While I wish I could say working from home with a 4-year old is rainbows and PJs, it’s not…
Luckily, that only lasted a few short weeks, and my workflow today has become much more efficient and seamless after much trial and error.
To give you an idea of how absurd it was, here’s what usually happened: our team would start the day with a video conference call and my son LOVES attention, so he’d run into my office and dance in the background bottomless. It was ridiculously embarrassing to say the least – but I was lucky to have some kick ass bosses who laughed about it rather than scold me for it. Anyway, here’s how I was able to work from home as a mom:
Be Flexible (Mandatory).
I can’t tell you how many times I was in the middle of a task or writing and I suddenly hear, “MOMMMMY!!” In the beginning, this would bug me the most because to stop in the midst of a creative writing spree is every writer’s worst nightmare. I’ve learned to be flexible… In this case, I’ll quickly jot down my ideas, step away, and then come back to it. Usually, once I tend to my son (even if only for a few minutes), he’s fine being alone. My daughter is also in school, so I’ll leave my house around 2:30 pm to pick her up, and then get back to work at 4 pm – 6 pm. It’s very push and pull, which is why flexibility is key. The only time this doesn’t work is when I’m having a meeting.
Figure out a routine.
Kids need a routine. You can make them adapt to your schedule (not the other way around)… It sets expectations – but you have to figure it out for them. This means sticking to consistent meal times, snacks, and making time for one-on-one. I know my son is needy so I’ll take an hour during lunch to do things he wants to do like play dinosaurs or wrestle. After a few weeks of resisting, he finally understood that we can play, but then mama has to go back to work or else he has to go to a babysitter.
Consistency is key to figuring out a routine. When you set a time for something, stick to that time everyday the best you can. This includes bathing time, bedtime, and waking up along with meals. For my family, it took about 3 weeks of consistency before we found our rhythm. Life felt very tumultuous in that transition, but it was nice to be able to see my kids and interact with them more on a regular basis. It does require me to work at night some days, but I’d much prefer that than to sit in annoying traffic for a few hours.
There are times when I have long calls or meetings. Luckily, I always know in advance when this will happen. And this means my kids cannot be around, which is when I’ll arrange a babysitter. Doing so means everything else needs to be planned accordingly (e.g. meals, snacks, and drop-off and pick-up times). Doctor appointments and sick days also happen so just be ready for those as well.
Get fresh air.
Though I love being home, it can be exhausting to never step outside and have real human interaction with people other than your children. I have worked in coffee shops or at a friend’s house (who also works from home), and I’ve also stepped out to grab lunch. You’ll be surprised at what a small breath of fresh air can do for you!