As an introverted homebody, working from home is my ideal situation. I thrive in this environment. I’ve also been working from home for more than 10 years. I’ve established a solid routine that works for my family. Except now with the schools closed, my husband also working from home and California’s strict shelter-in-place order, my work-from-home routine has been turned upside down. I’ve had to rethink my entire day and find areas of my work that I can forgo while I’m also sharing my hours with my family. It’s a tricky juggle, but we’re making it work the best we can.
I’m always tentative about sharing schedules, mostly because everyone has completely different needs and priorities. Also, this is an extraordinarily difficult time that none of us have been through in our lifetime. I realize that many people don’t have the privilege from working from home, or creating their own schedule, or maybe they have more than one child, a baby, a child with special needs, etc. I think looking at people’s schedules should be considered inspiration, but not something you try to replicate entirely. The schedule below is just for you to see what is working for my particular situation. It will need to be tweaked to best fit your unique needs.
Another thing I’ve learned from years of being a work-from-home parent is that being flexible and gentle with yourself is critical. Whenever I get too rigid with my routine, it backfires. I get stressed at my family and resentful. No one needs that, especially at a time like this. Keep your schedule fluid and expect challenges. I know that some days I’m going to feel like I’m nailing it and others will feel daunting and chaotic. I may shed a few tears (and that’s OK).
I’ve learned from years of being a work-from-home parent that being flexible and gentle with yourself is critical. Whenever I get too rigid with my routine, it backfires. I get stressed at my family and resentful. No one needs that, especially at a time like this.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, think about what your biggest priorities are for work and for your family and then see what you can squeeze into your day. For my husband and me, physical activity is important to us, so we have scheduled opportunities for it. My husband is a teacher, but his schedule is pretty flexible right now. He has offered to work less than me, but we know that some days, I will have to allow for him to work more depending on what comes up. Another thing is that our kids may watch more TV or be allowed other things that we would normally restrict in order for us to accommodate this temporary lifestyle change.
Our COVID-19 Family Schedule
6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Kids: Free play and TV time + breakfast.
Parents: Both work
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Kids: Creative time (art, LEGOs, blocks, etc.) with dad.
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Kids: Outdoor play + activities with Dad, (10:45 a.m. MTTHF) optional Zoom class meetings for my 6-year-old.
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Kids: Try to put my 3-year-old down for a nap. Academic work for my 6-year-old followed by quiet time.
Mom: Assist 6-year-old with schoolwork while also doing some chores (or work depending).
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Kids: Free play + TV + snack time.
Parents: Both work out. For example, mom does an online workout in the garage while dad goes for a jog.
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Family outing together: ride bikes, take a long walk, etc.
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Kids: Clean up + bath time with mom.
Dad: Cooks dinner
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Family dinner + clean up.
6:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Family game activity (dance party, Heads Up!, Zingo, floor puzzles, etc.).
7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Bedtime routine as a family.
8 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Mom and Dad clean, read, watch TV, and then fall into bed in exhaustion.
I know there is a lot of back and forth out there right now on productivity, but for me, having a schedule (even if we don’t adhere to it perfectly) calms me down. I have a sense of control in a very uncertain time. With the quarantine rules now in effect into June, it may be beneficial to create a schedule. Ours has been edited a few times as I evaluate our new family rhythm. On the weekends, we have a totally different schedule so that it actually feels like a weekend.
Good luck and stay healthy!