Real Advice from Real Moms: Working from Home with Kids


When a child is sick and can’t go to school, moms are 10 times more likely to miss work than dads.

This is not just a sick day. This is a global pandemic.

With Charleston schools and daycares closed likely for a few more weeks, we’re in it for the long haul. Many working moms are literally juggling it all: caring for their families, performing their job remotely, maintaining the household, teaching/entertaining their children, oh and making sure everyone stays healthy.

There are some wonderful resources out there to help us in the midst of this pandemic, but now that it’s been a while, I wanted to catch up with some of my friends and the best boss moms I know for a little advice on working from home with their kids: What’s working well? Who are you leaning on? What activities are your kids enjoying?

While many moms admit they are still looking to find their groove, I hope you find their suggestions helpful—even if it’s only just reassurance that you are not alone

Real Advice from Real Moms_ Working from Home with Kids Charleston MomsReal Advice from Real Moms

Jessie: Something Always Has to Give

Jessie Lipscomb, Media Consultant/Graphic Designer, Part-time to Full-time
Kids: Ages 3 (Autistic), 1.5, and 2 months

What’s working for you right now?
We have a nanny that comes to the house a few days a week so I can schedule calls and do work during that time. I’ve also been bullet journalling for years so when I have pockets to work, I get a lot done. My husband also helps out when he can. He’s on shift work, so he mainly helps with the baby at night.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
We spend a chunk of time outside when the weather is nice. My oldest has Sensory Processing Disorder, so he spends a lot of time on the trampoline.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Something ALWAYS has to give. You won’t get everything done at once, and that’s fine. That’s why bullet journaling helps me. I prioritize the important things so those are first, then everything else is fine.

Elizabeth: Pick ONE THING to Get Done Each Day

Elizabeth Tutterow, Speech Language Pathologist, Full-time
Kids: Ages 22 months and 3 months

What’s working for you right now?
Our toddler thrives on a routine, so I haven’t been straying from his normal schedule. My husband works from home and tries his best to help during the day. He also talked to his manager about taking some time so that I can get some work done. He tries his best to take the toddler for a walk while the baby is sleeping so that I can get at least an hour of work done a day.

My mom is also not currently working, lives alone, and is only going to the store once a week like us, so she has been coming over to help.

Finding time to work during the day (meetings, emailing parents, gathering materials, writing student IEP plans, etc.) is extremely stressful with two under two.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
Lots of walks, the pool/water table have been a wonderful outside activity that my toddler loves! Honestly, his favorite activity so far has been one full bucket of water, one empty one, and a set of measuring cups. I modeled how to scoop and pour, and he took it from there. Two hours of joy walking the bucket around, putting toys in, and pouring. So fun and easy!

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
I have been trying to pick ONE THING to get done each workday, even if it’s just washing the sheets or scheduling two meetings. That way, when that one thing is done, I already feel accomplished. Anything beyond that just adds to my joy!

Jody: Do What Works Best for You and Your Family

Jody Vitali, Co-Owner of Charleston Moms, Flexible Schedule
Kids: Ages 3 and 8

What’s working for you right now?
Going with the flow. I try to get as much done in the morning so the afternoons feel more relaxed, and I work in whatever pockets of time I can get. I’ve been having my older one help with my younger one more, and playing outside as much as possible!

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
Lots of outside time and random art projects!

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Do what works best for you and your family. We are all in unchartered territory and what works for another family might not work for you. That’s okay. And take care of yourself! You are doing the best you can!

Karla: Wake Up Early . . . and Coffee!

Karla Ciokiewicz, Marketing Coordinator for Charleston Moms, Flexible Part-Time
Kids: Ages 2 and 3

What’s working for you right now?
Wake up EARLY to exercise, shower, work, and prep for the day. The girls have also responded well to a strict schedule. An hour of screen-free, quiet play with quiet music helps us get the day started off right. After that we head out to play—LOTS OF TIME OUTDOORS!

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
My girls love to collect stuff right now. I have Tupperware filled with acorns, rocks, and random foliage sitting in my cupboard. They also have been loving storytime on our special blanket with snacks (trying to simulate storytime at the library).

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Wake up as early as you’re comfortably able, get yourself together, and get your priorities set for the day. Do those things that are tough to do when the house is in chaos. Give yourself lots of grace and NEVER RUN OUT OF COFFEE!

Cameron: Don’t Stress about Getting Everything Done

Cameron Dixon, RN Case Manager, Full-time
Kids: Ages 6 and 8

What’s working for you right now?
I usually work from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but I changed my hours to work from home from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. I admit, we’re doing more screen time so I can get work done! I am fortunate that my mom is home and close by so the kids go there to do most of their school work. She used to homeschool my younger sister, so she’s used to being a teacher! We are also saving reading for the evenings, so I can help them do their accelerated reader tests online.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
We just got three chickens, and my kids are obsessed! They like to go collect the eggs every day, and my daughter is actually enjoying scooping chicken poop, even though I told her she doesn’t have to do it! They are also just enjoying me being at home with them, of course!

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Don’t stress too much—the schoolwork will get done, or it won’t ALL get done, but the teachers will understand! Also, don’t stress over catching the virus—as long as you stay home, you are good! For those necessary trips to the grocery store, use Lysol wipes and wash your hands!

Erin: Find Your Community

Erin DiNicola, Owner of Fit4Mom Charleston, Full-Time
Kids: Ages 5, 3, and 19-month old twins

What’s working for you right now?
COMMUNITY! Having the virtual community of FIT4MOM Charleston has been a lifesaver, getting to do daily live workouts to keep me healthy (and sane!) and lots of virtual social activities are making me feel connected.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
Our long walks and homeschool with mom.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Find a Community and connect to it, it will keep you sane!

Lauren: Communicate, Grieve, and Remember that It’s a Pandemic, Not a Vacation . . . You Are Doing a Good Job.

Lauren Smith, Manager of Customer Education for a company specializing in mental health software and services, Full-time
Kids: Ages 3 and 1

What’s working for you right now?
Right now we have very low expectations. It’s not just my schedule and routine that has changed, it’s my kids and husband’s schedules, too. We are still figuring this out and taking it one day at a time. I think low expectations and lots of grace is what’s currently working for us. We do have a rough cadence we are following, but I want to emphasize the word rough.

Toddlers don’t follow a whiteboard. I have a lot of meetings during the day, so my husband is flying solo until I’m done. I then run and tag him out so he can get some work done and vice versa.

The majority of my work is getting done during nap time and after bedtime. I’m extremely blessed to work for a company that values family over everything. They are very understanding, and I’m not the only one in this boat.

Since it’s just me and my husband, communication is key. When the kids go down, we go over what we have coming up the next day. What we can/can’t move, possible activities we can do for them, review of what didn’t work that day, and what we can change/try again. With staying inside, dishes pile up and toys are thrown about, and that gets overwhelming for both of us. We’re really good about serving one another and letting that ebb and flow. If I’m slammed at work, he will do the majority of the picking up, dishes, etc. I recognize that and when he is having a hard day, I turnaround and serve in that same capacity.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
They love their sensory toys. Those are getting the most used while we stay inside and work. We have tried crafts and paint, but they only enjoy that for 5-10 minutes max. Dancing breaks and taking a walk to burn some energy throughout the day when possible works, too.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Remember, this is a pandemic and not a vacation. I know there are some moms posting all the fun and magical activities they are doing with their kids and that may guilt you that you’re not doing a good job. But you are. You’re staying home and keeping your family safe. Go ahead and hide those friends from your feed if they make you feel this way or remember they may only be posting the one shiny moment of their day.

Also, it’s also okay to grieve. It’s okay to grieve whatever you had or have to give up during this time. For me, it’s all the festivals Charleston has in the spring in conjunction with the bridge run. I really love our town during this time and the friends and family who usually come to visit. And be sure to give yourself and your partner lots of grace. Look into meditation and coping strategies on YouTube! They are free and very helpful. Stay kind to yourself and know this isn’t forever.

Sondra: Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking Time for Yourself

Sondra Kilian, Owner of Skip and Sully, Full-Time
Kids: Age 2.5

What’s working for you right now?
My schedule is flexible because I have employees who help me. I work in the studio 50% and the other 50% at home while my son sleeps, so nap times and bedtimes are super important!

I’m a widow so it’s just me and my son. I did hire a housekeeper to help me around the house. This enables me to work from home without having to worry about cleaning; therefore, I’m able to spend more time with my son.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
Going to work with me! Skip & Sully is still open for curbside coffee, wine and beer, as well as private playdates. He loves coming to work me with and “helping.” I’ve taught him how to make espresso and clean all the dishes, etc.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. If you have a partner to help, take advantage of it! If you’re like me, even the little moments make a huge difference. I took a long, hot shower by myself after my son went to bed the other night, and it was amazing!

Erica: Give and Receive Grace

Erica Johnson Turner, Insurance Sales Professional, Full-time
Kids: Age 2

What’s working for you right now?
While I usually work full-time outside of the home, I’ve transitioned to working at home, essentially part-time due to COVID-19. We have tried to mimic Owen’s daycare schedule, but we have found that this schedule works best. It’s more screen time than we’d prefer, but it does allow for about 15-20 minutes each time for Daddy and me to get some work done!

  • Screen time in the morning
  • Arts/Crafts/Creative Time
  • Snacks and Outside Time
  • Lunch (with some screen time)
  • Quiet Time/Nap
  • Snack and Outside Time
  • Dinner (with some screen time)
  • Bathtime and Bedtime

We have been able to, for the most part, split our time. I typically will work either the first half of the day or the second half of the day. It has been super helpful to sit down every couple of days and look at our work calendars and decide who has conference calls when or who has email/service work to get out at what time.

What activities are your kids enjoying the most right now?
I follow a few great pages on Instagram for activity ideas: @themamanotes @the.sensory.bin @thecharlestonmoms @tlgwestashley @fit4momhq @fit4mom_charleston @mrs.happygilmore

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with working-from-home mamas?
GRACE. Say it out loud. G-R-A-C-E. It is not easy transitioning to be the parent, teacher, and employee all at once and in one place, without all of the support we’re used to. It’s quite overwhelming, and you might be doubting yourself. Give yourself some grace. Not everything will look like “Pinterest mommying” or be worthy of #bestideaever BUT we are doing it. We are surviving it and our little ones are happy and healthy and safe, so that is all that really matters.

For our little ones, their world is turned upside down too. No friends, no school, daycare, or playdates. They may not understand what is going on, but they absolutely sense that something is different. When the temper tantrums start to flare, or they ask for the one-millionth snack—give them some grace, too.

Also, if you are in the grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants picking up to-go or curbside or delivery, GIVE GRACE. These folks don’t have the luxury of “figuring it out at home”—they are out there providing us all with an escape, food, service, and most of them are doing it with a smile on their face. Be kind, be generous with your tips, they have families depending on them, too. We all just need grace right now; we need to learn to give more of it and to accept it.

Real Advice from Real Moms_ Working from Home with Kids Charleston MomsWe’re here for you, Mama . . .

Although we have to be physically distant, now is the time to lean on each other. I’m so thankful for these friends who shared what was working for them. I’m thankful for our selfless healthcare workers, for our small businesses, and this time to slow down and concentrate on what really matters.

If you’re working from home with kids right now, you should be so proud of yourself.

You’re doing the jobs of multiple people. You’re getting things done (even if it doesn’t feel like it). You’re spending extra quality time with your kids. You’re keeping your family safe. You’re doing a great job, Mama. 

Let’s continue the conversation. What advice do you have for working from home with kids?