The last couple months have been a whirlwind of change for everyone. These unprecedented times have us all rethinking our priorities and experimenting with ways to balance multiple areas of our life from home. As a full time working mother to four sons under the age of five, I’ve quickly had to adapt. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned since I began working from home:
1. Flexibility is key
Just as it was working in the office, each day has a different set of priorities and expectations. Along with our work schedule, our sons also have school work and activities they now need to complete from home until they go back to school. Originally, I tried to force a set schedule each day. I quickly learned that even though we are all at home, every day might not always be the same. I realized that having a flexible mindset creates a less stressful environment for everyone. For example, it’s okay if one day the boys had more screen time than the day before if it means I can get through a long meeting. By adapting and changing our expectations when needed, we are able to better accomplish what we needed to for that day.
2. Patience is your friend
With the six of us at home, it is hard to always keep our emotions in check. Our sons are at the age where they are very vocal and dependent on my husband and I. Having patience during this point in our life is extremely important. We realized this change of working from home not only affected us, but disrupted their schedule as well. As a family, we are all trying to have more patience and extend grace to each other as we navigate this new normal.
3. Seek advice from others
We reached out to some of our friends who are experts at navigating family and working from home. They were able to give us a couple of quick tips that have helped us tremendously in this transition. For example, if both parents are working from home, have one parent cover breakfast while the other works and then switch at lunch time. That way each parent gets one meal they can work through. Secondly, although not ideal, start work an hour before the kids get up so that you can get a jump start on your day. We also found it helpful if we took shifts and worked in 1.5-2 hour blocks so we were not both being constantly interrupted. It’s important to surround yourself with others who are going through the same thing in life so that you can learn from each other and share what has worked best.
4. Enjoy the little moments
One major advantage to working from home while my children are still young is that I do not miss out on the small everyday moments. We have been able to enjoy morning walks together, eating lunch as a family and witnessing our 3rd son’s first steps. The children are only young once and while it might not seem convenient to have them here while trying to work, I have decided to enjoy the little moments that I would otherwise miss.
5. You can adapt to new situations faster than you think
About two months ago, life looked very different. We were accustomed to going to work and school each day. When I switched to working from home, I thought that it would take a really long time to find a new normal again. To my surprise, we all adapted faster than I thought. Today, the kids understand, for the most part, that I have to go to work at certain times and they need to do their school work. They have also learned how to communicate their needs better. My husband and I have switched our expectation of work hours from 8-5 to a schedule that works for our family, but still accomplishes what needs to get done at work. It’s an ever changing situation but it is encouraging to know that we can and will adapt.
Navigating a full time job and parenthood is never easy, especially when you are trying to do both from home. It’s important to be flexible, remember patience, and seek advice from others in the same situation. We are all able to adapt to new situations faster than we think. The most important thing to remember is that we only get these moments with our kids once. This shift to working from home can definitely be viewed as a blessing in disguise for us all to slow down, rethink our priorities and focus on what is really the most important in our lives.