Being a parent of a toddler or infant is already like going into battle unprepared, but throw remote work into the mix, and many parents are struggling. First, know that you’re not alone. And second, try some of these survival tips from Henderson House to get out of the trenches and into your work [sweat]pants.
Simplify Mealtimes (and Snack More)
The priority with kids is keeping them fed. Really, almost everything else can fall to the wayside and you can still recover. So, aim for simplifying your meal times to minimize the time you spend in the kitchen. After all, kids get hungry – a lot.
Try crockpot meals that you can toss in and forget (because you will forget) without fear of catching the stove alight. Lay out healthy snack trays for toddlers – muffin tins are always a hit – so they can graze as they please. Just avoid providing snacks that will wind up ground into your carpet or stuck anywhere else undesirable in your house.
Keep safety in mind, too – some finger foods just aren’t safe for littles, especially if you’re distracted while they’re noshing. Stashing your favorite candies or other indulgences for me-time is a completely valid coping strategy, of course.
Don’t Stress Over Clothes
Remember the prior point: children need food (and diaper changes), but not much else. Yes, that means clothing is optional, as long as your house is a comfortable temperature. It also means that if your child is wearing the same T-shirt as yesterday, no one will know. That is unless your tot pops up in your work Zoom conference again today.
While you’ll want to get dressed (on the top half) for your work meetings, off-screen work is another story. Comfortable clothing can save you frustration and keep you feeling cozy when stress starts to creep in.
For example, a racerback bra offers support without being too constricting – perfect for both chasing your toddler and answering unexpected video calls. On the bottom half, prioritize comfortable waistbands that won’t chafe or ride up – yoga pants are always a winning staple. And finally, invest in fuzzy warm socks; you’ll thank me later.
Implement Some Mindful Strategies
Getting your work done is probably the most stress-inducing part of your day, and with young children underfoot, it can feel impossible. Between the noise and the need for close physical contact, your toddler or older baby is probably throwing a wrench in your workday plans.
To help combat the chaos, focus inward, and see if you can’t block out the noise. Try breathing techniques to keep calm – losing your cool not only stresses your kids out more, but it also disrupts your professional flow. You can even teach breathing techniques to your little ones so they can self-soothe, too.
If you must have complete quiet for your work tasks, try noise-canceling headphones – but keep your tots in your line of sight while wearing them to avoid quiet disasters. In fact, saving special quiet-time busy bags for the occasion can keep little hands busy (and out of trouble).
Take Kid-Time Breaks
Sometimes, your kids just need your attention, explains Empowering Parents. Whether the baby needs to eat or your toddler just wants an audience for an impromptu ballet performance, taking a bit of a break can be refreshing for all of you.
After all, connecting with your kids throughout your workday is one of the privileges of working from home (even if they’re driving you crazy from 9-5).
Try to take regular breaks away from your job. Sit and play with your toddler or snuggle your baby. If your baby is younger, you might find that you can soothe them easier while babywearing, even while working. Wearing your infant close to you also promotes bonding, notes the Fetal Health Foundation. Plus, wearing your little one means your hands are free for typing at the computer.
Give Yourself Permission to Slack
No one can do it all. The truth is, no one expects you to, either. Do you ever wonder what’s behind those perfectly poised social media snapshots of happy preschoolers completing worksheets at tiny school tables and moms with hot coffee in their cutesy cups?
Most likely, what’s in the background of that single second in a mom’s life is a pile of unfolded laundry and another child having a temper tantrum, and maybe a dog peeing on the floor or a clogged toilet seeping its contents into the hallway. No one is perfect, no one can do it all, and those who claim to be are faking it.
So, giving yourself permission to just live your life each day, as it comes. There’s no perfect formula that leads to parenting or professional or relationship-related success in a single moment, day, month, or even a year. Life is a work in progress, and sometimes, you need a few hours (or a whole day or week) off.
Navigating your new life of working from home while raising a family might be the toughest thing you’ve ever done. But with support and some smart coping strategies, you can make it through. We’ve covered how to cope here, so stop by Henderson House for support and tons more parenting-focused content.
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