by a little bit of prep time. You can even involve your kids with this, as part of their nighttime routine! In the morning, aim to wake up before your kids to squeeze in whatever form of self-care you need that day: a short workout, meditation, or play with your partner. Mornings also run steadier when their breakfast isn’t a sugar bomb. Keeping their blood sugar balanced is key!
3. Embrace Nap Time
You already know this, but nap time is your friend! Use this time to knock out work tasks that require your undivided attention. Otherwise, take a quick power nap yourself. Hot tip: make a list of the tasks you need to complete during nap time, so you can jump right into them when your toddler falls asleep. However, don’t save tidying the house for nap time. You can tidy up with your little ones while they’re awake! Involve them in the clean-up process after meals, activities, etc. If your child fights nap time, try a quiet activity that keeps them entertained: stickers or anything from this list.
4. Get Creative With Activities
Speaking of activities, keeping your toddler entertained is essential. Get creative with activities that will keep them busy and engaged. Set up a sensory bin filled with rice or pasta, or create a DIY sensory board with different textures and materials. Have a designated play area with toys and books, and rotate them out regularly to keep things interesting. Of course, this isn’t about advocating for your kids to constantly play by themselves—especially for long stretches of time. Rather, this is about giving them authority to entertain themselves (age appropriate) and empowering them to use their imagination.
5. Utilize Screen Time
Screen time is a touchy subject. As a mother with a 3-year-old, I get it. But let’s cut to the chase: screen time—when used appropriately—can be a lifesaver (whether or not you need to get work done). While it’s important to monitor your toddler’s screen time, a little bit is okay! Use educational apps or shows to keep them occupied while you work. Just be sure to set limits and monitor what they’re watching, of course. Here are great tips for setting screen time structure.
6. Ask For Help
Spoiler alert: it’s normal, necessary, and beneficial to ask for help. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or babysitter, having someone else watch your child for a few hours can give you uninterrupted time to focus on work. If you can’t find someone to watch your toddler, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help with tasks like scheduling, invoicing, or social media management. On the days my son isn’t in daycare, we have a part-time nanny. It’s been well worth the investment! I find it best to leave the house and head to a local coffee shop. Part productivity, part my time.
7. Prioritize Self-Care
As a parent yourself, you know this as well as I do: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Working from home with a baby, toddler, or young child is exhausting. It’s essential to prioritize self-care. Take breaks throughout the day to do something you enjoy, like reading a book or taking a walk. Make time for exercise, even if it’s 10 minutes. And don’t forget to properly fuel yourself. Keeping blood sugar balanced is key for lasting energy, focus, and a stable(r) mood.
The Takeaway: Stop Glamorizing the Grind
Hopefully, with these tips, you can rock the work-from-home mom life and still carve out time to rest, recharge, and take care of your primal needs. And remember—even on days when your to-do list doesn’t get a dent—you are superwoman. Together, let’s stop glamorizing the grind and start appreciating a sustainable rhythm. From one WFH mom to another, I wish you a well-caffeinated day (with an extra dose of patience).