Parenting + WFH Tips from our Publisher Mandy Richardson
Mandy Richardson is not just the publisher for Little Rock Family. She's also the publisher for Little Rock Soirée and the creative force behind the Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium.
And that’s just her day job.
Before hours, after hours and during hours, she’s also a wife and mom of two. She recently chatted with the creative team behind Soiree’s monthly eNews letter, The Work Wife. Check it out for tips on productivity, budgeting, self-care and more.
We couldn’t resist sharing some of Richardson’s timely tips for fellow parents on routines, giving ourselves grace and setting healthy boundaries. Check out the full piece on The Work Wife here.
What does a typical day look like now in the Richardson house?
MR: Friday, March 13, 76 days ago, was our first day of quarantine and my first official day of working from home with the kids, as it was for many of you reading this. I couldn’t honestly tell you what the date is today without looking at my calendar, so just by that you can tell I by no means have it all together over here.
Pre-coronavirus, I worked from home at least a half day each week because I could get so much more done at home when the house was empty, quiet and disruptions were at bay. I’ve never minded working from home and have the self-control to successfully do so. Working from home with the kids here and the husband and the three dogs makes for a bit more challenging day, but we are making it work. Most days.
Mornings are quiet at the Richardson house. We're all night owls and the need to speak to one another before noon is basically nonexistent. My husband has been working from home since the end of March and spends his day upstairs in his makeshift WFH office. I fill my mornings with calls and virtual meetings from my living room desk while the girls sleep. When they wake up, they know of three things they can have for breakfast and know how to make them on their own. They've learned they need to entertain themselves until I break for lunch, which typically means they spend this time roller skating around our house. My poor wood floors.
I make us all lunch, and on Mondays and Thursdays I take my youngest daughter to get her allergy shot (the only outing she gets to make each week). Sometimes we do school work during lunch, and if we don’t, then we log in to school at 5 p.m. when I stop working. Now that school is out, my intent is to have them do at least 20 minutes of reading each day and one worksheet from a workbook I ordered each of them last week. We’ll see how that goes.
I break from work to make dinner and then for a few hours each night to hang out. Dinner ranges from homemade spaghetti to frozen pizzas to bowls of cereal. Me and the girls spend a few hours together taking walks, going on bike rides or sometimes vegging out and watching TV. I find myself checking email a lot during this time, but really try my best to check out for a few hours. Post bath and bedtime for the girls, I hop back on the laptop until it’s time for me to start my own bedtime routine.
How have you established boundaries — with work, your husband, your daughters — in a way that still allows time for you to recharge?
MR: I am the worst with boundaries and even worse at finding time for myself. I'm sure a lot of working women, specifically working moms, find themselves in this situation. I do everything to keep everyone in the household — dogs included — on track and eventually find myself worn down and exhausted.
Day 62 of quarantine, I hit my wall and physically started feeling sick. I wasn’t sick, I was just tired. I realized it, but when the husband realized it, I knew it was serious. So I have started doing two things for myself each day.
1) I’ve started taking at least 20 minutes to work out or go on a walk each day. Sometimes it's at 11 p.m. and sometimes it's at noon when everyone else is working or zoned out on a tablet. I let everyone know what I am doing and that they are not to speak to me or look for me or send me a Google Hangout. They are to pretend I don’t exist for 20 or 30 minutes. It's super helpful for my head and hopefully my body.
2) I have started taking a bath every night. If I do this when the kids are awake, I lock the door and don’t feel bad about it. At the start of quarantine I was listening to podcasts while I took my relaxing bath, trying to continue to educate and inspire myself. The past three weeks, I've been watching Netflix. Forget the knowledge, I just need some good entertainment. (Thank you Christina Applegate a la "Dead to Me.")
Both things have helped me realize how important it is to take care of myself so that I can continue taking care of the others. Plus, I’ve really reconnected with myself creatively. Even before WFH I realized how little time I spent just thinking about things and brainstorming or dreaming up ideas. Both of these rituals have really helped me re-engage my creative thinking. I think that’s so important for all of us, but especially in my role as a magazine publisher.
You've shared that listing your top three tasks each morning helps you stay on track. Do you have any other daily habits that help keep you sane?
MR: The last thing I do before I go to bed is spend a couple minutes looking at my calendar for the next day. Thinking through the upcoming day helps me mentally prepare and also dictates what time I set my alarm for the next morning. If I’m being completely honest, I am trying to figure out if I have to shower before I start working or if I can wait until lunch to get clean and dressed.
I threw out the idea of keeping my girls on a schedule weeks ago when I realized how much work I could get done in the morning if they slept in. I am confident this will come back to bite me, but for now it’s really amazing to wake up at 6 or 7 a.m. and work for sometimes five hours without a child in sight.
I’ve started moving my laptop around to different places in the house. I was trying to post up in one spot, but I am really bored with that wall in the living room. Now I work from wherever feels most comfortable. Sometimes that’s standing at the kitchen counter, yesterday it was the front porch swing, last Tuesday it was the table in the foyer, two weeks ago I found myself hiding in my husband’s office upstairs sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the floor. I’m open to working wherever seems to be the most productive spot at the moment.