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

Introducing your kids to a new baby

It’s hard to believe this was just 3 years ago! My little guy has gotten so big so fast. In a few short months we will be a family of 5! Fingers crossed Ryder handles baby #3 a little better than he did with Camden.😳

When I first brought Camden home from the hospital, if you were holding him, Ryder would just sit there and give you dirty looks. He would refuse to come near anyone that was holding Camden. He would actually tell me to put Camden down. He was not a fan. That first month was definitely one of the hardest I’d ever experienced. It broke my heart that Ryder had such a hard time.

Hopefully now that he’s been around Camden so long he understands that a new baby isn’t a “threat.” He’s so good with Camden now and even tries to share with him (sometimes).

I did screw up with Ryder in the beginning when I had Camden. I thought after Camden was born I needed to give Ryder a ton of attention to make up for the shared attention that was about to happen. People kept telling me Ryder was going to get jealous and would need a lot of individual attention. I shouldn’t have listened to them.

I had my mom spend a lot of time with Ryder as well thinking that individual attention was needed because of everyone’s comments. That actually made Ryders jealousy worse. When he actually did spend time around Camden and I, it was really bad. He just couldn’t handle it and would have melt downs and be extremely upset. What I should have done is let Ryder spend time around just me and Camden the minute I brought him home. I should have gotten him used to being around Camden right away so he could see he and baby will both get my attention. I think if I’d done that, it may have not taken so long for Ryder to adjust to Camden. By giving him too much individual attention, it’s what he expected all the time and wasn’t getting used to having to share.

Obviously now things are ok. We have our days where one kid needs more attention than the other. But for the most part they both understand they have to share moms attention and that they will both get the attention they need. I definitely learned a lot that first time around. I think I have the hang of it this second time. Fingers crossed!

Stay at home parents

One weekend my husband asked me what we had planned for the day. I told him nothing. We actually didn’t have anything scheduled. His exact response was “you mean we have nothing to do and are going to sit in the house ALL day?” I literally thought to myself “yes Chris we are, welcome to my life every day as a stay at home mom.”

Being a stay at home parent is NOT easy. Especially after having spent 8 years in a corporate job then a few years as a teacher. I was used to being around people. So it’s a very different world when you’re around one or two little ones all day, every day. We have our good days and bad at home. Obviously the bad days make it a lot harder on you mentally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending every minute of every day with my kids. I love that I don’t miss a second of anything they do. But it is very difficult not seeing adults regularly or having any adults to converse with daily like you would at an office job. For a good two years my oldest didn’t really talk. I would actually leave the tv on all day to Friends just so I had the sound of adults to listen to.

Anyone who says being a stay at home mom is easy has clearly not done it or has stay at home amnesia and forgotten how difficult it is. It takes a toll on you physically and mentally. I’ll be honest, I think being a stay at home mom has been harder on me psychologically and emotionally than either of my previous jobs were.

If you are a stay at home mom(or dad), you deserve the biggest gift in the world. If you know a stay at home mom, remember to have empathy for them. They’re doing a thankless job that they love but also really wears on them.

Embarrassing toddler moments

The other day while out to eat with my husband and oldest child, I had to go to the bathroom. I got up to leave and of course our little guy wanted to go with me. I figured sure why not, maybe he’ll need to go too. When we got to the bathroom there was only one stall open. We took that stall and I heard people coming in after us. We chose a busy time for the bathroom apparently!

Right as I sat down to use the bathroom, my child yells out “poop mommy poop.” I just looked at him and laughed and said “no mommy doesn’t need to poop.” But it continued. He kept cheering me on telling me to poop! Then if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, he yells out “poop out your butt mommy.” Oh My God! Why child, why?!? But wait it gets better….he then yells out “you’re peeing! Good job mommy good job.” At this point I’m a bit embarrassed because I can only imagine what the women in the other stalls and in line are thinking, but I’m also laughing SO hard. We have been working on potty training with him, so we praise him when he uses the potty. So he was praising me for using the potty. It was hilarious, embarrassing and absolutely adorable.

As we walked out of the stall people either avoided eye contact with me or just gave me an awkward smile. That made me start to laugh again because I’m sure this is only the start of our embarrassing toddler moments. I can’t wait to see what else follows. (Note there is sarcasm in my voice when saying that last sentence!)

Counting to 3

Ryder, my 3 year old, is in that rebellious toddler stage where he doesn’t want to do what he’s asked. He’s not overly mean about it or anything. He just ignores you and pretends like he never heard you. Even when you ask 10. So we have started doing the count to 3 method. It works every time. I will literally say 1 and he says “no no I’ll do it” or immediately begins doing what was asked of him. I don’t even have to count with my voice in a different tone. I just use my normal voice and he hops right to it like he knows it’s time to do what is asked of him.

But here’s the funny part…..I really have NO IDEA what happens if I ever get to 3. Literally no idea! He’s never gotten past 2. Every time I count I think to myself, omg please don’t let me get to 3 because I don’t know what to do next.

I know the day will come that he decides to push it and see what happens next. So I’ll definitely have to have a plan for when that happens. But for now I’m going to appreciate the fact that he does what’s asked of him before 2.

Terrible twos

Terrible twos was definitely a bit brutal! People told me it was rough, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. The random melt downs, complete defiance, temper tantrums, etc. I knew he would push his limits but lord!!! Mix in the fact that he was still learning to talk and it made things so much more difficult for both of us. He would try to tell me something and got frustrated because I didn’t understand what he’s saying or wanting.

Every day I was exhausted! It’s an exhausted I’d never felt before. It’s a mix of mental and physical exhaustion. But weirdly enough, he wasn’t exhausted (ever)! It’s like the terrible twos upped his energy level. I was worn out well before he was. His bed time would come around and I was the one who needed to go to bed.

What didnt help was other moms telling me “wait till he’s 3 that’s worse than 2.” Come on people!!! Give a new mom a glimmer of hope! I need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and comments like this don’t help!

We are now at 3 and it’s a whole other ball game. He’s now able to talk, very well actually. But he still doesn’t know how to verbalize his feelings or emotions. So when tiredness comes over him and he’s ready for a nap, a lot of the time he just goes crazy. He’s not that kid who tells me he wants to go nap. He has always hated napping. Instead he acts out or throws things. What’s funny is he will throw something, look at me and go “mommy I’m being bad” and sometimes he actually goes and puts himself in timeout! It takes every bit of strength in my body not to die laughing. Because let’s be honest….the wrath of a toddler who’s in a mood and you laugh at him….nope I’m not going there!

He is a good boy. A very good boy. He’s so loving and does try to help out and share with his brother. We are just in a stage. I try to remind myself of that. Obviously in the moment it’s not exactly the thought going through my head. Most thoughts are more like “dear god please make this stop.” 😂 But as bad as I say it is, it could be worse. He isn’t as bad as some horror stories I’ve heard. He really is a good little boy. He is just learning and trying to figure out his emotions and life in general! 💙

Conversations with toddlers

One of the most exhausting things in the world……having a conversation with a toddler. My child is obsessed with the trash man, trash truck and trash bin. The trash bins outside not the small trash cans in your house.😂

I have no idea why. That’s just his thing right now and he talks about them non stop. Every conversation, no matter what it’s about, you can expect him to bring up something about a trash can or the trash man. If he hears a truck outside, he yells out “trash truck!” It could be just a regular, non commercial truck and he still yells it.

If you take him on a walk he will point out every single trash bin in the neighborhood. EVERY SINGLE ONE! What could be a 10 minute walk turns into 30-40 minutes because he has to stop so many times to point each one out. And heaven forbid the lid be left open on one or the front side not be facing out. He will let out a gasp as if something terrible just happened, point to the trash can and tell you the lid is open or it’s not facing forward.

I’ll be honest, it was funny and adorable at first. But now it’s a little tiring. I keep hoping every day something new will peak his interest and he will start talking about that every day. I need a break from hearing about the trash men, truck and bins! 😳

Morning person

I’ve never been a morning person. I don’t like getting up early. Don’t get me wrong, I can! I have no problem waking up early, getting dressed, getting my kids ready and fed, etc. Getting up isn’t the problem. It’s that I don’t WANT to get up early. 😂

On the weekends, before kids, I slept in till 9am. During the week when I worked in marketing, I slept till 7am and was in the office around 8/8:30am. I changed jobs, became a teacher and I somehow got the “lucky” school that started classes at 7:30am. So I had to be to school around 6:15am. That meant a 5am wake up, because it wasn’t a close drive like my previous job. 😳

I think god was preparing me for children of my own when he brought me the early morning teaching job. Because I now have children who get up between 5-6am ready to play! I’m still not a morning person, and I would love to be able to sleep in every once in a while. But I wouldn’t trade it for a minute with my little ones. I love getting up and starting my morning playing with them. 💙

Potty Training….

How’s potty training going in our house? Well my toddler prefers to poop in the yard like the dogs instead of going in the toilet like a big boy. So I’d say it’s going well. We are just taking a small detour. 😂

My kid does things on his own time. He walked one month after crawling. He woke up one morning and started talking. He literally had me so worried he wasn’t going to talk. He got to 2 1/2 and still wasn’t talking. Then out of the blue he just decided ok today’s the day I’ll start talking and it hasn’t stopped!

So no I’m not pushing the potty training. I’m letting him do things on his own time. Would I like him to be potty trained right now? Absolutely! Diapers aren’t cheap. But often times when you try to force a kid to do something they won’t or actually take steps in the opposite direction. So I’m just letting him tell me when he’s ready. We encourage it and talk about it, but never force it.

I’m not exactly sure why he wants to poop in the yard. It is a little odd, I’ll admit that. But he does love his dog. And maybe he’s just intrigued by the fact that she does it outside. I don’t know. I’m just trying to laugh it off for now. Because one day when he’s older, and potty trained, it’ll be a great story to tell!

Living with mom after 30 😳

Living with mom after 30….. Ok it’s not exactly as sad and pitiful as it sounds. 😂 We are building a house. In order to get our old house ready and on the market, we moved out of it.

We are redoing the kitchen floors and refinishing the downstairs hardwoods since the dogs nails destroyed them. We would have to be out for a week while all this got done, so we just moved into my moms house. Rather than move back and have to gather up both kids and two large dogs every time someone wanted to come view the house, we figured staying at my moms during the selling process was just easier. The idea of having to scramble to clean up a million toys and the mass amounts of dog hair before someone comes to see the house (possible multiple times a day) just gives me anxiety. Not to mention, with all this Coronavirus stuff still flying around, I don’t want to have to disinfect everything each time after someone views it.

So yup, I’m living with my mom after 30! But not in a sad and pitiful way! 😂 Do say a prayer that we don’t drive her crazy before the house is built. The boys and I are a lot to handle. Their toys alone have pretty much swallowed up every bit of free space the house had.🤷🏼‍♀️