With the current global pandemic, more people than ever are working remotely from home. And with many schools out for the summer (and many staying virtual in the fall), lots of parents are faced with the challenge of working from home with kids.
It’s not easy (and that’s an understatement — it’s hard as hell).
It doesn’t even matter how old your kids are. Each age comes with a different challenge.
Babies and toddlers, who might otherwise be at a daycare, need constant attention. Older children need activities (and some supervision, depending on age).
Even teenagers or young adults can still interfere with your ability to work at home effectively.
So what can you do about it? How can you still be productive?
We’ve got some pretty powerful tips…
5 Powerful Tips for Successfully Working from Home with Kids
#1 Define your work space
I really can’t emphasize this enough. You need a dedicated work space, preferably one where you can close the door.
Whether that’s a spare bedroom, a corner of your bedroom, or your basement, you need an area that is clearly defined as your work space. An area where, if your kids (or spouse!) see you working there, they know that you’re in “work mode.”
I’m fortunate enough in our house that we have an extra bedroom that we turned into an office, and I’m not sure what I’d do without it.
When we first started working from home full time back in March, it was a little strange at first being home all the time. I had worked from home periodically before, but no more than 1 or 2 days a week.
Working from home 100% of the time is tough, even if you don’t have kids. Your home life bleeds into your work life and it can be difficult to draw a line between the two. That’s why it’s so important to have a space that is dedicated to work, so you can physically separate your work from your personal life.
I know some people like to work from their kitchen table or on a living room sofa. If that works for you, don’t let me tell you that you must change your ways.
But if you feel yourself constantly distracted, or feel like you’re “always working” (because you don’t have that clear separation between work and home), consider finding a space that you can truly dedicate 100% to work. And don’t do work outside of that space.
#2 Figure out where your help is coming from and stick to a schedule
I recognize everyone has different circumstances, so this one is tough to come up with “one size fits all” advice.
Some of you are at home by yourself with your kids and have no help at all. Some have a spouse who is also working from home. And some are fortunate enough to have a family member or someone hired to come to the house during the day.
I’ll try to address a few of the common scenarios here.
At home with your spouse – This one is pretty common during the pandemic, assuming your spouse has a job that can be done remotely. The best practice here is to come up with “shifts” to watch the kids. Here’s one way to do it: Home by yourself – This is the most challenging for obvious reasons, and unfortunately involves some compromising in your day in order to make things work. At home with family member/hired help – This is the best case scenario that should allow you to keep most of your normal work schedule, with a few distractions sprinkled in.
At home with your spouse – This one is pretty common during the pandemic, assuming your spouse has a job that can be done remotely. The best practice here is to come up with “shifts” to watch the kids. Here’s one way to do it:
Home by yourself – This is the most challenging for obvious reasons, and unfortunately involves some compromising in your day in order to make things work.
At home with family member/hired help – This is the best case scenario that should allow you to keep most of your normal work schedule, with a few distractions sprinkled in.
#3 Pre-plan your daily activities
Regardless of whether you have help during the day or not, you’re going to need some way to keep your kids busy.
Screen time will be part of the equation if you allow it, but you want to limit that as much as possible. I wish I could say we’ve done a good job limiting it in our house, but some days it’s hard.
If you have older kids, this is a bit easier to manage, or to at least identify the things they should be doing. For “free time” they probably already have activities they enjoy doing, so it’s just a matter of keeping them out of trouble.
If the school year is ongoing, they may have virtual learning or at the very least, homework. While this may require some oversight from you, it’s essentially an activity that has already been planned – one less thing for you to plan!
If you have younger kids, you’re obviously going to need to be more involved in coming up with the activities. Fortunately, we’ve written several posts here about different activities you can do with your young kids – check them out:
- 12 Super Fun Summer Activities for Kids at Home (that will really keep ’em busy)
- The 7 Best Toys for 18 Month Old Toddlers (to REALLY Keep Them Busy)
- 12 Super Fun and Engaging Spring Activities for Preschool Kids
- 10 Fun and Creative Bug Activities for Toddlers (great for spring & summer!)
- 32 Fun Activities for 1-Year Olds (You’ll Never Run Out of Things to Do)
- 1 Year Old Nap Schedule: 5 Things You MUST Know
- 10 Insanely Fun Snow Day Activities for Kids (that adults will enjoy too)
#4 Focus on your highest priorities first
This may seem obvious, but however you’ve arranged your work from home situation, you probably won’t have the same productive 8+ hours that you’d normally have in the office.
If you’re working from home with kids, no matter what kind of help you have, there WILL be distractions.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever that you prioritize what must get done, because otherwise you just might not get to it.
It’s also a good time to figure out things that you used to do that can be delegated or eliminated. This will obviously depend on what you do for work, your role, and your team (not everyone will have flexibility on what it is they’re doing).
Personally, I’ve found a way to complete what I used to do in 8 hours in about 5-6 hours. Not because I’m magically working faster, but because I’ve figured out different ways to do things and eliminated certain tasks that really weren’t adding much value.
Again, this is highly dependent on what you do for work, which is why this advice is somewhat vague. 🙂
#5 Go easy on your kids
This isn’t any easier on them than it is on you. Yes, it’s stressful to work from home with kids.
But it’s also stressful to be a kid right now, stuck at home. They’re away from their peers. In some cases, they’re trying to learn in a virtual environment.
It’s hard for everyone.
Go easy on your kids if they’re having a hard time. Even if you’ve found a way to step away from them for hours at a time so you can work, take breaks and check in on them.
The silver lining in all of this is that we get to spend more time with our family.
Will your ‘working from home with kids’ situation get better?
Yes! It will. It just might take some time.
I hope our tips were helpful. Some of them may seem obvious, but this really is the key to successfully working from home with kids.
What are some other ways you’ve found to work from home with your kids effectively? Leave a comment below!