guide to work from home
Family,  Motherhood,  New Mom,  Self-care

Work from Home: A Survival guide to parents with kids

 

Working from home with kids and the COVID 19 Situation

The Covid 19 Pandemic has affected more than anyone could imagine. 

In recent months, many have started to work from home, juggling to prepare food on the table and at the same time looking after our restless children. 

The future is uncertain, and a person who has a job working from home today might get laid off tomorrow. The fear and insecurity during this time are immense.

Is this the end?

Hell no,

we are not going to lose to this crisis for we have overcome many pandemic and crises in the past. Humans are highly adaptable to changing trends and this is no different.

The only difference is that this pandemic will be a new disease we all shall keep in our purview and adapt to a new norm.

Yes, sorry to pop your bubble. Looking at the trajectory of this pandemic,  it is not going to go away, so we might as well prepare to fight for the long haul.

That means having to practice new healthy behaviors,  creating a sustainable system at home, and creating foundations for future financial securities even if you don’t have money issues for now.

If you have already got these things down, you are prepared for the long haul. If you have not, it is not too late to start.

Let’s get straight to it.

Important: I’ve placed my 20+ page FREE journal at the bottom of the post to help with our sanity in these troubling times. On top of taking care of the people around us, we need to remember to first take care of ourselves.

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This post contains affiliate links. It is sometimes embedded in the images or text. If you purchase anything from my affiliate links, I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I will only recommend products that I believe in and use myself. All opinions are unfiltered.

Tips to work from home 

Money

It is a sensitive topic, I know. And I am no expert in the financial industry. I am merely a full-time housewife who used to teach in an international school.  

But nonetheless, this topic is too stark not to address.

People are staying at home, spending only on essentials, the economy is slowing down. 

If you still have a job today working from home, that’s great. Many on the other hand, have been laid off or got a huge pay cut.

The next question here is, how long can your employer/company last before they have to start laying off people or do pay cuts too? 

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, it’s unlike me, but the reality of this pandemic is undeniable.

It is an unprecedented time, and a time that will never go back to normal or how it used to be.

And that means we should start thinking about ways to secure money independently. So we can continue to take care of ourselves and our family.

If you are already working on a side income, have some investment, that’s great and keep at it.

If you are not, it is never too late to start now. The idea here is to start looking into alternative sources of income while you still have a job. 

There are plenty of ways to start an alternative income online while you have a day job.

Alternative income

1. Start a website

Starting a website gives you control of what you want to create, and how you want to make money. From offering your services/expertise to affiliate programs, to ad placement on your site, to selling products or digital-products. The options are endless.

If you’re interested in starting a website, here are a few websites with a good step-by-step guide. I absolutely love the level of detail they explain the process.

2. Pinning on Pinterest

Did you know you can make money just by pinning on Pinterest? Neither do I, I just discovered it recently. And the good news is, you can also do it without a blog! However, you do need to be aware of the do’s and dont’s in Pinterest.

The links below are where I learned about making money on Pinterest.

3.More Income and Money Management Ideas

Gathering Dreams composed a very good post about passive income. I also love how she ranks each idea according to how much time it’ll take, how much money you need, what’s the level of risk, and what’s the level of income potential. Check out the link below for more info.

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is a blog that focuses on money-saving and money-making tips. She is also very successful in what she does. Check her out in the link below.

Creating a Balanced life

When working or staying at home all day all night, for weeks on end, it is very easy to forget about ourselves.

What I mean by this is that we will start taking advantage of our health, our physique, and our mental health.

And this will quickly impact our productivity, sanity, and perseverance.

Remember, fighting against COVID is a long haul. 

Keeping ourselves in healthy tip-top conditions, keeping us sane, calm, and happy is of utmost importance so we could persevere and fight the challenges of working at home with our kids.

How do we create a balanced life?

RELATED: To the mom who has lost herself in motherhood

4. Create a routine/ schedule

I know this is a very common tip recommended by many, and that is because it is essential to any successful business or household. 

Having a routine for a family removes misunderstanding, creates structure and order, and allows freedom all at once.

I cannot emphasize this enough because by clearly plastering the tasks or events on a family calendar, in a space accessible to all,  everyone can be on the same page about what is expected or needed to accomplish at a certain day and time.

To create a routine, you need 2 things

A daily schedule down to the hours that includes what time are kids expected to wake up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, class time, homework time, snack time, break times, tv times, game times, house chores, family time, or whatever you want to include in your family schedule.

A weekly calendar for the family. This includes activities that do not happen every day, like family movie night, board game night, mom and dad date night or celebrate father’s day.

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5. Add exercise to you and your kid’s routine

With all the gym, yoga memberships on hold, we have to find alternatives to keep ourselves motivated and active. And it is very easy to become sedentary now that we are working from home.

Luckily with apps and the internet, we have access to plenty of yoga and workout tutorials and walk-through. I love “5 Minute Yoga” for a yoga app, and “Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer” exercise app. Both apps offer short workouts that are suitable to do at home.

If you have a hard time following a workout schedule you set for yourself or your family, book a live workout/yoga session with a live instructor offered in your area. 

The yoga/healing center I frequent have recently gone online during these difficult times. 

Now their services are accessible to the world. They are neither a full yoga or a fitness studio.

Note the word here is healing. It is a studio that does yoga and at the same time guides the individual, creating a space and time for us to focus and re-center our minds.

If you need some guidance in helping you journey through your body mind and soul (live stream) you should check out their site, OhanaJo Online.

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6. Add a creative outlet to you and your kid’s routine

Having a creative outlet is a great way to keep the mind active and excited and break the monotony when we’re staying at home. 

It also opens our minds to possibilities as you look upon inspirations for your next project. 

Make sure to choose the creative outlet that lifts your spirit. An outlet that makes you feel good in these difficult times.

For the kids, this is a great way to engage your kids to do something different other than the computer screen.

Be it to watercolor, gardening, or making a video about how you handle your kids on a daily basis.

youtube is an obvious free resource to start with. 

If you want a more comprehensive approach, you may check out Skillshare or Udemy.

I don’t really have “how-to” tips on creativity because the topic is subject to the individual’s interest.

All I’m emphasizing here is the importance of not overlooking a creative outlet for you.

I recently pick up gardening and enjoy the thriving plants on my balcony. It took me two years to finally have lush flowering plants on my balcony.

My garden makes me smile when I wake up in the morning with a coffee in my hands.

What’s yours?

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7. Look into self-care routines

Have you been taking care of yourself?

I’m not talking about your day to day necessities where you brush your teeth or take a shower.

Like, have you actually listened to your body and address those needs?

Adding exercise and a creative outlet to our routine is one thing. But adding a segment of time just to practice self-care is another.

It is all about listening to your body and taking the necessary steps to center yourself before you tackle the day. This category is often overlooked when the going gets tough.

These are a few self-care routines I practice on alternate days.

    • I meditate. Meditating is probably something you hear all the time but does it work? If you have a hard time tuning into your feelings or turning your brain off then this is something you ought to try. If you are new to meditating, there are a few meditating apps that give voiceover guidance to meditation. I used Calm app/ website.
    • I take a walk in the morning or in the evenings. I love nature, the wind blowing in my face, and being surrounded by trees. Walking in parks and a shaded walkway alone makes me feel recharged and energized. What activities recharge you?
    • I’ve recently used Gunnar’s glasses to protect my eyes from eye strain and headaches. I’ve been facing the computer more since staying at home and the glasses help relieve my eyes and reduce headaches. I also highly recommend it for your kids, since they have been doing online classes during this stay at home period and they are probably experiencing screen fatigue by now.
    • I journal. Journaling is not so much about the writing. It is all about the time and space you spend for yourself. This activity requires you to stop for a moment and turn your attention inwards, to your thoughts and feelings. Something we don’t do very often when we are constantly on the go. I used to journal with pen and paper, then I realized I write faster when I type. So I transitioned to typing into google docs. If you don’t have time to sit and write or type, you can always record yourself via video or audio when you’re walking in the park or folding clothes (choose a mindless activity during this time).
    • I use essential oils to calm my nerves and to rejuvenate. There are many ways to use essential oil, my favorite is using essential oil diffusers. I love to use the Oasis Shower diffuser in the toilet. It turns my bathroom into a personal spa, especially when I shower. You may get 10 % off with my link.

RELATED: Self-care idea: How to actually thrive as a mom

Put your life in order

Now that the pandemic is spreading rampant in our cities, we are all holed up in our house. 

You now have to work from home, your children are now studying from home and your duties as a stay at home mom has tripled in a blink of an eye.

On top of keeping the household clean, you now have to prepare for 3 people in the house for both breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Get the house chores going and maybe breastfeed your baby. Our jobs as parents have become much harder than it already is.

Hence it is important to find a solution to figure out what’s working, what’s not working in the household, make a list of it, and brainstorm solutions permanently. 

This requires changing how you usually do things, prepare whatever you need beforehand, and scheduling when to do what.

Yes, we’re talking about systemizing the house. Some can be implemented immediately while some will take a little longer. 

Whatever it is, choose one that needs urgent addressing to get the load off your shoulders.

RELATED: How I gain back time, energy, and sanity as a new mom

Below are things that generally get in the way:

 

8. Grocery

Have a meal plan

This is by far the most crucial element during this stay at home period. This is because it is a necessity, but going out to get groceries increases our risks of COVID-19. 

Hence the solution here is to go out as little as possible. But it is hard to do so when we are feeding a family.

So in order to have enough food and not travel to the grocery too often is to plan your meals beforehand.

By planning your meals beforehand, you will be able to estimate how much ingredients you need.

How long do we plan for?

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Buy 1 week’s worth of cooking

I believe the sweet spot is 1 week’s worth of meal. So that means, we’ll only visit the grocery store 4 times a month

Once you buy the meat products, you may freeze them. The concern here is vegetables, vegetables don’t taste great after being frozen. Especially the leafy vegetables.

So keeping fresh vegetables has a time limit. Now you must be wondering, we should just buy french beans since they last pretty long in the fridge. 

That may be true, but I don’t think anyone can stomach french beans after the 6th meal.

So what do we do?

Get veggies with different shelf-life

We need to choose our vegetables wisely. The trick here is to buy a variety of vegetables that have a different shelf life. 

This way we have a  variety of vegetables to eat and still be able to enjoy the irons from the leafy green veggies. 

Here are my examples of vegetables for the week. Sweet potato leaf, zucchini, and squash,  lady’s finger. 

Remember that the leafy greens will expire first, so I will always consume my leafy greens first out of all my veggies.

You must be wondering, since this is a 1 week’s worth of ingredients why do I only have 3 types of vegetables?

This leads to my next tip.

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9. Cooking

Cook In bulk

Cook your meals in bulk. What this simply means is to cook for more than 1 meal per session.

Every cooking session is very time-consuming. (Especially to a new mom like me.) Because I realized the time spent cooking is not the whole story. 

I learned that cooking is a whole process that includes prepping ingredients before the cooking, and cleaning up the kitchen after the cooking. We just don’t have the time for this.

We need to learn to operate like a restaurant that can dish out delicious hot meals in 15 minutes. Well, maybe 30 minutes in our unprofessional case.

And how do we do that?

It is by cooking your meals in bulk and in advance. So instead of cooking every meal daily, try cooking once a day. 

That means estimating how much carbs, proteins, and fibers your family needs for lunch and dinner, and go ahead and cook all that in the morning.

Then once you mastered bulk cooking for 1 day. Try bulk cooking for 2 days. That means estimating how much carbs, proteins, and fibers your family needs for 2 lunches and 2 dinners.

Once you get this going, you essentially only need to cook about 3.5 times a week. That cuts down a quarter of what you used to do!

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Freeze your food

And how do we make sure the food is safe to eat for so many meals? Why the freezer of course! Just make sure to store your raw meat and cooked food separately.

Cooked vegetables can store better when frozen. However, I still find frozen cooked leafy greens to taste bleh. I love eating my veggies fresh. 

So I generally don’t freeze my cooked leafy greens. And will cook my vegetables a little more frequently than I do meat. 

Stagger your cooking

This is not as bad because now I stagger my cooking and no need to prepare so many dishes at one go.

With these tips, you can choose how you like to stagger your cooking. If your family needs change, you can bulk cook 3 times. Once on Monday, once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday.

Freeze the extra meals on each day, and dish them out again on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

My husband is okay with eating the same thing for 2 days. So I cook every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Wait, what happens to Sunday? Well, that is my break day or your cheat day. This is where we order in from time to time or my husband chooses to cook for once.

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10. Creating your own spaces

Now that we are all huddled under one roof, each having our own agenda, it can get overwhelming and easily cause frustration among family members. 

For example, you are in the middle of an important call or a conference, your children need to listen to his audio so he could listen to his teacher on the computer, or the wife is clanking away in the kitchen preparing lunch for the family.

Based on the scenario above, if you do not have a dedicated space to work for each family member. I can see frustrations brewing.

If you have the luxury of many rooms, tables, and chairs, it is easy to quickly set up a designated space for your work, and your children’s study area.

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But what if we have limited space in our apartment or condo?

Then we need to compromise in managing our spaces.

The most common area everyone has space will be the dining table. 

It is usually the largest table in the house that can accommodate all members of the family. And it is usually empty, usually.

So each person may occupy one space on the table.

One of the biggest challenges here is sound. It is practically impossible to concentrate on work if your child is listening to the teacher. 

Or you would like to have your productive music in the background

Or you need to be on a conference call and absolutely need  to have your volume turned on

So what can we do about sound?

This is where it is the best time to look into getting your child and you a pair of good headphones with a built-in microphone.

Then no matter the situation above, you will still be able to do all the above without disrupting the other.

My husband uses Razer headphones (he’s a gamer and loves its capability to distinguish sounds from left to right)

Note: you might want to look into kid-friendly ONANOFF headphones for your child who is 12 and below. They usually come with extra protection and fit children better.

With a schedule in place for your family, a 1 week’s meal plan in hand, 3 days worth of cooked frozen meals in the fridge, your family’s basic needs are pretty much ready and in order. 

You should have some pockets of free time to do other things.

11. Declutter

If you have extra time and would like to bring your productivity to the next level, you may consider decluttering the house.

Why declutter? If you have had spring clean in the past, you probably know how good it feels when your room or your house is free from things you did not need.

What you’re feeling is a sense of freshness and lightness about your surroundings. If you pay attention to your moods carefully, you also feel uplifted and free-er.

Somehow, keeping things we don’t need became a constant reminder of who we were, what we did not complete, or a constant pending activity looming over our head.

Decluttering and removing things out of our lives has a magical way of motivating our bodies and feeling optimistic about the future. 

It opens our hearts now that the space around us is clear, filled with things only we love, and enjoy rather than sad reminders of what we did not do.

The happier and lighter we feel, the more motivated we are at getting things done and living a happier life.

I recommend using the KonMari Method. I practice the KonMari Method and love it! Her method allows me to create the house I always dreamed of. And in the process, I grew from confronting my fears and weaknesses.

But of course, life is far from perfect and there is much work to be done. But I’m much closer to the life I want to create for myself.

You may check out her youtube or her Udemy course. She also has a series on Netflix if you want to see people’s transformations.

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12. Books

Here, I recommend books that will help with this stay at home period.

Parenting

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

The book title says it all. This book offers many strategies that will encourage your kid to offer more information and listen to your instructions more willingly. It does away the old school nagging and encourages good communication between the parent and child. Applicable to young children.

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish

Similar to the book above, this book covers strategies that are applicable to teenagers.

Whale Done!

Whale Done By Ken Blanchard

Whale Done is a method that focuses on catching people doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing. This method brings out the best and the good in people. It requires a shift in mindset. It’s incredibly powerful once you get it right. The concept can be applied at home and at work to both teenagers and adults.

Whale Done Parenting by Ken Blanchard

Similar to the book above, this book uses the Whale Done method on toddlers who are going through stages like potty training, pet handling, bedtime routines, mealtime, etc.

The New Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson

An understanding of discipline and why we need to do it.  It is not about canning or punishments. This book focuses on discipline. It showcases the distinction between discipline and punishment. And how discipline is way more thought out and far more effective than random punishments. This book is applicable to young kids and teenagers.

Declutter

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

A decluttering book that works magically not just to your house but also your personal growth. The only decluttering book you need.

Productivity

Deep Work

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Sometimes we work a lot but find that we get little done. That’s because of bad practices like getting easily distracted and never getting down to true productive work. This book covers the science behind why deep work is more important than shallow work, and how to do it.

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

A book about using the power of habits to get routines down and do the things to realize the ideal self that you’ve never gotten around to simply because you can’t find the willpower to do so. By utilizing habits, becoming your ideal self should be as easy as a habit.

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen R. Covey

This book is a timeless classic that lays out some key habits on how anyone can be more effective. It covers not only personal development but also provides a guide on how we should interact with others to achieve the best outcomes.

Business

Show Your Work!

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

An easy read on finding the value in what we do on a daily basis or what we know and sharing it with the world. 10 simple yet insightful tips that will shift your mindset on showing the world what we’re good at. Applicable in the social media and online space.

The Personal MBA

Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

Don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars on an MBA. Instead, you can read this book that covers all manner of business subjects in a very concise manner. It then also provides a further reading list if you want to dive deeper. The book is a great intro to anyone who wants to understand the technicalities of business.

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

A bible for any startup. Don’t pour in tonnes of cash into an idea that dies the moment it hits the market. This book teaches you how to create a successful business in a way that requires minimal capital and ensures you create a product or service that people actually want.

Money Management

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

An understanding of how the rich and poor mindset works and making a shift in our own belief system about money. This book also shows how the rich focus on assets rather than liabilities. And how we can make money by making a simple adjustment in our spending focus.

Wealth management

Your Life, Your Legacy: Wealth Dynamics by Roger Hamilton

A book that identifies 8 quadrants of natural wealth creators and how each makes money differently from focusing on their strength on what they do well. This book shows how individuals can identify their strengths and tap into their natural strengths to create wealth.

Note: The link and image leads tho the CD, I could not locate the book from amazon nor book depository.

Now I understand with the kids running around the house, there are chores to get done, and you work from home at the same time, it is impossible to sit down and read a book anymore.

If you do not have the time to read, here is my next tip about productivity.

13. Get smart about your reading

My solution, and here is

Audiobooks.

Okay, okay this is nothing new. But my recent usage of this has made me achieve so much in my reading (er listening)! 

To make the most out of the little time we have is to identify moments when your ears are free to receive knowledge.

Moments like when you’re commuting, doing house chores, having lunch on your own.

If you scrutinize those moments and utilize it with audiobooks, you will cover plenty of books in no time!

For me, I listen to educational books while I’m cooking or folding clothes, without compromising my free time to read my fictional book. This is a win-win!

I also highly recommend investing in a bluetooth or wireless speaker for louder sound volume or earbuds for mobility.  This makes your audiobook experience way better.

My husband does a nightly clean up. It usually takes about 30 minutes, and so right before he begins his cleaning routine, he puts on his earbuds, plays the audiobook, and slides the phone into his pocket. 

Now he is listening to a book, and cleaning up at the same time. Efficiency to the max!

And what’s better than Audible? Honestly, I don’t know if there is a worthy competitor in this industry. My husband and I paid for a subscription, and we both use the same account.

Every month we will get 1 credit and we can purchase whatever audiobook we want. My husband and I will take turns choosing a book each month. 


Grab your Audible Free Trial

14. Running even shorter on time?

RELATED: How I gain back time, energy, and sanity as a new mom

I get it. Since we’re staying at home and no longer commuting and eating lunch alone, it is hard to find time to listen to an 8-hour audiobook.

However,  I’ve got you covered for I recently discovered another website that shortens our ‘reading’ time even further. (I wonder how far people can push this)

Introducing Instaread or Blinkist.

Instared or Blinkist are two separate websites. They are competitors. Both of these websites deliver summarized key takeaways for non-fiction books! 

What’s more, most takeaways are only 10-15 minutes long. You can choose between text or audio for any book’s key takeaways.

I love their services because, with this, you can accomplish so much!

Listening to reviews of a book is one thing, listening to a summarized key takeaway is another! 

Reviews are personal opinions on how it helps that particular reader and what they think.

A summarized key takeaway on the other hand is a shortened condensed content of the book without the opinion. With this information, you can directly decide if you need it. 

After listening to a book from Instaread or Blinkist, you can decide what book is worthy of your scrutiny.

For book geeks out there, it helps us decide which book is worthy of our personal library or collection.

And it obviously saves time. Now you no longer have an excuse for not having time to listen to any book!

The downside here is that you may not find the book you’re looking for. Each website covers slightly different topics. 

I suggest signing up for their free trial and search for titles you really really need first before subscribing to their website.

If you have money to spare then keep both memberships!


Go to Instaread


Go to Blinkist

*Note: if you rely on your phone a lot, Blinkist has an app version while Instaread does not.

15. Money-Saving Tips

Free trials are awesome! However, the reality remains, that free trials are temporary.

The bummer here is once the free trial is over, we will need to cancel the oh-so-sweet services or pay for the full subscription fee.

That’s the bitter part for me anyway.

But, but, but…

Doing all this blogging made me more resourceful in finding good offers

And so I stumbled upon this website,

it is…

knoji.com.

“Knoji is a comprehensive, real-time database of trustworthy consumer reviews, coupons, promo codes, and more.”

The coupon and promo code is my favorite part about this website!

and what’s more, it’s totally free. Seriously. 

So my next advice?

Right after you decide which service you’d like to try out or subscribe to, head on over to knoji.com

and check out promo or coupon codes related to the services you are interested in. 

I shall use Audible as an example because they are offering a great coupon code right now! (May 2020)

Step 1: Sign up for an account and type your brand of interest in the search bar. I’m typing audible.

stay at home

Step 2: Under Audible.com Review, select “Active Promo Codes” 

STAY AT HOME

Step 3: A bunch of legit promo and coupon codes will appear. Copy and use the coupon immediately! 

STAY AT HOME

With these resources in your hands,

The world is now your oyster.

Important: Before you go, don’t forget to collect your FREE 20+ page journal I’ve prepared for you to keep your sanity in check in these troubling times.

free prompt journal

 

 

Over to you

And we have come to the end. (Phew, finally)

I wish you all the best in your journey of working from home and managing the household and your kids during this tough time. (Pat on the back on keeping the household together.)

What are the things you have been implementing that work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

And if this post has helped you learn something new, don’t be a stranger and tell us what you think.

Also, I’m trying something new by adding buttons in the post. Let me know if it helps get your attention to useful information or if it annoys you.

Warm hugs. Stay home, stay safe.

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These are my tips on working from home with kids and the COVID 19 Situation

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