Caring for yourself is an essential part of caring for your child.
Current world events have left many parents struggling to juggle working from home and taking care of their children. While it’s possible to adapt to this lifestyle, going full steam ahead for too long can cause you to burn out; this can impact your productivity and, more importantly, your ability to give your child the attention they need. To avoid this, you should also make time to take care of yourself and your basic needs. Here are 10 ways you can take care of yourself so that you can care for your little one.
1. Give your body healthy fuel.
Eating healthy meals and snacks provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals, helping you to feel more alert and energetic throughout the day. While caffeine and sugary snacks can boost your energy, they’ll also cause you to crash later in the day. Healthy snacks won’t cause this—plus, eating healthy meals sets a good example for your child.
2. Assess how to handle screen time rules.
While your child is spending so many extra hours at home and you have a stack of work waiting to get done, it might be a good idea to examine your current screen time rules. Do these rules really matter right now? Letting your child spend extra time playing video games or watching TV can limit your distractions and earn you the alone time you need. Just make sure your child understands that the rules will go back to normal eventually.
3. Find activities to occupy your kids outside of screen time.
Of course, you can’t stick your kids in front of a screen all day; even if they wouldn’t get bored eventually, it’s not exactly good for them! A few Google searches can help you track down new ideas for activities that will provide hours of entertainment for your little one—and take the pressure off you—from simple crafts like watercolors or painting birdhouses to designing a scavenger hunt for them. You might have to spend a little time setting up these activities, but a few exciting exercises like this can often entertain your little one for several hours.
4. Take a break—you need it.
Jumping from one task to another is exhausting, especially when a few of those tasks involve wrangling your child. Let yourself take a break! Even just 10 or 15 minutes of relaxation can make a huge difference in your mood and productivity levels by helping you to relax. Take a little time alone to read, listen to a few minutes of a podcast, or grab a catnap—whatever will help you unwind.
5. Adjust your expectations.
Realistically, you simply won’t get as much work done at home as you would at work; in addition to needing to take care of your child and keep them entertained, there are a lot more distractions at home. It’s important that you go into this experience knowing this and that you adjust your expectations for each day accordingly—this is about surviving the new normal. It’s not permanent, and thousands of other workers, from your coworkers to your boss, are likely in the same position.
6. Prioritize your to-do list.
Since you’re simply not going to be as productive as you usually are, try to prioritize your to-do list accordingly. If it helps you, separate it into a few sections, like tasks that must get done that day, tasks it would be nice if you could get done, and things that you likely won’t get to today but which should be on your radar tomorrow. Then focus on the most important tasks first! Having a list like this helps you know where to start, makes the day feel more manageable, boosts your sense of accomplishment, and helps you plan in advance.
7. Communicate with your boss and coworkers.
It’s important for you to communicate with your boss and coworkers about your current limitations; since many of them are facing the same situation, they’ll understand, and opening up honest communication about the issue will prevent misunderstandings. Try to work with your boss to shuffle around work hours or meetings so that you’re getting the most important work done on time on a schedule you can manage. This will lower your stress levels and help the entire team be more efficient and productive.
8. Grab a quick snack for yourself and your child.
It might be tempting to push through your hunger in order to get more done, but eating a healthy snack can boost your productivity. When you stop to grab a snack for your little one, take a few extra minutes to grab one for yourself, too. It won’t take much time away from work, especially if you get a snack you can eat while you work, and you’ll feel a lot better after you’ve eaten.
9. Establish a schedule early and do your best to stick to it.
Routine is really important for kids, especially when they’re younger, so do your best to establish a schedule and stick to it—for yourself and your kids. Set a time for your kids to wake up, do schoolwork if necessary, eat lunch, enjoy screen time, and more. Surprises happen, so you may not always be able to stick to it, but a schedule can provide your child with a sense of stability while improving your productivity.
10. Set up boundaries so you can get work done.
Do your best to explain to your child what’s going on at an age-appropriate level. If they’re old enough to understand that you need to work, set aside times when they shouldn’t bother you unless it’s very important, such as during screen time; if you have slightly older kids, you can even ask them to watch the younger ones in exchange for a reward. This will help you carve out some uninterrupted time to get essential work done each day.
In all honesty, working from home while you care for your child is daunting and often frustrating. You’ll need an abundance of patience and compassion for yourself as you adapt to this less-than-perfect situation, but spending more time with your child also has its upsides. The unexpected laughs and extra daily hugs can even fill your days with plenty of funny stories and joyful moments that you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life.