By now, you might be losing your patience with your kids. When you first started shelter-in, lock-down, quarantine, or whatever they’re calling it today, you probably had more patience. All those blog posts on how to work from home with kids were great . . . a month ago.
But life goes on. Now, the patience runs a little thin. Can you relate?
Although my blog posts assume you are working from home, they don’t consider your kids being home with you. Let’s talk about how to work from home with kids.
Feel free to adjust these ideas according to your children’s ages and needs. If you have babies and toddlers, how to work from home with kids will look different than those with school-aged kids.
It’s time to be creative.
Schedules, Routines, Expectations
You know you need to do it, but don’t take the time to actually plan each day. Now is the time to get on top of your schedule and daily routine. Plus, your kids need routine. They thrive on routine, so get started today.
My suggestion is to have a family meeting at breakfast. Let your kids know what you expect them to do that day, as well as when you’ll have office hours.
Giving your kids expectations will add security to their day. If they normally go to school, giving them a routine with expectations helps them understand what’s going on. If you have a white board, use it. Write your schedule so all can see.
If your spouse is also working from home, consider switch work, taking turns with the kids. It isn’t ideal, but it will allow each person to focus on their work while the other plays with the kids. Be sure to let your kids know you’ll be tag teaming, so they know what to expect. “When Dad’s door is closed, Mom will be here with the kids.”
How do you homeschool and work from home with kids?
When I was homeschooling and working from home, I homeschooled in the morning and worked in the afternoon. I also woke up early, before the rest of the family. If I needed time to write for business, I could do it in quiet. If you’re a night owl, stay up after the kids go to bed and get some work done.
You might need to work throughout the entire day. One option is working at your kitchen table. Each of your kids has a place where they are doing their school work. You can sit at the head of the table with your computer, getting your work done as your kids homeschool.
Naptime & Quiet Time
When my kids took naps, I worked. Use your time well. Have your coffee already made so you don’t waste time. Even if they don’t fall asleep, you can get 20-30 minutes of work completed before they get fussy.
I often took a 10 minute power nap because it gave me the energy to focus on work.
As my kids grew up, they had quiet time in their rooms after lunch. This was as much for my sanity, as it was time for my kids to refresh in quiet. When you have quiet time for your kids, be sure they have books or quiet toys in which they can entertain themselves.
Kid Activities while You Work from Home
I kept special baskets of toys for my kids. These baskets appeared at special times. You can do the same thing with your kids. If you’re on a conference call, have a special basket. Those toys only appear when you’re on the phone. They become special toys they kids look forward to.
Other ways to entertain your kids while you work from home:
- Play in the Backyard
- Make an Indoor Fort or Indoor Tent
- Work on a Puzzle (that might take days)
- Sensory Play for toddlers & preschoolers
- Books, Books, Books
- Play Music – Dance Party
- School Work
Let’s talk screen time. I’m not a fan of giving kids much screen time. Having said that, I used screen time the first time I homeschooled Ashley. Hunter was 3 years old and I was trying to figure out this homeschool thing.
When I needed to teach a concept to Ashley, I did it during Sponge Bob Square Pants. I know Hunter would watch for 1/2 – 1 hour. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.
Plan for screen time.
Decide when & how long your kids will have screen time. When it’s screen time for your kids, it’s focused work time for you. Don’t dilly dally. Get busy doing the tasks that require the most brain power and focus.
YES! There will be interruptions.
Stay calm when your kids interrupt you. Take a deep breath to stay calm. Once again, tell your kids what you expect.
What signal can you use to tell your kids it’s not a good time to interrupt?
If you’re wearing a baseball hat when you have a conference call, tell your kids they need to wait to interrupt you. Or, put a big, red bow on your door knob so they know they can’t interrupt you. Find a signal for your kids to let them know they must be patient and wait. Remember to tell them what it is beforehand.
Obviously, this works for school-age kids, not toddlers. But toddlers & preschoolers can learn to hold your arm quietly to let you know they need something. I know it works because my kids did just that. It took training, but they held my arm when I was speaking to another adult. It was our signal they needed to talk to me.
Separate Mom and Business Roles
You may need to be creative as you separate your roles. We already talked about scheduling your day and letting your kids know what’s expected of them. If putting on a tiara when you’re working helps your kids know it’s work time, do it.
You should also look for a space in your home that is your “work space”. My friend used to sew in her bedroom closet. You might need to set up office in your closet.
I’ve also watched marketing training webinars from a gal who does her calls in her car. She says it’s the only place she can video where her kids won’t interrupt her. Take your conference calls in your vehicle, if necessary. I love this idea.
If you can’t find a physical space in your home to set up office, get a large basket. Put all your office supplies in the basket. Pull it out on the kitchen table when it’s time for work. Put it away when it’s time to be mom.
Set a stop time for working from home. Put your work aside and eat dinner together. After dinner, have fun with your kids. You might . . .
- Work on a puzzle together
- Play board games
- Go on a family bike ride
- Bake cookies for dessert or deliver them to your neighbor
- Rough house
- Read a chapter of your favorite book
- Do a science experiment
- Theme Night – Put everything you need for a theme night in a box. I would save this for Friday or Saturday as an extra-special reward.
Flexibility is the name of the game. I’d add grace, also. You’re in an unique situation, so give yourself grace. Give your kids grace, too. As you do, flexibility will be easier throughout the day.
Set a flexible schedule. You’ll get more done by the end of the day if you work in short blocks of time. Work for 30-50 minutes.
Then, play with your kids for 10-15 minutes. Have a dance party. Go outside and throw the ball. Cuddle on the couch. Whatever your kids need during that 10 minutes. In the end, your kids will be more secure because you’re spending time with them throughout the day.