Finding a balance between work and kids is hard. Finding a balance between working at home with kids is a whole other challenge.
It becomes less about finding time to balance both work and kids and more about finding ways to make it even possible to get any work accomplished with kids running around your feet and pulling at your sweater… while also being a present and fun mom; not a crab who blows up any time one of the kids has a question or spills their milk.
You may feel trapped, like your only two options are:
- Don’t accomplish any work but be present with the kids
- Actually get work done but yell at the kids every 5 seconds for distracting you
The good news is, those aren’t your only two options! There are ways to make working from home with kids possible, and even enjoyable.
You can learn how to get the necessary workload done every day while also enjoying the fact that you get to be home with your kids and watch them grow and learn every day.
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How to Find Time to Work From Home and be a Good Mom
Here’s the thing about being a “good mom”… bad days don’t define you as a mother, but there is one secret ingredient that good moms portray, and it’s something you never want to lose sight of. I talk more about being a “good mom” here.
Here are some ways you can mesh work-from-home-life and mom life so you can work at maximum efficiency while being a present, fun mom all at the same time.
1. Wake Up Earlier Than The Kids
This one is hard (hey, I didn’t say these tips to help you learn how to work from home with kids would be easy…). Especially if you’re in the realm of infants and waking up multiple times a night with them, choosing to wake up earlier may feel less than feasible.
It’s a hard habit to get into, but it pays off in the long run. My days always flow smoother when I wake up before my kids do.
As tempting as it is to stay in bed when my husband’s alarm goes off in the morning, I have to force myself to get out of bed. It’s a rough first 10-15 minutes, but after I’ve washed my face and gotten dressed, I don’t feel quite so tired.
Waking up before the kids will give you some quiet time to get a bit of quality work done with no distractions (doesn’t that sound inviting?!) before the mini tornados get out of bed and start demanding your attention for the day.
If you aren’t already in the habit of waking up before the kids, a good place to start is setting an alarm for 30 minutes before your kids normally wake up, and get up then. Once you’ve done that for a couple of days, set the alarm another 15-30 minutes earlier again.
Now you should have a solid 45 minutes to an hour of time to dedicate strictly to your work.
***One caveat, make sure you’re still getting a good amount of rest. Running off of 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night isn’t good for you, your work, or your family. If waking up earlier than your kids means you compromise getting enough sleep, skip out on this one for now until you’re in a more restful stage of parenting.***
2. Take Advantage of Naptime
If your kids are still napping age, take full advantage of using this time to work. If you have multiple kids and they nap at different times, try to slowly adjust their nap schedules so that they match up so you can get a little bit of solid kid-free time to work.
3. Capitalize on Quiet Time
If your kids are out of the napping age, then start implementing a quiet time every afternoon for 30 – 45 minutes where each kid picks a quiet time activity to take to their room and do. Quiet time activities are low-key and encourage kids to learn how to play independently and use their imagination.
This could be:
- Read a book (or looking at pictures if they don’t read yet)
- Do a puzzle
- Play with blocks
- Activity books
…or whatever else your child enjoys doing that is a quiet, relaxing activity that they can do on their own. Both you and your children will benefit greatly from implementing quiet time into their daily routine.
4. Encourage Independent Play
Much like quiet time, independent play allows your child to choose what they want to do and use their imagination in making up scenarios, games, or just playing by themselves. Allowing your kids to play independently while you sit not far off is another good way to accomplish some work.
5. Take the Kids (and your work) Outside
Taking kids outside is the equivalent of a “reset” button for them if there ever was one.
I find if my toddler is being particularly difficult, taking him outside and letting him burn off energy, play in the dirt, and run around to his heart’s content is exactly what he needs to get his attitude back on track.
Something I have found particularly useful for working from home with kids is taking them, along with my laptop, outside and letting them play in the dirt while I sit beside them in a lawn chair and get a bit of work done.
Of course, you can expect to have plenty of distractions – from the kids asking endless questions to the need to look up every few seconds to ensure they’re still there – but doing this still allows you to get some work done.
6. Work After the Kids are in Bed
Much like waking up before the kids, if you prefer to sleep in and stay up later, another way to get some kid-free work time is to spend an hour in the evening after they go to bed working.
7. Enlist the Help of Your Hubby
If you have a spouse that is willing, have the, watch the kids during the evening or even just for 30 minutes while you get some last-minute work in.
8. Enlist the Help of the TV
Not making a habit of plunking the kids down in front of the TV is a good thing… but, if you have work that is in dire need of getting done and none of the other options have worked, don’t feel bad for letting your kids watch a show while you fire off a few emails (or do whatever it is you need to do).
9. Make Easy Dinners
Have at least one or two nights a week where dinner is something that requires little to no prep time. This could be leftovers, frozen pizza, frozen meals, Hamburger helper, or something else simple.
Then take the time you saved and try to sneak in some work minutes.
10. Make Dinners Easy
No, this isn’t the same as step #9. There’s a difference between making easy dinners, and making dinnertime easy.
While we’re on the topic of making dinner… if you find trying to think of something to make for dinner takes up a significant amount of your time, meal planning will benefit you greatly.
I decided I wasted more time trying to think of meals and meal planning than made sense: so I started using a meal planning service that plans all your meals and creates your shopping list for you; Eat at Home Meal Plans.
Whether you decide to go with a meal planning service or you simply start planning your meals in advance so you no longer waste time each day before dinner trying to wrack your brain for meal ideas… you’ll be saving plenty of time – and that time can (hopefully) now be used for work instead.
Meal planning makes dinners easy.
11. Scrap the Schedule; Start a Routine
Schedules add pressure and stress; routines help you get into smart habits that get everything done in a timely manner, all while allowing room for obstructions (which is something you can certainly bet on with kids around…).
Rather than sticking to a strict schedule and then getting stressed out anytime your schedule gets thrown off-kilter or you fall behind, try following a routine instead; this is more loosely created, allows for much more flexibility, but also requires a bit more self-control to make sure even though there’s no time frame for getting tasks done, they still get done in the day.
Following a routine should (hopefully) free up more of your time and open up some small spots throughout the day that can be put towards work.
***Each family differs in whether they thrive better on a schedule or routine. Try the routine route and if you find it’s just not working for your family after a few weeks, give a schedule a try.
How to Work From Home With Kids (without neglecting your kids)
Now that we’ve gone over how to find time to work from home with kids and constant distractions, let’s go over the how. How to work from home with kids; here are a few practical tips you can apply to your daily life right away to be more productive and fulfilled.
⭐ Get Used to Working in Bite-Sized Portions
The days of sitting down and spending two straight hours working – uninterrupted – are long gone. Now are the days of sitting down to work and getting up 15 different times in the first 20 minutes to fill sippy cups, break up a squabble, clean up spilled juice, get snacks, take a child to the bathroom, and remove a sibling’s underpants from the other sibling’s head…
Don’t expect to get everything you set out to do done in one go. It’s going to take strategic planning, acceptance of distractions, and majorly looking at the positive in every situation to get you through the day.
Working from home with kids isn’t always fun, but it is rewarding.
So, instead of imagining that you’re going to get to work for the next 2 hours without distractions, accept the fact that you are a mom; these kids need you (even more, in fact, than your job needs you). And that means that you can count on having plenty of distractions, but accepting that and expecting the distractions will help you get through the day easier.
Accepting distractions brings me on to the next tip for how to work from home with kids (without losing your mind)…
⭐ Write EVERYTHING Down
…and I mean everything.
Don’t rely on your memory any longer. Instead, if you have to remember something or a thought jumps into your head that you want to use later, write.it.down.
Leave notebooks in various rooms throughout the house so that as soon as something pops into your head, you can write it down; because you can bet it will leave your mind as quickly as it came amidst all the distractions you’re bound to face.
To reiterate: write every single thing you need to remember down. Just write it down.
⭐ Put the Phone Away
One distraction you should not get used to working with is the distraction of your phone. While children should be a welcome distraction, your phone should not.
Your kids need you (even if it is just to say, “mom, mom, mom! Look at this!”), your phone does not.
Studies have shown that actively checking your smartphone – and even just having your phone sitting on the table in front of you while you try to complete a task – significantly decreases productivity, concentration, and the flow you get into while working. Both at work and home.
⭐ Take Care of Yourself
While you’re trying to work from home with kids, don’t forget to take care of yourself too. You can’t pour from an empty cup – into your kids or work.
Think of a few things that fill your tank and incorporate them into your daily life. This could be anything from:
- Taking a bubble bath
- Reading a book
Along with the obvious self-care activities such as exercising regularly, getting outside every day, getting enough rest, and taking your vitamins.
⭐ Schedule Time Off
This tip for how to work from home with kids may just be the most important. So many people think that working from home means you don’t need time off, because, well, you work from home after all. How much more lax can life be?
Oh, they are so, so wrong.
Not until you experience working from home with kids will you truly appreciate how much work goes into working from home with kids.
Don’t work yourself to a state of burnout.
When working from home, you never truly leave work. You’re at work as soon as you wake up and you’re still at work when you go to bed at night. Be sure to take a break and a vacation from time to time, schedule time off just as you would if you were working out of the office, even if you just work for yourself.
How to Work From Home With Kids: Conclusion
When it comes down to it, working from home with kids is just plain hard. But it’s not impossible.
Implementing the tips above will help you become a pro at working from home with distractions – and you may even start to enjoy it.
Through every day, remember that your role as a mother is far more important than money or a job.
I started working from home before we had any kids. Working from home with kids is a whole other ball game. Give yourself an added measure of grace. Adapt; accept the fact that you’re just not going to get as much work done as you once did.