Survival Tips for Work-from-Home Parents With Young Kids

Written by my guest writer, Janice Russel of Parentingdisasters.com

Working from home has many benefits. You can eliminate commuting, saving valuable minutes, and leaving more time to spend with family. If you have a toddler or baby at home, however, managing child care alongside a busy workday under one roof can be a challenge.

Rest assured, this juggling act is a test of patience for anymom or dad. You are not alone. The great news is that there is a supportive community out there offering plenty of tools to help you manage a home office plus parenting. Fit Dallas Mom Blog is one, with a blog full of tips. A couple of other blogs run by parents who work from home that are worth checking out are Single Moms Income (which has great advice for dads and married folks, too!) and Catherine Alford’s site.

Read on for some additional tricks and tools you can rely on to help make working from home as a parent with young kids easier.

Set aside a dedicated workspace.

Creating a dedicated work zone increases productivity. It also lets you keep your computer and papers in one place, away from baby bottles or your toddler’s sticky hands. Having this separate space will also make it easier for young children or spouses to recognize when you’re working. You can even use colorful tape to mark off mommy’s or daddy’s workspace. This kind of visual indicator is easier for toddlers to recognize.

Follow these tips from SHAPE magazine for creating an ergonomic workspace that is comfortable and healthy. Invest in a proper desk chair and desk, and set it up correctly. In addition to configuring your office furniture, make sure your workplace electronics are configured for home office use.

Consider a career change.

If you’re at home with young kids, you may want to start thinking about a new career once your kids are old enough to attend school. Fortunately, there are many online degrees you can earn which allow you the opportunity to learn from home at your own pace so you can still meet your children’s needs. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a teacher, you could work to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.  

Create a kid-soothing zone.

Create a kid zone with your little one’s amusement in mind. If your baby has that one rocking crib that always seems to soothe them, place it here. If your toddler has a favorite stuffed animal that stops the crying, make sure it’s there. Set your kid-soothing zone up near your workspace. As a work-from-home parent, it’s impossible to avoid interruptions during the day. By setting up this space close to your office, however, you can hopefully minimize the amount of time every disruption takes.

Take advantage of nap time.

As a work-from-home parent, nap time is your best friend. Take advantage of these quiet moments. For example, if you know that your child usually goes down for a snooze after lunch, this is the perfect time to schedule conference calls. Of course, nap time isn’t a guarantee. It can seem like the moments when you really need your little one to sleep, they simply won’t. The website Parents has great tips on helping your toddler nap, for example, by laying them down with some gentle music.

Call for reinforcements.

Remember, you don’t have to do it all on your own. If you have a partner to help, enlist their assistance. Sit down at the start of the week and compare schedules. What days do you each have critical deadlines or meetings? See if the other one can step up and take over child care during these times. Alternatively, you may have friends or family who can help. Another option is to hire a professional via an online platform like Care.

Be kind to yourself.

Working from home with kids clamoring around you isn’t easy. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Find time for self-care. Taking a hot bath after the kids are in bed is a great way to unwind. Also, take time to nurture your mental health by practicing mindfulness through activities like meditation and showing gratitude. These small acts will enhance your mental wellbeing and make you more resilient to everyday challenges.

Being a working parent isn’t easy. There’s scientific evidenceto prove it, as surveys show that working mothers are more stressed. The above survival tips will help you get through the workday while alleviating worry. 

I’d also offer the advice to recognize when you need to pause. For me, this is when I start snapping at my kids. If I notice myself doing that I try hard to set boundaries and realistic expectations with myself and my family. For example, “Mommy needs five more minutes, let’s set a timer and when it goes off let’s snuggle!”

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

Back in the red

We are back in the Red in DFW. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m wearing a mask even when I workout. What inconvenience is it really to me? None. I put on clothes in the morning so a mask isn’t any different to me anymore.

I actually haven’t worn makeup since the masks requirement went into effect. With the exception of mascara of course but no actual face makeup. It’s been great! My skin has never looked so even toned and breakout free! I wash my face often or use face wipes. I also wash my mask regularly so that helps quite a bit to reduce any skin issues.

I really don’t mind wearing a mask even after the mask order is lifted. Honestly I’ve never gone this long without catching even just a cold! I credit that to the masks, over disinfecting and hand washing. I know masks are annoying to some but I’m one who doesn’t mind it. I’ll do whatever is going to keep my family and myself healthy! Better safe than sorry!

Benefit of fevers

All our lives we have been told (if you paid attention to your Dr or in health class 😉) that fevers are beneficial to fight infection. Having a fever can be scary, especially if it gets into the 104+ range. However, it’s also good. A fever, which is an elevated body temperature, sets in motion a series of mechanisms that regulate our immune system.

If you remember back to health class in high school, your hypothalamus is what sits at the base of your brain and regulates body temp. When your hypothalamus detects pathogens from the immune system, it signals for the body to generate and retain more heat. Thus triggering a fever.

There’s a saying…..”feed a cold, starve a fever.” If you have a fever you should avoid eating. You want your body focusing on the fever and riding itself of pathogens. By provoking digestion, you are over stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Most fevers, a doctor will tell you to just stay home in bed and rest. When my son was 2 he got a fever of 104. The doctor told us to put him in a luke warm bath. If him temp continued at 104 or higher for two hours or more, then we were to take him to the emergency room. It’s scary, but again the body is just fighting an infection.

What’s crazy now days is the minute we find out someone has a fever, we go into full on panic because it’s possible they have corona virus! Before this pandemic, if someone had a fever they were told to go home and rest and no one really thought twice about it. But because of this virus, you get a fever, and people literally run from you! Lol

You body does some really cool things if you just pay attention to it. People are so focused on a quick fix and pump themselves with medication too early so their body becomes reliant on medication vs allowing it to use its immune system and fight it as god planned. Mind you, not all illnesses can be fought off by the immune system. I think we can all agree that there are quite a few cases where medication is needed. Please don’t go on the attack. I am not anti medication. I am just one who prefers to let the immune system try to work first. Then if help is needed, you call your doc and get your body extra help!

Diet pains

Ever gone on a diet and felt achy during it? Sort of those body aches you get just before you actually get sick? Well, that’s not uncommon. So what causes it?……

When you eat unhealthy foods for a while, your body builds “immunity” to these junk foods. That’s why you don’t feel any major discomfort after having eaten them for weeks, months or years. Once you remove these foods from your diet, your body can actually go through withdrawals. Your body became addicted to these foods so it’s a shock to it when you remove them. Symptoms can include body aches, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, jitteriness, and tiredness.

A lot of people who get these symptoms while dieting feel like their diet isn’t working due to the symptoms they experience. What they fail to remember is that dieting isn’t easy at first. You have to get your body into a routine. They often feel this discomfort, get discouraged and immediately want to feel comfort. They remember how junk food was a comfort feeling for some of them, so they go right back to eating it.

Don’t get me wrong, I eat my fair share of junk food. However, I eat it in moderation. I may eat a burger and fries for dinner one night. But all my meals before that are healthy. I don’t do an entire day of eating terrible. If I do eat terrible one entire day, my body goes into a shock and I actually get an achy, tired and uncomfortable feel. It’s one I can actually feel in my muscles and stomach.

There is what I call the “diet hump.” For me it’s always around week 3 or 4 of my diet. I start to feel achy and I get tired and discouraged. I think to myself how much I hate this feeling and I just want to lay on the sofa with a box of pizza and Chinese food. But once I push past those thoughts and a few days of the achy, tiredness passes, I feel better. Things get easier after that hump. My diet becomes more of a routine and easy to follow. I don’t crave unhealthy foods as much. My body actually feels stronger after.

Diet and weight loss is not easy. It honestly takes a lot more mental work than people realize. It’s not 100% physical when going on a diet. You have to keep yourself on track and not let what may be withdrawal symptoms, set you back if they come on. For me a lot of “self talk” is involved. I tell myself regularly “I can do this.” It’s a lot of mental pushing. But it’s worth it on the end. Especially to wake up feeling better every day. Having my stomach feel clear and not heavy and bloated. To not have my joints an muscles ache when I try to get up or sit down. With two kids under 3, I need all the strength and energy I can get from this body!

Lack of alone time

The worst part about quarantine….zero alone time. And by alone time I mean me, by myself, with no one to talk to and nothing to think about. 🙄

I’m an independent person with more introvert characteristics than you’d think. I like to do things on my own and figure things out for myself. I also enjoy being alone sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and my husband. But I’m one of those people who needs an hour or two to themselves just to relax and think about nothing important. It’s like hitting the reset button for me.

I lost most of my alone time when I became a stay at home mom. But what little I was holding on to is completely gone now thanks to this quarantine. I can’t even take a shower in peace without my husband opening the door to have a conversation or ask me questions. Or my toddler coming in to hand me a toy or ask for something. I know my child means no harm by it, and it’s sweet he wants to share a toy. But when you just want a moment of silence, a child standing there with the shower door open staring at you, isn’t the most relaxing.

Im trying to stay positive and remember that this quarantine wont last forever. We will go back to normal life eventually, and I’ll be able to go back to the gym and have an hour to myself. And if God wills it, maybe I’ll get an entire day to myself one day too to recover from all this 😂🤷🏼‍♀️

Wash your hands!

Apparently the flu risk is high in Dallas right now. I never used to get the flu shot but after having kids I do. The last thing I want is one of us (or all of us) catching it. I feel like we are more at risk of getting it with them being around other kids now. So many little hands in mouths! 🖐🏻

I’ve been having both my toddler and infant wash their hands like crazy. I’ve also been disinfecting toys regularly, especially with Camden in the teething phase and chewing on everything! Most germs can survive on fabric for a while, so I change their clothes the minute they get back from day care. I’ve been washing my hands more than normal as well. With the Coronavirus flying around I feel like we can never be too safe! 🙅🏼‍♀️

Here’s a couple random facts that might get you thinking……🤔

Did you know that low humidity enables the flu to survive longer and spread faster?! Also, people spread germs more easily in cold weather due to more time indoors together. 🏡

1 in 10 people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. This is one major way we spread germs! We were taught this when we were kids! 95% of people don’t wash their hands long enough to kill harmful bacteria. The CDC recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds. Not sure how long 20 seconds is? Sing your ABC’s twice through at a normal speed. That’s about 20 seconds! 🧼

Wash your hands and say a prayer you don’t catch what’s flying around! That’s about the best we can do. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Mom Sick

Mom sick….that’s what I’ve been for a few days. It’s miserable, especially while pregnant.🤢 As a mom you don’t get to lay down and rest or even take care of yourself when you have the flu, a virus, a cold, etc. You’re too busy taking care of your family and everything else. There is no calling in sick or having someone take care of you as a mom. You just push through and hope it’ll pass fast. 😷

I like to do the “mind over matter” that my dad taught me. I tell myself I’m not that sick and I can get through the day. It may not actually make the illness go away. But of anything the positivity and encouragement helps more than self pitty or complaining. 🤷🏼‍♀️

When I try to remember back to when I was younger, I can’t remember a time when my mom was sick. I always thought she had an amazing immune system that kept her from ever getting sick. Now I realize she got sick, she just was mom sick. She never showed it because she didn’t have time to be sick. She was too busy working and shuttling us kids around to our activities. There literally wasn’t time for her to be sick.🤒

To all you moms out there pushing yourselves through a “mom sick” day, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. I understand your struggle now. You make it look easy despite how miserable you might actually be. Comfort and health is definitely something that we sacrifice some days, but we do it for the love of our family.💙

Finding out about food allergies

A question I get asked often…..How did you find out you were allergic to flour/wheat? 🌾

Soooo over a period of a few months I noticed some weird, irregular things happening with my body. After eating, I would get this unbearable itch in my right leg to the left of my shin. It would itch so bad I would sometimes scratch till it bled. Crazy I know! 😳

Other times I would get severe stomach pains that felt like my stomach was trying to rip itself out of my body. Sometimes that was followed by the runs. Or other times I would start to turn red and splotchy, get red bumps all over my body, start to feel really hot and itch a bit. As some people like to call it…..hot hives! 😩

I went to the doctor and they told me it was anxiety. It didn’t make sense. I don’t get anxiety after eating. I feel happy and content after I eat. So I brushed off that doctor and tried another. Who told he he had no idea what it was and maybe it would go away in its own. 🤦🏼‍♀️

It took me going to 4 doctors to finally have one tell me it’s possibly a food allergy. So he told me to fast for a full 24 hours to get everything out of my system. Then try one thing at a time and see the reaction. I started with fruits, then veggies, then meats, then cheeses and nothing was happening. One day I made a sandwich and BAM! Stomach pains and the runs. The only thing new I’d eaten was the bread on the sandwich! So I figured that was it! After a few more trial and errors I learned that I have a wheat/flour allergy. I tell people it’s a gluten allergy because it’s just easier to explain and I get less questions since gluten allergies are like a “thing” now. But for me it’s wheat and flour. Different types of wheat/flour affect me differently. Hence one time I’ll get hives, and another the runs. 🍴

My food allergy and my auto immune run hand in hand. They each affect each other. Turns out the itching in my leg is due to inflammation of the skin and tissue caused by eating wheat/flour. My body becomes inflamed, doesn’t understand what’s happening and goes on the attack. Therefore causing an itching reaction. It’s crazy but makes sense how one thing affects another.

I’m not missing out too much in life. People always give me the poor pitiful you look and ask what I can eat. Well I can eat pretty much what I want within reason…..fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, etc. Instead of flour tortillas I do corn, when at a Mexican restaurant. I have always hated pasta so there was no loss there. They make gluten free bread/wraps and gluten free pizza crust so I can still enjoy a good sandwich or pizza when I want. I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Going wheat/flour free hasn’t changed my life other than ridden me of stomach pain, itching, etc. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Pregnancy and workouts

Recently I bumped into someone (not a close friend) who seemed shocked to find out I was still going to the gym while pregnant. They gave me this confused look then the awkward “good for you” comment. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I’m really confused. Do people just quit going to the gym when pregnant? Or is it just assumed that with pregnancy comes laziness? Because in all honesty none of my friends have quit working out when they got pregnant. Maybe I’m sheltered and live in a little fitness bubble or something. I have been an athlete my whole life and I do tend to associate with people who have similar healthy lifestyles. So perhaps the general population is different?

Doctors encourage workouts when pregnant, as long as there are no current or potential complications at hand. There have been studies done that prove exercise to have benefit for mom and baby while pregnant and after delivery. So do people just not listen to their doctors and decide to use pregnancy as an excuse to forget about health and be lazy? I don’t know.

Working out is the one thing that keeps me sane and helps me manage my pregnancy. It eases the aching muscles due to growth and stretching of the baby. It also gives me more energy so I can make it through the day and still be able to chase around my toddler. I tend to have an upset stomach often while pregnant and even a little light cardio seems to settle it. I’m not big on taking medications so I use workouts as my medication.

I guess I have to remind myself that everyone is different and not everyone chooses the same healthy paths. If I ever get that comment again I’ll just smile and nod and remind myself that I’m doing what’s best for me and my little one. 😊

Steam Rooms

I made a post a few weeks ago about my regular use of the steam room. I got some fantastic questions about it after! So I’m going to go into more detail of the benefits of a steam room in hopes of answering those questions!

During a steam, there is an increase in blood flow and circulation in the body. This is because the heat causes blood vessels in your skin to expand. The moist heat stimulates the skin causing the pours to open up. By opening the pores through perspiration, steam induces the expulsion of toxins. This also helps to eliminate black heads to give you clearer skin! My skin always has a light pink glow to it after and my skin tone looks more even.

The steam room helps to open up airways which improves your breathing and alleviates congestion. The wet heat from the steam room thins and opens the mucous membranes in the body, which helps to relieve pressure. Any time I have allergies or congestion I use the steam room and feel a significant difference after!

Benefits of a steam room:

-Increases metabolism

-Cleanses the skin

-Boosts your immune system

-Eliminates toxins from the body

-Relieves discomfort from allergies

-Relaxes muscles

-Relieves couching

-Enhances circulation and blood flow

-Hydrates dry skin

Not only does you skin look amazing after a steam but you’ll feel so much better! Give it a try if you have the chance!