For most of the past seventeen years, I have been a stay at home mom/ writer/volunteer/marketing assistant. On one hand, it has been a luxury to have a flexible schedule that allowes me to juggle chores and work. On the other hand, it has been a struggle to manage distractions and carve out quiet time. If working from home is new to you, here are some strategies and resources that you might find useful. I’ve used them to nurture myself, (a.k.a. stay sane) when our household has been full, noisy and busy!
1. Create Your Safe Haven
If you’re used to having your own space, whether it be an office or an apartment, it can be tough to adjust to having people around all the time, even if they are your family. Your safe haven can be a desk, a meditation chair, or a room that you can “claim” for yourself. Really tight on space? Invest in some noise-canceling earphones!
When the kids are at school, you’ll find me on one of our comfy couches. When they’re home, I sneak into my “office” in our laundry room. My kids tend to avoid it for fear of being reminded to put away their clothes. My husband doesn’t usually come in either…I’m wondering if he even knows where it is?!
2. Get Dressed
Once the novelty of living in pajamas wears off, I hope you’ll take the time to get dressed because:
- Those pajamas leave a lot of room for expansion, so if you happen to reach for comfort food when you’re stressed, bored, or lonely, they won’t do you any favors.
- I’m a firm believer in dressing up to improve your mood. Think of getting dressed (even if it’s just jeans and a tee) as an act of pride and self-care, rather than one of vanity.
If you need a little incentive to get dressed, schedule a video chat with friends or colleagues. Make sure they can see all of you, so you’re not tempted to use the blazer-with-sweatpants trick!
Unless you are ill or injured, there really isn’t any excuse not to exercise! If you can, run or walk outside and get your daily dose of sunshine.
If you have to stay at home, use your screen time wisely. Rather than binge-watching your favorite show, try a free class from Yoga Journal, Sweaty Betty, Yoga With Adrienne, and PopSugar Fitness to get you moving. Your local gym or yoga studio may also offer online classes.
4. Play Mind Games
When my kids were young and at home most of the time, I spent plenty of time playing educational games and reading to them. I loved watching their skills and mind develop but it left me feeling a little deprived of my own intellectual growth.
If you have a few minutes to yourself, Soduko, crosswords, and brain teasers can help you nurture your brain. They can also help you unwind before bedtime. (For more relaxation ideas, read this post.)
My kids and I also loved watching National Geographic’s Brain Games which explores everything from human behavior to brain health. You’ll find the first 7 seasons on Disney Plus (subscription required) or on DVD at Amazon. They just rebooted the series this year, so if you access to the National Geographic channel, look out for the new shows there.
5. Take A Class
If you’re looking for a more thorough educational challenge, you can take online classes in just about every topic.
You can take a variety of classes from the Fundamentals or Neuroscience to Energy Within Environmental Constraints through online courses at Harvard University.
If you’re already overwhelmed with assignments and projects, try a wellness class. MindBody Green is offering a few of their classes for free (at the time of writing.)
A friend of mine just recommended the Science Of Well Being through Coursera so I just started it.
Only have a few minutes? Try a podcast. I listed some of my favorites are in this post: 7 Ways To Ease The Winter Blues.
There’s no time like the present to learn to cook. Whether you’re following a keto, paleo, vegetarian or vegan diet, there’s a cookbook or blog waiting to teach you recipes.
Confused by all the different diets? Michael Pollan simplifies food for us: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” If you want to explore traditional cooking methods and understand why we should all be cooking for ourselves, you might enjoy his book or documentary (on Netflix), Cooked.
If you just start whipping up some fabulous meals, here are some of my favorite food blogs:
- Creme De La Crumb (I’ve made this One Pan Spanish Chicken and Rice a dozen times.)
- The Chalkboard
- The Wholesome Yum and GnomGnom (Keto recipes.)
I also learned a lot of my cooking skills from America’s Test Kitchen‘s cookbooks, television shows, and website. If you’re curious, creative or disorganized, you’ll love that they explain why they use the methods and ingredients that they do, and which substitutes will and won’t work.
7. Count Your Blessings
Technology has become our biggest distraction and time-vampire, don’t you think? I definitely spend far too much time shopping online or scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. However, having lived in the pre-internet and cellphone era, I am also grateful for the ability to connect with the world while I stay at home.
Speaking of gratitude, I have to admit that I’ve tried and failed at maintaining a structured gratitude practice (such as writing down three things every morning.) Gratitude comes quite naturally to me, and having to express it at a certain time or in a certain place, feels a bit forced.
If you haven’t been able to maintain a gratitude practice, try Neil Pasricha’s Two Minute Mornings which suggests that you write down the good, the bad, and the focus of the day.
Did any of these help you navigate your time at home? Leave me a comment and let me know how you stay sane and healthy!