Finding balance when working from home during the pandemic

It is 2020 and we are all discussing plans to cancel the year. It all makes sense; rescheduled trips, missed birthday parties and weddings, extra pounds to our waistlines… who really wants to add the year that the world stopped to their already seemingly short life? For many students, this was the year to relax for a few weeks before changing the stats on the registered screen time from predominantly social media driven to online classes. Several non-essential employees got the chance to work in their pyjamas, have accidental toilet sessions recorded on Zoom or not work at al. My personal experience during this lockdown period has been rather strange, but after chatting to my peers, it almost seems as though everyone who has been told to work from home has somehow managed to turn the eight or nine hour working day into a late night shift with bathroom breaks in between. And then there are the parents. Admittedly, I have been working extremely odd hours, taking conference calls well after 7pm while feeding a busy two year old and trying to pick up after her whenever I get a bathroom break.

If you were naive enough to think that life would have returned to normal by the second half of this year, don’t worry, you are not alone. It almost feels as though we have found a new normal, one which we have no choice but to adapt to. My clients have all seen my daughter go through her growth spurt during her several appearances on my video calls, my colleagues have heard her voice her opinions during our strategy calls and the neighbours have wondered if the frequent screaming and crying was something of concern. Nope, just a fussy toddler seeking attention! After about five months of being in a ‘national state of emergency’, I have definitely questioned my sanity more than a few times. If there are any other frustrated mamas out there, don’t worry, I’ve got you. Try out these steps to stay sane.

Wake up early

Even though we aren’t required to be showered, powdered and alert before the morning news, waking up early is a crucial step for anyone with young children. During the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself waking up just minutes before the start of my official working hours which often resulted in breakfast making, toddler feeding and toothbrushing while on conference calls or speaking to clients. Please learn from my mistake and try to be up at least an hour earlier than you normally would to allow for enough time to calmly breeze through your morning routine. How you start the day has a significant impact on your mood, so why not choose to have a good day?

Schedule some “Me” time

Remember the extra hour we discussed earlier? Here’s where it comes in handy. I would recommend setting some time apart at the start of your day followed by a wind-down session before bed which would be spent meditating, stretching, or performing your self care routine. We may not be doing anything particularly exciting at home, but the constant pressures from making sure that a baseball doesn’t fly through the window or that the vase remains on the credenza is enough to raise your cortisol levels. Although seen negatively, this lockdown period can be a time for personal growth and reflection, but if we are constantly ‘on’ this will lead to adrenal fatigue.

Exercise

As parents, we tend to either forget that we need to prioritise self care or blame our kids for the lack of time. Whatever the reason, exercise tends to be pushed further and further down the list of priorities and often becomes a forgotten chore. What I have to remind myself constantly is that when those rolls show up on my waistline, it isn’t my little one that will be fighting with her jeans. When my husband struggles to pick me up, it’s definitely not Gabby who will be feeling embarrassed. Oh and my personal favourite, when I have to get back to the real world, it will not be Gabby who will deal with my colleagues remarks of how much weight the self proclaimed CrossFit junkie has put on. Something as small as a thirty minute yoga session, or a twenty minute HIIT session is all it takes to stay in shape. If neither of those sound doable, then just grab the little ones and go for a walk.

Get some vitamin D

I am no doctor, so I will reiterate what they say; insufficient vitamin D can lead to deformities in both adults and children. For us mothers, we are at a risk of osteoporosis whereas our children can develop rickets. Another interesting fact to note is that low levels of this sunshine vitamin have been linked to depression and mood swings. Thought it was just the children? Think again! Now that we are stuck at home with the ‘little terrors’, we need to be more conscious of what our bodies need. For our ‘D’ friend, the easiest thing we can do when working from home is simply to schedule some time in the sun. If you have skin sensitivities, look into foods that will provide sufficient amounts to meet your body’s requirements.

Set a new routine

At an office job, we are able to spend over eight hours focused on our daily tasks, but if you have ever spent a day with a child, you know that things never go as planned. With my little magpie-two year old constantly hopping between activities, my husband and I have implemented a tag team system so that there is always one person available to keep an eye on her. Our work routines have been modified to factor in my daughter’s feeds, naps, self-play, and time for outdoor stimulation. Not every day can be carefully planned out, but we do our best to ensure that our conference calls don’t clash. We’ve also come to peace with the fact that a portion of our work will need to be concluded after our princess is tucked in at night, but that is the sacrifice we are willing to pay to keep our daughter happy – it’s all about balance. I have to admit that before becoming a parent myself, I always assumed that taking care of my own child would be easy, but COVID-19 has proven otherwise.

If you’ve worked through all of the above tips and still feel stressed, make sure to take leave days and focus on your mental health! As boring as it may be to stay home during this pandemic we need to stay sane for ourselves and the little people who depend on us!

Everyone’s story is different, so out of curiosity, I decided to reach out to a few fellow moms just to see how they have been coping during this pandemic. Here’s what they say:

Heather from Single Mom Bloggers
There’s nothing like being your own boss, having complete control of your schedule and answering to no one. Nothing else works for me. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way! We’re not all born with innate parenting smarts, and your own upbringing may have taught you the wrong lessons. My mom friends recommended all sorts of positive parenting books and a well-loved local teacher, but I just couldn’t find time for any of that as a single mom. What worked for me was the free course by Positive Parenting Solutions that taught me how to get my son to listen in a more loving way, and stopped most of the yelling (it’s always a work in progress)

Chelsea from The Bustling Mom
I have been working on my blog since March. I try to make sure that I work on my blog or digital products at least a couple hours a day. Setting priorities is a big step in being more productive. Therefore, I also make sure to spend one on one times with each of my kids every day. If I don’t they all start to get a little jealous of each other for spending more time with me. Trying to find a balance between work and kids is the hard part. Staying sane is something that moms often forget to do. Moms stay sane by taking self-care seriously every now and then. I do happen to have a post on that. You can read about it here!

LeDonna Nubin from MidLife MaMas
I’ve been working from home and my toddler has been with me. I’m a solo parent and my daughter suffered paralysis from what the CDC is calling a polio-like virus known as AFM. She was paralysed from the waist down but is doing much better now. As you can see in the background she has her set up play doh tablet, kinetic sand, coloring books and lessons. We are learning abc’s and numbers. She has a bit of a time limit for everything and we make sure to go out for walks and play. She even sits in on my zoom meetings sometimes. We both exercise at home and do yoga. The days are long and a bit tiring at times but we do the best we can.

Surabhi from The Smile On
Lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me. I started my blog during these uncertain times. Although I had already been working as a dentist for 10 years, getting into a WFH schedule wasn’t as easy as I thought – a schedule is keeping the two of us sane. I created a schedule at home taking into account my toddler’s nap time, meal times and sleep time. We recreated the day care activities at home. I finish off with the chores in the morning, plan my day and also catch up on some ‘me time’ before my toddler wakes up. Once he wakes up, we spend some quality time together by doing some art and craft activities, some singing and dancing. When he takes a nap in the afternoon (which is mostly for 3 hours) I quickly catch up on my pending work. Once he gets up, we generally snack and then I allow some solo play with blocks and puzzles. We also do role play with pots and pans which I think is important for his emotional development. I also involve my little one in the kitchen with me. I give him easy tasks like pea or egg-peeling. This helps in developing his gross motor skills as well. Once my husband is back from the office, my little one usually plays with his father while I enjoy my meal. Once my toddler goes to bed I again catch up on my blog and pending stuff – but I’m not too rigid with the schedule.

Melinda from Narwhal Moon
I started out the pandemic working full time, then switched to part-time and a full-time summer course load. I would have my older kid play ‘school’ with the younger one which encouraged them to keep learning while schools were closed. Every day on my lunch break, we would all go on a walk either around the neighbourhood or, as the snow melted, the biking and walking trails by our apartment. I would have my five year old pretend to be my assistant and take notes so that she didn’t feel like I was ignoring her. To stay sane, I tried to exercise and would take relaxing baths. To ensure more family time, we added an extra family game night.



24 Comments Add yours

  1. So much love for this post. Really appreciate how you added me-time – super easy to forget, especially for mothers or women who run the household. And working from home to add to that. Honestly, it is a wonder how we are all still standing. This year, ugh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Hahaha I never know if it’s Micah or Markus posting, but I’ll assume it’s Micah 😉 Thanks so much for showing love! Honestly I don’t know how stay at home moms do it… this period has been enough to drive me insane!! Don’t rush to have kids, especially during this pandemic lol

      Like

  2. beth says:

    all such good advice, and not forgetting to take care of ourselves is so important in the quest to not get burnt out

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks Beth. So much easier to put in writing than in practices to be honest… Especially the waking up early part thanks to toddler sleep regressions! You’re so lucky to have passed this phase already 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. beth says:

        i remember how hard that time was, just do the best you can, and you have done enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shelly DS says:

        Thanks Beth ❤ I'll keep that in mind especially when dealing with the terrible two tantrums

        Liked by 1 person

      3. beth says:

        And that will go into the 3s at times! ) never take it personally, they’re just trying to become independent without having the skills

        Like

  3. Yesss! I try to wake to early as much as I can to feel a little more less scattered brained! Vitamin D is soooo important. Love this post so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) says:

    You’re right. As parents we need to carve out time to look after ourselves. I started getting up really early in the morning to work out when my kids were small. They’re not small any more but it’s a habit that I’ve stuck with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sarah says:

    Great post! I have to wake up early every day to make sure I get enough focused work time. It’s the best tip.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Chocoviv says:

    These are great!!!

    Like

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks hun 🙂 Putting it in action is a whole other thing though lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chocoviv says:

        Take baby steps:) Any step forward is great! Dancing to Korean pop music on YouTube is my workout now!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shelly DS says:

        Hahahahaha for real? That’s kinda cute. I suppose it’s way better than just sitting and listening to it 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Chocoviv says:

        For real! Search kpop workout! Sunny Funny is a good start

        Like

  7. PoojaG says:

    Really enjoyed the post and the perspective of the other mothers! I’m not a parent but I have found doing some exercise every day has been really helpful since I don’t go out much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks for reading Pooja 🙂 You are always so supportive even when it’s mommy stuff ❤ I appreciate you

      Liked by 1 person

      1. PoojaG says:

        It’s my pleasure- I always enjoy your posts!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Olivia says:

    Thank you for these tips, its interesting to see how lockdown has effected various people differently, especially parents. For me, being a single 25 year old with no children I saw it as a luxury of sort. No more getting up early to commute (I now commute to my office which is at the end of my bed lol) no more train expenses to get into the city to get to work and many others. Whereas those with children, im sure it was more of a challenge. Thinking about child care, how you will work whilst trying to keep your children entertained. I take my hat off to parents who have gone through this with most of their sanity left!

    Like

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Yeah, it has been really rough to say the least… I actually decided to send my little one back to school! In my defence though, we’ve already had covid so we aren’t afraid anymore. You are super lucky to have this time, just don’t be like me and gain all the weight in the world … walking to and from the fridge is NOT exercise 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Olivia says:

        Yes I remember reading your post about having Covid. I guess that makes it an easier decision for you to do that!
        Oh, too late lol I already did 🤪

        Like

  9. This post has so much wonderful advice!!! I’m going to try to start getting up earlier…it will be hard but hopefully worth it! I need some “me time!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Hahaha let me know if you manage! I struggle on most days… but as they say “do as I say not as I do!” Thanks for reading 💖

      Like

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