I’m a Creative Director With 2 Kids Under 5: Here’s How I’m Handling #WFH

Allison Rouleau

It’s been 7 months now and the luxury of having a nanny, childcare, preschool, and helping hands is a distant memory. Am I missing the aforementioned luxuries? As a working professional with two little girls under the age of five, and a husband who is away a week at a time .. yes I am! BUT I’m here to tell you, it’s not all bad. In fact, a lot of it has been pretty special.

I have been working from home for over 5 years, but I’ve always had childcare, and our village of helpers. When we were thrown into ‘the new normal’ there was a learning curve.

Here are my 5 tips on working from home with kids. Not only how to cope and get your work done, but to excel and keep yourself and your kids happy. These are things I have found that work for myself and my young family. Hopefully they can inspire ideas for you and yours!

Tip #1: Start early & plan ahead

To get things done with little to no interruptions, I set my alarm an hour or two ahead of my little girls waking up. This allows me to get ready for the day, start working and set up activities for the kids. By the time they wake up, I’ve made progress on work and have things prepared for their day.

Tip #2: Give your kids responsibilities they can handle

One of my breakthroughs in the past few months, is that while I’m accustomed to working from home, my kids are not. They are missing their usual activities where they typically find a sense of achievement and pride. Giving my kids responsibilities has been beneficial for all of us.

For example, my eldest daughter can pick out clothes for her and her sister, she knows how to make her bed, loves organizing drawers,  and feeding our dogs. I give her a few chores everyday and allow her the independence to decide how she’ll do it. The added bonus is that her little sister follows along to help, and the two of them are busy together.

Immersing themselves in a few tasks or chores, makes them feel accomplished for helping out. While they are buzzing around deciding the best way to take care of their responsibilities, I have time to focus on mine.

Tip #3: Create a list to loosely schedule their day

I make a short list of To Do’s for my daughters everyday. Simple, achievable activities to give them structure. Throughout the day I will point them back to their list, in between playing, meals and naps. 

An example of this is: make your bed, get dressed, print your name, do a few pages in your pre-k workbook, draw a picture of our family, look at a story book with your sister, play in the yard, build a lego tower, and do a craft.

The goal in their day is to cross everything off of the list, which keeps them occupied and having fun, while I am able to focus on work. 

Tip #4: Utilize the tech you’re comfortable with and that’s age appropriate

Before covid, my husband and I were very strict when it came to tech and our children. We still are, but we have loosened our approach a little. I have found pre-school classes online, live storytimes, children’s yoga classes, zoo tours, and a ballet class. All of which have been hits! In my experience, saving tech activities for when I have work calls has been very helpful. The kids are engaged and learning, and I can focus on my call with no distractions. 

Tip #5: Ask for help 

Asking for help can mean a number of things, but let's start with asking for help from the people in your bubble. 

We have a very small bubble, which includes our best friends who happen to live next door. They have children the same age, and between our work schedules we manage to lend each other a hand with childcare. My parents are also included in our bubble, they come to help as often as they can when my husband is away. The week my husband is home, he takes on all of the parental responsibilities while I work. 

Asking for help can also mean reaching out to your coworkers or superiors. This is a unique situation for all of us, and there is usually wiggle room to allow us to breathe easier. That could mean adjusting your hours to start earlier or work later, getting help with projects or whatever you can think of to make working from home with kids more feasible.

My final thoughts.

Cut yourself and your kids some slack. This is new to all of us, some days are going to be better than others. When things seem chaotic - which they will from time to time - I like to remind myself that this too shall pass. Children are resilient, and my goal since this started is that one day mine will look back and remember this fondly as the period when life slowed down. When we weren’t rushing to and from activities and playdates and dinners. When they had an abundance of quality time and adventures as a family… and that time they convinced their dad to do yoga for a few months :D.