Found yourself struggling with how to balance working from home with kids at home too?
You’re not alone.
This is a huge adjustment for moms and dads who are used to leaving the house to go to work while the kids are at daycare or school.
But times are changing, and now working from home with kids is something many millennial moms are tackling–and even enjoying– through gig work, home businesses, freelancing, and blogging.
Tips For Working From Home With Kids
I’ve been a work-from-home mom now for three years. My experience includes working with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers at home.
Here are my tried-and-true tips for how to be productive while working from home with kids.
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1. Create a Daily Routine
When you find yourself in the new territory of trying to work from home with kids, babies, or toddlers at home, you need a daily routine.
If you just try to wing it and fit things in whenever, but you don’t feel like you’re getting enough done, creating some structure will help.
The times I feel the most stressed and frustrated are times when I didn’t implement a routine because I felt like I was trying to do two important things at once. I wasn’t spending quality time with my kids because I was also on my laptop or phone, and I wasn’t getting the work done because of the constant interruptions.
You will still need to remain somewhat flexible as kids are not robots, but creating some structure and a predictable routine has been my best productivity work from home tip.
Tip: Our daily routine for work and school at home has been a gamechanger.
2. Plan for Play, School, Work, and Chores
You can create a work-at-home schedule that breaks down each hour of the day like I do, but you don’t have to.
Another way to create structure without a specific time set for each activity is to plan just a few bigger blocks of time throughout the day.
While working from home, your schedule needs to include:
- PLAYTIME where you’re 100% present and actively engaged doing something fun with kids
- SCHOOL / LEARNING TIME where kids are learning with or without your guidance. This will vary by age but could include writing, reading, math, games, apps, videos from teachers, animal shows, science experiment shows, etc.
- INDEPENDENT PLAY where kids do something without you. This is also your WORK TIME
- CHORES where everyone works together to pick up.
3. Talk About The Schedule As a Family
Work with your husband to create a schedule that works for both of you. Depending on your kids’ ages and your work requirements, you could also allow your kids some input on what your work-from-home routine looks like.
Definitely communicate as a family what everyone’s needs are (work, school, play, chores). Your family is a team, and each of you has an important role to make this work.
4. Tag-Team Kids With Partner
This strategy allows the kids to still get the attention they need and crave, while one adult works at a time.
Working as a team with your husband is important for working from home while keeping a calm home. This might include mornings, throughout the day during quarantine, evenings, or weekends.
For years, I have woken up early to work 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM while my husband is responsible for the kids if they get up that early. It took adjustment for all of us, but we stuck with it.
5. Create a Dedicated Work Space
Whether working from home is short-term (like those working remotely during coronavirus) or long-term (like stay-at-home moms working online like me), creating a “work space” is a great way to separate Mom from Work.
It’s hard for kids to not interrupt you if you’re sitting at the kitchen table.
If you have a spare room, turn that into a home office. Or find a nook like a bedroom or large closet that can transform into a work station.
6. Rotate 20 Minute Intervals for Play-Work Time
Of course, you’re not going to get 8 hours of uninterrupted work time by closing yourself in a home office. But if you rotate work time and kid time in a predictable way, kids will learn that you’ll be done working and can hang with you soon.
Some find great success with 20 minutes of focused work time followed by 20 minutes of engaged, screen-free kid time.
A visual timer like this can easily be set for 20 minutes. Without a word from you, you can simply point at the timer to show you will be available to help solve their next problem soon.
7. Set Boundaries With Visual Cues
If your kids need more than a schedule to remind them that you need focused time to work, try using visual cues to remind them of your work boundaries.
Some ways to set boundaries to work from home could be:
- Print and hang your Family Schedule on the refrigerator
- Close the door to your office when it’s work time.
- Make a Red/Green Circle. Hang red when it’s work time. Hang green at non-work times.
- Earbuds in your ears means you’re focused. Earbuds out means kids can talk to you. (These inexpensive noise-isolation earbuds are working well for me)
- Use a timer to visually show kids how much time is left for your work and their task
8. Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up
Let’s face it, you’re mom. Mama. Momma. Mommy. Mum. And MOM!
Everyone loves you and you’re the glue that keeps the household together.
There are clean underwear, clean dishes, and food in bellies because of your amazingness. So naturally, there may be some growing pains when you first designate time to step out of your Mom role and into your Work role.
No matter how hard it gets, stick with it! Work through the growing pains to create a new norm that your work is important too and you need to intentionally set aside time for that priority.
9. Let Go Of Household Chore Perfectionism
Listen up, Mama. Chances are your house will not be perfectly clean during this phase. And that’s ok!
If your husband and kids are helping clean up, things may not be done the way you would do them.
But before you correct it, complain, or do it yourself, consider if it is really worth your precious time and energy.
You’re working from home with kids. You may even want your own time to exercise, socialize, read, or take a bath. Be cautious about wasting energy on things that really don’t matter.
10. Work During Screen Time
Whether it’s Daniel Tiger, Baby Einstein, Khan Academy, or Cosmic Kids Yoga, make the most of it by working during screen time.
Is the baby sleeping? Put a movie on for the older ones, grab a cup of coffee and get to work.
11. Stock Up On Creative Toys
Make sure you have plenty of toys that foster creative play. Instead of a toy that is only meant to do one thing, choose a variety of blocks, balls, and toys for pretend play.
Some of the Best Creative Toys are:
- LEGOs and LEGO Friends
- Balls of all Sizes
- Trains and Tracks
- Construction Trucks
- Sand and Kinetic Sand
- Paint and Paint Books
- Kitchen Playset and Food
- Water Beads (in the bathtub is fun)
12. Foster a Love for Reading
Read to your kids daily. It’s a great way to bond, improves their literacy skills, and they will be more likely to look at books and read independently.
Keep fresh and new books in your home by:
- checking new books out from public libraries
- use Audible stories for kids (listen for free right now)
- get books with CDs and a cheap CD player
- watch YouTube videos of authors reading books
- use Kindle Unlimited for ebooks (Free for 1 Month)
- use book apps like epic! or ReadingIQ (Get 2 months for just $5)
Keep fresh books in the house by visiting public libraries often and stocking up on books on subjects your kids are interested in.
Amazon has their HOT Buy 2 Get 1 Free Deal on so many good books for kids of all ages right now.
13. Let Kids Free Play Outside
Dress your kids for the weather and let them play outside, using nature as their toy.
Let kids explore:
- climbing trees
- splashing in puddles
- digging in the mud
- playing with sticks
If you don’t have a place for kids to explore nature outside your home, consider getting a water and sand table, a sensory bin for things like rice and beans, or make your own water table with PVC pipe using this tutorial.
The more kids are allowed to explore outside, the more free time parents get to work.
14. Encourage Active Outside Time
Try to get out for at least one walk or bike ride a day. Exercise and outside time are good for everyone in the family.
In addition, encourage your kids to be active outside by themselves.
Some great outdoor exercise ideas are:
- ride bike (Strider Bikes are our favorite bike for toddlers)
- ride-on scooters
- stand-up scooters
- dribble or shoot basketball
- play catch
- draw hopscotch (neon sidewalk chalk makes this fun)
- walk or run
- yoga in the grass
- jump rope
Pick a safe designated area, such as your fenced in back yard or driveway, depending on where you live and your kids’ ages.
Take this opportunity to be productive and tackle one of your work projects.
15. Play Music
Music has a way of changing the mood in an entire house. When feelings are big or tense, put on some calming and inspirational music.
When it’s work time for mom and “play by yourself time” for kids, put in your earbuds to focus on work and let the kids have their choice of music playing near them.
16. Stop The Constant Snack Requests From Kids
Kids want snacks all the time! This is a real struggle for any stay-at-home mom or work-from-home parent.
End the struggle for good with these creative ways to get kids to stop asking for snacks.
Genius Mom Hacks to Handle Snacks:
- SNACK TIME. Put a designated snack time or two in your schedule.
- SNACK BASKET. Put a basket of snacks out in the morning. Kids can eat when they want from this basket. When it’s gone, no more snacks until tomorrow.
- SNACK SHOP. Kids earn money for snacks by doing chores.
- STOP SNACKS. You could start the routine of only eating 3 meals per day. This might work well if you’re concerned about your kids only eat snacks then refuse to eat the more nutritious meals you make.
- KITCHEN IS CLOSED SIGN. This sanity saver sign from Jane is a solution that communicates when the kitchen is open and when snack time will be.
17. Use Waterbottles
A simple productivity tip for working from home is for everyone in the family to use one water bottle per day.
If you need a good water bottle, these are worth checking out:
- Contigo Stainless Steel Water Bottle (with straw for adults)
- Snug Flask for Kids (with straw for kids, 2 different sizes)
- Hydroflask (wide mouth)
- YETI Rambler Tumbler (for water after the coffee is gone)
- Klean Kanteen (sports top for kids)
Using a water bottle all day instead of cups cuts down on dishes that need to be washed, allowing more time for work and play.
18. Lower Your Productivity Expectations
You could have been the most productive person ever when you worked at the office. Now, you’re working from home with kids around.
There will be a time and day when the kids are not climbing on you like a jungle gym. They will be off at college or in their own apartment with friends.
For now, give yourself some grace even if you have to lower your expectations for how much work you get done at home.
19. Plan and Prep Your Meals
Another way to keep a calm and productive house is to have your meals planned ahead of time.
Simply knowing what you’re going to make for lunch and dinner can help you waste less energy each day on figuring out what to feed the kids and eat yourself.
20. Start Your Day Earlier
If you still need another quiet hour to focus without kids, it comes to this. Starting your day earlier is not always fun. But it’s the #1 proven productivity tip for working from home with kids around.
A Wake Up Light Alarm Clock is a gentle way to wake up without waking the rest of the house.
I like mine so much I bought one for my daughter too.
If you have babies still getting up several times throughout the night, I know all too well that this will not be easy. But if you absolutely need more time to get work done, try tackling your most important project before the kids are up.
Stay Sane, Be Productive, and Work From Home With Kids
Remember, it’s only a phase. You may need to get creative, adjust your routine, and set boundaries with your family, but stick with these tips and you’ll soon be a champ at working from home with kids around.
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