In today’s tech advanced society, many employers understand the importance of remote access capabilities and are equipping their employees with the ability to work from home. You may find yourself needing to work remote during times of crisis and natural disasters, due to travel, and/or school closures.
Whatever the reason may be, working from home with kids can be challenging. Ask me how I know…
I’ve been a working mom in Corporate America for over 10 years. Throughout my career journey, I’ve had remote access capabilities to leverage. My current company culturally embraces flexibility and is a great place for working moms, such as myself.
I know “work from home mommy life” very well! If you’re new to this life, here are 10 strategies to get you established as a work from home mom.
1) PLAN AHEAD
Start each week with a plan. It’s crucial to your success. Consider your work calendar, personal calendar, kid’s commitments, personal commitments and see if anything overlaps so you can adjust.
Block off time on your work calendar so you can focus on your kids needs, such as lunch, snack, and learning time.
For example, if you have work meetings from 9-11:30am and 1:30-3pm on Monday, block off 12pm-1pm on your calendar and use that time to have lunch with your kids. Block off 3pm-4pm so you can have a little downtime, free of meetings to close out the day, catch up on emails, and attend to the kids.
Make sure you have snacks and meals lined up for the week. If you meal prep get that completed on Sunday or mid-week in preparation for the days ahead.
2) ESTABLISH ROUTINES
“Your plan is a high-level roadmap. Your routine is your guardrail.” Coach D, Founder of Career Mom Community
Determine a daily flow that is advantageous for you and your family. Outline the routine on a whiteboard or poster. You can time block or outline, both are just as effective. Communicate the routine to your kids in an age appropriate way so they know what to expect.
3) MOMMY TIME
Make sure your routine includes mommy time. I’ve found that incorporating mommy time helps to minimize interruptions throughout the day, because they know their 1:1 time is coming.
4) ORGANIZE YOUR WORKSPACE
Find a workspace that is conducive to working long hours. I don’t recommend working on a couch or bed unless that’s your only option. Work at a table, office desk or vanity.
Maintaining good posture in a clutter free space helps minimize stress and strain throughout the day.
5) ORGANIZE THEIR “WORKSPACE”
Give kids a place to work as well. Provide an age appropriate desk or workstation for independent crafts and assignments.
For toddlers or babies, create a space where they are safe to play or nap (with you at arms reach) so you can multi- task.
6) LEVEL SET EXPECTATIONS
Communicate rules and boundaries. Consistency is key, so do not waiver.
Determine incentives for good behavior throughout the day and consequences for undesirable behavior throughout the day.
Here are my “Work From Home Mommy Rules”:
- When mommy is on a call do not disturb unless there is an emergency
- When mommy says “wait, let me finish…”, wait patiently by reading a book or playing with a toy
- Do not touch mommy’s computer
- Do not write in mommy’s work notebook(s)
- Don’t play on mommy’s work phone
- Actually take a nap (for my toddlers)
7) MAXIMIZE OPPORTUNITIES
Let’s be honest, working from home with kids is not easy. It comes with a mixed bag of unpredictability, challenges and emotions. I highly encourage the moms that I coach to look for “windows of opportunity” – periods of times where they can maximize momentum and get work done. This can include during nap time, early mornings, or burning the midnight oil once the kids go to sleep.
For me, I start my day early. Before breakfast, I try to have all my daily reports downloaded and/or created so I can focus on calls and inquiries. It’s a sacrifice but I’ve found it to be helpful.
My warning to moms is to avoid procrastination. Do not wait until the last minute to work on tasks. If you do, your day can go south. Real fast!
8) BE FLEXIBLE
Yes, we plan. Yes, we establish routines, but we must remember that kids are “little people” who are trying to figure things out one moment at a time.
Figure out what works and stick with it until it doesn’t work anymore. Don’t be afraid to pivot and adjust if you notice something is not working. Learn as you grow into your rhythm. Just make sure you communicate the change to your kids in advance.
“Sometimes my kids interrupt me while I’m on a call (especially my 2 year-old) but I’ve learned how to quickly redirect and reinforce the rules. Sometimes, they get excited (ie. loud) but I’ve learned how to encourage them to play more quietly and suggest alternative games. Sometimes, they ask for a thousand snacks, but I’ve learned how to set boundaries and meal/stack schedules.”Read my post, “Work From Home Mommy Tips: 4 tips to ensure peace and productivity” here.
9) MAKE THE DAY FUN!
Kids are kids and the last thing they want is boredom. Incorporate play time, walks, and outdoor fun. If possible, meet a friend for lunch or invite a neighbor over to play.
You can get super creative and make them an “employee”. Let them create their own “work schedule” and collect a paycheck at the end of the week for a job well done!
10) LEVERAGE SUPPORT
“Don’t become so overwhelmed that you’re drowning. Ask for a life vest.”Schedule a complementary Mom Strategy Ideation Session here.
Determine what level of support would be beneficial and ask family, friends, and/or neighbors to assist. Ask a spouse or neighbor to keep an eye on the kids so that you can get some mommy self-care in. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop and seek help before you burn yourself out.
Research local resources such as peer groups, mom groups, co-ops, etc. Identify specialty programs that you can attend over lunch or during breaks.
Words of Encouragement from Coach D
You’ve got this mom!! Many schools across the nation are closing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), leaving many parents to manage working from home with their kids. In the blink of an eye, many of us are now home -schooling moms managing competing priorities.
Do the best you can during this difficult time as we all work to manage the spread of COVID-19. I’m praying for you and your family. Don’t feel bad if you have to take time off or if things fall behind in certain areas of life. This is uncharted territory for all of us. Show yourself and others grace because we will get through this.
With Love & Blessings,
Debranetta “Coach D”
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