As this very uncertain time continues, I’ve found myself having a harder time than ever creating balance between work and family time. It’s SO difficult for me to actually find a way to shut down work when my office is in literally in my bedroom. Creating separation from the kids during the day when they’re constantly trying to knock down the door to my home “office” is also nearly impossible. And on top of it all, the mom guilt I feel when I have to pick zoom over cuddles in order to stay productive really weighs on me. #Quarantineproblems with kids!. Sharing a few tips with you today that I’m trying my best to follow this year in order to help create a better sense of work life balance. It’s not easy and I’m definitely still a work in progress but hopefully this resonates with other parents who are in a similar boat.
How To Find Balance Working From Home (With Little Ones)
As we jumped into 2021, I remember feeling so refreshed. Over the holidays, I tried my best to keep screen time to a minimum in an effort to truly press “reset.” Throughout 2020, I’d spent at least 12 hours a day starring at a screen working away. With a one and three year old running around screaming for me constantly, I celebrated ACTUALLY making it through in one piece! I felt like supermom and spent the two holiday weeks out with the kids in the LA sun as much as possible. It felt SO liberating to spend more time in the “real” world.
But upon jumping back into ALL of the seemingly never-ending work zooms after the New Year, I immediately started to feel burnt out. I realized I was burning the candle at both ends and I needed to make some sort of change. I’m sure so many of you are feeling this way too! Whether you’re working from home with or without kids OR whether you’re a stay at home mom during a Pandemic who is ALWAYS with her kids, this season of time is tough on ALL of us!
So this month, I’ve decided that I need to add more balance to my day in order to maintain sanity. Sharing some photos of the girls and I enjoying some sunshine away from the home office today because they’re a good reminder that we ALL need to get out! Also sharing some small changes I’m consciously making daily in order to find more balance and I’m already starting to notice a difference:
1) Start Every Day With A Workout:
This is a non-negotiable for me and it’s something that instantly infuses more energy into my day. Working out before work helps me to clear my mind and work out any extra anxiety I may be feeling too. In case you missed it, I recently shared a post here with some at-home workout ideas. I personally love running, yoga and biking because they don’t require a gym.
Most days, in order to make my workouts happen, I end up taking either or both kids and even our dog, Winston. My hands are almost always full running and pushing a stroller but I feel like a rockstar because just getting out of the door was a win. It’s a confidence boost that’s incredibly helpful both mentally and physically.
Try setting an alarm 30 minutes to an hour early. Put your workout clothes on right away and do your thing. Don’t even give it a second thought. A workout a day is ALWAYS worth it and it will help you to find balance.
2) Carve Out A Lunch Break (And Breaks In General!):
I’m the WORST at following through on this tip but I’m including it because I know how important it is. My meetings always tend to run over, I blink and then I realize I haven’t gotten up the entire day (except to nurse Sadie!). By this point, my eye feels strained, my entire body feels stiff and I’m more exhausted than I should be.
This month, I’m working on carving even a small amount of time for lunch. I’ve made it a point to go cuddle my kids, make a salad, get up and walk around–do something (and eat!)! This helps me to have a more productive second half of the day and less fatigue.
3) “Go Home” And End Your Day On Time:
My husband can attest to the fact that I have an extremely tough time shutting down my computer at night. There are ALWAYS e-mails trickling in and I have trouble disconnecting until they’re ALL answered. I’m the opposite of a procrastinator for better or for worse. When it comes to finding better work life balance, finding a way to power down tends to be a BIG problem for me.
That said, after work especially, I KNOW my kids need me. They need me to cook them dinner, entertain them, cuddle them, do bath time and bedtime. Night time is precious to me–especially since I work so late and our time is fleeting. I know I need to enjoy every minute with the fam and not let the stresses of the day bleed into this time.
So this year, I’m making a conscious effort to close my computer at the end of the work day. When I was commuting to and from work, this was something we HAD to do. Now should not be any different. If I need to answer more emails AFTER the kids go to bed, that’s my time to sign back on. And even then, I’m trying my very best to keep this time short. I know I’ll be much more productive in the morning if I take a REAL break from the screen and give myself time to recharge.
4) Find Your New “Commute:”
One silver lining to working from home is not having a commute. LA traffic is stressful and exhausting and I don’t miss it for a second. That said, I DO miss having drive time to get inspired and listen to podcasts. I miss having this time set aside to call friends and family. I miss singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite songs on the freeway. Now my kids have to listen to me singing to Alexa at the top of my lungs and let me tell you, it’s definitely NOT the same thing. Also, I’m only allowed to sing songs from ‘Frozen’ according to Naiya so there’s that.
This year, I’ve starting to create a new “commute”–time to help me transition in and out of work. Before work, I always make a healthy post-workout smoothie while listening to my favorite podcast. I’m usually holding Sadie and entertaining her so it’s not exactly like a “commute” but it’s something! Still working on adding new things to my “commute” routine too but so far, so good. I love this transition time before I sit down and start going through emails.
5) Have Separate Areas Of Your Home For Work And Play:
I work at a desk in our bedroom upstairs while the kids have free rein of the house all day. While they LOVE breaking in multiple times a day and screaming for me as much as possible, staying put in one room is a life saver for me.
I love being able to get in the work zone upstairs and being able to go downstairs to hang with the fam at the end of the day. Having this physical separation helps my house to feel less claustrophobic. It’s the closest to being away at an office that I can manage during COVID and this ends up adding to my productivity and work life balance too. It’s a win win.
Photography: Azusa Takano