5 Tips to Make Working from Home Work for You When You Have Small Kids
5 Tips for Working from Home With Kids
Working from home might seem like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Most people that work from home trade in their suits for pajamas or yoga pants and pay zero attention to their bedhead.
As for the office? While some carve out intentional space to be productive, others use the imprint in their bed to operate their business. The luxurious part? No one cares. You get to do you.
But there’s another side of the equation. The other, not so glamorous, side to working from home is the environment where you're working. While the office is full of productive people focused on work, your home might be full of kids — trying with all their might to keep you from making that deadline, answering the call, and getting the creative juices flowing.
So how do you create a system that works? Whether you have young children and you’re used to wearing both hats at home, the school-age kids are home on spring break, or if (cough, cough) a pandemic has taken over the world and you’re thrown into it, it's important to learn how to balance work and coexisting with the kids full time.
Here’s the cold hard truth: it’s not going to be perfect. Right now, as I’m writing this, my oldest is asking (okay, nagging!) for a snack while my youngest is upstairs yelling because she woke up from her nap early. You have to accept that you don't have control over everything. But there are tips and tricks to help you navigate your new work environment — so that’s what we’ll focus on today!
1) Give them space to entertain themselves.
When are you most productive? For some, it’s mid-morning when the first cup of coffee is in full swing. Others get the most done in the afternoon when the day is running full speed ahead.
Whenever your prime time is, schedule independent play for the kids. If they're old enough, send them to play in their rooms. Give them the freedom to make messes. As long as they’re safe, the ability to entertain themselves will foster creativity and deeper interests.
2) Engage in activities.
Big or little, kids are going to fight for your attention. It can be beneficial for both of you to carve out time to be engaged and do an activity with them. Whether that’s starting the morning playing a game, building a Magnatile fortress, or promising them an hour in the afternoon to run around the playground together. Knowing that they’ll have time with you will help them relax during the hours you need to sit at the computer.
3) Capitalize on nap time (or enforce quiet time).
Photo Credit: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr
Nap time equals uninterrupted work hours. And when you’re trying to be productive from home, that’s solid gold.
If your kids are beyond naps, then create quiet time. This could be as simple as sending them to their room to read, study, or play with toys quietly. If that doesn't work for you, allow them to sit with you while you work. Allowing them to see you hard at work sets a good example. As long as they’re sitting quietly next to you reading or molding their next Play-Doh creation, then it’s a win-win for both!
4) Use a rewards system to motivate productivity.
Entertaining kids and keeping them busy are two different things. Instead of finding ways to entertain them, give them things to do. Encourage chores around the house. For toddlers, that can mean picking up toys, wiping down surfaces, and taking dishes to the kitchen. Older kids can handle more responsibility and pull more weight by cleaning the house and putting laundry away.
Though it’s good for kids to understand that there isn’t always a reward for doing what’s expected, it can be a good opportunity to help train the behavior. For younger ones, stickers, a piece of candy, and T.V. time are excellent motivators. For older kids screen time, a later bedtime, and time with friends can work well.
5) Allow screen time (but use it sparingly)!
iPads, TV, and gaming systems work wonders to keep your kids’ attention, but only if you use it sparingly. If it’s the reward for good behavior in your house, they’ll learn to value it even more. Too much time in front of the screen creates opportunities for them to get bored and leads to poor behavior.
Working from home with kids isn’t a death sentence to productivity. There are going to be good days and there are going to be difficult days. And hopefully with these tips, you’ll experience more good days than bad ahead of you! The important thing to remember is allow grace — both for the kids and for yourself.
Here's a humorous look at the work from home life. When you have little ones, working from home can be a challenge, but concentrating on work during nap time or hiring a neighbor's teenager for a couple of hours can help. If you have a call with co-workers when the kids are up, it might look something like this. Not all days are like this, of course, but sometimes it happens! Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Content creator Danielle Keech in an online meeting with the MilitaryByOwner content team while managing two little ones.