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If you work outside the home, you might remember when going to work meant going to a place where you could just focus on work. It may seem like it was forever ago that you were dropping off the kids at school and hurrying off to the office. I know many moms have been working remotely with kids at home for quite a while now, but it’s still a pretty difficult situation to get used to.

Since I’ve been working as a sleep consultant and primarily working from home for years now, I thought I would share a few tips for managing the work from home and mom life combo. I know firsthand that it can be a struggle to find balance while attempting to stay productive. (Not to mention simultaneously making sure that our kids are safe, fed and on-task with their school work!) It won’t look perfect, but there are a few strategies that you can implement that will make this complicated situation just a little bit easier. 

Communicate with your boss and co-workers

You may need to make some adjustments to your work schedule to ensure that you’re able to keep an eye on your kids. Be sure to mention the current situation when speaking with your boss, and emphasize that flexibility is needed. Explore ways that would allow you to work less hours or flexible hours while still getting the job done. In this instance, overcommunication works well. Keep your boss and co-workers informed of your progress, and if you feel as if you’re getting behind schedule, it’s always best to be proactive. Keep your team informed, and if it’s at all possible, consider delegating tasks out or ask for backup. This is a prime example of a time where it’s more than okay to ask for help. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Although it may be a little difficult to have in-person help these days, remember that friends and family can sometimes be just a Zoom call away.  Aunts, uncles or grandparents can help entertain the kids while you get important stuff done. You can also try out remote art, music or dance classes to keep the little ones occupied and engaged.

Set boundaries and minimize distractions

When working from home surrounded by toys, unmade beds and dirty dishes it gets more difficult to put these things “out of sight, out of mind.” Not to mention, when our friends, family members and kids see us at home, they might automatically assume that we are always available. In order to make sure that we continue to get our work done, we must set clear boundaries and minimize distractions. A good way to do this is to set up a separate work area and make it clear that when you are in your office, you’re at work. That might seem obvious, but it can be simple to forget, especially if you have been answering questions and taking care of things all day. If you have older kids you can try closing the door to your office or putting a sign on the door when you’re in meetings. Carve out specific slots of time to sit down with the kids to go over questions, and although it might be tempting, make peace with the fact that not everything is going to line up perfectly. 

Create a schedule that’s easy to follow

Speaking of making time for different activities, you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you can be when you adhere to a strict schedule. The to-do list will look less daunting when you know that you’ve scheduled in a specific time to take care of the household tasks. You can also try scheduling out time in blocks. Try moving the more difficult or time-consuming tasks to those times of the day when your children are either more engaged in classes or earlier in the morning, before they wake up. If your partner is also working remotely from home, you can try out taking different shifts where one parent is able to get some uninterrupted work time. 

Don’t forget to take breaks

When you start to feel like it’s getting more and more difficult to focus, that means it’s time to take some time off from the computer for a bit. Staring at the screen all day can lead to eye strain, headaches, dry eyes and neck pain. Sitting in the same position all day can lead to aches and pains. A short, 5 minute break won’t halt your productivity. It will enhance it. A few things you could try are setting a timer and stretching, going for a walk or moving to some music. Just remember to keep moving your body. When you start to feel worn out, the best thing you can do is take a break and come back stronger. 

Be easy on yourself (and your kids)

As hard as it is for us parents to get used to this “new normal,” it can be even harder on our little ones who don’t fully understand what is going on. Don’t forget to prioritize alone time and self-care for yourself. Focus on living in the present moment and seek out the opportunities to just relax and have fun with your kids. Work on letting go of perfection and celebrate the small wins. You’re doing a great job. 

Consider all the options

More and more parents have been turning to work opportunities that are more flexible, allowing them to spend time with their kids and meet their career goals at the same time. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity that lets you schedule your work around your kids and not the other way around, you may want to look into becoming a Certified Sleep Consultant. As a sleep consultant, you can work from your laptop, tablet, or even your phone while setting your own hours and not missing out on any of the important moments. Find out more by visiting The Center for Pediatric Sleep Management or join our Facebook group to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it looks like to be a sleep consultant.