Tips for Working From Home with Kids

Whether you work in the corporate world, the small business world, or anything in between, it’s likely you’ve had some experience working from home by now (thank you 2020). Some people, like myself, love working at home while others, like my husband, find it really hard to do so. I’ve actually been working from home for 13 years now. Before I started my own business as a pediatric sleep consultant, I worked full-time remotely for a digital curriculum company in Rochester, PA. I had two of my three children while working full-time at home. The third came along after I started my own business, all from home too. I enjoy working from home although it certainly has it’s challenges- especially if you’ve got little ones “helping” you. So, I’ve compiled a list of my biggest tips for working at home with young children.

ONE: Swap out toys and use play stations. Remember, kids have short attention spans. It’s not fair to expect them to sit for hours and play independently and quietly while you work, especially if it’s with the same old toys all the time. Rotating toys is a great way to keep things fresh and fun for them, while also helping your house not to be cluttered. When they get “new” toys out each day, it keeps their attention much longer. As for the quiet part…just get used to working with noise. Kids aren’t quiet creatures, and it’s not fair to expect them to be quiet all day while you work. 

It’s also a good idea to have a few new or special activities on hand to pull out when things aren’t going well. Arts and crafts, Play-doh, even blowing up balloons in the living room. These types of “special” activities can really help engage them when they’re done with all their regular toys. I love activities from The Busy Toddler. Having some of these ready to go up your sleeve can be a game changer on tough days. 

TWO: Work outside with them. I’m super thankful to have a fenced in backyard and a covered porch. We have a table out there that I can work at while they play. My kids love being outside and this is what will keep their attention the longest (other than TV- I’ll get there). If you don’t have a fenced in yard and a covered porch, you can still try to make some type of area where your child can play while you sit and work. Plus, being outside has so many benefits for health and sleep and fostering a sense of exploration. Win win!

THREE: Everything in moderation. I mentioned the TV above. We have screen limits in our house and our kids don’t even watch TV every day. But I do use it at times when needed. For me, the most stressful times of working from home with kids are when I have a phone or web call. There’s nothing worse than having your 3-year old run into the room yelling “Mommy, I have to POOP!!” while you’re on a call with a client. Yep…I know this from personal experience. So, TV and the desirable “special” snacks usually happen when I have to be on a call and don’t want interruptions. Which takes me to my next point…

FOUR: Schedule around naptime. My youngest is only 1.5-years old- TV doesn’t captivate him yet for longer than a minute. Therefore, I schedule all of my calls during his nap times. That’s pretty straightforward. 

FIVE: The 10-minute miracle. I’m not sure who first coined this phrase of “10-minute miracle;” many toddler experts recommend it. When you have moments that your children are just really bugging you, melting down, etc., they probably need your attention. I found this to be the case especially when I was working full-time from home and I had gone long periods of time only meeting their basic needs while I feverishly tried to get work done.

A 10-minute miracle is simply stopping what you’re doing and giving one child 10 minutes of your undivided attention. If you have a lot of children, you may not be able to do one at a time, but you can do a group activity then. The point is no phone…no computer…your focus is solely on them for 10 full minutes. You play whatever they want to play. Then, in theory, after 10 minutes, you will have filled their cup with attention, so they may be able to get back to independent play for a little while longer.

SIX: Alter your work day. When the 10-minute miracle doesn’t work- it’s time to take a solid break. If you run a small business, the beauty is you can work whenever. So, if your kids need you to stop working at 3:00pm, you can. I work a lot in the evenings and weekends, as needed, so I’m still able to spend time with my kids during the day. I’m not a morning person, but if you are, getting up early and working for a bit before the kids are up might be a good option too. If you’re working a corporate job from home, you may not be able to do that. In that case…

SEVEN: Ask for help. It’s very hard to do two jobs all day long. Yes, taking care of young children is a job too. So, if you’re working full-time, you will need some help. Most corporate companies have policies saying you can’t be your child’s caregiver while working. Mine didn’t have this policy until about 10 years in, so I juggled it all with some help from my mom. If you’re your own boss, then you can do what you want. But, you may still need some help from time to time. I’m thankful to have my mom nearby, and also have some good friends who can help in a pinch. You need a community to be able to be both the best mom and the best worker you can be. On days when I have a lot I need to accomplish for my business, it’s much better for both my kids and I if someone else is here to help. That way, they aren’t ignored all day and I’m able to get things done more efficiently. 

EIGHT: It might not be time to build your empire. This might be my favorite tip. I’m in an awesome group of sleep consultants all over the world who come together to help each other grow in their businesses. It’s called The Sleep Sorority. The leader/coach, Becca, gave me some wonderful advice one time. I was sharing in the group that I was having a hard time getting everything done that I wanted to get done because I had 3 under 3 at home with me. Becca politely said, “Oh girl, this is not your time to build an empire and that’s okay.”

I had to chew on that for a while and realized she was right. A huge reason I started my own business was to be my own boss and make my own schedule SO I could stay home with my kids while still contributing to the outside world, and our income, in some small way. I realized I was getting ahead of myself. The further into this business I got, the more I wanted to do! However, it was taking me away from my original goal. So, I took a step back. I’d still love to grow my business at some point, but today isn’t that day and I’m now okay with that. I get to be with my kids in these young, impressionable years, which is important to me.

Maybe you have to try and grow this as much as possible for financial reasons or maybe you just want to. Maybe your goal isn’t the same as mine. If that’s the case, then you likely do need to get some help with the kiddos so you can do what you need to do. And that’s okay too.

But, if you don’t need to grow an empire right now, then maybe it’s simply not time for that. Keep doing what you can in the now, and make a list of the things you’d love to do later when you can. You can do both- be with your kids and work- but you can’t do everything for both at the same time. Figure out your essential goals for now in both arenas and then make plans accordingly. You can always update your goals later as your family grows and changes too! 

Do you have any other tips for working from home with kids? Comment below and let us know! 

[avatar user=”ashleybell” /]