Productivity Tips for Work-At-Home Parents

For the past few months, I haven’t seemed to be able to find a topic to compel me to sit down and blog about. It’s not that nothing is happening, and more like I feel stuck in the same rut. I blame these ‘groundhog days’ we are living. You know, where every day blends into the next and you just can’t tell them apart unless you look back at your photos and check the date stamp.

So, today I decided to check pinterest for some ideas. It’s true, you can find nearly anything on that site!

One of the first suggestions was a page with 31 ideas to write about in December. It ranged from favourite December vacation destinations (my couch? the kitchen? what do you want here?) to fashion and make-up … and I am an expert in neither of those last two things.

I kept looking until finally I found some parenting blog suggestions.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

OK, I thought, I can do this. I am not exactly an expert, but I feel as though I at least have some idea of what being a parent to small children is like. Initially, I thought the suggestions would be “favourite moments you’ve spent with your children” or “how to serve mac&cheese in 5 new ways!”… you know, relatable topics for anyone reading. To my surprise, the topic suggestions were more like “How to get your baby to sleep through the night” and “Healthy Eating for Toddlers”.

Now, I might have 3 boys under the age of 6, but I can assure you that I know nothing about those topic suggestions. My 3-year-old finds his way into our bed about 1,700 times a night, pushing me over so he can cuddle. I obligingly move over, knowing that it’s highly unlikely he’ll be doing that when he’s 13, all while my husband sleepily tells the 3-year-old to go back to bed. My husband doesn’t want me to move closer – he claims I emit furnace-like heat and he doesn’t want that anywhere near him as he sleeps. And health meals for toddlers? Try as I might to feed my kids healthy meals, if I’m being honest, I’m throwing goldfish crackers and nature valley fig bars at them hoping they will stay quiet while I’m on my 13th video call of the day.

Oops. I just gave away my productivity secret for work-at-home parents.

Here’s the thing… For any parent who is trying to work at home with small children underfoot, a productive day is one where there was minimal crying (from the child or parent), most work-related tasks were completed, and the children are still alive and fed.

It’s tough working from home right now. It’s not like before when working from home meant you could walk the dog on your lunch break or get a load or two of laundry done between spreadsheet creation. Now, it’s all about survival.

The other week, I was with my youngest 2 children almost exclusively by myself from pre-dawn wake-ups to bedtime routines. There was an exception – an 8-hour break spread over 2 days. And when I say break, I mean someone else was responsible for my children. I was still working my full-time job, trying to stay on top of the files and expectations.

Alistair marches a suitcase across the couch – why?
Your guess is as good as mine…

When I was alone with the children, I would be at my dining room table trying to work as the kids played in the next room with the TV on. I remember being on a videoconference and glancing over just in time to see the 1.5-year-old lugging a suitcase in front of him as he walked across the couch. Naturally, I took a photo so I would always be able to remember that moment.

As I participated in video calls, I was simultaneously fielding questions and demands from the kids. Demands that ranged from Je ne veux pas CA! (“I don’t want to watch THIS tv show”) to MAMAN! DU LAIT STP – J’AI TELLEMENT SOIF (“MOM!? MAMA!!??? Milk! Please! I’m so thirsty!”). During all of this, I did my best to stay composed. I would briefly turn off the camera to oblige, hoping they’d stay quiet for just 10 more minutes. Well… Sometimes I would turn off the camera. Other times I would be too frazzled to remember.

For any parent, mom or dad, trying to work from home while their littles are underfoot, I want you to know that you are doing a great job. It’s OK if the house isn’t vacuumed or the kids are having frozen peas and hot dogs for lunch (again). I mean, first of all, who is coming over to visit? And second, can they vacuum on arrival?

If there was ever a time to give ourselves grace, this is it. And, if there was ever a time to reach out to someone and say ‘hey, you’re doing great’ – today’s the day.

So if your child is walking on the couch with a suitcase, eating goldfish and watching Daniel the Tiger for the 88th time that day, know you aren’t alone. You’ve got this! And while this might not be the parenting tip you came for, it might be the one you need.

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