This week has brought huge shifts in our daily lives as many of us are being asked to stay home. With big implications for managing work and kiddos and life in time of uncertainty, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. I am by no means an expert, nor will I pretend like I have something new to offer, but in light of the changes to routines and rhythms, I thought I could share how I structure our days as a work from home momma with two very small kiddos.Our circumstances might look very different from yours, so by no means is this a one size fits all solution to a very nuanced situation. BUT after almost three years of working from home, I thought I could share some insights to help reframe your day from not just surviving, but really embracing a new rhythm and a new normal, for however long it lasts.
A few things unique to our situation:
1. My kiddos are very young (1, Hadley and 2.5, Mason) and still need a lot of interaction and supervision and diaper changes but don't even get me started on that.
2. I aim to work about 12-15 hours each week spread between my two income streams - my custom illustrations work and my BeautyCounter business.
3. I am really lucky to have an amazing co-parent in Daniel, who equally shares responsibilities with our house and our kiddos. While I am primary care giver from 8-5, we tag team duties when he is not at work (or in the basement as is the case for the next few weeks).
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
Regardless of how you structure your day and what you have planned, there are a few things I've found that set me up for a lot of success.
1. I try really hard not to work while the kiddos are awake. Especially with the type of work I do, pulling out paints with two toddlers running around is just a recipe for disaster. My BeautyCounter work can be easier to do with the kiddos around, but multitasking mom duties and business owner duties leaves me feeling really swirly and disjointed, so I just prefer not to.
2. If I don't have a plan for my day, we end up all over the place. Notice though that I say plan, not schedule. Sticking to specific times frames doesn't work for us. I have planned chunks of time for the day and goals I hope to accomplish during those chunks, but it doesn't follow a rigid timeline. This kind of fluidity works really well and also allows me to adjust if we are having meltdowns or if a particular moment is going well.
3. Right before Hadley was born, a dear friend gave me to two tips for enduring the shift in our day. First, to play worship music (or even just positive, happy music) and second, to stay hydrated. I know it sounds crazy, but I can tell a huge difference in my energy level if I am not drinking enough water throughout the day. Thanks, Maria :)
READJUSTING MY OWN ATTITUDE
Before I even started building our daily routines and rhythms, I found it really helpful to get back to the why. Days at home with kids are long. I love my kiddos, I desire to be with them in this season, but the days are still long. It takes endurance, patience, and a lot of prayer. When I take the time to readjust my own heart, set out to make our days purposeful, and really embrace the day, I find that I see the hours drag less. It is still hard work, but it is more purposeful and meaningful than just getting through it.
I start with the four main areas where I feel called to invest into my kid's lives -
From here, I list out of all the things that I hope to do each day that hit these four categories. Maybe I will do a longer post on this later?? but bottom line don't make it too complicated. List the silly things that are important to you, the things you've seen others do that inspire you, the things that were part of your home growing up that you want to continue.
After I have my list of hopes/goals for each day, I think through when during the day it makes most sense. Things like independent play, crafts, and chores go MUCH better in the morning when we are all rested. I have lower expectations in the afternoon because we aren't as fresh. That's when I really lean on getting outside and allow for some screen time. Do what makes the most sense for your family!
Feel free to click the photo below to download a PDF version to print.
OUR DAILY ROUTINES & RHYTHMS
From there I build our routines and rhythms, the flow and chunks of time and goals and hopes I have for each day. But here is the truth - most days, not all of these things happen. We have emotions and spills and playdates and unexpected errands and all the normal things that come up that cause this plan to change. And that is totally okay! I think there is a lot of beauty in having intention with your day but also grace to know that even the best laid plans might not work out. Even this morning as I am typing this, Hadley is sleeping in later than normal and Mason is playing Sesame Street on my iPad until she wakes. We haven't had followed our morning routine like normal, but that's okay! We will get dressed and brush our teeth and do our memory verse, but it might be after a slower start to the day. Purpose but also flexibility. I am all about that life!
Feel free to click the photo below to download a PDF to print.
A FEW MORE DETAILS
At some point I would love to elaborate more on each these things. This kind of family rhythm building keeps me up at night with excitement and I feel like I am learning more and more each day. But for now, I'll leave you with the basic skeleton and a few resources that I use to help fill in the gaps.
We update our weekly intention each month, so I guess weekly is a bit of a misnomer. But all that to say, with how young our kids are, I think lingering longer on an abstract concept - love, courage, friendship, compassion - can only be a good thing!
We have been going through this book currently. It breaks down really abstract ideas about God and the Bible and humanity in a simple way.
This book is next on our list.
Daniel is really really good at memorizing scripture, so he helps us pick out a verse that matches our intention. Again, we will work on that verse for a whole month before moving on! Daniel picks the verse, I make up the cool dance moves that help it stick :) We all have our strengths.
Mason really likes to know what is on the plan for the day. Each morning we talk through the day of the week, the weather, and the agenda! I will do a post on this in the future sharing our "agenda magnets" that we keep on the fridge!
Again, I am no expert, but I think I've heard that independent play is a skill and you have to work at teaching your kids. Um yes. This is when we do things like Magnitiles, Lincoln Logs, trains, puzzles, etc. I just pull out ONE activity for each of the kids so it doesn't turn into a mad house. I usually keep a book close by during free play and read while they play mainly because I am trying to train myself not to be on my phone so much.
Each day I pick a different chore for myself and lucky Mason gets to come along for the ride! I try to think of a task that he can complete wherever I am working so he learns taking care of our home is a family responsibility (not a momma responsibility). Some ideas: swifter the floor, dust baseboards, wipe down windows with water and microfiber cloth, wipe off kitchen chairs, wipe off kitchen cabinets. Basically a lot of wiping. And no, these things don't really get cleaned. It is not about having the actual assistance, it is about training him in the habit of helping and personal responsibility. It is the same reason why Mason is expected to make his bed each morning and clear his plate after every meal. Can you tell I feel passionately about this one? Ha!
Right now we don't have any big learning objectives. That will change slightly next year as we start preschool, but for now, I just like exposing him to letters, shapes, numbers, and colors all through play based learning. I love BusyToddler and Other Goose for ideas.
Think messy things - play doh, watercolor, glue, beads, construction paper, markers.
I have been super influenced by Read Aloud Revival. She has amazing resources, book lists, and insights for fostering reading and a love for books in your home. I could not recommend her book enough! A few of our current favorite books:
Lllama Llama Red Pajama
Little Blue Truck
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
The Pout Pout Fish
The Napping House
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site
Where the Wild Things Are
Bible Story Time:
We love Jesus Story Book Bible. I think it is past our kiddos comprehension level, but it is a great one to have around.
This is the Bible we read from most nights.
Man, a lot more things I could say and details I could give, but I think I will leave it at that. I hope this can serve you in some way as we all adjust to a new normal. Here is pressing into new rhythms and routines and as always, celebrating home.