Working from home may sound like a dream come true, but I quickly learned that it also comes with its challenges.
While staying home has its major perks: no commute, more time with your kids, comfier clothes, flexibility in your schedule, saving gas, and healthier eating, it’s safe to say there are some tricky aspects to this whole situation. Even after four years of doing this, I still find times where I’m frustrated trying to balance everything, where I struggle with motivation and productivity, when I feel like the distractions never stop, and when I have a hard time shutting off work. Whenever I feel those slumps coming, I revisit these tips for working from home with kids!
(Just in the short time that I have written the intro, I have been asked for skittles for breakfast, cleaned up a spill, and changed a dirty diaper. I’m not saying things are glamorous around here people, but my most productive days come from choosing positivity and considering these tips.)
Tips for Working from Home with Kids
Be the first to wake up: I used to wake up an hour and a half before my kids. I have become a little more flexible on this and get up about 45 minutes to an hour before they wake up. This allows me to breeze through my morning routine peacefully and quietly, and get everything set up for the day.
Set a simple morning routine: Although you may not need as much time to get ready, create some sort of morning routine for yourself before you get right into work. Some people choose to still get fully ready every day. I prefer to let my skin breathe, not damage my hair, and save on makeup the majority of the time! I pick and choose which days to get “done up” but I always do a few very simple things to get the day going. Wake up, change out of my pajamas into cute lounge clothes so that I am comfortable but put together, brush my teeth and hair, skincare routine, and a quick snack. This takes about 15 minutes and gets me going for the day.
Create 2 Lists:
First create a priority list. This is not an overwhelming list of every little thing. This includes the top 3-5 things that are necessary to get done for the day such as deadlines and non-negotiable tasks. If these things get done, I will not be overwhelmed at the end of the day.
Second create a detailed list which includes every little task that should get done, with the notion that I will be FINE if I don’t get those things completely finished. This creates some flexibility throughout the day.
Planner: Using a planner is key for me! I like to quickly look over important dates in my planner to make sure I know exactly what is going on. You can read my planner organization tips here!
Time blocking: Days are hard to predict, especially when you have kids! So don’t get too set on any sort of schedule. I like to block out our time. Michael is really into timers so I will have him set a 45 minute timer. The kids know that once the timer starts and the music turns on all requests are now closed: ie for apple sauce, reaching things in the fridge, finding something, settling sibling rivalries, etc. They have their snacks, choose an activity, and it’s go time for them! We will take a 15-20 minute break together, and then it’s go time again! During the next 45 minute block, they choose a new activity that they are really excited about such as outside time, a preschool workbook (or online learning for many kids right now) so that they can work beside me, or taking out a craft like this Dinosaur Dig archaeology set Michael has been spending hours on. Blocking out my time like this helps me to feel productive, still allows for fun time with my kids, and creates a really good balance for me. Not every block of time is fun time. Sometimes they have 45 minutes to pick up their toys. They get extra excited if they are the ones who get to press start on the timer.
Put your phone away: This one is a little tricky for me since a lot of the work I do is on my phone. If you were working in a traditional work environment would you be answering every text message as it came in? The messages can wait! Create some boundaries for yourself. “I will answer texts once X is finished,” or “I will call her back after I have worked for X amount of time.” A lot of people will assume that you are free all day now that you work from home. Let them know what time you are free and set boundaries in that way as well! Don’t get sucked into a black hole of Instagram and Instagram stories.
Set your kids up for success: Happy and engaged kids will create a much more positive environment for everyone. Sometimes you can’t simply tell them to “go play.” Set up the activities that they really delve into. I will be sharing 10 engaging toys that my kids love tomorrow!
Tips for Working from Home with Kids
Give yourself a break: Set aside time for a healthy lunch, a walk, and or a workout. Do not I repeat do not stare at your computer all. day. long. Sometimes I let the kids help me make their lunch.
Kid Proof all over again: Thought your house was child proofed? You may want to think again depending on your Childs age. While you are in the zone, they always manage to find the messiest of things. Last week it was eye concealer and shampoo. They’re always keeping us on our toes. 😉
Blue Light Glasses: When I am on my computer for consecutive hours, I get terrible headaches. Can you relate? I’ve found that blue light glasses personally help my headaches. Plus, when my eye doctor heard how much time I have facing a phone and computer, he stressed the importance of wearing blue light glasses for it’s beneficial long term effects that we can’t necessarily feel on a daily basis. This is my favorite pair and you can get them on Amazon!
Listen to something: When I am lacking motivation, I like to listen to podcasts of people who work in a similar industry as me. Find a station that helps you get in the zone. When I am writing I listen to something low key like Ed Sheeran radio on pandora. On the other hand, during other tasks I like to listen to Todays Country. I am most productive when my headphones are in, but I don’t have headphones in when the kids are awake. One of the perks to working from your home is that you can blast your music however loud you would like! We like to play music in our Move, which we move into the gym when it’s workout time. Although this tip is quite simple, it really is one of my top tips for working from home with kids! No music = no focus for me personally.
Tag team if you have the luxury of doing so. If your spouse is home too, it can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Always acknowledge that you BOTH have important things to do. Then come up with a plan of attack for the day. For example, I thrive in the mornings. I will wake up early and let Brett take the morning shift with the kids. During that time I am in a room by myself and there are no interruptions for me. It is amazing how much one can accomplish with no interruptions! Then I will take the afternoon shift and I will hang out with the kids while Brett does what he needs to do, uninterrupted.
Caffeine: whatever your jam is, sometimes you just need some good ol’ caffeine to give you a spark and help you stay focused. Let’s be honest that most caffeine comes in the form of a treat, so I like to “reward” myself after I have accomplished a few important tasks, or after one of my 45 minute time blocks.
Take your “office” outside: Test out moving around to see what works best for you – it may be your office, it may not be. (Check out our DIY closet office project we did in our old home where we transformed a closet full of junk into a beautiful workspace!) One of my favorite places to work is outside! It is a little less productive, but a LOT more refreshing. Especially this time of year before it starts to get too hot. The kids can play for hours outside so it is a win-win for everyone!
I hope you enjoyed these 13 tips for working from home with kids. Stay tuned for engaging kid’s activities tomorrow!