Updated: Feb 22, 2021
The struggle is real when you're a mom working from home. The phrase "I can't get anything done" has become the distress signal for mothers drowning in their home and work responsibilities. The kids are constantly interrupting, that pile of laundry is distracting you, and your boss just called about another crisis that he wants you to handle. UGH! It really is too much sometimes, but with goal setting and planning, we can survive the bad days and totally crush the good ones.
Here are my tips for a productive (and happy) workday at home with the kids.
Talk to your supervisor regularly to clearly define your goals and expectations. This will help you set priorities so you can decide where to focus your time and energy. Set goals for yourself outside of work too. Hold yourself accountable for things you'd like to do for yourself like exercise 4 days a week or read every night. And don't leave your kids out. Help them set goals related to their education, chores and behavior.
Anticipate distractions and other challenges you may face. Have simple snacks on hand for the kids, schedule your important calls during nap times, and make sure you're ready with everything you need to start your workday on the right track.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Continue the routines you had before the coronavirus pandemic forced you to work from home while caring for your kids. Keep doing your morning exercises, having a cup of coffee (or matcha tea) and getting your kids dressed. Add new routines that work for your current situation. Take scheduled breaks and eat lunch. Try to keep your kids on routine as well. Stick to their scheduled meals, study time and bedtime to keep your days flowing smoothly.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR TIME
We can't be on the clock all day when we're working from home, and we shouldn't be expected to. Plan to work your normal hours, and use a calendar to schedule working blocks. Again, talk to your supervisor about when you're expected to be available. You're still entitled to breaks even though you're working from home. Manage your kids' time as well to keep them on track throughout the day. Timers and automatic reminders are a great way to tell them it's time to move on to something else.
CREATE YOUR SPACE
The border between work and home gets blurred when we work remotely. Create some physical divides in your home to cut down on distractions. And do the same thing for your kids. Give them an area that's just for schoolwork (if you have the space). Defining your workspaces will create boundaries for yourself and your kids.
There are SO many distractions when we're working from home! Communicate with your kids about when you will be available and when you won't. My son Trace knows that when I'm on a work call, he can't interrupt me unless something is very important.
When we're working from home, we don't have the benefit of face-to-face communication. Video chat is the next best thing. Meet with your team on video platforms whenever it's appropriate. And don't forget good, old-fashioned email and phone calls. It's so easy to let things fall through the cracks when no one is working in the same place. Make sure you're at least on the same page. At home, talk to your kids about how you can help each other have a successful day.
Ask for (and accept) help from co-workers. Ask someone to take an assignment off your hands if you're feeling overwhelmed. It's better than falling behind or missing an important deadline. As mothers, we feel like we have to do it all, but the truth is, we really don't. Let others help you shoulder the burden if they can. Emotional support is important as well. Have a video chat with friends who are facing the same challenges. Vent and cry and encourage each other.
And remember to just breathe... We can do this. After all, we're mothers and we're kind of amazing.