This post may contain affiliate links, which helps us to continue providing relevant content and we receive a small commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read the full disclosure here.
The joys of kids!
The next couple of weeks and possibly months the normal routine is going to be changed quite drastically. Plus this is a highly dynamic situation that is changing hourly. All thanks to the rapid crisis happening in 2020.
For now, we know school districts have cancelled classes, halted sport activities, and closed many go-to places like libraries due to the social distancing.
As a good friend of mine said, “looks like we have forced homeschooling.”
Personally, I think moms are more comfortable with the idea of having to work from home with kids. But, the dads are just a little bit more nervous.
Can you work from home and look after a child? Is that possible?
Yes, it is and it may be a very enjoyable experience looking back.
Today, we are going to dive into how to work from home with kids while still making the situation the best for all parties (and keep your sanity).
Best Working from Home with Kids Tips from Real Parents
I am thankfully to run an online business, which I love to do. It provides me the flexibility to work when I can and be there for my kids and husband. Plus it gives me a constant insight of what it means to work home with kids.
In addition, I have a great mastermind community with moms and dads who work from home on a daily basis. As well as amazing friends who balance the work at home mom routine!
Here are their best work from home tips:
Rachel from This Crafty Home:
My best tips are to set boundaries with your kids and have a schedule so they know what’s happening. Making sure they have their expectations right on what is happening in the day can help so much. I really like having a block schedule. If something doesn’t get done in it’s block I either put it off to tomorrow or move it to later if it’s important.
I think giving yourself grace when you are home with kids too is important. You can only do so much and that is ok! For younger kids the work hat is fun. Just tell them when you have this hat on you are working and they need to play on their own. It works once they get the hang of it.
Trinity at The Pay at Home Parent
1. Allow yourself plenty of breaks.
When you work from home with kids, a normal 3 hour work day might feel like an 8+ hour shift due to frequent stops to play with, feed, or care for your kids. Don’t see these breaks as a nuisance, but understand that your time spent with your kids is just important as your time spent working.
2. Create a to-do list.
Sometimes having a checklist can help you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. Since working from home with kids is tricky, its important to make the most of the time have.
3. Work double-time during nap time.
If your kids still nap, then use this quiet time to buckle down and get some work done. Save the housework for when the kids are awake. You can even get them involved and teach them to help in age appropriate ways.
4. Schedule two or three 15-minute reading times for the kids.
You can get a lot done during these scheduled quiet times if have a checklist of work you can do immediately.
Brandy with Your Simply Put Life and Pioneers Not Princesses
As you know, we WAHMs multitask like no other!
1. 10 minutes of planning in the evening is a game changer
2. Make a priority list for the day of what the kids want to do – bike ride, puzzle, paint, etc. They get to do their wants and I feel like we maximize our quality time.
3. Limit screen time. My kids are bears if this goes unchecked. Don’t feel bad about a movie, but you’re going to have a much happier household if you limit this!
4. Less is more! Less toys = more focused play and WAY less fighting!
5. Get them outside as much as possible!
6. Have realistic expectations of yourself and them. We’re all doing our best!
Brittany with OneWeirdMamma.com
With my 2 littles, it’s routine that keeps us going and me making time to work in between as much as possible.
The toddler has his chore list with visual pictures for the morning, then we do school stuff together followed by snack and play time. After lunch is quiet time/electronics in his room. Nap time is a saver, but he is not a fan of sleep.
Also, I have a bunch of activities set up at the beginning of the week for him, so I’m not scrambling to entertain if something goes off course. Usually it’s a bin of 10-15 things that will keep him occupied and quiet.
The baby doesn’t do scheduling well yet so… I just respond on demand and pick up where I left off.
Mads with The London Mother
When you work from home, doing a bit of light cleaning, a few rounds of laundry, replacing all the light bulbs and mowing the lawn twice a week is more than making good use of your circumstances, it’s actually a distraction and procrastination.
It also seems to take longer when you have more time to do it in. What’s the expression? Give the job to a busy person.
Don’t let the boundaries between work and running a home get too blurry with her awesome tips.
Tricia with The Denver Life Homes
With my high schoolers, I like to pow wow in the morning (or the night before) to let them know my schedule/limitations for the day. I will let them know if there is a time of day that I can drop them off somewhere. If they understand my schedule, I find they respect it and won’t bother me.
Best homeschooling tip from a seasoned homeschool mom…
My cousin is one of the best homeschool moms around, and yes, I am probably biased. But, I reached out to her since many are being forced into the online learning / homeschool model and she always has great and easy to implement tips.
Here is her advice:
It’s amazing to see what a child leading themselves can do. This week, my daughter decided she wants to learn Japanese all on her own and is taking steps to do so.
The child leading their own learning in things they introduce themselves lead to amazing things!
In other words, let your child find and learn what they are interested in without you.
How to Work From Home with Kids
Now, that we have collected the best tips from real work from home parents and a homeschool mom, let’s make an actionable list of what to do.
It is possible to be working from home while raising kids. You just have to lay the foundation, so everyone can be successful and still like each other at the end of the day.
First of all, you need to get a different mindset than going into the office.
Things are going to work differently and you must have a new mindset.
This is one my husband is struggling with since being mandated to work from home. He is used to his work routine at his office building, and now, he has children and a wife constantly around. So, a new mindset is crucial for success.
You have to ask for grace and give grace more often.
Now, that you know your mindset going into working from home with kids is key, that starts with framing expectations.
What are your expectations of you as a work from home parent? What are your expectations of your kids with learning from home?
Have a family meeting and discuss expectations.
Ask questions like:
- What do you expect the day to look like?
- How do you plan do fill your time?
- What needs to you have to fulfill your obligations?
- Are there times you need to have full quiet time?
- What can others do to stay busy and productive?
- What are the consequences when you don’t meet the expectations?
By establishing rules and expectations, you all will be happier and make the whole process more enjoyable.
3. Set up Ground Rules
As the saying goes, this is where the rubber meets the road.
Since you have sat down to discuss expectations, now it is time to create those ground rules.
What will be allowed and what won’t be allowed.
This is especially needed with technology. State ahead of time how much television, computer, and video game time each kid will get per day.
This is the key for long-term success. As most of us know, the exact timeframe of how long kids will be off of school is completely unknown. Ground rules are important for your sanity.
Also, outline consequences for when the ground rules are broken.
4. Schedules! Schedules! And More Schedules!
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Kids thrive on schedules and routines. Why do the schools run their classrooms on a schedule? Because it works and gets the job done.
Julie from Wise Dollar Mom say to make a list of your daily essentials. What makes you feel accomplished and balanced? Create a daily routine that allows you time for your essentials! Check out her sample work form home schedule.
Create your work from home schedule.
Then, post it on the back of your laptop as a reminder for those little interrupters.
More than likely, everyone’s schedules will vary and that is a good thing. We will discuss why in a later tip.
For kids, they can easily use the same schedule they have at school. If needed, they can modify it to fit the working parent’s schedules.
5. Time Block
I am a big fan of time blocking. This has been one of the reasons of finding success when working from home. For me, time blocking happened after reading the 12 Week Year. It completely changed my perspective of what I can accomplish.
When you create your schedule, time block out the times that you are naturally the most productive. Those would be your do not interrupt times.
Block out any calls that you have.
In my favorite planner, I layout my schedule and pick the top 3 tasks I need to accomplish.
Then, you time block in things like – snack time for the kids, getting outside for fresh air, eating lunch, or doing a load of laundry.
Kimberly from Team Cartwright says utilizing a block schedule will help you find time in the day to work and be with your kids. Here is how to make a block schedule happen.
6. Play Zone Defense
When you have two parents that are working from home, you can play zone defense.
For my friends who don’t live in a sports addicted house (like me), zone defense is when each player is given a zone or an area to cover. This would be the opposite of man-to-man defense, which is one-on-one.
With this zone defense schedule for working parents, it would give you 5 hours of productive time without interrupting kids. Then, you would be the zone parent in charge for 4 additional hours. To hopefully equate to a full 8 hour day that you got real work done.
While this may not be ideal, it is a good place to start when creating a work at home schedule with kids.
For working parents, it would break down like this:
Just to Note… Even if you are a single paycheck household, the parent “on duty” all the time needs a timeout break. Plan that time in your schedule. Here are tips to thrive living on one income.
7. Set Up Space
Lastly, you need a dedicated space to work in. And did you know external monitors is quickly becoming a highly demanded product like toilet paper, soap, and medications??
You don’t need to run out and buy a desk to create a work area.
It can be simple as working at the dining room table. Or maybe if you are lucky, an outdoor patio area.
This will help with your mindset. This dedicated work space will be your productive zone (and maybe your employer will let you keep working from home after the crisis passes).
Make sure that you plug into a surge protector to protect your equipment. Here are the best surge protector power strips I have found.
Our Penny System
Research has shown a significant growth rate the more words read per day. This was in a handout I received from the kid’s school; I am still searching for the research so I can give proper credit and link to the study.
In an effort to lessen the load on electronics, we have implemented the penny system.
For each ten minutes read, you earn one penny.
One penny equals ten minutes of “free” electronics time. This would be time on electronics outside what is mandated for online learning.
If you run out of pennies, then I guess you can read some more.
It is my way as a parent to create a balance between the two.
However, I know that our home library of books is dwindling since we rely on the school and local library quite extensively. The demand for renting ebooks at the library has skyrocketed. Here is a list of FREE children’s ebooks from Amazon.
Stephanie from Explore More Clean Less explains audiobooks are a life saver! Both you and your kids can enjoy listening to a story together while you work on your computer; see tips to get started with audiobooks for kids.
So, my frugal self will probably end up buying some of the 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime.
Can you Work from Home with Kids?
For many people right now, due the pandemic, you really don’t have a choice. This is your new reality and an unknown at that.
You have to do the best you can.
Be the best employee while working from home and still get the job well.
Plus be the best work from home parent and keep your kids on track with their schooling.
And do all of that without losing your mind and your sanity.
What is your best parenting tip to survive working from home? We would love to hear it in the comments.
Oh, and don’t forget, make sure you know these money management tips to help in a crisis.