For most moms of school-aged children, the “back to school” countdown is almost as exciting at those advent Christmas calendars. I mean, I get it. There is a certain beauty in being able to send your kids away for 6 hours a day knowing they will be learning, well fed, and looked after by someone other than YOU!
For me, though, it’s a bit different. My youngest, Ery, stays home with me still as she’s not yet old enough for pre-school. When her big sister is here she loves it. I love it. My girls are 4 years apart and I hate to say it but when Tris is home its like having a free helper. And just to clarify – no I don’t make Tris “babysit” her sister so I can work or clean or whatever else. It’s more like Ery is so amazed by her big sister (and Tris LOVES being a big sister) that she basically does everything Tris is doing or wants to do. There are even times when I want to have some time with Ery and she says “I’m playing with Sissy right now Mommy.” 😜
On the work front, of course it’s easier to get shit done when the littlest is not concerned with the fact that I’m working. It is easier to clean, do laundry, or even read a book. Hell, during summer vacation 2017 I actually achieved a 9 day streak where I was able to shower everyday…before Noon…total win!
But now school is back in session. Everyday is a struggle at school drop-off because Ery doesn’t want her sister to go. Then the next hour is gone because I have to spend it distracting Ery or sometimes downright bribing her into calming down…don’t judge me…sometimes you just need the crying to stop. Lol!
It takes a good two months to get Ery back to our normal routine. One where I can get some client work done, have a few video calls, and not let my apartment turn to total chaos and where she can get used to quieter activities, independent play, and not having her sister here.
It’s been 2 weeks lol. The struggle is real.
This will be the third year of Tris being in full-time school since Ery has been here. For Kinder it was much easier because Ery was much younger. First grade was a real test but in the end here’s what helped her (and me).
#1. New books, toys, and crafts. You will hear me mention time and again that kids love new things. And new doesn’t even have to mean brand new from the store…it can totally just mean “new” to your child. You can rent books from the library that your little has never read before. I also am fortunate to have friends who have kids older than mine. When their littles outgrow a toy they always check in with me to see if my littles want to give them a try.
I then designate a certain time each day for Ery to play with a new toy. She can only play with it on that day during the special time I’ve allotted for it. (And it’s almost always during a time where I need her quiet – like zoom video calls!)
#2. Fun snacks. Kids love things that look “cool.” Click here for my go-to Pinterest search for making fun and interesting but still healthy snacks for my littles.
#3. Quiet time. This one is harder for me than Ery actually. I make sure to take 20 minutes right after a high-energy activity with her and lay a blanket on the floor and sit with her engaged in a quiet activity. Sometimes this is coloring, sometimes its just laying down together. Now that she’s three I plan to introduce puzzles into the quiet time routine. Tris loved doing puzzles together around this age so I am interested to see what Ery thinks.
#4. Outside time. Even if it’s just 15 minutes or so. Ery likes to have me sit and watch her play in the dirt. Yep, the dirt. No matter how many different outdoor toys I buy or inherit her fave is just taking a spoon and digging in the dirt. She’s a cheap date. Ha!
Making sure to work these four things into our daily routine while her sister is at school seem to make a difference. If you have children home with you and others in school how to do get back to normal once school is in session? I’d love to hear them so please share below!
Lots of love,
In college, I never dreamed of starting my own business, working from home, or having kids for that matter. I knew I was going to become an attorney and spend most of my day in a suit making the world a better place one case at a time. Boy oh boy, was I waaaayyyy off!
Fast forward 10 years and I have two daughters, a husband, a business, and I only have to travel from bedroom to the living room to work every day.
Becoming a mom is the reason I decided to explore working from home. I have really strong feelings about daycare and just wasn’t comfortable having someone else care for my kids when I could do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging any moms who love daycare or need it because of school or jobs. I’m just simply saying that it isn’t right for my family.
I’ve been working at home with at least one small child for almost 8 years now and it has been amazing but still very challenging. Working from home is like doing 2 jobs at once. Maybe 3 jobs if you have kids and pets!
Over the years I’ve tried a gazillion different things to make working from home easier with kids. I’ve had some successes and some major failures (like when I was on a skype call with a potential client and my daughter threw my ipad into the fan and broken glass from the screen went flying everywhere and I started yelling the f-word…yep that happened.)
Here are my best tips and strategies for working at home with little ones…
#1 Be water. You are going to have days that don’t work out the way you had hoped. Your kid(s) will need you and you may not be able to respond to every email, return every phone call, or be able to show yourself on zoom or skype video. Sometimes the best thing to do in the moment in surrender, walk away from work and just focus on loving and being present with your little one(s). You can make a plan to catch up on work after you put them to bed or on another day.
#2. Have multiple work stations. If you are able to comfortably work from multiple rooms (especially the ones your children frequent) it helps a ton. I have a laptop desk that makes it so easy for me to work from the couch when my kids insist on me watching them “play playdoh,” or when I am asked to watch a movie with them (which basically means sit here with me while I watch the movie but don’t you dare sing along because I’m the star here.) I have a desk in their bedroom so when they beg me to stay until they fall asleep I can do so and still get stuff done. And then of course, I have my office aka third bedroom where I go to work and the kids know it means I’m wokring on something that requires quiet or being on video.
#3. Be fully present when you are mom-ing. This means that when you are not working you really are NOT working. You are not answering emails or texts, you are not thinking about your meetings and what you need to do to prepare. It can be incredibly difficult to separate the two when you work from home but it’s very important. Your kids will appreciate it and it will help you take it easy on yourself when you need to switch gears and be fully present in your work.
#4. Put them to work. There are actually quite a few chores kids can safely help you with while you are working. This is a great way to keep the littles occupied for 20 to 30 minutes. For example, my youngest just loves drawing on the walls and I just love having her clean the walls. With some non-toxic cleaner in a spray bottle (meyer’s is my fave brand) and a towel, I point her in the direction of a wall within sight of where I am working and she has a blast spraying the walls and scrubbing off her crayon and marker marks.
#5. Designate special toys. Children love new toys or toys that seem new because they don’t get to play with them all of the time. I have a stash of toys that the girls can only play with while I am on a meeting or needing some extra quiet time to work on a project. Electronics and even certain television programs work well as a part of the special toy stash too.
#6. Let them be kids. This one took me a while to accept. Creative and messy play, even though it’s a pain to clean up, provides me the most relief when I need to keep my littles occupied for chunks of time. Drawing on windows, playing with playdoh, finger-painting, and even playing in the dirt provide tons of entertainment for kids. It’s definitely work the clean up if it helps you get more stuff done.
Do you have any ninja tips or techiniques for working at home with little ones? I’d love to hear them. Also, if any of these tips I’ve shared worked for you, please share that too.
Lots of love,