Health & Lifestyle · Mothering · Time Management

Staying Sane While Working from Home with Toddlers

As we enter into month three of our nationwide quarantine, I like to think I have developed a bit of wisdom regarding successfully balancing life with three active toddlers and two parents working from home (plus one in grad school).
Most people will tell you that the key to making it through the day is establishing a routine, but I’ll be the first to admit that on a lot of days that routine goes out the window and it’s just Hail Mary after Hail Mary. So my expert advice? Attention diversion, the magic of choices and let’s be honest; electronics.
Below are my tips and tricks for staying sane (and staying productive) while working from home.

Wake up before your kids

I wake up at 5 a.m., shower, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee on the couch while watching the news every day. My kids usually don’t wake up until 6:30/7 a.m. so those 1.5-2 hours of me time are my most relaxing AND productive hours. I hop on my phone and check in on my Instagram friends, write my blogs (it is currently 5:59 a.m. as I type this), clean, craft or sometimes just kick back on the couch.

 

Create a dedicated workspace

This one is so important. Find a space removed from your family where you can set up shop and crank out some work. I understand many people might not have this option, but if you do, take advantage of it and be thankful.
I turned our unfinished, spare bedroom into a makeshift office in one day and I love it. I retreat to this space when I need to work uninterrupted (who am I kidding; with LESS interruptions) or attend an important meeting. A dedicated space helps to keep not only your work supplies organized, but your work thoughts organized, as well!

Work alongside your kids

This might sound counterintuitive, but from experience, I have learned that I also need to work alongside of my children to make this all work. When I first began working from home I spent the majority of my working hours upstairs in my office. This led to my children climbing over the gate to our stairs and coming up to bang on my office door, tantrums if I came down for a quick visit or to help out, and just me overwhelmingly feeling like I was missing out.
Now I try to kick off the day at the kitchen counter so I can help with breakfast and listen to the kids play. I head to the office if I need to concentrate or for a meeting, but I try to spend at least a couple hours working amidst the chaos.
Side note – when leaving your workstation, even for a moment, hide or put your things away. I spent far too much time one morning looking for my wireless mouse that mysteriously disappeared during a bathroom break.

Invest in a good headset with a microphone

If only to drown out the constant off-pitch singing or toddler tantrums. And also to help your coworkers hear you over all of that background noise. Something like this looks great and affordable!

Post your schedule on the fridge

Grab a piece of paper and write down the dates and times of all your meetings for the week and stick it to your fridge with a magnet. Not only does this help you remember, it also helps your spouse/partner to know when interruptions might not be ideal. It’s extremely helpful if your spouse also works from home, so you can figure out who will attend their web conference with the kids in tow if you both have one at the same time.

My husband is a P.E. teacher so while he IS currently working from home (while also working toward his Masters), his meetings are far less than mine. So when he does have a meeting I make it a priority to allow him the privacy of our bedroom or office.

Get outside

I cannot emphasize this enough. Springtime in Northwest Ohio is filled with inconsistent weather, days upon days of rain and even some snow showers. So we are sure to get the kids outside the moment there is a break in the weather. Let them run around, play and get messy. It is amazing what the outdoors will do for their attitudes and their sleep. I even set up my laptop on the deck so I can work while they play!

Stay active

Just like with fresh air, staying active is super important. I have recently taken up running outside (weather permitting) and we go on a LOT of walks. When I can’t get outside I have been doing a LOT of painting. My house is looking fabulous.

Plan meals in advance

I make a grocery list every week and plan my meals around it (with some wiggle room because you never know the availability of certain products these days). I have a large, dry-erase calendar on the side of my fridge that I use to write down meals for each day. This helps keep me on track and prepared, and when my husband asks me for the millionth time what is for dinner, I can direct him right to the calendar. I also do my best to plan meals that include leftovers.

Take advantage of grocery pickup/delivery

I absolutely love using Kroger ClickList. And nowadays, most large grocery stores have a similar option. I love that I don’t have to worry about creating a list; I can just open up my phone app and throw an item into my cart as soon as I think of it. Have it delivered or pick it up on your lunch break.

This brings me to my next point…

Snacks on snacks on snacks

Nothing quiets a crazy toddler like a trip to the snack bin! I’m always sure to have a variety of individually packed snacks as well as fresh fruits, veggies and yogurt. I’m not ashamed to throw snacks at these little sharks to help get me through my next meeting

Rotate your toys

This is one of my favorite #momhacks and has come in especially handy during the COVID-19 quarantine. Don’t leave all of your kids’ toys out at once. Store about half of them away (this helps keep the house cleaner, too!) and rotate them out every few weeks. This helps keep the toys new and exciting for your kids. It amazes me how hiding the Fisher-Price Little People princess castle for two weeks can make it seem like a brand new toy to my kids!
With this in mind, I also try to rotate play spaces. Some days my kids will play in the family room, some days in the green room (this is our front room with ugly green carpet) and others we spend some time in the basement or the twins’ bedroom. Weather permitting, we also throw the three seasons porch into the mix!

Make a To Do List

I prefer a combination of a written list in a planner along with an ongoing, electronic to so list in an app like Microsoft To Do. This will help you stay in task during the day and give you that sense of accomplishment you so desperately need when you cross items off said list.

Spice things up with surprises

Paint your kids’ faces and turn them into animals. Buy some new games or toys (we just played Pie Face for the first time and it was a hit). Turn their bedroom into a campsite with a bed tent. There are oh so many new and slightly extra things you can do to switch it up.

Pinterest is your bestie

PIN ALL THE THINGS. Recipes, crafts, activities, etc. You’ll want to be ready to pull up your account during desperate times.

Bust out the electronics

When all else fails, hand out tablets, phones or queue up Dora the Explorer on repeat! I try to ensure my kids are doing something educational (like using the ABC Mouse app) MOST of the time. You’d be amazed how much Spanish my toddlers have picked up lately!

I certainly hope this list helps get you through the rough waters ahead. Take splice in knowing you’re not alone in this and that all over the world there are moms losing their shit while working from home. God speed!

One thought on “Staying Sane While Working from Home with Toddlers

  1. love the rotate toys tip. the preschool did this every 2 weeks. it helps keep the interest, and it helps organize the toys. kids won’t play with toys that scattered all over the house.

    Like

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