Coronavirus fears are everywhere. Life feels upside down and crazy right now. Many families are confined to their houses.
How can you survive and thrive while working at home with children?
Five Tips to Survive Work From Home with Children
1. Follow a consistent schedule
Our body works best on a schedule of food or sleep happening at similar times each day. Without the demands of a scheduled work/school day, it is easy to become relaxed about meals or sleep times. But everyone’s mental and physical health is better when it stays on a schedule. Maintain a regular morning wake time and breakfast. Don’t give in to the go-to bed late and wake-up-whenever desire. (Most babies and toddlers will not let you do that anyway.)
Even if you are going to be stuck in the house all day, get dressed in daytime clothes. It helps everyone separate daytime and nighttime.
For babies and toddlers, follow the regular nap routine. Maintain a consistent bedtime each night. When your child goes to bed at the same time each night, their body anticipates sleep which makes bedtime a much easier process. It sounds tempting to relax bedtime and let your child stay up later. But, usually, children will still wake at the same time in the morning. It just means they will receive less sleep.
It is easier to schedule your work hours if your child has a consistent schedule. Naptime is a good time to schedule those work calls and/or meetings. Your child’s consistent bedtimes provides more uninterrupted work hours for you.
2. Go outdoors
Our body functions on a circadian rhythm of almost 24 hours. It is important for everyone to have at least twenty minutes of outdoor light every day to help reset our body clock. Time outside improves the mood of a cranky baby, energetic toddler or overwhelmed parent. This is a great opportunity for a walk around the block or enjoying your yard or deck. The sights and sounds of the outdoors are entertaining for babies. The outdoors provides many things for toddlers to explore or get out their energy with running and jumping.
3. Early bedtime
Children’s bodies are programmed to receive the best sleep in the early portion of the night. That is biological and we cannot change it. If a small child has a late bedtime, such as 9 PM, that child will miss the deeper and longer sleep cycles which would have happened in the earlier part of the evening. Missing that restorative early evening sleep leads to an overtired child regardless of the length of the night’s sleep. Children require an early bedtime. An added benefit of that early bedtime for children is a relaxing evening for parents to enjoy. That is good for everyone!
The bedtime for babies after 4 months is between 5 PM and 7 PM. Toddler’s bedtime is between 7 and 7:30 pm.
4. Enjoy your child
Yes, it can be challenging to try and juggle working from home and caring for your child at the same time. Keep in mind that this is also an opportunity to have more time with your child, especially if you normally have a long workday plus commute time. Play games or with toys with your toddler. Laugh and be silly with your child. Get in those extra snuggles and cuddles.
5. If you are feeling overwhelmed
Parenting is normally challenging and stressful. During unusual circumstances, it can be even more challenging and stressful. Children and parents can get grumpy and annoyed with each other. We all have a breaking point. It is OK to ask for help from the other parent, another family member, friend, neighbor or a community helpline. It is not a weakness to need help. You are a wise parent if you recognize you are at the end of your ability to cope and need help. Sometimes just talking to another adult can give you hope and the strength to keep going.
If you need help, I am here for a 15 or 30 minute Q&A to ask me anything or for a sleep consult. If you have been thinking about sleep training, this is a perfect time to work on it when you are home all the time. Healthy sleep improves the immune system and makes everyone feel better.