Remember the old movie Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray? Working from home when everyone is home (all. the. time.) feels like groundhog day. Every day is the same! It’s madness!
At this point in the pandemic, you’ve probably read a lot of semi-helpful articles about working from home from “experts.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found all that advice particularly helpful!
Instead, I thought I’d share what is really working for me and my team members–most of us have been working from home with everyone home since before the pandemic hit, and all of us have been impacted by it.
Here are our favorite, real life tips for how to work from home when everyone is home:
- Fill Your Own Cup
- Write EVERYTHING Down
- Remember What Really Matters
- Make a Schedule
- Create a Routine
- Stay Flexible
- Don’t Multitask
- Make Goals You CAN Meet
- Set Ground Rules With Your Kids
- Encourage Independence in Your Kids
- Work a Split Shift
- Take Breaks
- Get Help
- Get Out of the House (If Possible)
- Be Willing to Work in Bursts and at Weird Hours
- Turn Off the News and Social Media (+ Leave Your Phone in the Other Room)
- Lean Into Self-Care (for You AND Your Kids)
- Make a Dedicated Space
- Find Ways to Have Fun
- Celebrate the Wins
1. Fill Your Own Cup
We’ve all heard the analogy about putting on your own oxygen mask before putting on somebody else’s, and I know how easy it is to ignore this advice! But it’s vital. One of the things I hear from other women who run successful businesses or work from home with kids is that taking care of themselves is necessary if they’re going to keep going for the long haul.
One of our team members, Mary Beth, swears by regular exercise. It’s how she keeps herself healthy and whole-hearted so she can continue to work and raise her four kids–especially during quarantine!
Sarah, one of our writers (she also has four, including an infant), loves to take walks by herself in the evening.
Whatever your “fill” is–figure something out and commit to doing it regularly!
2. Write EVERYTHING Down
Mom brain is real–and so is pandemic brain. I use my Notes app on my phone because it syncs with my computer. I keep three categories of to-dos: daily, weekly, and future.
If I think of something, I add it to one of those categories: things I want to get done today, things I want to get done this week, and things that need to get done sometime in the future.
3. Remember What Really Matters
I have so many dreams and plans for Whimsy + Wellness, and so many dreams and plans and things I want to do with my kids–but there are only so many hours in a day! I have to prioritize the things that matter, both in work and at home. If my expectations are too high, I just end up frustrated.
4. Make a Schedule
At the beginning of quarantine, Russ and I made a schedule for us and our kids–we desperately needed some structure in our day! Schedules also help us rein in our work hours and make sure that the things that matter to us–connecting with our kids–gets done.
5. Create a Routine
Some people don’t do well with schedules. Sarah is one of them–in the six years she’s been working from home with kids, she swears by loose routines.
For example, when the baby takes a nap in the morning, she grabs a second cup of coffee and sits down to work, every single day–no dishes, no reading books to the kids, no working out. However else the day goes, she can count on something getting done.
6. Stay Flexible
If your kids are older, it might be easier to stick to routines and schedules. If they’re younger (like my kids!), it’s much harder. The name of the game is flexibility. If you worked in an office before the pandemic, you’re used to having hours of uninterrupted time.
Now, you probably need to work in bursts of time–the thirty minutes they’re busy with playdough, or the 7.5 minutes they’re watching Baby Shark.
Keeping that to-do list is vital because I can just sit down and power through a task; I’m not wasting time thinking about what needs to get done.
7. Don’t Multitask
It’s tempting to keep your email up or your phone next to you, but don’t. Multitasking kills your productivity. I schedule tasks like email into my day, so I don’t get stuck doing “busy work.” If you need to, leave your phone in the other room while you work, take email off your phone, and turn off all your notifications.
8. Make Goals You CAN Meet
I don’t know about you, but my to-do list is always longer than I have hours in the day. I have totally given up trying to get everything done. Instead, I prioritize the most important things–and those are what I work on first.
It’s helpful to realize, too, that everybody is working slower now with kids at home. You’re not alone! Projects that used to take a day are taking us two days–and that’s ok.
9. Set Ground Rules With Your Kids
I’ve heard of parents using a spotlight system: green means you can come into the office to ask mom or dad a question, and red means to check back later. Obviously, this only works if your kids are a little older!
If your kids are younger, it’s totally ok to tell them, “mommy’s working, I can’t help you with that right now.” In fact, our kids learn the benefits of delayed gratification and even get a little more independent!
10. Encourage Independence
It’s also totally ok to reward your kids for playing quietly or letting you get some work done. Sarah has learned to just tell her kids when she has a tough deadline–they are often eager to help out by helping with the baby or finding something fun to do on their own.
She’s also made a point to teach them how to pour themselves cereal in the morning, make themselves snacks, and do simple chores like unloading the dishwasher. Every little bit helps, and kids feel empowered!
11. Work a Split Shift
A lot of parents right now are struggling to try to get 40 hours of work in (each) plus some kind of schooling for their kids. It’s a lot! I’ve heard from a few different people that a split shift is helping. One parent will take an early morning shift (6am-noon), while the other parent will take the later shift (1pm-6pm). It’s not a perfect solution, but it helps!
What you might find, too, is that you are way more productive when you can be at home and focused on a task–it’s amazing how much time I used to waste at work before I started working from home!
12. Take Breaks
Your to-do list might feel suffocating, but the more tired your brain is from trying to focus and work, the less efficient you’ll be. Take regular breaks! Science actually tells us they make us more productive. Go on a walk, call a friend, meditate, connect with your kids, pour a cup of coffee and savor it–just get off your computer!
13. Get Help
Even if you can’t get childcare right now, what you probably can get is help with grocery delivery, a meal plan service or subscription box, regular take out–if you can delegate a task to somebody else, do it!
Don’t be afraid to get help for your mental health, either. There are teletherapy and telemedicine options available–reach out and get the help you need! You are not alone.
14. Get Out of the House (if Possible)
Most of us aren’t heading to the coffee shop to work anymore, but I still find getting out of the house does wonders for my mood. Even just going for a ten-minute drive is helpful!
15. Be Willing to Work in Bursts & at Weird Hours
One of the things you sacrifice when you’re working from home when everyone is home is normalcy. In other words, you might be used to working from 9am-5pm, but now that you’re home and your kids need you a lot more, you’ll probably need to find the time to work whenever you can get it! Early mornings, during meal times, in the evenings, after the kids go to bed…a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!
16. Turn Off the News and Social Media
We feel like we need to be connected at all times, but I’ve found the news and social media are NOT helpful to my mood and outlook. Turn them off! You can even take social media apps off your phone. It feels weird at first, but you’ll thank me when you feel more peaceful and happy all day long!
17. Lean Into Self-Care for the WHOLE Family
I’ve built a whole company around making wellness and self-care fun for the whole family, so I could talk about this for days! We have so many helpful blog posts and recipes for helping your family be well. Here are just a few:
- 21 deep sleep diffuser blends
- 12 art therapy activities to help you feel more grounded and less stressed
- Using ylang ylang oil for anxiety
- Crystals for helping with anxiety, focus, creativity, sleep, and more
- How to use crystals and oils
Plus you can find TONS of DIY essential oils recipes plus tons of super helpful information on using crystals and oils together for your whole family in Beyond Lavender.
18. Make a Dedicated Space for Work
You might not have a whole room you can dedicate to office space, but even if all you can manage is a corner of a room and/or a desk, that helps. There’s something about having a space that says “time to work” that helps you and your kids know that it’s time to focus!
19. Find Ways to Have Fun
Pandemic? Fun? I know. But finding ways to play–to be lighthearted, do something spontaneous or adventurous, to laugh–will help you feel like a new person. Even if you have to schedule in “fun” to your day, do it! Here’s a great mood boosting playlist to help you get inspired!
20. Celebrate the Wins
You are getting more done than you think, and you’re doing better than you know. Don’t forget to take time to find and celebrate the wins in your family’s life right now. We will make it through this together, friend!
How are you working from home with everyone home? We’d love to hear *your* tips–share in the comments below!