We’re 2 months into the quarantine and in all that time my husband and I are working from home. Yes, we consider ourselves lucky that we are still able to do so, but one thing’s for sure, we’re also tired. Because aside from meeting our work responsibilities and deadlines, we’re also in charge of a 6-year-old and an 8-month-old, and all housework to boot. Plus coping with the stress brought about by the pandemic. Before the ECQ, we had a stay-out helper that helps out with housework and childcare, plus family and friends to support us in everything else. But this time, we’re on our own.
Yes, our kids are cute and we love them more than anything else in the world but they can also be a handful at times. We’ve dealt with tantrums, rocking the baby to sleep, and even breastfeeding during conference calls. If like us, you’re also at wit’s end on how to make working from home viable while also taking care of your kids, or if you’re gearing up for the same setup, then here are a few tips that might help you out.
Work fast during nap times
Our 6-year-old can busy herself most of the time, but our 8-month-old is a different matter. However, our 8-month-old still takes a few naps throughout the day (most babies aged below 1 still do). She typically goes down for a nap once in the morning and once (even twice at times if I’m lucky) in the afternoon — so these are the times when I focus, type away furiously on my laptop, and try to get things done.
Work fast (again) when they’re calm and happy
Even babies can busy themselves at times, specifically when they’re happy such as after eating or after napping. They’re most probably content and happy during these times and would not mind playing on their own in their crib or playpen, giving you a few minutes of uninterrupted work time. Just be sure to provide them with enough toys or activities to keep them occupied.
Babywear — yes, we’re serious
Babywearing is not just for when you’re out and about with your baby, you can also use it to strap your baby when she’s fussy or wants to be cuddled to sleep — and you have a conference call lined up. We love our Tula Free to Grow Coast for such instances (we got ours from CEO Emporium, they ship 😉). We just load our baby up, sway back and forth, and talk or type away. Just make sure that your mic is on mute whenever you’re not speaking — and even if it’s not, we’re sure that your colleagues will understand if they hear your baby cooing in the background.
Take advantage of your gadgets
One thing that has helped me a lot is having the phone-version apps of our work apps installed on my mobile phone as well, such as Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Meet, Google Drive, and basically almost the entire Google suite. This way, I can edit or do small tasks on my phone while the baby is breastfeeding or while we’re in bed and I’m convincing her to nap. I also have a Spotify playlist for her so she can listen to her favorite nursery rhymes while she’s crawling around in her playpen.
Try to be flexible with your schedule
Or work different hours altogether. If your work-from-home arrangement doesn’t have a specific schedule, then you can discuss this option with your colleagues or immediate supervisor. You can either wake up early or stay up late (if you’re a night owl like me) while the kids are asleep to take on concentration-heavy tasks. At the same time, these can compensate for your staggered work hours throughout the day because of childcare or house chores.
Take breaks — even if it’s small
One of the downsides in working from home is that we are more likely to suffer from burnout since personal and work time tend to just meld together throughout the days. So try to take small breaks throughout the day to play with your kids, read books with them, or even do a quick activity together. And don’t stress about your work while you’re at it. Doing so will give you time to recharge and think, while also stimulating your kids’ brains.
Stop it with the guilt
Working from home is hard. It’s the truth. And even if you’re home, the reality is, you can’t engage with your kids 24/7 so do not feel guilty about it. It’s ok to let them get bored. It’s ok to let them cry a bit. It’s ok to let them play on their own. These are unsettling and stressful times and every one of us is doing our best to survive. So do yourself a favor and stop feeling guilty.
Hang in there, co-WFH parents!