Even as a work from home, home-educating family life couldn’t feel more different now from our normal routine – whilst we do have some chilled days at home in our usual weeks, our weeks are usually filled with clubs, gym, activities, classes, trips out for work / working with colleagues and time with friends – for the kids and for us, so everything just stopping has left us feeling just as shell shocked and out of sorts as every else seems to be feeling right now!
We have however got some experience in juggling work from home / home schooling life and being together lots, since we have juggled our IT work and online retailing business for the past 10+ years going from 1 to 4 kids with us at home, so I thought I’d share some tips we’ve gathered from over the years and things that help us all stay sane whilst being at home together a lot – it may not be for you at all, but its the stuff we’ve found really helps us 🙂 I’ll do another post on stuff we are doing with the kids, but this is more aimed at how as adults we can keep our sanity, get our needs met, stay productive and stay mentally and physically healthy in this home-bound scenario so many of us have found ourselves in:
Rhythm – I prefer thinking of rhythms instead of routines, just because it feels more fluid and less rigid but still having some guidance and predictability in your day for us and the kids I find so helpful – particularly while life feels so out of sorts generally, keeping up some routine things like day you food shop, meetings at certain times, still having lunch at the same time can feel really grounding and helpful. For us, we all do exercise early first thing in the morning, then get our morning work done and get some time outside, and after lunch we tend to do some indoor learning / activities. If there is a bit of a late afternoon slump where everyone is feeling tired the kids will play games etc on the laptop and we can get stuff done while the baby naps -leaning in to our kids /family’s rhythms and how we can fit around that. We try and switch up tasks often, like spending a bit of time on farm tasks each day, spending quality time with the kids after a period of working etc as we find spending too long on one tasks leaves us unproductive or lagging behind in something else / left with bored kiddos. It all depends on the nature of your work / the age of your kids – but finding a rhythm that suits your family can really help build a feeling of security and stability. Work out what you need to get done and is a priority for you, and don’t sweat the days where it all goes out of the window / feels like total chaos.
Stacking / Matching Tasks – If Gaz needs to go on a important call, I’ll get the kids doing a quiet art activity. If I have to be on my computer for a long period, we’ll make sure we get some good outside time the rest of the day, matching tasks to make sure everyone’s needs get met as far as possible. Stack tasks by washing up while listening to your fave podcast, listen to an audio book while doing mundane work tasks, catch up with a friend while folding laundry, this week while we get some work done I am going to try and set up the kids on Skype calls with friends. Try and co-ordinate tasks that can go together, it helps to make things run smoother or to make less fun jobs more enjoyable.
Making sure we both get some alone time – not easy when you are all at home together but so crucial for not going mad, in our experience. We can tag team while both of us are at home, but if a partner is working, plan an hour of the time they are home in the evening or weekend so you get a break totally alone to do something for you. As a single parent this is trickier, but setting aside some time in the day where your kid has screen- time and taking that time for you, or planning something nice for the after they fall sleep, might be helpful?
Keeping a sanctuary – when you are all home a lot the house so quickly gets trashed, and some level of order is key to me not feeling totally overwhelmed and grumpy, but I simultaneously don’t want to constantly clean or nag my kids for simply living in our house 😂 – so we compromise by keeping our bedroom tidy. If I want to escape for 10 minutes with a cup of tea and book, to take a work call, or when I go to bed a night, I have a place of calm and order.
Exercising – Just one of the most important factors I’ve found in keeping my mental health in check. We have paid for Les Mills on Demand to keep up our gym classes, but there are so many free workouts on YouTube too depending on how you enjoy exercising. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is also amazing, there are videos as short as 5 minutes so even on the craziest days we can fit a little bit of movement in. Think we may start running too if we need to get out of the house for a little bit 😂
Outdoors time – Making sure we get outside every day, for a short walk or some gardening is so beneficial to our mental health.
Eating well – how easy it is particular in times of stress to eat lots of food that leaves us feeling crappy. We are trying as much as possible to nourish our bodies with good food (sometimes that’s lots of greens and sometimes that’s a big chocolate cake, but balanced eating – not full on months of Christmas style indulgence / indefinitely living on crisps as I could so easily do when I’m stressed😂), particularly important at a time where we want to keep our immune systems strong. I’m trying to keep our routine of making lunchboxes with breakfast so the kids have the meal / snacks prepped and I’m not in the kitchen / clearing up all day. Meal planning with simple, healthy meals helps us stay organised and know what we are having / might need to pop in the oven / defrost on a certain day etc.
Sleeping enough – In addition to that getting enough sleep is super important – the book i’m reading at the moment Why We Sleep (by Professor Matthew Walker) catalogues the huge effect lack of sleep has on our bodies and minds – again with a special mention to how much it helps our immune systems – at a time when it’s much needed. The book recommends we should all get at least 8 hours, and go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day. Our kids are up around 6am, so we really have to work at not staying up too late in a tired, numbing on screens daze and feeling awful and grumpy the next day!
Have something to look forward to – Even in a week at home, having something simple to look forward to is easily achievable. Whether it’s a Sunday lie in / chill day, Friday movie night, a meal you are really looking forward to cooking, a bike ride in your lunch hour, a live streamed fitness class, or just half an hour a day where you can curl up with a cup of tea and your book – pepper your week with things that will fill you up!
Practicing gratitude – In times when life is a bit scary I find this more important than ever. Whether you write it down on facebook, Instagram, a journal or just think about it each night in bed, finding gratitude for a few things that day helps me focus on all that is still so good.
Limiting social media / news reading time – particularly at times like the present where the news is all consuming, it can be so easy to lose hours to scrolling, so setting a limit on the time you spend online reading and on social media can really help you stay present and productive. Even with positive news – like all the wonderful resources folks are sharing at now, it can feel overwhelming to take so much in. I am trying at the moment to only read the new once a day to stay up to date, and to just check in on social media in small 5 min bursts (usually as I’m feeding the baby).
Cut yourself some slack – getting shit done at home during the pandemic, especially with the kids around is not easy, and if you have to rely on Peppa Pig / Xbox to babysit while you concentrate / answer calls and let any of your usually routines and standards slip don’t sweat it – it’s temporary and we are all treading an unfamiliar path! Practice radical compassion for yourselves, know some days will feel OK and some will be awful, and know we are all in the same boat ❤️
Loads of love x