PHOTOGRAPHY // Erica J. Simmons
Coming up with a work from home schedule with little kids has been a challenge. I pride myself on being organized and disciplined as a mom, but it’s certainly easier said than done. I’ve been working from home since 2015, but these last few weeks because of social distancing have been on another level. Working from home is one thing. Working from home with kids is another.
The truth is, I’ve tried out a couple of schedules these last four weeks. Some things have worked. Some things haven’t. You see, when you have small kids home ALL day having a strict schedule is tough. And for me and my husband’s personality, it’s unrealistic. What I’ve realized that’s worked best for us is time blocking. Instead of trying to achieve things at an exact time every single day, creating time windows or blocks of time while doing things within boundaries works much better for us.
Some days we miss the mark because we’re human, but going through this time is unprecedented, so we give ourselves grace.
Here’s my work from home mom schedule Monday thru Friday.
First, I breakdown the day into 8 time blocks:
wake up before kids
Miracle Morning (pray, read, stretch, silence)
morning skincare routine
The AM Prep time block is really crucial to the tone of our day. It’s also the most difficult time block to honor because it starts so early. Because Chris works 8 hours everyday for his job, we’ve realized that him working in two 4-hour shifts is best for our everyday life. It allows me to get 3-5 hours of work everyday while he spends time with the kids and helps with homeschool work. I am much nicer to everyone if I get a couple of hours alone (or at least 15 minutes) to drink my coffee, read and have some silence before jumping into wife and mom mode. There are some days that the kids get up earlier than usual, in which case I adjust accordingly. But this time block is designed to allow Chris and myself to mentally and emotionally prep for the day.
The kids wake up
Morning walk (pending weather)
Get the kids dressed
Baby feeding #1
Baby nap #1
In AM 1, the kids start their day. Their morning routine includes speaking to everyone in the family, brushing their teeth, washing their face, changing their clothes and making up their bed. Then we move on to breakfast – I notice that the sooner I feed them, the better everyone’s mood is. Everyday is different because life with kids is sometimes spontaneous, but the goal is to have breakfast before 9a. During breakfast, I nurse Christian and get him ready for his first nap of the day at 8:30. Because Maizah is now homeschooled, we try to get breakfast done and get school started around 9:30a-10a. When we do this, the pace of our day is pretty steady.
If we get breakfast in early enough, me and the girls take a nice walk while Christian naps and Chris wraps up work.
Maizah & Hubs homeschool
Defrost dinner (if applicable)
Independent play and screen time for Caliana
Maizah & Caliana snack
Baby feeding #2
Baby nap #2
A huge shoutout to Hubs because he is way better at homeschooling than I am and he goes from his 9-5 work to helping Maizah with her school work. This is when I start to get my work done. While 9a is the goal, depending on how Caliana or Christian are feeling, I don’t get away until about 9:30a-10a. I shower, get dressed and do hair and makeup if I’m shooting or filming content that day.
Caliana gets screen time that way there’s not too much fuss while Maizah is being homeschooled and Christian naps for 1-2 hours. Then he gets his second feeding up the day and some tummy time. I’ll interject if I need to give Hubs a hand, but he’s great at keeping everyone happy.
Baby feeding #3
This is when the shift in our day starts to happen. If we had a good morning, the tone is set. If we didn’t this is our last chance to get back on a good foot. If you don’t do it here, the rest of the day is in shambles in my opinion. Chris makes lunch and Maizah gets a break from her school work for some screen time. After lunch, Caliana naps (it has to happen before 2p to have a fighting chance at life) and Christian wakes from his second nap. If I’m still working, Chris gives him a bottle while I wrap things up.
Baby nap #3
Maizah and Caliana snack
Outside or indoor activity time
During the PM 2 time block, I eat lunch if I didn’t join the family in the previous time block. Maizah wraps up the last 30-60 minutes of schoolwork. Christian goes down for his last full nap of the day and I wake Caliana up from her nap. Depending on when she falls asleep, I try to give her at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for a nap. The goal is to have her up by 4p, so she doesn’t completely fight her 8p bedtime. The girls get their last snack before dinner. During this time block, I take the girls outside in our driveway to play or if it’s raining, we do an indoor activity like painting or some type of arts & crafts activity. Afterwards, they can have some TV time while me or their dad get started with dinner.
Family quality time
Bath time for kids
Bedtime for kids
Baby feeding #4 and #5
Baby cat nap
The ideal time for our household to have dinner is between 5:30p-6p. Most days, it’s at 6:30p. What I’m learning is that the girls need to digest their food before getting in the bath to have a successful transition to bedtime. Chris and I go half and half on dinner prep during the week. If he has to finish something up for work, I prepare or vice versa. When we eat dinner, no screens are allowed at the table and then we catch up with each other during dinner.
Then we have family quality time which usually turns into a family talent show or dance party. We all take turns telling Google Home which song to play and end up having a good time. We listen to music during each meal in our house. It’s just the culture here at the James house. Maizah’s music taste is so great because of it. She requests songs from Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and the Jackson 5 because of all the songs Hubs introduces her to during dinner time.
Christian typically is awake during dinner and then falls asleep for 15-30 minutes before bathtime. We bathe all of the kids – Hubs and I alternate bath shifts; he’ll bathe the baby while I bathe the girls on some days and then vice versa on others. Then he puts the girls down and I nurse Christian to sleep.
Tidy up & fold a load of laundry
Set goals for following day
Husband and wife quality time
Nighttime skincare routine
In an ideal world, the kids fall asleep exactly at 8p every single night and we have a peaceful night. Typically, it takes Caliana anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to fall asleep and Chris hangs out in the room with them until they do. I nurse Christian after his bath and it takes him about 30 minutes to fall asleep as well. So, Hubs and I are not in the clear for real until about 8:30p-9p.
Making sure the kitchen and family room are clean and in order for the next day is my only cleaning obligation. When those rooms are in chaos in the am, it’s hard to keep my head above water. At the bare minimum, I get those rooms together for the next day.
We try our best to spend quality time together 3-4 nights out of the week and watch TV together or sometimes just talk. We then agree on our main goal as a family for tomorrow and then do our nighttime self care routine together (skincare, brush teeth, read, etc).
Chris is a night owl, so sometimes he’ll wind down watching some more TV, while I run to bed.
I try my best to be in bed by 10p-10:30p. It usually ends up being between 11p-11:30p (and I pay for it in the morning). I get up once or twice at night to feed Christian and then it’s back at it in the morning kicking off the AM PREP time block.
And that’s my work from home schedule with kids. It’s a work in progress, but this current schedule has been working best for my family. Hope it helps!