The events of 2020 have massively changed the world: with many countries locking down and governments encouraging people to stay indoors, working from home has become de rigueur. And while this might have helped many of us stay safe and healthy, it is a challenging arrangement for people who have children at home.
Courtesy of Oneika Raymond
Trust me, I write this from experience. As the mother of a very active 11-month-old, I’ve been juggling working from home with caring for my daughter, so I know that it’s no easy feat. However, while working from home with your little one in tow might be difficult, it’s not completely impossible. And you know what? It can even be fun, especially if you have an opportunity to take a ‘work from here’ trip with Expedia as part of their “Work from Here” program! I’ve partnered with Expedia to share my tips and tricks for staying focused, productive, and, most importantly, sane when you’re on a ‘work from here’ trip with kids, so you can make the most of your getaway. So without any further ado, here they are!
1. Accept that your priorities might shift
The first step to successfully taking a ‘work from here’ trip with kids is to make peace with the fact that your level of productivity might not be the same. Your energy and attention will be split between your job, your little person, and enjoying a new location, and that's okay! Instead of beating yourself up over this reality, accept it for what it is and look at the bright side: you’re getting to spend more time with your child than ever before. Embrace this unique moment in time, be thankful for it, and above all, cherish it—you can make new memories by changing up your scenery, and you’ll likely miss having your kids around so much when things go back to normal (whenever that may be).
2. Only plan to get a handful of work tasks done a day
Once you’ve accepted that you won’t be as productive, I recommend not loading up your work to-do list with more than several action items per day. After all, caring for a child is a full-time job all on its own: feeding, bathing, playing with, and keeping an eye on your little one all while on the clock will leave you exhausted and with very little time to race though those 576 work tasks you *thought* you’d be able to complete. Instead, avoid feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy by assessing which three to four are the most important, then scheduling pockets throughout the day to complete them. If you’re tech savvy, use an online project management program to create a schedule for the week, if not, a quick checklist on a spreadsheet will do the trick. You’d be surprised how scheduling less will actually help you to do more: feeling accomplished and in control can do wonders for your motivation and productivity!
3. Find ‘work from here’ destinations that are kid-friendly
A key element to getting the most out of your ‘work from here’ trip when you have children is to select destinations that your little ones can enjoy. After all, if the kids are happy, active, and engaged in your new locale, you’ll be happy, productive, and better able to deal with the demands of both working and discovering your destination.
This is why I recommend heading to places that have enough wide-open spaces for the kids to run around and burn off excess energy. The state of Utah, for example, has so much nature and national parks to explore (like Bryce Canyon National Park) that your family might have difficulty figuring out which attractions to tackle first!
If your children love the water, a year-round, warm-weather destination like Key West is a great option. Not only are the beaches there pristine, the incredible parks and nature conservatories will keep both children and adults occupied.
More interested in the West Coast? Southern California has a wonderful mix of the great outdoors and stunning coastlines: base yourself in San Diego or Los Angeles for the beaches and big city vibe, then pop over to Palm Springs for some desert exploration on the weekends.
4. Do childcare "shifts" with your partner if you have one
As the old saying goes, there’s strength in numbers, so make use of your partner if you have one! Assigning designated times, or childcare “shifts”, when each parent is responsible for the care of the little one has kept my husband and I sane.
Why? Well, this ultimately means that we’re both able to get work done while ensuring that our daughter is always actively being looked after. Since he usually has a series of conference calls before noon, I’ll take the morning “shift”; he'll then relieve me in the afternoons. In the evenings, we’ll spend quality time as a family before it’s time for her to go to bed.
Of course, if you want to make the most of your ‘work from here’ trip, this would be the perfect opportunity to bring Grandma or Grandpa along on the trip if they are willing and available so they can assist with babysitting! Team work makes the dream work!
5. When you pack, remember you’re going to be visiting a place that likely has all the items you need!
Since many of us are taking ‘work from here’ trips that are longer than a week, don’t stress about over packing! It is highly likely that no matter where you go in the U.S. you’ll be able to easily find any miscellaneous items you may have left behind at home. My top tip? Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothes if you’ll be away for less than a month. You can find laundering facilities almost anywhere!
6. Schedule activities that keep your little ones busy
‘Work from here’ trips give families the perfect opportunity to get active and explore their new surroundings: you can elevate your weekends during your trip by booking activities on Expedia.com. Even during a pandemic, there are plenty of outdoor, socially distanced activities to consider, like a boat tour or visiting the city zoo.
7. Schedule work obligations during nap/quiet times
Does your child sleep during the day? If so, do like I do and make use of this sacred down time to get things done for work! Since my daughter typically naps for about an hour in the morning and 90 minutes in the afternoon, I’ve taken to scheduling conference calls and Zoom meetings when she’s in the Land of Nod; if I don’t have any calls that day, I’ll use the time to catch up on emails. Long walks and visits to the park are also a golden opportunity to conference or Zoom: my daughter is often so busy looking out of her stroller or playing in the sand at the playground that I’m free to do my thing!
And of course, please follow recommended local health guidelines when traveling and in your destination - it's important to be mindful of your health and the health of others during this strange time!