7 Tips for Working at Home with Kids
If the last 12 months are anything to go by, more of us are now aware how difficult it is to work from home with kids. Previously, it was assumed anyone working at home had loads of free time and it’s not that hard. Women knew differently and now more people do.
I have worked from home or around my kids for over a decade so it wasn’t new to me. Here is what I have done.
1. Get Organized
Know what you can do and when you can do it. Work out the tasks which will make you the most money and focus on those. As your income grows, look at what you can outsource to save yourself time too.
If you have a list of what to do, when you get those moments to work you can make the most of it. Without a list you are likely to sit down and do a bunch of tasks but possibly not the ones you truly need to do.
Organise the Kids
Getting organised applies to the kids too. We make both kids lunch boxes and have an endless supply of water bottles in the fridge. I mentally prepare a list of activities that they can do to keep busy if I can’t play with them all day. In saying that though, most of my work is done once they are in bed at night. My lovely customers get messages and updates at crazy hours of the night.
2. Decide When You Will Work
Usually, work at home moms will juggle everything and do work before kids wake, during their nap and when they sleep at night. Work at home dads tend to be more strict and require the other parent to look after the kids. If you are in a relationship, make a set time you can each work.
This way, when you are working, you are working and not distracted by kids. When they are working, you look after the kids. You can also do nap time and other times if you choose. But being clear with your work times will enable you to do more in a short time instead of trying to juggle everything.
Short Burst Work
I find that you learn to do things in short bursts. If you have the list of things you can do, you can split it into tasks that can take 5 minutes (e.g. posting to social media for your business or work) vs longer tasks. So when you have 5 minutes you can do one of the quick tasks and when you have more time, you can focus that whole time on a bigger task.
It is about being smart with your time. Be sure not to lose yourself in short burst though. Many parents find it too easy to do a 5 minute task in the middle of playing with their kids or watching their kid playt sport. The kids feel it, you are disconnected from them and it is damaging to your long term relatinoship with them. Do not do it.
Only do short burst work when you actually have a short burst of time you can dedicate solely to work. E.g waiting at the doctors, heating something up in the microwave etc.
3. Do Not Do Housework
This doesn’t mean don’t do it every but do not do it during your allocated work times. It can be hard to get the family (especially a partner) to understand that when you are working from home you are not available to do all the house chores. It needs to be treated the same as if you were going to work.
If you went to a place of work, you wouldn’t be expected to come home and do things on your break. Nor would it be expected you could magically do the laundry while at your place of work. The same respect and boundaries need to be applied to you working from home.
4. Allocated Workspace
Have a dedicated place to work. Don’t work in your bedroom or anywhere. By having a dedicated space you do your work, it tells your brain and body that it’s time to work. If you work in your bedroom it’s mixed messages. Your bedroom needs to be a sanctuary you go to for sleep (and fun adult times…) not work!
Working in your bedroom makes it harder for your brain to switch off from work of an evening. Instead, choose another spot in your house to do all your work and stick to it.
5. Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you have someone else around to help with the kids while you work from home, get some noise cancelling headphones. Without them, every little noise you will hear, especially if it comes to the kids and it is so much harder to focus on your work.
6. Childcare Options
Sometimes you need the kids out of the house or time to concentrate. Childcare centres typically charge you whether your kids go or not and can be super expensive, making it not feel worth it. Here are a few other options.
Find another work from home parent and do a swap. You look after their child one day, they look after yours another. Many parents I know do this and it works really well. If you have a circle of friends it can mean you have a few days to work without kids and one day where your kids have a playdate at your home.
Au Pair or Demi Pair
An au pair is a live in nanny who gets a set amount of pocket money. The room and board are included as part of the wage but you need to pay on top of that. A demi pair is one who lives with you for free but only does up to 20 hours a week. An au pair can do 38 (or more if you negotiate that but be realistic!)
For many families, this is a more affordable option than a full time nanny or childcare.
Family and Friends
If you are lucky enough to live near family who are willing to help, do it. Be careful not to overuse them and be grateful about it. In some locations, I have relied heavily on the help of friends and family but in other cities I have not had that option.
7. Be Realistic
If you are working from home, be realistic, especially if you want it to be a full business or are working for someone else. It is impossible to give your full attention to your kids while juggling work and vice versa. Time with your kids needs to be focused on them and time for work needs to be focused on work.
Hobbies or side gigs can be squeezed in around everything. But a full business or job can only be successful if you allocate real time to it and are realistic about what you can achieve. Whether that means you use childcare or decide to be part time, is up to you.
Don’t place the pressure on yourself to work full time or run a full time business successfully with your kids running around too. Super Mom is a myth.
What tips do you have for working from home with kids?