Working from home may offer greater flexibility and fewer expenses, but when you have infants or toddlers in the house it can feel almost impossible. Part of the problem is that many parents now balancing work with childcare haven’t had much time to prepare for the challenges.
However, even for those who have been doing this a while, the challenges are still real. It’s important for your sanity to admit that yes, what you are doing is hard, and you should not expect yourself to master it immediately. Simple Modern Mom wants you to know there are still ways you can make working from home while caring for small children easier.
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Planning is a Must
If you know you have an important deadline, or need quiet time for a virtual meeting, plan to give yourself the time and space you need. Arrange for your child to be occupied or cared for, whether this means naptime, screen time, or relying on a partner or caregiver for assistance. If your child is old enough to understand, talk to them about the importance of giving you privacy. Setting them up with their own schedule can help, too.
Because you are juggling work tasks with domestic tasks, it is also useful to have a schedule for jobs around the home. If you are responsible for cooking, make yourself a menu for the week, with reminders about when to thaw meat or pick up additional groceries.
Children old enough to be involved in housework can be given small assignments such as dusting shelves or bringing their laundry down.
Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you cut corners on housework. And it’s always okay to ask for help.
Structure Your Work Schedule Around Their Sleep Schedule
New parents are often told to “sleep when your baby sleeps.” Unfortunately, when you are working from home with deadlines to meet, this is not always possible. But if you structure your day carefully, you can use some of their sleep time for rest, some for work. Times when you tend to be most awake and productive—whether early in the morning when your children are sleeping, nap time, or nighttime after you’ve put them to bed—should be set aside for work. Times when you are drowsy or sluggish, try to rest with your children if possible.
Separate Workspace From Home Space
Your workspace should be arranged with your own ease and comfort in mind. If you can designate one whole room as your office area, great. But even a corner of a bedroom or a large closet can work to establish the line between when you are on the job and when you are full-time parenting.
Of course, when you have babies or toddlers, this line will end up being crossed, frequently. But having that sense of a boundary can help alleviate some of the stress of multitasking. And it means that you can have that sigh of relief when you walk away from work – even if you’re only walking a few yards.
Invest in Comfort and Style for Confidence
At first, not having to dress up for work can feel like a treat. But over time, spending the day in your pajamas, and never styling your hair, can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and productivity.
No, you don’t need to put on uncomfortable high heels or confining business suits. Comfortable clothing makes it easier to keep up with kids and housework, after all. But spending a little time and effort on looking good can make you feel more confident. For work in the early mornings or late evenings while others are asleep, cozy yet attractive loungewear such as stylish leggings or a soft robe can make working in pajamas feel like luxury again. Even something as simple as a supportive, stretchy bra can help you feel more put together. Whether balancing childcare with work is only temporary, or whether it’s your full-time lifestyle, don’t forget that taking care of your own well-being is just as important as your obligations to work and family life.
Janice Russell runs the blog parentingdisasters.com. Check out Parenting Disasters for more tips like these!