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I took time off for Thanksgiving (see post How work-at-home moms can take time off for the holidays). Work-from-home moms face unique challenges with taking time off because it means more than just work piling up.
When you take time off work, you change your routines for your little ones. This is how crazy our lives looked over the week of Thanksgiving.
How my working mom routine got disrupted
8 a.m. to 1 p.m.: normal schedule of wake up, eat, play for my son. And sadly, also worked during this time because I work in marketing and have a retail client who was preparing for Black Friday sales.
1-1:30 p.m.: travel to my parents’ house.
This is the point where I should have put my one-year-old down for a nap the minute we got to my parents’ house. Instead, I got guilt-tripped into letting him stay up for the Thanksgiving meal even though we fed him snacks before leaving our house. He was ready for a nap, but no one wanted him to miss the Thanksgiving fun, so we let him stay up.
1:30-3 p.m. Thanksgiving meal and fellowship with my family. And then we finally tried putting my son down for a nap. He was now overly tired and it was a challenge to put him to sleep.
3:45 p.m.: My one-year-old wakes up after a 30-minute nap. This is so distantly far from his normal.
3:45-7:30 p.m.: We play euchre, my parents take over watching my son and we enjoy dessert and good times. Then we start the pack-up process.
9 p.m. my son finally goes to bed an hour later than normal after only having a half-hour nap.
Repeat the process all over again but with my husband’s family. We make the same mistake of letting him stay awake too long so that the family can watch him enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. He also sleeps only a half hour and goes to bed an hour later in the evening.
It’s the biggest rivalry game in Ohio State Buckeye football where they play that team up north. So we head to my parents once again but this time we commit to not missing the nap window. He goes down for a nap peacefully at 1 p.m. like normal and sleeps for an hour and a half. When he awakens, we have a much more pleasant toddler than we had the last several days.
We attend a party with some friends from church. We awaken the toddler early to make it to the party at a reasonable time so we can get home at a reasonable time. My son still went to bed a half-hour later than normal and awakened at the same time as normal Monday morning.
The moral of the story
Over the course of four days, my son mostly ate roaming snacks for meals, which meant cheese sticks, pretzels and goldfish. It’s OK for him to eat like this from time to time, but four days straight of it wasn’t great.
So this morning we had an important task. We needed to get back onto a normal schedule, eating nourishing foods and staying entertained in our own home. I have a mountain of work to get done after taking time off and I’m pretty sure I had more sugar in four days than I had all month long.
Here are the steps I’m determined to take this week to make sure we both get back on schedule and into a routine.
Work-from-home moms returning to routine
- Get out of bed when my alarm goes off. That time in the morning before my son wakes up is one of the keys to getting everything done. I got out of bed 10 minutes after my alarm went off, which is pretty good for me.
- Go to our normal activities. On Mondays, we generally go to baby storytime at the library. Between house projects and illnesses, we went once in all of November. We’re going to get back into that routine so that we both get out of the house and get social stimulation today.
- Eat healthy foods. When we got home Sunday night from the party, I fed my son a fruit and veggie smoothie. I was craving fruits and vegetables and assumed it meant my body needed them. Hence, I figured he did too. The right nutritional balance will ensure you have the energy to get everything done. Nourish your body this week even if it takes more time to prepare your meals.
- Spend time outside. We did a decent job of still going for walks and runs during the four-day holiday. But it wasn’t normal still. On Sunday during church, they had the doors open because it was unseasonably warm in Ohio. I couldn’t keep my son inside and he was having a great time chasing the leaves as the wind blew them down the street. It was eye-opening for me to realize my highly energetic son must have outdoor time, and so should I.
- Resist overcommitting. I’ve gotten invited by a few friends and my sister to hang out this week. I know I need time at home to catch up and commit to getting back into a routine, so I politely declined. Work-from-home moms have an even greater responsibility and the necessity to get back into a routine so keep that in mind as you recover from the holidays.
How stay-at-home working moms can prepare for the next holiday
Because Thanksgiving falls so late this year, I only have three weeks of productivity before the week of Christmas. Plus, my husband is taking the whole week off of work, which means I want to take that whole week off of work. That means working hard now to prepare for the next holiday.
The most effective way for me to do this is to set up a Note on my phone with each day of the week. Under each day, I structure the things I have to get done that day to ensure I commit to it. If it isn’t done by the end of the workday, I go back to work after my son goes to bed at night.
It certainly isn’t ideal to work in the evenings and I do my best to protect that time with my husband. But that’s what makes the to-do list so effective. The list serves as an accountability list for myself to make sure I do what needs to be done before relaxing.
Keep that in mind as you prepare for the next holiday and the next time your little one will be thrown off their routine. Here’s to a productive post-holiday week for you.