If you want to stay at home with your kids without completely giving up income then and opportunity to work from home sounds like THE dream, right? It is, I love it. But I would be lying if I said everyday actually felt like a dream and that it’s easy, because it isn’t. BUT I still love it and have been figuring out some sweet tricks via trial and error over the last couple years.
My kids are now two and three and I want to share my list of absolute ESSENTIALS that help our days run smoothly and efficiently. For awhile I struggled to find that “perfect balance” and finally concluded that it doesn’t exist. So I settled for doing my best and have found that to be far more productive for our family.
Indestructible Kids’ Zone
This is my best piece of advice. Give the kids a space where they can play safely AND independently. Mine is still completely within view of my work space but I don’t have to jump in and prevent them from jumping off the table or playing on the stairs. We live in a small house and there are totally ways to make this work! Email me if you need inspiration! For more on baby proofing, go here!
I keep “busy boxes” that I purposely don’t leave out on a daily basis so it’s fresh and new and keeps them busy for a bit while I am working. For example, I have one box of bright colored blocks. That’s a lie, I have two boxes of bright colored blocks… distributed evenly…. because toddlers. I also have boxes with 2-3 Melissa and Doug puzzles and boxes of little cars and track they love to put together in different configurations.
*Tip: When my girls get new toys at Christmas, Birthdays, etc, I only leave out 1-2 new toys and put the rest away in a closet to save for later days! These are the toys I add to their busy boxes and it works SO WELL for us!
My girls tend to get REALLY creative with their gymnastics on our couch so that’s out of their zone while mommy is working. You can’t lifeguard while distracted! BUT we use floor cushions so they can still lay and play comfy! We got these absolutely adorable ones from Floor Bloom! For my girls, we have two leaves, a flower, and a rainbow and they go absolutely crazy over them. They totally pull their play area together! Everyone that comes over to play is drawn to them and sit on the floor! Even the adults!
Snacks and Mealtime
When it comes to eating habits, toddlers are pretty predictable. Until they’re not, anyway. So finding the “right snack” or lunch combo can be a really drawn out process and tedious. I don’t know about y’all, but snacks and meals are a STRUGGLE here. Like the whole ordeal ends up taking up so much more time than it needs to. BUT I found a fun little hack that has worked for over two weeks here (which by the way is a record with a 2 and 3 year old, thank you very much). My husband prepares our meals ahead of time into plastic containers, one set for me here, and one set for himself at the fire station and it works out AWESOME. I decided to give that a go with the girls and it’s going just wonderfully.
Lunchtime rolls around, I pull a container out of the fridge with an already prepared lunch. Completely takes the negotiation stage out of the equation (which I love). Plus, what kids don’t like their own special container? I do the same with snacks. I usually have 2-3 small containers prepared per kid that they can choose from when they ask for a snack. Such a simple task that only takes an extra 10-15 minutes in the morning while I make my coffee but makes a WORLD of difference during the day!
Limit Screen Time
I really make an effort to not have the TV playing in the background all day or not give in to handing over the tablet. But don’t get me wrong, I love this tool, it’s like my secret weapon I keep in my back pocket to use as needed. It is hard to resist the urge, but man does it work. Limiting screen time has many benefits to families, one being that it makes watching a favorite movie or show a special thing which is engaging (at least for a bit). And that is definitely helpful to work from home parents.
I actually used to be really bad about leaving the TV on all day just because that was my habit before kids for the background sound. When I turned it off, I started to watch the imaginative play kick it fully into gear and that was WAY better background noise!!! Currently I hear them “fighting” a dragon in their princess dresses. Get it girls.
I am always looking to improve our home routine, for those of you that also work from home and have smaller kids? How do YOU do it?? Let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org