Want the real secret to working from home with kids? While it might feel impossible to get anything done with little ones running around, it’s a whole lot easier when you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve.
Ready for those must-have productivity hacks? Here are ten tips to telecommuting success that every hard-working parent needs. You’ll be spending time with your kids while taking your career to new heights.
Tips for Working from Home With Kids
These 10 tips will keep you organized and marking items off your to-do list while working from home with kids.
1. Set the Alarm for Earlier
Sleep is important, but getting up an hour before the kids can make all of the difference. Let the kids sleep in if you can, then grab your laptop first thing in the morning.
If you have younger kids who need regular attention throughout the day, try to plan accordingly. While you might not have total control over your work schedule, you can maximize your efforts with the right schedule.
Identify the single most important thing that you need to do today and start there before the kids wake up. Get it out of your way, so it’s not hanging over your head any longer than necessary.
Start Small If You Must
If you’re not a morning person, try waking up just 30 minutes earlier instead of an hour. You might be so impressed with how much work you get done during this time that it might convince you to try for the whole hour.
2. Start with Priority Items
Start your day with the work that requires focus. The most successful people out there make their toughest choices early on in the day (1). Use that hour of peace and quiet before the kids get up to tackle the most demanding tasks and decisions.
Later in the day, answer emails, make phone calls and get the little things off your to-do list. You know there are going to be times when you’re interrupted regularly. Plan for them as much as you.
3. Relax About Screen Time
As experts have said, screen time can be a good thing. Educational content works wonders, especially for kids ages three to five. You can improve kids’ literacy and cognitive skills while encouraging them to behave better by providing the right content (2).
Education television today is way more than just Sesame Street. There are countless high-quality free videos for kids. Spend some time curating the perfect playlist for your little one.
Old standbys like YouTube and Netflix are great options. While it’s easy to get into the mindset that all time spent in front of a screen is bad, it is not. It all comes down to the content.
Some kids can learn better by having video content (3). Listening to lectures from teachers and reading dusty old books is a hard sell for some kids. Go digital and keep them engaged.
4. Create a Schedule
When you’re working from home with kids, it’s easy for structure to go out the window. You feel like you’re constantly running from one thing to the next. We’ve all been there.
While it’s tricky to get a schedule established, it’s worth it. Once you get into the groove, you’ll find things start to run smoothly.
Have a set routine for each day. Create a specific lunchtime and make time for breaks. Try to emulate what a normal work or school day used to look like.
Kids thrive in a routine but don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make it work. Simply steal some tips from the experts at Head Start. Make a step-by-step routine that is realistic for you and your family.
One of our favorite methods is always getting the kids involved. At any age, kids can participate in the planning, so ask them for input. It helps them feel a sense of ownership regarding the schedule, so they’ll be more invested in making it work.
Once you have the basics in place, create visual reminders. Review the schedule in the morning and make it easy to use all day.
5. Establish Boundaries with the Kids
In school, kids need a hall pass. They must have their phones tucked away. There’s even a dress code.
While kids might not be perfect at following the rules, they usually get through a school day with no issue. Create those same boundaries for your space. If you’re having trouble working with interruptions, create quiet hours.
Make a stoplight for your office. Create a red STOP sign for ultra-busy times when you need to focus. For those hours you’re a bit less busy, put up a green GO sign.
Parenting Pro Tip
One thing that makes working from home with kids infinitely easier is having kids who can keep themselves busy. Every parent’s dream is to have a little angel who will simply grab a book and be settled. Check out our Tips to Encourage Reading for Children to create some peace and quiet.
6. Keep on Commuting
While driving through rush hour traffic is stressful, getting out of the house is crucial sometimes. Take that time in the morning and evening to get some fresh air. Even if it’s just a ten-minute walk or drive around the block, get out there, rain or shine.
Some experts say it’s the commute that creates a psychological separation between work and home (4). And that mental distance is way more important than you might think.
7. Establish Separate Spaces
Once you have divided up the times of day, create separate spaces for work and play. Assigning a designated kids’ play space and creating a home office makes a huge difference. We’re aren’t all lucky enough to have space to create that dream home office, so you may have to get creative.
A separate workspace could be the kitchen table from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A play area could be the living room area rug. As long as the spaces aren’t physically overlapping (read: no toys stacked on important documents), you have a great foundation.
8. Consider a Coworking Space
Having trouble creating that separate space? Working from home with kids doesn’t mean being attached at the hip. When you’ve got an important project or are feeling frazzled, take a break.
Whether it’s a day in a coworking office or a couple of hours in the coffee shop, make time and space for yourself.
Child care isn’t always simple for young ones but prioritize your work. If you can arrange a babysitter or if you can leave your kids with your spouse for a couple of hours, head to an adult setting for some uninterrupted work time.
9. Be Flexible with Your Team
It takes a village to raise a kid. Rather than pretending like you’ve got it all together, be honest. Ask for flexibility and offer it to your team.
Working tireless hours in an office doesn’t create a more productive team. Working at home can make employees happier and more productive, so embrace it (5). Find a way to make it work for you and your team.
10. Blur That Background
Our last tip is to blur that background. We’ve all seen those “video calls gone wrong” that make your cheeks burn with embarrassment and feel immense compassion for all the people involved. From kids interrupting their expert parents being interviewed by the international news to little ones running wild in diapers, we’ve been seeing unbelievable bloopers lately.
Prevent mishaps before they happen with a blurred background. Zoom, Skype, and pretty much every other video call app has a background blurring feature.
Best of all, you can have an instantly clean space with all of the toys and clutter hidden away with that blur. Now you don’t have to spend your off-work hours cleaning and decorating to pretend to the world that you’re the second coming of Martha Stewart.
These Tips Will Take You to the Top
Well, moms, are we ready to make this work? From creating schedules to defining spaces, it all comes down to planning ahead (every mom’s superpower!).
Keep experimenting until you find what works for you and the kids. Trust us, it’ll get easier.
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