We’ve been working from home with our kids since our oldest was born, he’s now 8. It was quite an adjustment from the silent and calm atmosphere we were used to working in, but we soon dialed in a formula that has worked well for us and was vital when we had our second.
Every home and workspace is different, so please adjust these recommendations so they work best for you, your space, and your family. Children are unpredictable, but they crave structure. Managing expectations for yourself and your children is the best mindset when starting to work from home.
Create a Defined Workspace
It’s tempting to open your laptop on the couch, kitchen counter, or dining room table, and commence your workday, but with kids around it’s not a great idea.
You need a defined workspace to help you better balance family life and work. A home office is ideal, one in which you can close a door when needed to cut down on distractions and also close when you are finished working so you aren’t tempted to jump back in to check email or finish a TPS report.
Children will also benefit from your separate workspace as they will have a clear boundary and know when you are not available. If you setup shop in the living room, you’ll be in a whirlwind of activity and your child will constantly vie for your attention over your computer or phone.
If you don’t have a home office, make one in the corner of a room. Create an area that is only used for work and nothing else. Let your children know that when you enter that space your attention will mostly be unavailable to them.
Set a Schedule
A home and work schedule is important for the entire family. It ensures that appointments are kept and expectations are met.
Without a schedule your child who sees you around, may not know that you’ve got an important brief to write-up or are expecting a serious call.
Schedules should be available for everyone in the household to access. The easiest way to do this with older children who are online is to setup a shared Google calendar, but or younger children a whiteboard or printed schedule taped to the refrigerator or pinned to a corkboard works best.
Plan Activities for Your Kids
Be proactive in scheduling and finding activities for your children while you are working. If you don’t the easy fall back will be watching TV, gaming, or playing around on a smartphone.
Screen-based activities aren’t all bad and there is a time and place for them, but your children could be much more productive while you are also being productive.
Some activities include:
- Pull out the old puzzles and board games.
- Draw – get a hold of some fun markers and pens and go wild..
- Read. Read. Read.
- Dig into that household project you’ve been putting off for months – clean out the toys, go through clothes for donation, dig through old photos, clean out the junk drawers and make sure the kids are involved!
Take Breaks With Your Kids
Schedule breaks throughout the day and spend the time with your children. A snack/coffee break as well as lunch breaks are ideal for catching up and clearing your mind before jumping back into work.
If you’ve got time, go for a stroll outside or check-in with their project or activity. Showing genuine interest will help keep them motivated to complete a task.
Breaks are important for you and can be a great stress relief, as long as your children know it’s temporary and that you’ll have to return to work once you the break is over.
How to Work from Home with Young Children
The ideal way to work from home with toddlers and young children is to hire a nanny or babysitter for a set amount of time. It doesn’t have to be all-day everyday, but just a few hours during the week can allow you to accomplish a lot.
A better solution is to have a family member help watch your kids while you are working.
Even with help, make sure you set a schedule and a workplace so your children know what to expect.
We all value naps that young children take, so schedule calls during those nap times and make sure you maximize those precious minutes to get the most important work done first.
Working from home with children is possible and can be enjoyable as long as you follow some guidelines and manage expectations for everyone.
There are also plenty of times when your kids really need you and having them around you while you are working is unavoidable.
Just go with the flow and do whatever you can to get everything done and don’t beat yourself up if you need to turn on a movie for the kids or let them play some games. Lowering your stress levels will benefit everyone.
Please message us with your tips for working from home with kids.