Camp Quarantine: How One Mom of 5 is Making The Most of Her New Normal

As an entrepreneur, writer, author, and recovery coach, I have worked entirely from home or the past 6 years. Some of my days, and every summer, have included doing it around my 5 children.  There is a reason I don’t homeschool — because let’s be honest, having the kids at school is a much easier way to structure your workday! 

The “shift to home” will be mixed with excitement and worry for you and your kids. “How will I get anything done?” is a valid question! That being said, it is very possible to maintain productivity with a few best practices.

Here are 11 ways to make the most of your new normal.

1. Communicate

Start with a family meeting, and remind your kids that you still have to work, and they still have to participate in “school,” and that this is going to be a “team effort” to get through this!

2. Establish personal workspaces

Define your working space and create your home base.  For me, that is not in the same area as the kids.  That nook may be a desk in their room, the kitchen counter, or a lap desk on the couch. What is important, is that it is a place where everyone can actively work and learn and have access to everything they need.

3. Stick to a routine

I start my day with something for myself. Whether it’s an at-home yoga DVD, or a quiet cup of coffee.  Start your day with self-centering.

4. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Concentration and creativity don’t do well with interruptions, so putting together a schedule is imperative.  Depending on how old your kids are, include them in the planning, or plan your workday and conference calls during naptime if they are still little. One important note: the actual classwork your kids may be doing right now will NOT take the same time that it would during an actual school day, so plan accordingly.

5. Give and Take

Swap Hours with your partner: You make breakfast while your partner works/ Have your partner make lunch while you get an hour of work done. Find bits of time where you can divide and conquer.

6. Set Boundaries

My kids know that if my office door is closed, you DO NOT KNOCK OR YELL OR ASK ME ANYTHING UNLESS YOU ARE DYING.  Emergencies only. My office door is open UNLESS I’m on a very important call or zoom meeting. My kids respect this important boundary, and they should be allowed boundaries of their own, depending on their age, for example: Headphones on, don’t bug me!

7. Your job is not to entertain your kids

Remember that kids are more capable of self-teaching and entertaining themselves than we give them credit for. I encourage their “work time” to be completely independent. Instead of immediately asking me to come help, they can look in the text, online, or in their notes.  9 times out of 10, they figure out the answers themselves. I also encourage siblings to help each other. I will start an activity with them, and then step away when they have it under control, and return to my desk to get some more work done.

8. Rein it in

You are home, which means no one is looking over your shoulder or passing your cubicle.  This may be the killer of your productive workday if you start scrolling Facebook or Nordstrom. When you find yourself shifting gears, pull yourself back.

9. Schedule Chores

Dishes, Laundry, Distractions, oh my! Block chores off on the schedule for 30-60 minutes and MAKE EVERYONE CHIP IN! Turn on some music, and go to town. Kids are very helpful and capable. They may not do everything the way you like, but they will get better if given the opportunity. Have them take ownership of cleaning the litter box or feeding the dog. Think of all of the projects in the house that you’ve put in the “I don’t have time for this” category and start doing those things.

10. Take Breaks

Keep your brain and body moving. Take breaks and include your kids in a round of jumping jacks, pushups, or sit down for a snack and a puzzle. Take time to re-center and get the wiggles out, and check-in with your kids so they feel reconnected and reassured.

11. Give yourself some grace

Remember at the end of these 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or however long this isolation lasts, if our kids do NOTHING academically, spend more time on screens, or relax and lay low, it’s ok.  If they grow as human beings, learn some life lessons, and we spend the time getting to know them, nothing is lost. See this as an opportunity to connect, create, and grow, and you may look back and remember it as one of the years your family ever had.

Emily Lynn Paulson
Emily Lynn Paulson is the author of Highlight Real: Finding Honesty & Recovery Beyond the Filtered Life. Emily is an entrepreneur, certified professional recovery coach, She Recovers Designated Coach, and a member of the long-term recovery community. Formally trained as a chemist and a teacher, she rose to success in the top tiers of a skincare company, where she gained her voice and a platform for sobriety and healing. Sober since January 2, 2017, her recovery path is focused on ruthless honesty, grace, and self love. She is passionate about connecting women with resources for recovery from trauma, eating disorders, and substance abuse, and believes that sharing our truth with each other is the best resource of all. Emily lives in Seattle with her husband and their five children.

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