Creative Child

Stress-Busting Tips for Work-At-Home Parents

by Rebecca Eanes



Trying to be productive at work with little ones running around is difficult. When the time comes to switch into work mode, here are a few ways to make the most of your time.

  1. Use transition rituals to help you switch hats. Rituals are symbolic enactments that represent change or flow. They can be used to trigger your brain into work mode, rest mode, and play mode. Without a proper transition ritual, we can feel unbalanced, like we are still working when we need to unwind or have our mind on a family issue when we should be focusing on work. Think about activities like brewing a cup of coffee and opening up your planner to start your work day, or shutting your laptop and meditating for 5 minutes before transitioning to parent mode, and then pouring a glass of wine and reading a book to unwind.
  2. Tackle your to-do list with timers. Have you ever opened social media to take care of a work task and ended up scrolling mindlessly for 20 minutes? When we are in the habit of juggling multiple balls at once, staying focused on a single task is challenging. Setting a timer will help you stay focused as you work on your tasks.
  3. Create a work schedule. The flexibility of working from home can be terrific, but it can also lead to less productivity if we’re prone to getting distracted or sidetracked. Our brains aren’t meant for multitasking, so just as the timer will help you focus on the task at hand, a schedule will keep you on track. If you line up your day in “office hours,” you’ll work smarter and get more accomplished.

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When the work is done and the kids are in bed or otherwise occupied, it’s time to unwind. The trouble with that is that it's often difficult to switch our brains off and put aside the day’s worries and troubles. A transition ritual (mentioned above) will help you with that, but there are also a few other ways to renew your mind and body.

  1. Take self-care in small bites. We often think of self-care as something elaborate - a spa day, a vacation, a full day without the kids - but those luxuries are few and far between for most of us. I find it helpful to rethink self-care as anything that brings joy and rest to my body and soul. It could be a short walk, 15 minutes of yoga, a cup of tea on the porch, enjoying a movie with my kids, or a dance date in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or lengthy to be fulfilling.
  2. Don’t sacrifice sleep. So often, we stay up to enjoy those precious hours of alone time. It’s called “revenge sleep procrastination” and it can lead to serious sleep deprivation which is detrimental to physical, mental, and emotional health. The best way to combat this is with good sleep hygiene - a consistent bedtime and wake time, stopping the use of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before sleep, and developing a good bedtime routine.
  3. Embrace mindfulness. It can sound like a vague, if not woo-woo, practice, but mindfulness is really just about bringing awareness to the present moment without judgement. Start with a simple practice of deep breathing a few times a day. Deep breath activates the vagus nerve. Vagus nerve puts us into a parasympathetic state of rejuvenation and restoration.

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Finding “balance” as a work-at-home parent is really just about making the most of your days, attending well to your family, your work, and yourself. Just remember that, through it all, you are enough.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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