How to Work from home when you have Kids

Working from home without childcare can be challenging.  How do you possibly get any work done when everyone still needs you?  Working from home with family has it’s difficulties, but it can be done.

Work from home with kids

I’ve been blessed to be able to work from home for the past years.  And once upon a time working from home wasn’t a very common thing, but these days a lot more people work from home.  It’s a dream so many of us parents wanted, however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with it’s own set of challenges.

You still need to be able to focus on your work.  You may need a quiet space for phone or zoom calls.  And at the same time you might have young kids who require a high level of attention and can’t be left alone to occupy themselves for too long.

The truth is, we can end up giving only half of our attention to our work and half of our attention to our kids and generally that isn’t what most of us had in mind when we considered working from home.

So what do you do?  How do you get work done while the kids need you?  How do you balance kids and working at home?

HOW TO WORK FROM HOME WITH KIDS

Get a few hours in before they wake up

If you are able to, consider getting up a few hours before your children do to get some work done.  This is a time when your whole house might actually be quiet and you can focus on what you need to do.  While it’s probably too early to make phone calls, consider doing parts of your job that really require focus and silence.

Work during nap time

If you have kids that nap, use that time to get in a couple hours of work.  Make sure your workspace is a spot that is free of distractions but is well set up so you can jump right into what you need to do the minute you put the baby down to sleep.  Working from home with a baby usually requires making use of naptime.

Use the services of a babysitter

A few mornings a week consider hiring a babysitter if your budget allows.  They can come to your house and watch your children while you retreat to your in-home office.  This is a great way for teens to make extra money if you can find a homeschool kid who is home during the day.

A babysitter is imperative if you have young kids and a boss who wants you to work at certain times everyday, like 9-5.  You may not have the luxury of being able to fit work in wherever you have extra hours, and so a babysitter will help ease the stress of trying to keep kids quiet and happy while you are also trying to get work done.

Set your kids up with some snacks and something that occupies them well

If you have young kids and you need to be close by but you really want to get some work done, give your children some snacks and a toy that occupies them well, pull out your laptop and get to work while they enjoy eating and playing.  

Accept that interruptions are going to happen

I know I can get into the groove of work and I don’t want to stop even though my kids need me.  I always do put my work on hold when one of my children need something, but I can find myself getting annoyed at times. 

The thing is, this attitude isn’t going to help me.  If I work from home I’m going to have interruptions and I have to remember that this is exactly what I wanted!

So, the sooner you accept that your day will be filled with interruptions, some days more than others, the less stressed and frustrated you will be.

Give older kids an activity and instructions to keep themselves busy

If you have older kids you can give them an activity to do and let them know you need a few hours to yourselves to work.  Older kids can handle the responsibility and it’s good for them. 

My kids are 10, 13, and 15 and I’ll sometimes hand out some of their school work that I know they can do independently and let them know that while they are doing that I will be working till whatever time I give them.  I’ll tell them that when they are done they can do their chores, and if they finish all that they can have some QUIET free time.  

Make up a schedule

Making a schedule for your days at home will greatly help in your planning and expectations.  So, for instance, you might get up and work for a bit, and then when your kids get up you might feed them breakfast, play with them a bit, do some homeschooling if you are a homeschooling parent,  or take them to the park.  Then maybe you’ll have lunch, and then schedule in a few more hours of work.

If you have a schedule you are more likely to stick to it and actually get things done.  The one disclaimer I would make with the schedule though is to be flexible.  Things always come up with kids and your schedule will change day to day depending on the needs of your children.

Give them (limited) screen time in the day

Yep.  I said it.  I know it’s counter cultural these days to admit to giving your kids screen time, and I much prefer my kids NOT glued to the screen.  I think too much screen time is detrimental to their health and well-being.

HOWEVER – everything in moderation right?  An hour of screen time a day is not going to damage your child.  I mean, how many of us remember growing up and tuning in every day to Mr. Dressup and Sesame Street?  Can’t be just me, right?

Give them an hour each day where they can watch their favorite show or play a video game for a short time.  The key is to make sure you haven’t let the day get away from you and suddenly the screen is the only thing entertaining them.

Trust me, I was that mom who would have been happier to never let a single video game grace my house.  But I know that forbidding them to do it completely may just cause them to run straight to it when they are on their own. Plus, at some point they have to learn self-regulation and self-control as well.

So, we do it in moderation, and yes, when I need to get some work done and I can see the normal things like toys and board games aren’t holding their attention that day I will let them play some video games.

Work in the evenings when your spouse is home

I definitely find working in the evenings harder.  By that time I am just too tired for my brain to function at full capacity.  However, there was a year that I only worked in the evenings because it was the only time I could get work done.  My husband was home and he would watch the kids while I blogged away.  

Sometimes there is a season we need to do that.  Of course, if you are going to do this I recommend making sure you carve out some time in the evenings to be with your family.  But if your kids go to bed early, like at 7:00 p.m. for example, you could work till 9 and get a couple hours in.

WORKING FROM HOME WITH TODDLERS IS IMPOSSIBLE

It might feel like if you have really little ones, like toddlers, it’s just not possible to work from home.  It might look a little different, and you may not get as much done as you’d like, but once you figure out how to entertain a toddler while working from home it’ll get easier.

Using some of the ideas above that work for little ones can help.  You can also have a few special different toy bins that you only pull out while you are working.  This means they are all new toys that they don’t play with all the time.  It will hold their attention longer.

ACCEPTING DIFFERENT SEASONS OF LIFE

I think one of the biggest things to remember when working from home when you have kids is accepting that the amount of work you will get done will depend on the season of life you are in, and that it won’t be like that forever.  When I first started my blog I was able to put in a lot of hours in.  It was just where our life was at and I worked every evening.

But a couple years ago we made a big change by moving seven hours north, and suddenly, even though my kids were older they required a lot more attention with homeschooling and rides to all their activities and youth events.  I was really struggling to get any work done.

But I also know our kids are only young once and this will change one day.  So I accepted that I’d have to put my blog into “maintenance mode” and I wouldn’t be able to work as much as I wanted on it or grow it.  That meant less income than we had before.

I am just coming off of that season and while it’s still busy as ever with my kids, we are in a groove where I’m able to get some more work done.  

And the season after this one is where my kids will start making plans for college and I’ll have hoards of time to myself to get work done.

So remember, if you are frustrated with the lack of work you can get done right now at home, it isn’t forever.

 

 

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