If I had to answer what I like most and least about working from home, I could name plenty of positives. Concentrated productivity, flexibility, and no long commute would all be at the top of my list. When thinking about the downside of working from home, my biggest gripe is the overlap between work and life. There’s no clear line where work ends and home begins.
Once my kids get home from school, it feels like it should be the end of the work day. But my husband (also working from home) and I still have a couple hours of work before the official end of our day. This means I have to batch my tasks accordingly. Anything that needs quiet concentration or an uninterrupted Zoom call has to be done while they’re at school. Still, trying to stay in work mode vs. home mode until the end of the day can be challenging. Here are a few things I’m doing to help make my work-from-home life easier.
Because I’m trying to squeeze the bulk of a full day’s work into the school day, some important things fall by the wayside, namely movement and nourishment. To help ensure I’m eating healthy—rather than grabbing snacks or what’s quick and easy around my kitchen—I started ordering ready-made lunches from Territory Foods.
Registered dietitians build their menus, and then real chefs across the country craft the food using their own commercial kitchens and sustainable, locally sourced ingredients. Meals are freshly made to be anti-inflammatory, without refined sugars, gluten, or dairy. Ordering is easy: You just open the Territory Foods website, enter your zip code, and they will provide menu options based on where you live. From there, you can choose your dietary preferences—each meal even names the chef making your food.
To help ensure I’m eating healthy—rather than grabbing snacks or what’s quick and easy around my kitchen—I started ordering ready-made lunches from Territory Foods.
I love that the meals arrive fresh and ready for me to eat, and just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean they’re all salads. There are delicious options like a falafel with Mediterranean-style quinoa and lemon tahini sauce and grilled steak over sautéed kale and sweet potatoes; they really mix up my boring at-home lunch routine. Plus, I don’t have the extra time to be measuring or chopping ingredients when I’m trying to make the most of my time during the work day, so this works great. Territory Foods also makes it easy to choose one or two weekly deliveries so you can enjoy the meals at their freshest.
And because I’m not spending the time thinking about what to have or make for lunch, I can squeeze in a walk around the block with my dog or find some other way to get moving. At a recent doctor’s visit, my physician reminded me that since I’m working from home, it’s essential I make time for at least 30 minutes of movement a day—even if it’s just walking or stretching.
2. Get Dressed for Work
While I certainly would never judge someone for staying in their pajamas all day (I’ve been there too—hello fourth trimester!), for me, it helps when I actually get ready for work. I rarely put on makeup, but a shower and a change of clothes into something other than pajamas helps switch my mindset from home to work.
3. Have a Family Huddle at Breakfast
Looking at the day and week ahead as a family has really helped me and my husband share the unpaid labor that used to fall on me before the pandemic—when he’d already be gone in the mornings, commuting to work. We talk together about what’s happening that day, who’s handling pick-up or after-school activities, etc.
The other thing we just started doing was having a handwritten family calendar in plain view. For a time, I was sending my husband Google invites for school events, work travel, and more, until he confessed he never looks ahead in his personal calendar. It recently led to a child care scramble when we were both scheduled to be out of town. So now we have a calendar hanging in the kitchen so we can both see what’s coming.
4. Set Up My Workspace Not in the Common Areas
Journalist and Double Shift podcast host Katherine Goldstein suggested in a New York Times article that moms should not set up their work-from-home space in a shared area of the home. When mom’s in their sights, kids will default to her for all sorts of requests, even if their other parent is nearby.
Additionally, I’ve found that if I’m working in our home’s common spaces like the living room or kitchen, I can get easily distracted by household chores because they’re in my line of sight (i.e. the dishwasher needs to be run, crumbs on the kitchen counters need wiping, etc.). So most days, I sit at my grandmother’s old desk in the corner of an upstairs bedroom, away from the distractions, and with a door that closes.
5. Schedule a Work Break After School
To help with minimal distractions during the after-school hours, I take 15-20 minutes to talk with my kids when they get home. I set them up with snacks, hear about their day, and suggest an activity for them to do. Sometimes I even play a few rounds of Guess Who or Candyland with them.
I’ve found that by intentionally giving them my undivided attention for a short period of time, they’re more likely to leave me alone for a longer period of time so I can finish up work. It’s also important to block the time in your calendar so colleagues know not to schedule meetings during that time.
This post was in partnership with Territory Foods but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.