I’ve been working from home since March 18th, but have had childcare three days a week, and it was going pretty smoothly. I would work a couple of hours on Sunday, shorter hours (i.e., somewhat sporadic hours) Monday and Tuesday, and then I’d just work a little extra to catch up Wednesday through Friday while the boys were at daycare. But last week, on Tuesday morning, James’ nose started running like a fountain, and by the afternoon he had a mild cough. He has some allergies and is getting six teeth at once, so we’re pretty confident that’s what has him sniffling. But given current events, we couldn’t justify sending either boy to daycare. I had both boys at home for 11 consecutive days. I thought James was in-the-clear and took the boys to daycare Wednesday, but I got a call to come pick up a sniffling, coughing J-Man just after breakfast…The last couple of weeks have definitely been a new challenge, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it (even though I definitely still hope they can both get back to daycare this week). Here’s what I think we’re doing right, and what I think we can improve:
Sharing the load
I know things would be a lot uglier if I didn’t have an amazing partner in my parenting journey. One day I had a conference call with a client for four hours in the middle of the day. Yes, I was seriously on the phone for FOUR consecutive hours. 10-2. David was also supposed to be trimming hooves (Hello, anxiety!), but when the hoof trimmer called to say he was running late, David instead rescheduled. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more relieved. With Dad on duty, I was able to send everyone away while I needed to present near the beginning of the call, and then the boys were napping for the in depth discussions that happened toward the end of the call. Not having to completely divide my attention was paramount to surviving that demanding work day with two kids under 4 at home. The following day, David hauled manure straight through lunch while I juggled boys who wanted more of my attention and my own workload, and yes, at one point I was busy telling my one year old to sit down because he was standing on dining room chair while I was being asked a question about a project schedule during a staffing call.
Keeping a Schedule
I’ve been trying hard to do this daily. We developed a schedule at the beginning of staggered care that mimics their daycare schedule, and includes some dedicated parenting time, which is probably the most important part of the schedule. By taking a 20-30 minute break with the boys, I think I’m able to fill their mommy cups so-to-speak, and I’m able to get a little more focused work time in following the break, too. I’ve had a lot of deadlines the last few weeks, and there have been days where the demands of my work have cut into my scheduled breaks, and I can definitely tell the boys are craving more attention when they don’t get that dedicated time.
We try to get outside for 30 min to an hour before lunch. This lets the boys burn off some energy and get some fresh air before lunch and naps, and eases some of their boredom. They have both always loved to just be outside since they were very young. We also try to go out for 20 to 30 minutes “after work” and before we cook dinner. The days that weather allows for outside time have been far more peaceful than those that don’t, but we’ve also tried some kids yoga videos somewhat successfully (at least it’s active TV time?) as our “Active Play Time” when the weather hasn’t allowed for outside play.
Room for Improvement:
The house is a disaster. For real. I’m not an excellent housekeeper anyway, but letting the kids roam with limited supervision has resulted in complete and utter chaos. It used to be the main room was littered with toys…now ALL the rooms are littered with toys. And frankly, I’ve been working on and off from 5 am – 11 pm a lot of days, so I’m not too eager to pick up all the toys at the end of that day…We’re trying to spend some weekend time cleaning up, and I’m going to try to prioritize cleaning before our outside time (which is a great motivator with my boys).
I’ve been trying to use the time when my boys are confined to their seats at the table to get something done, but I think that has driven a lot of need for attention (and I’m usually multitasking by eating at my desk, too). This week, I’m going to make an effort to put the computer to sleep for at least 30 minutes while we eat and give the boys (and David) my undivided attention during that time. Even though it’s challenging, I do really enjoy having them here, and this is one time I think I should really take advantage of it. Here’s to hoping it will also help my afternoon focus during naptime!
Getting some movement in
When we’ve been able to get outside, the boys have gotten plenty of exercise. I, on the other hand, have been very stationary at home. As an example, at my office, it’s a 2-minute walk for a bathroom/water break. At home it’s about 6 steps, and I haven’t been making up for that decrease in movement for regular tasks very well. My company started a step challenge, so I’m trying to use that as motivation to be active WITH the boys. This should help with a little more dedicated family time, too!
Are you working from home with little kids? What’s been working well for you? Any tips are welcome!