Helpful Tips for Working From Home With Kids

You’ve been thrown into working from home with kids and maybe you’re wondering how the heck you’ll ever get your work done. Being a work-at-home parent can be challenging but it is possible with structure and planning. 

Here are some helpful tips for working from home with kids. 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SCHEDULE, MAKE ONE.

You may have heard repeatedly that kids need structure, but you need structure too! If you haven’t created a schedule for your family yet, then now’s the time to do so. 

There was a lot of excitement (and then criticism) of the popular quarantine schedule that went viral on social media a few months ago… but this parent was onto something. Children need to know what to expect and you need a plan to manage their needs all day long so that you can get your work done!

The schedule doesn’t have to be elaborate or include every minute of the day. You just need a general daily plan for your family.

SET OFFICE HOURS 

I was recently struggling to get my work done. I was productive but in unproductive ways. I spent my days cleaning, cooking, menu planning, making online food orders, and baking crazy amounts of comfort foods (yes, I’m a stress baker). 

I reached out to a group of fellow writer friends and one of the best tips I received was to set office hours for my work time. 

Office hours aren’t new to me. I used to have set “office hours” a while ago and when I stuck to them I was super productive. However, the stress of the pandemic and the subsequent quarantine wiped out my memory. Seriously… as I discussed this issue with these ladies, I was stunned by how I USED to do these things!

If you are under quarantine with a spouse, see if you can come up with a schedule for office hours that works for the two of you. Once you’ve decided on your office hours, call a family meeting to share your office hours and the expectations surrounding this time with your children. 

SET A GOAL

Every day, you should have a goal as to what you want to accomplish. 

You can handle goal setting in one of three ways:

  1. Work on your MUST DO task(s) first. These would be the tasks that are usually most time sensitive and there may be an expectation placed by others about the urgency of this work being done. 
  2. Eat the frog. I can’t remember where I first heard this term, but eating the frog means essentially working on the daunting task (possibly the most boring / hardest task) first.
  3. Tackle a whole bunch of small/easy tasks. If you have a long to-do list, you may want to approach your work time by tackling as many small tasks as you can.

Whichever work goal(s) you set – make sure to take the time to reflect on your day’s goals and plan for your next work day. A planner or goal setting sheets are very helpful for planning and reflecting on your days. 

Don’t forget to get your FREE planner sheets here! 

PLAN SOME ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Once a week, take some time to plan various activities for your children. Sometimes it helps to have multiple choices for them to select from.

For instance, I have a binder ring of laminated activity ideas for my children. You could even have multiple binder rings arranged by the theme of the activities (i.e. physical education activities such as: WiiFit exercises, yoga DVD, dancing game, etc. creative activities such as: drawing, colouring, finger knitting, etc.)

You could establish an expectation that your children have to do their homeschool work, a physical education activity, a creative activity, play a game together, and do their chores before they have screen time. This approach obviously works better with older children (6+ years). 

For younger children, you can set up interesting play space activities to keep them engaged for longer blocks of time. For instance, I had quiet time bins for my children when they were younger. There was a Lego bin, a colouring book / crayons bin, a toy animal bin, etc.

You may also consider setting up dramatic play spaces for your children. Here are a few dramatic play spaces you could easily implement with items from around your house.

ANTICIPATE (AND PLAN FOR) YOUR FAMILY’S NEEDS

Another key component of successfully working from home is to anticipate (and plan for) your family’s needs.

For instance, every night you might want to prepare snack bags/baskets for your children so that they know what snacks they can have throughout the day. This approach helps curb the possibility of them raiding the pantry and also encourages independence. 

In addition, if your children have school work or textbooks they are working from, put those books out for them as well as a container of sharpened pencils, pencil crayons, etc. 

HAVE A MENU PLAN

Another huge time saver is to make a menu and have it displayed in your kitchen. 

A menu plan alleviates the pressure of coming up with meal ideas on the fly. Plus, it makes it possible for other family members to pitch in and help. For example, if I have Salmon Rice planned for the evening, my oldest daughter can prep the rice in the rice cooker and my youngest can mix up the salmon and mayo and my husband can cut up avocado and cucumber for the side.  

USE SCREEN TIME EFFECTIVELY

Screens and technology can provide you with large blocks of uninterrupted work time. I have appreciated and used technology in my children’s education and it’s been a life-saver! 

Some guilt-free technology activities include:

WHILE WORKING FROM HOME WITH KIDS… GIVE SOME GRACE

By applying these tips, I’m certain you’ll experience increased productivity. Working from home with kids can be challenging but these suggestions will help give direction and inspiration to everyone involved. 

Regardless, make sure to extend yourself (and others) some grace. Patience, kindness, and a smile go long ways in stressful times. 

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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly