Working from Home with Kids

Working from Home with Kids

A GUIDE TO NOT JUST SURVIVING BUT ESTABLISHING A DAILY STRUCTURE THAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY WHILE PROMOTING ROUTINE, INDEPENDCE + CREATIVITY

We all know that 2020 was no joke as the entire world faced a multitude of challenges. As we swing full force into the new year, I have been working hard to develop a sustainable approach to hold steady a healthy work/ life balance. Some say this to be impossible – Me? I say it takes a great amount of work and discipline, but anything is possible if we put our minds to it, right? For the past ten months, my family has been at home together, every. single. day.  Hudson (4) and Lake (2) were part of a mother’s day out program that was quickly cancelled during the early days of Covid in March of 2020. Also in March (like many others), my husband got mandated to work from home and has yet to go back (to our selfish benefit!). Because of this, the four of us have been thriving surviving and not only getting by, but we have managed to thoroughly enjoy our time together. Instead of focusing on the negatives of the past daunting twelve months, our family has been finding joy in (almost) every single day together. Don’t be fooled – we definitely have our fair share of stressful moments, juggling schedules between my client meetings and Nathan’s work calls, full blown toddler tantrums and boredom, and so on. We have found these daily roadblocks as an opportunity to get creative, learn how to occupy the boys, communicate more clearly, define expectations, and design a more logical schedule that is more sustainable for our daily routine than just waking up on the fly, setting ourselves up for failure from the start. Below are a few principals we have found to be successful for us. If you feel stuck in quarantine mode and need help establishing a solution for your family, we advise you to put these practices into place while personalizing to suit your specific needs and desires.

  • Create a realistic schedule + Stick to it

I literally felt like I was drowning in the Spring last year. It was one of my busiest years with work and with my family at home, I was finding myself inundated with all of the distractions and little time left to focus on the tasks at hand. In a season of desperation and exhaustion, I knew what I was doing was not sustainable. I knew the virus wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon and my workload seemed to be growing at the same time (which I’m so thankful for). This caused me to sit down one night and really evaluate my priorities. Here are some questions I asked:

  1. How was I spending my time?
    • I felt like a chicken with its head cut off. Literally. I was so caught up in every single moment of the day, I lost track of the big picture.
  2. How did I wish to spend my time?
    • Like everyone, I wanted my time to matter. To be productive. Mom-guilt is real, and it will suffocate you if you let it. I wanted to treasure that time with Nathan and our boys, while also being productive with my work projects…. For me, spending time learning God’s word is important – finding a time where I could be free of distractions to be still and allow the holy spirit to speak into me is crucial (See column labeled ‘Word’ in my personal schedule). All while also maintaining the house (We don’t have a maid, nanny, or lawn guy – we enjoy all of the housekeeping and have the desire to do it ourselves as long as we can)
  3. What is the realistic approach to this?
    • I wanted to spend time with my family but also know when work calls, I must deliver. How could I practically manage my time to satisfy all the needs?

After reflecting on these questions, I created a personalized schedule for myself. Not just any schedule, but a schedule that breaks up every thirty minutes of the day. In order to be fully present with my family and work, I had to create a system that allowed me to do so. People often ask how I do it all, which in turn, I say ‘I don’t’. There is obviously a sacrifice in every decision. When I am doing something, something else or someone else gives. My schedule is heavily weighted but works for me and allows time for all things important to me. Here’s a peek at my organized daily routine:

Of course, I have days in which I don’t want to adhere to such a regimented structure or a meeting/emergency comes up and there is certainly grace in that. I mean, let’s be honest – the fact that my creative brain went as far as to creating such a logical document still surprises me and shows the level of desperation I once felt!

  • Keep the kids occupied while giving them the freedom to be bored. Create stations to promote individual and creative play.
    1. Every parent knows that it’s not realistic to be by your kid’s side every single moment of the day and it’s critical that we recognize this and not give in to the suffocating feeling of mom guilt. There are more times than not that Nathan and I are working simultaneously – which in return means that the kids are neglected! Except they don’t have to be, it’s all about how we perceive it. Our society puts such pressure on busyness these days – remember the feeling of being bored when we were kids? I want my boys to feel comfortable with independent play. I want them to experience the feeling of boredom and find a solution themselves. I don’t want them to turn to a screen every second they find an opportunity. Sure they have screen-time, but it always comes with a monitored limit and they can only watch shows that we are familiar with and approve of the content. Here are several activities our common day consist of:
      • Outdoor Play/ Sandbox
        1. We highly encourage the boys to play outside. They are now to the point where they will get themselves dressed and run out on their own. We have a small backyard, allowing them to have free reign to run and play without the need for 24/7 supervision. In the early days of Covid, Nathan crafted an incredible fort (that I’ll post about later) which includes a sandbox and rock-climbing wall, keeping them occupied most of the time. This has saved us on most sunny days!
      • Puzzles and Games
        1. Puzzles are one of the best things for kids to play with. It allows them to sit, be still, focus, learn the importance of being visual and patient, all while celebrating the sense of completion upon finishing. Over the past ten months we have acquired an abundance of puzzles. The boys literally have puzzle time almost every day.
      • Art Time
        1. Coloring – usually with washable markers and crayons. Every now and then we splurge with paints when we can oversee the activity. It is so easy to hop on Pinterest and print a free coloring page pertaining to whichever season or holiday that’s approaching. Our boys also love making cards for family, friends, and neighbors. This is a fun way to promote thinking of others and creating something to give away (think small – a card or craft).
      • Learning Time   
        1. We have building blocks and flash cards, also promoting creative learning with an educational touch.
        2. If you don’t have flash cards or blocks, let them count! Go on a family walk, let them collect leaves or twigs (we call twigs ‘dinosaur bones’)… come back, let them scatter them on the floor or table and get to counting while you jump on your conference call! Just be sure whatever it is you use is safe and can’t be choked on. We all know the curiosity of these babes – we never know where they’ll stick the things set in front of them!
Lake practicing his letters
Hudson practicing his numbers

So you’re probably thinking this all sounds good in theory but impossible to implement. Or these stations sound messy, or that you don’t have the right tools. I have news friends, none of us are perfect. Even as I write this, my living room is a wreck. There are Legos scattered in the boys’ room as they continue to come pull on my blanket and take little sips of my coffee, spilling dribbles down their chins onto the table. Show yourself grace guys. Practice a couple of these at a time and get creative in finding household tools that double as counting blocks, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Set out time for snuggles and interactive play, give your kids the freedom to come to you at any moment. In time, it will get better. You will regain hope and the focus you need to sustain your calling(s) as you create that structure that works best for you. Mute the background noise and social media, find what works best for you, your spouse, and your kids. Establish a schedule that allows you time for rest and self-care (speaking to myself personally here!), it is critical that we pour into ourselves so that we may have capacity to pour out to those who need us.

Be encouraged friends! Wishing you the best of 2021 and a thriving household… all while meeting our daily needs and being intentional with our babies. Focus on the positive, if you hit a roadblock, take the detour and allow yourself grace to discover what’s best for you as every family is different!

We’d love to hear your tips and tricks too. Leave them in comments below!

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