12 Tips for Working from Home, with Kids
Before I try to give you any tips for the above, please know that these tips come from a very imperfect mother…. a mom who sometimes lets her kids sit and watch their absolute favorite cartoons or shows like Scooby Doo, Tom & Jerry, or Drake & Josh. Sometimes this mom may even let the kids drag every toy known to man out to the living room, trashing the living room floor, just so they can play and be occupied with something. She also has been witness to some of the most incredible blanket forts known to kids worldwide. Her house…. well, it’s not always neat and tidy. Occasionally, you might even find this mom holed up in the bathroom just to enjoy a few seconds of peace and quiet or even a bite of chocolate.
So, let’s get to it. Working from home was not a decision taken lightly. Homeschooling my kids was already a priority for me. It’s something we re-evaluate each year, but we love it. When people hear that I homeschool and work from home, I get the question, “How do you do it?” While it’s not easy, a little determination and a lot of perseverance can go a LONG way. I’ve asked myself that same question, though, and I’ve thought about this a lot. We’ve really found a routine this year, which I was determined to do from the beginning. On any given school day, you’ll find me working from the kitchen table until school is mostly done, so I’m there with my kids but still working. At times, I may have my headset on with music playing just so I have some “peace and quiet” to think, but working this way has really made a difference for us. I feel like it’s given them a sense that I’m nearby and available if they need me. On the other hand, I’m still able to accomplish tasks and get things done, all while knowing where my kids are and what they’re doing.
Here are 12 tips that may come in handy if you find yourself making the decision to work from home, with kids:
- Form a schedule and a routine. This is something I’ve struggled with, but kids thrive on routine, and honestly, so do I. It can help the day go so much more smoothly. Get yourself up and ready, get the kids up and ready, and get your day off to a good start. Get up a little earlier than your kids so you have some time to yourself. Lately, I’ve preferred to stay up later than to get up earlier. Either way, find that time in your day. Also, form a routine that your family can stick with; keep your expectations realistic, allowing for flexibility at times. A routine will really help, in that it lets kids know what to expect.
- Organize, organize, organize. This is yet another point I can’t stress enough. Set yourself up for success in the beginning by having the proper organizational tools at your fingertips. Keep your planner close.
- Keep educational toys/products and craft supplies on hand. I can’t stress this enough. Invest a few dollars in some good educational products, as well as craft supplies. Look at your local educational store, craft store, or even on Amazon for things that will occupy their mind and their time. Homeschooling definitely makes keeping the kids occupied a little easier, especially my oldest, because he stays busy with his schoolwork a good portion of the day. Craft supplies are a huge help when my youngest starts to get completely rowdy; if I bring out a project, he totally tones it down and gets busy. He LOVES to craft and create. Keep things like paint, markers, glue, foam sheets/stickers, construction paper, seasonal crafts, Do-A-Dot paints, etc., on hand. You can find a ton of free educational printables and activities online. Another great resource is your local library. Let your kids pick out some books, movies, and music that they’re interested in.
- Spend just 30 minutes (or more if possible) with your youngest children first thing in the morning. Read books, play games, work on preschool activities. Just that little bit of your time can make a world of difference in how the rest of your day goes.
- Create clear boundaries. Let’s face it…. kids get loud. Maybe you have to be on a conference call, and your kids are just acting all kinds of crazy. Have a set space you can go, in your home, for a few minutes of quiet. It might even be a closet…. but train your kids to know that you are off limits if you are in that spot (unless, of course, there’s an emergency). My boys have come to learn, that if I have my headset on and I’m on a call, they need to keep it down. Do they always? No, but that’s what closets or even the bathroom are for, right? Find that quiet escape.
- Let kids help with chores around the house. It’s good for kids to learn how to work, and it gives them an outlet. Give them chores they can do that contribute to the family, to the home, etc. Let your oldest cook a meal once a week. Teach them how to clean their toilet. Have your youngest help with sweeping or washing windows or even folding clothes.
- Talk to your spouse or significant other about ways they may be able to help. I’m so lucky, so fortunate, to have a husband who will cook a meal, who is not above folding a load of laundry, who helps with math, who will watch the kids if need be. We make a great team, and a lot of times (when he’s home), we’re tag teaming it. Find someone who can be a help to you…. maybe even a friend or family member. You need that support.
- Have a set quiet time each day. Oh boy, we used to do this, and it was so nice. The kids would take a nap, read, or do something quietly. This doesn’t happen much anymore, if at all; but it’s definitely something to think about.
- Change up the atmosphere every once in awhile. Chances are, if you work from home, you might be able to, every once in awhile, take your work with you. Change it up a bit. Take your hotspot, laptop, and the kids, and work from the park for awhile….. or even the back yard. Get those kids outside, and work out that energy.
- Save tough school projects for later on in the evenings or even the weekends. If you homeschool, this might be necessary so that you can dedicate the quality time it takes to work on a project with your kiddos.
- Be prepared to sacrifice, and be prepared to say no. Working from home, especially with kids at home or while homeschooling, takes commitment on your part. Sometimes you may have to let the phone ring (if it’s not work-related), or you may have to let family/friends know you’re busy during certain times. Before you say yes to something, be sure it’s not something that’s going to totally stress both you and your family completely out.
- Don’t feel guilty. This is the #1 thing I could say…. So, maybe you let your kids watch cartoons for a couple hours, or maybe they had to make their own sandwich for lunch, or maybe you even ordered out for lunch. Do NOT feel guilty. Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t let others’ comments toward or about you affect your decisions and commitments. You made a commitment to be home with your kids, but you’re also helping to provide for and take care of your family at the same time. Don’t let guilt rob you of your joy in both your kids and your work.
What about you? Do you have tips for working at home with kiddos running around?