Pro Tips for Working from Home with Small Children
Many moms have had the experience of working from home with a sick kid. Depending on how old and well-behaved your children are, you may or may not have gotten a lot of work done on those days!
“I have a very distinct memory of being on a conference call with my company’s CEO and CMO when my two-year-old was home with an ear infection. In the middle of the call – which I was running – my son picked up a pair of craft scissors and chopped off his bangs. That was fun. I think I still have scars from where I nearly bit through my own thumb at that moment.” – Kat Butler, Founder
But we digress! Working from home with little ones presents unique challenges, but they’re generally not insurmountable. And, while TV can be a great babysitter, it’s not the only option for keeping your kiddos safe and happy while you commit to the hustle.
Here are some of our pro-tips on working from home with wee ones:
First, take in all the tips from our previous posts. As a parent working from home with small children, you need them more than anyone! All the tips on staying productive will serve you for sure, but you also really need to make sure you’re staying connected, healthy and happy.
Rise and Grind
Depending on when your child wakes up, wake up earlier. If you usually start work at 7:00 am, consider getting up at 5:30. Get dressed, grab some coffee, and sit down to knock out some work before the baby gets up. Or consider starting your day with a walk or self-reflection. You’ll feel MUCH more accomplished if you can knock off some emails or work before shifting to the morning needs of a child.
“I’m a big fan of the Friday sunrise run!” -Lorene Bagley Kane, Senior Account Director
Keep in mind, having a walk or meditation time in the sunshine doesn’t have to be an adults-only affair. Why not bring the baby along? Plan a post-breakfast walk around your usual commute-to-work/drop-off-at-daycare time. It was already in your schedule, and now you’re building a few extra snuggles, songs, and laughs into your morning. It’s not a bad way to start a day!
During the workday
Keeping your little one busy during the workday is always a challenge. Yes, you’ll probably have to rely on TV and the iPad to some extent, but cut yourself a break here. These are unprecedented times, and you’re not Mary Poppins. If you have to stream some Disney movies during conference calls from time to time, we forgive you. (You should forgive you, too.) That said, there are other, more creative strategies you can try!
Caty Posey, PR Director, notes, “It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with the stress of the world, the mess of the room, the toddler performing death-defying stunts every five minutes, but it’s important to embrace the chaos, take advantage of the family time and focus on the future. I’ve found it really helpful to take time to go outside each day and find something to smile at.”
Livvy takes the stunts outside.
Livvy climbs into Mom’s desk drawer during a meeting!
One idea we love is setting up a workstation for your kid. Set up a desk just like Mommy’s or Daddy’s and stock it with crafts or toys for when you have work to do. When you have to really hunker down and focus, have your toddler do their work too. It’s a good idea to order some new and different activities for your child’s workstation. Puzzles, invisible paints, Play-doh – mix it up so they stay excited and interested in their “work!”
And of course, take advantage of nap time, if you still have it. (You’re so lucky if you still do!!) You may be able to snag anywhere from two to three hours of solitude to get work done during this time. Aim to schedule creative work or strategic calls during that time.
Work after work
“More evenings than not, I find myself with about 30-45 minutes of work that needs to be wrapped up post-bedtime. You probably have those days pretty often, too. Plan for it, especially if it means you can close your laptop at 5:00 pm and get some extra family time – or steal some time for yourself for a run or yoga. It can also be a great opportunity to text your clients in solidarity, since many of them are probably working parents, too. – Hollis Guerra, Vice President
Later on, when the kiddo is all tucked in and off to dreamland, you can finish those final few tasks and prepare for the next day’s grind.
We get that working from home with little ones isn’t easy. A lot of us on the Blast team have babies or toddlers, and others have already been there and done that. (Older kids are in their rooms quietly gaming or Facetiming their friends all day, so it’s a little easier – but no less terrifying.)
The most important tip we can offer you is this: Ask for help and communicate!
If you have a partner living at home with you, it can be incredibly challenging – especially when you have calls at the same time and your toddler is potty training. Or hungry. Or reaching for scissors. There’s only so much you can do! So remember to ask for help, and have a little patience and grace.
If you’re a single parent, we know you’re doing your best. Make sure you’re staying connected and asking for help when you need it. Your colleagues and clients will understand if you need a few extra minutes or occasionally need to reschedule a call. Everyone is in this together and experiencing the same challenges and frustrations and feelings of anxiety.
And trust me, your child is not the only one that has popped in on a Zoom meeting.
One last bit of advice: cut yourself some slack. Raising kids isn’t easy on the best day, and some days are definitely better than others. No one ever expected to be in the situation we’re in right now, so be kind to yourself.
Find those moments of joy where you can. Hug your child(ren) often. Take lots of pictures, because believe it or not, you’re going to want to remember these days – or at least, parts of them. Unplug when you can, and just BE with your kid(s).
Above all, be well. Be happy. And wash your hands!