19 Practical Tips for Working from Home with Kids (Without Losing Your Mind)

 

If your kiddos are stuck at home and you’re struggling to get your work done in all the chaos, you’re not alone … and you’re gonna want to read this!

 

Practical tips for working from home with kids (from moms all around the world)!

 

The truth is: working from home is not easy, even when you DONT have a houseful of hungry, needy, ravaging little monsters calling you MOM.

 

When the schools are closed and we’re all stuck at home together, working becomes a little harder.

 

But it’s not impossible!

 

 

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And since this is one area of business where many work-from-parents excel, we’re rounding up the pros and coming at ya with some helpful tips to get you through!

 

Here are some of our best and most practical tips for working from home with kids during this tough time.

 

1. WAKE UP BEFORE THE KIDS.

 

Here’s the one that no one wants to hear, but it’s super important!

 

When we’re stuck at home during isolation (and we don’t have an “official” work schedule to follow), it becomes easier to slack off and sleep in whenever the kids do.

 

But that’s not what a good CEO does girlfriend!

 

Of course, there are times when a little extra rest is super important, so listen to your body and make adjustments as needed!

 

BUT …

 

Be careful not to use this as an excuse to avoid waking up early and working before the kids wake up. Even if you just wake up 30 minutes before your kids and write an email, schedule social media, or edit a blog post, it’s a productive start to your day!

 

For those of you that are total night owls, you can flip this schedule and stay up a little later to get work done. The goal here is to dedicate some serious alone time to productive work (whenever that may be in your home).

 

But I personally find that waking up before my kids helps my productivity a lot. And it looks like I’m not the only one!

 

Our friend Keisha from My Father is King says she lets her kids sleep in late on mornings that she has to work, so that she can get a few hours of work done before they wake up.

 

Same, girl. Same.

 

Do what you gotta do to get that work time in!

 

2. SEPARATE YOUR HIGH-ENERGY AND LOW-ENERGY TASKS.

 

This is a super common tactic in the world of productivity experts (because it works)!

 

The general principle is to divide up your task list between the big tasks that expend a lot of your mental and emotional energy, and the small tasks that can be handled quite easily.

 

This rule applies to those of us working from home with kids, but with a slight adjustment.

 

We should still divi up our day by high-energy and low-energy tasks, but instead of accomplishing these tasks when WE are feeling high or low, we’ll accomplish these tasks based on the highs and lows of our kids.

 

Think about that for a sec.

 

If your kids are sick, tired, hungry, or irritable, they’re going to require more of your energy, right? And this leaves less energy for other tasks, like work tasks.

 

When the kids are content, rested, happy, and have full bellies, they’re easier to deal with and they require less of your energy. Leaving more energy for other tasks.

 

With this in mind, we recommend dividing up your daily and weekly work tasks into high-energy tasks and low-energy tasks.

 

When your kids are requiring MORE of your energy, you can work on low-energy tasks that require less focus. When your kids are requiring LESS of your energy, you can work on high-energy tasks that require more focus.

 

Here are some potential tasks and their respective categories, for the sake of example.

 

Low-energy tasks:

 

Casual reading
Filing/organizing
Sweeping/mopping
Responding to comments/messages

 

High-energy tasks:

 

Writing articles or books
Handling tech and coding
Meeting with clients
Pitching ideas to companies

 

If you’re following tip number one above, then you’re already waking up before the kids. Guess what tasks you should work on while they’re sleeping?

 

HIGH-ENERGY TASKS! The things that require more attention.

 

3. MAKE A BUSY BOOK.

 

Put your crafty side to the test and make a fun activity book for your small kids that you can pull out whenever you need a little time to focus on work.

 

You can set them up beside your workstation and let the kids work through their busy book on their own. Linda Hurst from the All About Baby Blog made this super imaginative Busy Book for her toddler to keep her occupied when she needs to get work done.

 

The beauty part of Linda’s DIY busy book? You can add more pages and activities to the book at any time! And if you only pull this book out during work time, it’ll be more special, and the kids will be more likely to enjoy it.

 

4. USE A TIMER.

 

Our friend Tracie from TracieFobes.com used the timer method when her kids were younger.

 

She would set a timer and make sure it was visible to the kids. The kids knew that when the timer came out, it meant mom was working.

 

If the kids interrupted, time was added. And when the timer was done, they would do something fun!

 

‘It worked very well as it allowed me to work without interruption and taught them how to be patient and respectful of other’s time.’

 

Kathryn from Tons of Goodness uses the timer system with great success too!

 

She says, ‘I use the Pomodoro technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes and then work on a single task during that time. When the timer goes off you take a short break. You do this for four sessions, then take a longer 30-minute break. We usually only work for about an hour, then go outside and play or do something together. My daughter seems to like this too because she can look at the timer and know how much “work time” we have left.’

 

If you haven’t tried the timer method yet, give it a try and let us know how it works!

 

5. ENTERTAIN THE HECK OUT OF THOSE KIDS!

 

This tip might seem out of place, since we’re trying to find ways to get work done with kids at home… but hear me out.

 

Kids thrive on attention, affection, and praise, right?

 

If you shut off ALL outside distractions and have some energy-burning fun with your kids, you’re gonna fill up their little love tank and also tire them out (which are both good things, if we’re being honest)!

 

Ideas:

 

Jump on the trampoline.
Have pillow fights.
Play tag or duck-duck-goose.
Go to the park (if you’re not under lockdown).
Setup obstacle courses in the yard.

 

Here is a massive list of 75+ things you can do at home with your kids!

 

After the fun is done, you can give them some downtime to watch movies, play games quietly, or take a nap… and then get your booty to work! Along these same lines, comes our next tip!

 

6. PAUSE TO GIVE SOME PERSONAL ATTENTION.

 

Not all work breaks need to be full of energy-burning fun and adventure.

 

We have to remember that, even though we have work to do, our kids NEED personal attention throughout the day!

 

Lucy from Cheers to Life Blogging says she takes ‘short breaks throughout the day to spend quality time with her son. This can be doing anything from lying in bed, to playing a quick game, or reading a book.’

 

They’ll definitely look forward to these moments of quality time. And you can also use these experiences to reason with your child as they get a little older. Explain to them that there is a time for cuddles, a time for reading, and a time for letting mommy get work done.

 

7. SET UP AN INDEPENDENT PLAY AREA.

 

If your kids are small, you can set up a safe independent play area with a variety of toys for them to explore. Set out different toys each day to keep the kids interested!

 

This independent playtime should give you at least 30 minutes, twice a day, of isolated work time to get important things done. – tip from Karissa Whitman from Fit Mommy Strong.

 

8. SET A SCHEDULE.

 

Try setting a clear schedule for the kids, so they know what to expect during the day. And also give them some freedom to choose activities they can do, so they feel in control.

 

Rachel of Lovely Little Things Creations says, ‘My girls do schoolwork in the morning, then they take a break before doing some physical activity. Then lunch and a documentary. Then free play in the afternoon. They know the routine so it’s less hectic.’

 

If your kiddos aren’t on a reasonable (but somewhat flexible) at-home schedule, this is worth a try.

 

9. TRY TIME BLOCKING.

 

I absolutely swear by time-blocking, and a lot of my work-from-home mama friends do too!

 

Stormy from The Work at Home Wonder says, ‘Start time blocking!

 

Literally, schedule out each hour of your day. It may sound excessive to account for each hour of the day, but it’ll help you create a family rhythm. You can schedule in work time and provide for independent activities during those hours. And then set times for making lunch, spending time with the kids and doing overlooked things, like taking a shower!

 

This saved my sanity with 2 toddlers while working from home as a VA (virtual assistant) full time.’

 

10. LET THE KIDS HAVE SPECIAL ARTS AND CRAFTS TIME.

 

Keep a special arts and craft bucket filled with activities, fun workbooks, and games that the kids don’t see very often.

 

‘When I really need to get things accomplished, I pull this out and let the kids have free reign with the arts and crafts.’ – tip from Bridget of The Freelancing Mama blog.

 

You’re probably noticing a little trend of bringing out new and interesting things for your kids to enjoy when you need to get work done. These mamas are probably recommending this because it works!

 

When you bring out things that the kids don’t see or play with on a regular basis, it becomes a new and exciting thing that can entertain them for a bit while you get work done. Along those same lines, comes our next tip for working from home with kids!

 

11. MAKE A STRESS-FREE PAINTING STATION.

 

Sandee from the Sandee Booth blog also sets up a little painting station to keep her little one occupied.

 

‘I cover a surface in paper (printer, lined- whatever I have on hand) and tape it all together. I let my youngest color or paint to their hearts content in their play clothes and then put him in the bath when he’s done. Painting keeps him occupied for at least 45 minutes.’

 

That’s a good little chunk of time to get some work done!

 

12. GET THE KIDS INVOLVED.

 

If you have kids that love to be involved in whatever you’re doing, set them up with pen/paper or a play phone/laptop next to your desk and ask them to help you work.

 

My toddlers have play laptops and they love to work with mommy. They sit next to me at the kitchen table and they send pretend emails to people for me. I can keep them busy for a good 20 minutes with this little game.

 

** Note: I do LOW-ENERGY tasks during this time, because my kids will inevitably need my help spelling stuff on their laptops!

 

If your kids are older, try getting them involved by showing them how to do something that you do. Better yet, offer to PAY THEM to help you with something work-related, like creating graphics or sending basic email responses.

 

That’ll motivate them to get involved!

 

Our friend Erica from Adventures of Abby Girl tries to involve her 4-year-old in work tasks whenever she can too. She says, ‘I’ll ask her for advice on something or sit her near me on her computer. She loves to tweak my Instagram stories and add music to them.’

 

And our friend Jennie from GinGin and Roo does the same. She sets up “workstations” at her desk for her two girls to complete their own projects independently (they’re 2 and 7). She says, ‘it keeps them happy because they’re near mom and it keeps them quiet and occupied so she can work in short blocks.’

 

Such a fun way to make little entrepreneurs out of these kiddos when we’re all at home together!

 

13. BUY NEW MOVIES OR TOYS.

 

When all else fails, this tip will NOT! If you desperately need a few hours of quiet time, buy a movie that your kids have been wanting to see or a toy/video game that they’ve been wanting to try.

 

Obviously, most of us can’t do this every day or week, but it’s a good fail safe for those times that you need to get work done without interruptions. Disney + is a good, affordable option too!

 

14. ALTERNATE SHIFTS WITH A PARTNER OR FRIEND.

 

Sometimes, work-at-home moms feel like they must be everything to everybody (which is partially true for some of us).

 

They might even hesitate or refuse to ask for help.

 

I’m kind of this way, but I’m trying insanely hard to fight that natural tendency of mine. Because the bottom line is, my husband and I BOTH work full-time. I just do my work in my home while he does it on the jobsite.

 

If he needs to get work done, he leaves the house and goes to his jobsite for X number of hours. And work-from-parents should have that same luxury whenever possible (of course, it’s not always possible, but when it is, it’s okay to do it)!

 

Now we have an arrangement where I can leave the house for a few hours, at least once or twice a week, and work somewhere quiet … when we aren’t in quarantine, that is.

 

When my husband is working overtime and can’t watch the kids, I alternate childcare with a friend who also works from home. She watches my kids one day and I watch hers the next, so that both of us can get uninterrupted work time!

 

I didn’t always have this luxury, but you never know what is available out there if you don’t start asking around. Try to find a supportive community that understands what you need and what you’re dealing with, so you can help each other.

 

15. IMPROVE YOUR OWN FOCUS

 

All the uninterrupted work time in the world won’t mean much if you can’t focus and get your work done, right?

 

So, this tip is one of the most important ones!

 

Do whatever you need to do to IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS. I don’t care if this means getting more sleep, taking a supplement approved by your physician, playing games that help with focus, or trying something like oxygen therapy!

 

This is something that my husband and I both started this month, and we’re really loving it so far. You don’t have to do anything outrageous or expensive. You can just grab a bottle of supplemental non-medical use oxygen like this one and use it at home to boost your oxygen intake and improve your focus/clarity.

 

I’m not a doctor, obviously, and I can’t guarantee that this is going to be the life-changing thing that improves your focus. You’ll have to try a few things to find what works for you! But do a little research and see if at-home oxygen therapy is something worth trying in your case!

 

My husband swears by Alpha Brain too, which is a supplement for memory and focus (but he will also buy anything Joe Rogan recommends haha, so take that with a grain of salt)! Not hating on the product itself, I have never tried it.

 

The goal should simply be to find a way to improve your mental clarity and your focus, so that you can maximize your work efforts!

 

NEED EVEN MORE SURVIVAL TIPS?

 

Here are a few other sanity-saving tips for when you’re working from home with kids (feel free to add yours in the comments)!

 

-At the start and end of each day, scan your home for any health and safety hazards and get rid of them as much as you possibly can. This is useful because when you want to focus on work for a while, you know that no matter what’s going on, they kids are unlikely to be able to hurt themselves. Allows them to explore more freely too! – Tip from Abena of Kin Unplugged.

 

-Loosen up the schedule a tad bit and let your kiddos spend a little more time doing whatever they’re having fun doing! Our friend Nadia from Speaking of Cents says, ‘I have figured out if I put my younger one in the bath tub, they can spend a good 2-3 hours of playing and I can get work done.’

 

If your kids love bath time, you can try bathtub paints too!

 

Essentially, if your kiddo is enjoying something they’re doing, let go of the strict schedule and let them play! You’ll both be much happier.

 

-Get outside for a few minutes whenever you have the chance. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, step outside and take five deep breaths. – tip from Dani of Bucks and Dough.

 

-Plan for your day to be a little longer than a typical workday. For example, my normal non-pandemic hours were from 7:30am to 4:00pm. But now that we’re working from home, I find it a lot easier to plan to work between 7am and 6pm.

 

With a toddler at home who constantly needs attention, I find it a lot easier to take breaks when he needs attention/stimulation, because I’m not limited to an 8-hour day. I feel a lot freer to make sure everyone and everything that needs my attention gets it. And giving myself specific hours (i.e. 7am-6pm) allows me to make sure I don’t lose time for myself (and chores) in there – tip from Sarah of Snuggle Bug Life.

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

 

Working from home with kids is no easy feat, amiright??!!! … My hubby said he was tired just hearing all of these little tips that work-from-home parents have to try in order to get work done!

 

It’s not an easy job, my friends, but it’s NOT impossible either!

 

Manage your expectations, find creative ways to entertain the kids, and remember to be flexible and patient … everyone involved is learning how to deal and adjust to current circumstances, so we have to make room for that.

 

Got some helpful work-from-home tips of your own?

 

Please share them in the comments so that everyone can benefit! And be sure to pin this baby for later!

 

 

Related reads:

9 Easy Ways to Make Money Working from Home

How to Start a Blog and Make $1,000 a Month

Everything you Need to Know About Working with Brands Right Now

4 Comments

  1. Sarah

    March 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Nice article! Due to this COVID-19, everyone is working from home including me and these are some nice tips.

    1. Cate

      March 30, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      I’ve been hearing this a lot, so many people struggling to get it all done in the midst of this chaos! I’m glad the tips were helpful!

  2. Yasna

    May 16, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    This is a very important thing in this bad situation. We all time busy with my kids. But we have to spend more time with our kids. Thanks for sharing this awesome article.

    1. Cate

      May 31, 2020 at 7:37 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate you so so much!

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