There is nothing that brings on mum guilt more than working from home with a toddler in tow. As I am writing this, my 4 year old just asked me “how much longer do you need to work for mama?” followed by “Oh… 10 minutes is a long time!” Cue instant heart break. All she wants to do is play with her mama, and apart from “Mama has to work so she can buy you nice things”… it really doesn’t help her to understand why I need to be on my computer so much.
My husband and I are extremely conscious of dividing the week in such a way, that each of the children get what they need from us and each other. With 3 little people and a full time workload, it really does require a lot of planning to ensure that things run smoothly.
Part of our new schedule has meant that my eldest 2 are at home 1 day per week, and while they generally keep each other entertained one of them has nap time. So this means that Miss 4 year old craves even more attention during this time. Of course this is generally right in the middle of a deadline – but how is she to understand that.
I am a big believer in reaching out to our experts to find strategies that work, rather than admitting defeat and facing anxiety every time we are in this position. You see my work situation isn’t going to change but the way I manage it can.
Child Behaviour Expert, Stephanie Wicker from Simply Kids gave me her Top 12 Tip for working from home with little people. There are some really simple but extremely effective techniques in there… number 8,9 and 11 have really resonated with me. I hope you find them useful too!
1. Have realistic expectations for yourself and your child.
We’ll begin with the most obvious and that is having realistic expectations. It’s okay to let a few things slide if it means maintaining your sanity! Moving through our list, I urge you to follow your instincts and take on board the things you can and leave behind the tips that can be for another day.
2. Plan your day strategically.
Daily schedules can fill quickly especially when you throw a baby or toddler into the mix! Starting off on the right foot is essential. When you are planning your work day (or week) be sure to incorporate some strategy. Feeding, sleeping and nappy changing should be scheduled into your planner. Not because changing nappies are concurrent but because they will take time and it’s easy for time to slip by without our attention leaving us feeling overwhelmed and chasing unattainable goals.
3. Create a routine that works for you and stick with it.
I’m a big believer in routines! The brain is drawn to predictability and when we create durable routines it thrives. We can see the benefits in routine with our youngsters as well. They become more confident and cooperative (bonus!) once they’ve settled in and find their safety net. Create a routine that works for you and stick with it. This can be as simple as going to the same kid friendly café each morning for your coffee and hotspot.
4. Write a daily to-do list.
Let’s get organised. Daily to-do lists are a must have! At the start of each week I write my to-do list and as the days pass, I cross off what I’ve finished and outsource what I haven’t. I put all my attention into tasks that must be done by me and leave the rest up to my team.
5. Wake up early.
Each morning I wake up with the sun. This allows me to meditate, reply to important emails and run through my to-do list before time for breakfast! There is so much that can be accomplished early in the day that allows more space to enjoy our family AND our business.
6. Think ahead for short cuts and ease.
Thinking ahead is an absolute life saver. Ask your friends and search online for nifty shortcuts and hacks making your day a lot easier. You can make a mental note of all the local parks with child-lock gates. You can acquire a list of the wifi hot spots in walking distance. Think ahead and save yourself a headache!
7. Schedule time with them in your calendar for ten minute blocks.
Making those connections throughout the day can feel time consuming, especially when we have the added pressure of running a successful business from home. Scheduling 1:1 time into your planner removes any guilt or pressure around floor time with your youngster. If it’s in the planner, it’s part of your business plan! And, believe me, raising happy, connected children is absolutely part of a successful business.
8. Spend ten minutes of 1:1 time, simply on the floor engaging in their interests – with your phone on silent.
During your planned ten minute block, make it meaningful by turning the phone on silent (or even better, out of reach) and engage in play and conversations your child is interested in. Enter into their world for the full ten minutes and watch your stress slip away as everything becomes simpler. Kids have a way of seeing the world so simply and beautifully. If you allow it, you will too. Floor time with children can be as therapeutic as journaling or yoga.
9. Incorporate small gestures between conference calls and loading the dishwasher that go a long way.
High-fives, back scratches and quick winks can go a long way in maintaining your connection with your kiddos throughout the working day. It doesn’t take a minute to give a high-five to your son as you walk past to refill your water bottle – watch the difference it makes in your day as well.
10. Share time through associated activities, so it’s not time “out” of your day but time already “in” your day.
I love sharing the idea of associated activities with busy mamas! There is so much in our day already, so adding all these little extras can seem overwhelming. However, there is a beautiful way to boost connections with our little ones without “losing any more time”. That is associations. Begin incorporating your little one into activities you already do. Brushing teeth, doing yoga, walking the dog, going for coffee (babyccino!!) are all opportunities to use the time that already exists in your day for extra connection with your child.
11. Replace your concept of “time”.
Time is one of those pesky things in our lives that we have zero control over. The concept of how much time we have in the day, can lead to anxiety around time-efficiency and productivity. One simple hack is replacing our concept of “time” with space. As soon as we begin saying “space” our brain drops the resistance and begins to flow again. When you are finding yourself in a rush and feeling pressure around time, tell yourself you have ten minutes of space and feel your brain gently relax, accept and adapt. Your thoughts will begin flowing again and the way forward can become clearer.
12. Don’t expect to get it perfect every day.
So, this is a whopper of a list and no one can expect to get it perfect every day! The good news is that children are much more flexible than we are. They bounce back faster and learn easier than we do. That means the pressure of getting it perfect is out the window. Just do your best, enjoy taking breaks and find a routine that works for you. I promise that is enough!
Visit the Kiindred Expert Series to learn more about Stephanie’s evidence-based solutions, to ensure your child grows to be emotionally strong, independent and resilient – setting them up for success in the future.
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