As I am writing this, COVID-19 has a strong grasp on our nation. So many parents are now learning how to balance work and homeschooling at least 8 hours a day. As a work from home mom, I would love to tell you that I have this completely figured out. Yet, I am continuously adjusting to changes around me with three young children and a growing business. I have a unique perspective on this national shift as a photographer who has worked from home with my children since the very beginning. So I want to share tips for navigating the work from home balance while raising our children.
The hardest thing I have had to learn with myself, my work, and my children is grace. It sounds like such a simple idea, right? But I am here to tell you it is so, so tough to extend grace to ourselves when we feel pulled in so many directions.
I often find my mind drifting to my kids when I am working, and the opposite happens when I am playing on the floor with them! Grace can come in so many forms, but I know it is the most essential piece to balancing all of this well. I have had to extend grace to myself as I approached a deadline and the kids watched a movie so I wrap up my work. And I have had to extend grace to my work when my kids need me the most. My heartfelt plea to you is to find grace and stay in it as often as possible. Working from home is always tricky, but I feel like grace has given me the space to breathe.
I have had to decided what is most critical. Then I work in baby steps to accomplish those goals in smaller increments because my kiddos are home. At the end of the day, my children have to come first just as I am sure yours do, too. So deep breathe, friend, and all the grace you can give yourself!
One of the best gifts we can give our children and ourselves while balancing work is a routine. The routine does not have to be rigid, but I find that at least having an idea of how to approach our day helps immensely. Find a routine that works best for you then find ways to sneak in work hours. This looks different for every family, but I found a routine that gives me about 5-6 hours of work time. I wake up at 5 am each morning, and my two youngest take a nap every afternoon. Sometimes those work hours bleed into the evening, but I try to graciously realize this won’t always be like this. One of our kiddos is in school all day, so that helps immensely.
As great as a solid routine can be, I also have to find time to rest, play, and sleep! I know I cannot be all in on the important areas of work and home if I am stretched thin. Self care is so vital in helping this balance to work! When my work for the day is done, then I have to remind myself to switch hats into parenting and family mode. It is a hard balance, but it is so worth it!
3. Communication and Planning
I plan out my schedule every Sunday afternoon for the week ahead, and I try to include a meal plan so everyone knows what we are eating each night. Within our routine and planning as a family, I have to make sure to communicate my work demands for the week with Steve. He is my partner and takes on a big part of our balancing act. If I am not clearly communicating with him about the week’s plans and needs then we often aren’t able to work as well as we need to in both of our careers. For our sanity sake, we have found ways to check in daily.
Childcare has become a part of my working at home balance. A few days a week our preschooler attends childcare while I get in a few extra hours at home with work. If childcare is an option for you to help balance your job and children, then I highly recommend it! I felt guilty at first trying to balance both things side by side, and childcare has become a great reliable resource for me.
4. Celebrate the Little Wins
Some much of our work and home balance may feel like it goes unnoticed. So I have had to find ways to celebrate the little wins in anticipation of the bigger ones down the line. Writing this blog is a tiny win for me today as we navigate homeschooling during a pandemic. Sometimes those little wins will be hard won and other times they’ll come easily. But if your career balancing act is anything like mine, then you’ll end up finding joy in the smallest ways. Celebrate all your moments, friends! You are setting an incredible example to your children that they can chase their dreams, too!
5. Final Thoughts
I wanted to share a few resources that helped us balance working at home.
Pinterest for Meal Planning
FitOn: Free App for Exercises and Meditation
Cozi: Family Calendar App
I encourage your to continue to play around with your family’s unique schedule and needs to find a great balance for you!
If you’d like to contact me just click here! I would love to hear how you have found a way to balance your career and your family!
If you’d like to find more information about my work, then come visit me here!