How both my husband and I work from home in a 1,200 square-foot home with a toddler

How both my husband and I work from home in a 1200 square foot home

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It’s the work-from-home era in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Companies and people who thought they never could or would work from home are now doing so, my husband being one of them.

I had serious reservations of welcoming him into my routines with our 18-month-old toddler, but we didn’t really have much of a choice. These crazy times called for us to manage working from home together in our 1,200 square foot house. Oh how I wish it was summer and we could be outside more to give us a little more space during this chaos, but it isn’t, so here we are making the most of everything.

I’ve been a work-at-home mom for eight months now. I feel good about the routine and structure I built for myself and my toddler. And then it all changed. We’re blessed to both still have work during these trying times, and I remind myself of that every day.

We’ve been a team working from home for a few weeks now, and we’ve learned so much from the experience. Yes, it is possible to work from home without tons of space and juggle the needs of a demanding 18-month-old. Here’s how we do it.

Communicate often

So far, my son doesn’t know that DaDa is here during the day, and we’re trying to keep it that way. The day he figures it out, my husband will no longer have quiet time for calls. Our son loves his dad and wants undivided attention when they’re together so when he asks for DaDa during the workday, I tell him the same thing I always do: Dad is at work.

To keep up the ruse, my husband texts me when he is coming upstairs to refill his water or use the restroom, at which time I take my son somewhere else so he doesn’t see DaDa. I’m used to the interruptions every five minutes, so it just made more sense to keep things the way they were.

I still text cute photos of our son throughout the day like I would if he was at the office. We still both take time at dinner to ask how each other’s day was. Yes, we’re both physically in the same place to work, but that doesn’t change the fact that our workdays are personal and separate. We still need to communicate and share about our day to stay connected and unified.

Set work from home expectations

At the start of the day, my husband and I set clear expectations for how the day will go. I share when I plan to be outside with the little man so he isn’t left wondering what’s happening when the door is opening and closing. He tells me when his meetings are so we can keep quiet upstairs and give him space.

On the sunny days, we talk and strategize about ways to get him out of the basement to get some vitamin D. Mental health matters! On days when my son is showing signs of an earlier naptime, I tell my husband so we can move up lunch and to make sure when he comes up for lunch he isn’t getting our son wound up right before naptime. 

Give one another room

Both of us are introverts to a certain extent. Personal space and solitude are important and we don’t have tons of space to make that happen. Normally, my husband is a big podcast buff and listens during his daily commute. But without a commute, he doesn’t have that time unless I make sure he does.

I think no matter what, the time when you have young children is a time when you risk forgetting who you are and what you love. But then mix in some extra chaos of a pandemic and not leaving your home and you have even more risk. Make sure you’re encouraging one another to live life to the fullest during this time.

Find the good in working from home

Right now, there’s so much doom and gloom around us. The news is pretty heavy and it’s hard to shut it all out and stay positive. But we need to find ways to stay positive and find the good in all of this. So here I am thanking God my husband is still working and that so far, my business has only slowed a bit.

Make a list of the benefits your family gets from you both working from home. No matter the challenges you face, remember that some families are not so lucky. Here’s what I know we’re getting from this experience.

  • More family time: Neither one of us is rushing around in the evenings with laundry and chores like normal. So we read to our son together before bedtime. We play together more and head outside when we can.
  • No commutes: Even though commutes can be nice to unwind before being home, they can also be stressful if there’s traffic or other challenges and it takes up valuable time from the day. I’m thankful that we use our commute time in a more valuable way instead.
  • Saving on gas: This one has both pros and cons. We’re saving money on gas in our cars, but we’re also spending more on household utilities with my husband home. I’ll be curious to see how it all balances out on the budgets, but for now, I’ll look at the positive and just say we’re spending less on gas.
  • Family lunchtime: My husband often takes on the task of feeding my son and answering to his moans and groans during lunchtime. It’s just nice to have a short break in the middle of the day from having to play the guessing game of what my son needs all the time.
  • A little more me time: Some days it’s less me time because I can’t call upon family members and babysitters to care for my son, but some days I can escape during afternoon naptime. Ironically, escape means doing the grocery shopping or going on a stroller-free run or bike ride since we’re still social distancing. But those quiet moments are priceless in a household with a very vocal toddler. 

Get outside to escape working from home with a toddler

By the end of the day, it often feels like our home has shrunk since breakfast. The more time we spend inside, the more cabin fever we get. And the best treatment for that cabin fever from my experience is to get outside. It’s really the only place we still have to go to get out of the house without risking spreading the virus.

Our backyard is fun, and we can’t help but build family memories. 

Never have we been through such a unique time in history. I imagine what it will be like someday when I try to explain all of this to my son or when he comes home from school talking about how his history lesson covered the year 2020.

At this moment, we’re carving out the memories of 2020 that I’ll share with him someday. I’m working hard to make those memories positive.

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