How to Survive Working at Home with a Kid

2:44:00 AM

Working at home is not that easy. Yes, you save a lot of money this way, but it's not as smooth sailing as you think, especially when you're a parent.

Working at home may save you from the stressful office environment but it places you smack in the middle of your child's endless demands.

Like with every challenging thing, the best you can do is survive:

Make Sure Your Child is Just as Busy as You
One of the mistakes I still make when I work at home is not ensuring that my son is busy too. I often get so engrossed with work without quickly realizing that my kid is bored out of his wits and is already climbing me, yes me. If you want to work undisturbed by a toddler, give him something to be busy with.

Here are a few ideas on how to make it work out for you both:

  • If he likes books, give him a big fat finding book and make him find that friggin' Wally if you have to.
  • Here's a few play ideas: Cloud Dough, Lego, Homemade Clay, Building Blocks, Painting/Coloring and Ice Sensory Play.
  • Don't mind the occasional cartoons, as long as it's as educational as it can get.
  • Set him up with some writing activities (if he's old enough)

I sometimes set Miggy on a chair beside mine to watch any one of his favorite movies; Cars, Despicable Me 2, Let it G-- i mean "Frozen", Lego Movie, Ponyo, Kung Fu Panda, Howl's Moving Castle, Monsters University, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. I also let him play Dumb Ways to Die.

Yes, I sometimes fear my son will grow up to become sweet and sinister at the same time.

Work Offline
Almost all my sources are online, and my brain itches when I can't connect to the internet with a deadline that's in 3 hours. Of course that's my fault. Poorly managed time and the lack of information will push you to a grave-- disappointment. A grave disappointment, okay? let's not kill each other over this.

It helps to take a break from the computer, or social media (yeah I know you've got a Facebook tab open there).

Think of it as un-wringing your brain from all those letters, screen light and countless disheartening global news.

  • Turn off your computer or laptop and tablet or phone.
  • Write down your drafts and/or ideas on paper.
  • Make a checklist for what you can work with online and offline.

The good side about this? You're not overly focused and your son can sense this so he won't be overly worried whether you've forgotten about him.

Do you want to know what you look like when you're working on the computer? A zombot. A zombie slash robot; with hypnotized eyes that that have dark bags underneath and an inanimate torso connected to freakishly fast-typing fingers. No wonder your kid keeps tugging at you, "You still alive in there? Anyone home?"

Befriend the Check List and To-Do List Method
It's not everybody's thang but it's a helpful in organizing tasks. Personally, as a work-at-home mom, tasks can feel endless and a checklist gets adjusted too many times. But it is still helpful in many ways.

If you want to avoid forgetting certain obligations write them down.

If it helps, get a small white board and prop it on your wall at your work area so you never miss a detail. A chalkboard would also be nice but there's the issue about dust and child's safety and so on, so.. yeah, white board it is.

I'm not ashamed to say that I often forget to give Miggy his vitamins. If it weren't for those checklists my son would probably miss his vitamins more than a few days and his nails would have grown into a teenager.

Designate Your Work Area
Sure, the kitchen table is nice and wide but it's not a permanent work area. You'll have to scoot over when it's time to eat and it's annoying to find rice stuck to your elbow while typing. 

A desktop would be the better option, but if you're like me who like to visit relatives every now and then, a specific work area should suffice. Miggy and I never really stay in one house for more than two days.

Sometimes we sleep over at my mother's house, and the next at my mother-in-law's. My work area keeps changing but I make it a point to have a "desk-like" work space since I tend to jot down notes or drink coffee and need somewhere to place snack on.

Make a Work-Home-Work Routine
I can't tell you to fix your schedule for working at home because it's honestly impossible to follow it when you don't know when your child will eat, shit or sleep. Unless your online job requires you to log in on a specific time, you better throw out the idea of "schedules". Instead, make a routine.

Establish when you are going to work but not what time. You'll need to make a habit of when to start working.

Is midnight your work-friendly hour? Or is early morning more your vibe? How about twice a day? You decide, and keep it.

Work the Graveyard Shift
As unappealing as this idea is, it's bound to happen sometime in your work-at-home career. There are days that your child needs to come first, errands will overpower the day and your brain is too fried to come up with high-quality content.

Take the opportunity of working noise-free and undisturbed in the middle of the night. If you're afraid of not having enough sleep, there's always naps to regain your energy. As long as you know when to rest you won't have to worry about pulling an all-nighter. 

Was I able to do this? Yes, but did I have the energy to do other things? Not really. Working all night til morning consumed my energy that I ended up more like a zombie. I was able to breastfeed, true, but I barely left the room and was not productive with cleaning or cooking.

I eventually adjusted my work routine and now rarely work til morning. When I do I don't work past 2 am, I now wake up at 8 am and able to do bits and pieces of work during the day. I  If I wanted to finish something early, I start early, leading to the next best way to survive working at home.

The Early Bird Is More Productive
The early bird catches the worm, that's what they say. In the case of working at home, you are more productive. I don't need to tell you how quiet it is at dawn and how child-free you are during these hours. At this time of the day all I ever need is fruits and bread for breakfast and a little bit of coffee to keep me warm.

Maximize your day by using the hours no one uses as much: dusk and dawn, the time when people go to sleep or are still fighting not to wake. It's quiet, it's cool and you get the chance to see the sun come up and bask in its light.

It is also a great time for meditation, if not reflection, prayers and just getting a breather. *Early morning sunlight is also good for your skin!

Be Flexible

Schedule, routine or what ever. You need to be as flexible as you can with time and work, your kid will occasionally come in like a Tazmanian Devil... and set everything back to zero. It's frustrating at times, but from another angle it's touching to know you're that important to him.

So be prepared to lose a few working hours or fall behind on certain emergencies (a tantrum, poop disaster or just your child asking for a hug). The best way to be flexible and to keep your cool is to not expect the day to turn out in order.

Hydrate and Eat Healthy Snacks!
For some reason, people who work at home tend to rely on coffee for extra energy and to ward off sleepiness. While it is effective, there are healthier alternatives like the underrated Apple.

No, not Steve Jobs' Apple, but that hard-as-a-rock fruit you can throw at people which is also responsible for the discovery of gravity, not to brag. It's a natural energy booster and you won't suffer from palpitations, should you eat more than one in a day.

While typing doesn't require you to use up saliva on talking, you'll still find yourself mildly dehydrated (it's summer now) especially if your online job is related with internal affairs, tutoring or some form of customer service. Drinking enough water will keep you cool, refreshed and less like a monster more like a beauty queen or Captain America if you're male.

Give and Get Plenty of Hugs
Working at home can be soooo challenging that you end up taking your frustrations out on the people around you; your husband and even your own kid.

It's not something to be proud of or happy about, but there is a way to prevent bad vibes and stress from getting to you: Hugs. It has been scientifically proven that a 10 second hug makes you feel better instantly. Not convinced? Read This, This and This. Yeah that's right I'm backing up my opinions with cold hard facts! Hehe :)

Sometimes, all we need is a time out from all the responsibilities and feel appreciated. So if you don't get enough hugs, give some yourself. There's a high chance that your kid, your partner, your parents or your friends will hug you back and believe me... it takes away much of the weight.

and you know... every now and then, remember to 


Because you and
your loved ones
deserve it.

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