For today’s working from home success story, I am joined by Jessica. Jessica has her own line of handmade toys, and is passionate about teaching adults the art of play, mindful learning experiences and has a website that answers parent’s questions on intentional playful parenting. She will show us her own experiences of working from home, and give some tips on how you can make it work for you.
Hi Jessica. Thanks for joining us today. Please can you tell our audience a bit about yourself:
My name is Jessica Perkins and I believe Play is the important work. I believe Play is innate in childhood and then we start to lose our ability to play as we age and replace it with efficiency and lists, and boxes checked off. It’s hard to get deep into play when we, as grownups, are so tapped out that our thoughts and agendas get in the way of our peace and presence. It’s a challenge, and daily practice to slow down enough to let the play unfold, without steering it. Adults have been programmed to find an end result, an outcome, and efficiency, but that’s not playing.
Play is a toying of thoughts, ideas, concepts… of experimenting with words, ideas and ponderings. It’s about seeing what comes of it without any script or judgment – no particular outcome necessary. Kids are brilliant at it. Adults are forced to grow out of this incredibly beautiful, vulnerable, and creative expansion.
I believe it’s in each of our best interests to tap back into the childish Joy of Play, but I think, at first, we have to reprogram ourselves a bit. That requires settling our minds and thoughts enough to be present. I have a handmade toy line called Mama May I. I also create mindful learning experiences and answer parent questions at JessicaPerkins.com where I share all about intentional, playful parenting (and REparenting!)
What inspired you to start working from home?
I always wanted to play and learn alongside my children. I wanted to be a SAHM (we homeschool!) — but early on, during naptime and bedtime, I was looking for ways to nurture my creativity and continue building our connection when my littles woke up. I started creating toys and connection-through-play experiences for my own littlies. Soon friends told me I should post them online and sell what I had made. At first, I wasn’t sure, but one day decided to dive right in. I posted some photos and wrote some copy and posted it. Before long I had my first sale! and another, and another. As my children aged, so did our product line! Everything I sell in the shop is something that has received my children’s Play of Approval!
How has this impacted upon yours and your families lives?
The biggest way COVID-19 has impacted our family in isolation. I’m a single mama without family in the area. Homeschooling for us was never “school at home” — I would call it more, unschooling – or, follow-your-feet-learning. We were constantly on the move – travelling, visiting, workshopping, class-taking, program-connecting. Our family really values and appreciates the support of our neighbourhood and community. So being removed from that physical support system has been particularly challenging and isolating.
What’s your number one tip for managing it all: working from home, family life, and household tasks?
This is a global emergency – a traumatic event for grown-ups, children, family, friends, neighbours around the globe. Trauma often brings up old trauma. So if you find this time, in particular, to feel like a roller coaster where you are excited one day and weeping the next for seemingly “no reason” — it’s all normal. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Know that you are doing the best you can with the tools that you have. Offer yourself compassion and grace and send all that same love to your children. This isn’t a time of extreme productivity or cognitive growth — this is a time to put efficiencies in place to stabilize.
Focus on self-care, self-love, and connection, and for the “have to’s” on the list, set a daily/weekly rhythm so everyone knows what to expect and when. Make lots of time for nature and nurture – practice gratitude and play. Whatever you need to do for your emotional well-being and sanity, do it – with self-love and compassion.
What does an average day working from home look like for you?
Every day is different depending on the meetings I have to attend and the activities we have planned. I often set up invitations for learning and play for when I have to be on work calls, but ultimately, if I need to resort to tv, I do it! without guilt! I have a list of “learning shows” that make it even easier.
We have a daily “rhythm” schedule called the “quarantine routine” that roughly lays out every hour for the majority of the day. I added reminders to our Alexa so it helps with transitions and reminders like washing your hands, checking in with your body, getting outside time and engaging in different kinds of learning throughout the day. It’s been a flexible rhythm because our nights have been later and mornings later around here, but we can swap timeslots to fit the needs of the day.
What’s your top tool or resource you can’t work from home without?
Open-ended play and art tools. We do a combination of hands-on-learning, collaborative learning, art projects, games, and screen time — math and reading happen through programs on their devices which feels helpful for me because I can do computer work when they are doing their screen work. There are so many amazing resources – subscription boxes and magazines that help reinforce math, science, geography, creative problem solving …. to online programs to help reinforce emotional regulation skills, yoga, mindfulness.
Otherwise, my littles are allowed to play and explore the house and the materials therein new and exciting ways that they create from their own imaginations. Tinkering, fiddling, reading, collaborating, playing, making, creating are all huge skills to continue growing and supporting. I like to say our environment is another learning facilitator or tool – having access to open-ended tools and materials for play not only increases cognitive function but play also helps with emotional health and well being so is particularly important during this time.
Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to know where to start when you want to work from home, can you provide our audience with your top tip?
When life feels so overwhelming that I feel paralyzed or stuck I first thank myself for having that brave and profound awareness. Grounding practices look different for everyone – so getting to know yourself better: what activates you, why, and the thoughts and feelings behind that activation are a huge help in building the resilience necessary to keep moving.
Trust yourself. You know what you need most and do it. Be gentle and kind to yourself. The first step to climbing a mountain is the first step.
Break down your tasks or goals into smaller steps. Write them down on paper so you don’t have to carry that mental load in your head, you can release it and put it on paper. And literally, check things off or cross them off. A friend was feeling pretty down about her productivity recently and decided to do a personal project of taking a snapshot of every single thing she did that day. Took a shower. Photo. Wash veggies, photo. Prepared breakfast, photo. Went through the mail, photo. Art project with her kiddo, photo. Logging onto a work meeting, photo. When she looked back over the day’s photo journey it was a profound reminder at just how much she was actually doing in a day.
Sometimes realizing all you have already done is enough to keep taking the next step forward.
If someone was considering doing what you do from home, is there a course or Ebook they should consider investing in to give them a start in the right direction?
Honestly, I believe that if someone wants to work from home, my best advice would be: figure out YOU. Find out what you LOVE and what you are good at — what comes naturally to you and is in your zone of genius. Then figure out how what you do can be offered to others. And keep pivoting. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to pivot until you find the right fit for you. The first iteration of your business doesn’t have to be where you end up.
What are your ambitions for the future, current projects?
I love our handmade toy line so much! I love watching young people engage in open-ended, imagination-powered play. I find it exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Their thoughts, their ideas, their practices and focus is astonishing to witness.
I will continue to expand our toy line while also growing into coaching parents and caregivers on play, learning, and connection. I believe the way through trauma is self-care, self-love, mindfulness, play, and connection. I have so many tools, practices, and activities to help families connect and grow forward, together. Tools like our Table Talk Connection Cards – connecting one question at a time.
And our Table Talk Connection Course where we get intentional about building the culture of connection at home. Gratitude practice with our gratitude blurbs, and mindfulness curriculum. Our FB group called The PlayFULL Way geared to parenting with a purpose (and play!) and my brand new podcast called Pause & Play. I am so excited about collaborating with parents and families and building resilience skills and connection across generations.
In the current climate, during the lockdown, it can be daunting to start something new. What advice could you give to a fellow mum who is considering doing what you do from home?
Take the first step. Put it out into the world that you are offering XYZ and see if there is interest. Just keep taking one step and one step and one step.
Jessica is a successful work from home mum, passionate about teaching adults the art of play, mindful learning experiences, and intentional playful parenting.
Alongside this, Jessica has her own line of handmade toys at her shop, MamaMayI. She thoroughly enjoys sharing tools, tips, and inspiration for other families to enjoy intentional, playful parenting within her main site, Jessica Perkins.
Connect with Jessica:
Feel free to join her parenting with purpose (and play!) group The PlayFULL Way: www.facebook.com/groups/theplayfullway