Updated: May 3
Hi! I’m Jessica. I'm a work-from-home mom of two who has camped, driven across the country, and traveled internationally with my kids since my oldest was 3 months old. We've stayed in dozens of Airbnbs, hotels, and campgrounds.
On my site, accordingtojessica.com, I write about traveling with toddlers, camping with kids, and Airbnb design. I combine my experience as an Interior Designer, with my life experience as a traveling mom of two, to help other families get back to travel and help Airbnb Hosts make the most of their short-term rentals.
Working from home and traveling with my toddlers isn’t always easy, but I’ve learned to embrace the madness and breathe deeply.
How to Stay Sane While Working From Home with Toddlers
On the days that the crying, mess, and endless demands are wearing me down, I try to remember how we got here, and even for a brief moment, I am grateful. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was working 60+ hours a week at my corporate “dream job”. 12 hour days were not rare. My husband was working swing shifts and pretty much on call, all day, every day. We were running on empty.
As cringy as it may sound, childcare was one of the first conversations we had. We had no family in the state and no friends who could help - where would our baby stay for the better part of the day? I wanted to stay home with him but the fact was, we were house poor, and quitting wasn’t an option.
Fast forward seven months, concerning talks about covid start and I have my beautiful baby boy. I started my unpaid maternity leave when the world began to shut down and the emotional rollercoaster of being a new mom began. The love and admiration I had previously had for my job was quickly overpowered by the overwhelming love I had for my new baby. The priority shift had begun and it felt SO GOOD.
I had a job opportunity but it was thousands of miles away and would require us to sell the house we’d just built 18 months prior. I looked at my husband who was so tired and worn down from working a job he hated. I looked at my baby who needed me and who I needed. I looked at the job that demanded 80% of my time and energy, and we called the Realtor- LIST IT!
Three months later I put my notice in and sold my house. My husband left his job and we moved 2,300 miles south to be closer to family so I could work remotely for a small business. This was the best choice I ever made. The stress and anxiety of my previous job learning that I was no longer capable of putting them first immediately lifted. I felt so free. We bought a small, older home with a huge backyard for our son to play. Now that we were no longer house poor, my husband decided to stay home with our son and go to school full-time.
Plot twist- when my son was 21 months old we welcomed our daughter. Suddenly we were parents of two-under-two. Whew.
So, how do I stay sane with two toddlers while working from home?
To be completely honest, we aren’t winning any sanity competitions over here. Working from home with two toddlers is NOT easy. They’re loud and demanding and they need us for literally everything. My husband does 75% of the work from 8-4 so I can focus on my job. He does all of this while also going to school remotely. By lunchtime, he is frazzled and ready to walk off the job so I usually swoop in and take over for an hour.
Develop a System
We’ve developed a bit of a system and it definitely helps us to stay sane.
1. Follow a schedule like your life depends on it.
Our youngest naps twice a day and our oldest naps once. Naps and bedtime are non-negotiable. If my oldest doesn’t want to nap at 1:00, we put him in his room to play alone for two hours. This is our quiet time and we use it for focus work.
By 7:30 pm they’re in bed and we get our evenings to catch up on things we enjoy, like a show or one of our many passion projects.
2. Create a set of family values and revisit them when things get tough.
We decided, before having kids, that we wouldn’t spank them or name-call (bad boy, bad girl, etc.). We decided to focus on validating their feelings, no matter how big or small. When things get tough, I try to remember those values and use them as my map.
3. Be mindful of what your kids eat throughout the day.
I am not very crunchy and I am certainly not a Dietician, but we notice a HUGE behavioral difference in our kids when they eat sugary foods, or foods with dyes. If you want to keep your sanity, watch what your kids eat. We save the sugary treats for big play days and hold off on days when we’re in meetings and need to really focus.
4. Play outside as much as possible.
We often use outside time as a “reset”. Playing, or even just eating lunch, outdoors really helps to mellow us all out. I’ve noticed that when we play an outdoor game with your kids during my lunch break, their mood improves and they nap longer. Something as simple as kicking a soccer ball around for 15 minutes makes a HUGE difference in how they act for the rest of the day.
5. Work on Your Own Regulation
My best advice is just to focus on regulating your emotions throughout the day and being patient. When my kids are having meltdowns, I try to comfort them because honestly, the meltdown ends MUCH FASTER that way. If I need a break from my kids, I take a “time out”. My husband does the same.
It’s not easy, but when the shit hits the fan (and I do mean literally), I try to focus on our routine and our family values. Screaming into a pillow after the kids go to bed also helps.
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