Being able to work from home with kids is an ambition many working and stay at home mums have. To be able to still earn an income but without having to leave your kids with someone else for the whole day, 5 days a week.
But, is the ability to work from home with young kids as perfect as it’s made out to be?
Often, it isn’t the case.
From my own experience, some days my kids are awesome at playing together, creating their own imaginary games, and getting along just fine. I can get bucket loads completed on these days.
Then comes the other days. I find myself tearing my hair out separating them before they murder each other, all the while, my to-do list sits there as a last priority. Sound familiar?
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Benefits of Working from Home with Kids
Even though it can be a huge juggling act working from home with your kids, there are substantial benefits. If you are at the stage of considering whether to work from home with your children, check out these benefits:
- If you work for yourself, you are able to set your own work schedule to suit your kids routine.
- You are able to spend more quality time with your kids as you save time previously spent on travel to and from work.
- Many jobs where you work for a company can offer either flexible hours or, you could choose select hours. For example, I teach ESL online and choose to only teach on three days a week so that on the other four, I can take my children out for the day.
- You save money on travel costs and spending on coffee and lunches daily. This money can be used on an activity together (or a special treat for yourself!)
Related Post: How to Successfully Start Working from Home in 2020
Challenges Working from Home with Kids
Remember earlier in this post I mentioned about those days I want to tear my hair out because my kids just aren’t getting along. Yup! I honestly think that is the biggest challenge mums face when trying to work from home with their kids.
Kids, particularly if you have young kids like me, take a lot of your time and attention throughout the day. My daughter just has to say ‘Mummy please play with me’ and my mum guilt kicks in, the laptop is down, and I am taken away from my work – I just cannot say no to that ask!
Even mums whose kids are a little older and at school, you still face different challenges each day when you work from home:
- Getting them to school on time
- Ensuring dinner is prepared
- Any household chores are carried out
- After school extracurricular activities, play dates, and you name it in an evening.
Not only that but as you know being a mum is tough. We adore our kids and love them from the bottom of our hearts. But my goodness, parenting is hard- emotionally, mentally, and, physically.
It takes a great deal of motivation, self-determination, and persistence after a long day with your kids, to then open up your laptop and continue working.
I would be lying if I said working from home with kids was easy! But, it is do-able and the benefits can outweigh the challenges a tremendous amount.
When I started working from home, I won’t lie to you, it was rough. I had a toddler adjusting to becoming a big sister. I was breastfeeding my newborn baby every 1-2 hours 24/7. Plus, I had to get up for 5 am several days a week to teach ESL online. This mamma was the real-life definition of TIRED.
However, in doing so, I taught for 15 hours a week from my little desk in our bedroom and had the rest of my day to be able to watch my kids grow up and not miss a milestone.
Now that they are older (4 and 2), I have changed my hours working with this company, which suits my family’s schedule. Not only that, but it also enables me time to work on this and another blog, helping other mums begin working from home and online.
All work from home mums feel the strain, pressure, and often, mum guilt when it comes to working from home with your kids. Hence, this post is to provide you with some top tips to help you successfully work from home with kids and achieve your to-do lists.
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Top Tips to Help You Successfully Work from Home with Kids
Work from Home Schedule for Your Family
It’s really important to try and avoid comparing yourself to other mums who work from home. What works for them and their family may not necessarily work for yours.
Ensure to figure out your family’s rhythm and routine. Consider
- the age of your children,
- what time they wake up and go to bed,
- along with what time of day you are most productive.
Take my family as an example:
I am at my most productive first thing in the morning (after a cup of tea of course!). The trouble is, my kids wake anywhere from 530am every day. My son also still co-sleeps making it incredibly difficult to get up earlier without disturbing him.
On the opposite end, I am not a night owl at all. If I stay up later than 930pm (yes, you read that right!) I feel exhausted the next day! I also struggle to really focus after the kids go to bed. So any writing goes out the window in the evenings.
However, if I let those aspects of parenthood get in the way, I would never grow my business and blog.
Hence, I just have to shift things around a little. Important tasks where I need to focus, I still do in the morning but I block-schedule.
This just means I set aside chunks of time in the week when my husband is off work and I am able to write for say 3+ hours at a time without being disturbed.
Alternatively, on the days my husband is working and my kids are busy, I will follow more of the Pomodoro method of writing in chunks of 25 minutes.
I’m still productive in an evening, but with different tasks where I don’t have to focus as much. Such as creating graphics or pinning pins to Pinterest.
For you, your schedule may look completely different from mine. This is just an example of what an average day may look like for me:
- 530/6am: wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast.
- 7-9am: block writing or in chunks of 25 minutes whilst my children play
- 9am: kids snack time and pinning on Pinterest
- 915-12pm: free play, household chores, and walking our dog. Or, often if we go out we would leave the house at this time and return mid-afternoon
- 12pm: lunchtime and pinning on Pinterest
- 1230-2pm: family activity such as baking, painting, or playing games
- 2-4pm: free play and cooking dinner
- 430-530pm: dinner
- 530-6pm: bathtime
- 6-7pm: bedtime routine
- 7-730pm: settling kids if needed and responding to emails
- 730-830pm: creating graphics, pins or adding my own pins to Pinterest
- 830-930pm: either continuing with tasks or 30 minutes wind downtime before bed, otherwise I don’t switch off from my work and it affects my sleep.
Related Post: How to Stay Focused when Working from Home
If you are new to working from home, your kids won’t be used to you needing time to focus and work.
It will take time for them to adjust and understand that work time means mummy is working and they need to self-entertain, age-dependent of course.
If you have a baby, it may be the case that you still work during their nap time. I know when my son was 1 and my daughter 3, I used his nap time as quiet time for my daughter and could carry out tasks during this part of the day.
Now they are older and have a better understanding, I can set clear expectations.
By setting clear expectations and boundaries, you are teaching your children that you need to focus on your work and they must not disturb you unless it’s essential.
This doesn’t happen overnight though. It helps if you are consistent and provide them with some ideas and activities they can do to occupy themselves during your work time.
Going on my schedule above, when I work with my children in the morning, I work between 7-9am. I personally will work on the sofa so I’m still present with them but they know that when I say mummy is working, to not pester and disturb me.
Often, if I get my laptop out, I will offer them time on their Fire Kids Tablets. We choose to home educate and they have apps on their tablets such as Khan Academy Kids and Teach Your Monster to Read which are fantastic educational apps. So using their tablets, for us, is just a part of their daily education incorporating maths, English, problem-solving, and ICT.
We have a rule that they must learn first, then they can play or watch kids TV on their kindles.
As my kids are young, they don’t really have a concept of time. So these sand timers have really helped. I can set the 30 minutes one and as mentioned above, follow the Pomodoro method of working in small chunks at a time.
Fill Their Bucket
Every kid has a bucket. I know you’re probably thinking what on earth is she on about?
The bucket refers to kids’ needs being fulfilled. Ensuring they aren’t tired, hungry, bored, etc. A full bucket is a happy, content child.
By ensuring your kids’ buckets are filled before you begin working, the less chance your children are going to continuously pester you and disturb your work time.
For example, before I do any work on a day, I ensure my kids
- Had breakfast and are no longer hungry
- Dressed and warm
- Have had mummy time playing e.g. playing a game, making train tracks, or colouring etc.
Then, I can get on with some work tasks and my children are happy and content to continue playing independently.
Particularly spending quality time with your kids before you sit down to do some tasks can be really helpful to successfully work from home with kids.
When trying to work from home with kids, things are not always going to go to plan.
Sometimes our kids are sick, sometimes they just want that extra cuddle or a bit of attention.
Firstly, you need to know your priorities. For me, my kids will always come before business.
There will always be the opportunity to earn money working from home. But my kids will not always be this young or want to spend time with me. There will come a bittersweet day when they’ve grown up and no longer need mummy cuddles, or to have their handheld to go to sleep, or even want to play games with me.
If you are anything like me and choose to work from home to be able to spend more time with your kids, then you probably have the same priority as I do above.
If this is the case, it’s important to not let it get you down when you didn’t tick off your to-do list as quickly as you’d hoped.
Kids are kids and they don’t understand the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve working from home.
So remember to give yourself a break and to go with the flow of family life.
Make the Most of Time Given
This point goes hand in hand with being flexible. Throughout your day, you’ll find little snippets of time when your kids are occupied. We’re not talking hours here, but chunks of 10, 20, or 30 minutes at a time.
This could be when they are eating a snack or lunchtime. Playing in the garden. Or playing with their toys.
These chunks of time are really important to maximise and make the most of in order to get work done when working from home with kids.
As you saw from my schedule example, every time my kids are eating, I dedicate a good 10 minutes manually pinning onto Pinterest. If my children are playing happily and I can grab 30 minutes, I might read and respond to emails.
When you work from home with your children, it’s crucial to your businesses growth to learn to maximise the time that you have throughout the day.
Working from home we can end up having what seems like a never-ending to-do list!
In order to avoid overwhelm and procrastination, prioritising your workload can really benefit mums working from home with kids.
Setting goals can help you focus and achieve your tasks. This works best when you just set yourself a couple of goals, I would recommend three at most per day, in order of importance.
For example, for my blog, my core priority is to create helpful and valuable content for my readers. So I need to ensure I dedicate time to write and produce new content, preferably on a weekly basis (as per my own content schedule).
However, it’s no good writing this content if no one can find it. So I also need to prioritise spending time implementing SEO and promoting it on Pinterest.
So on a daily basis, my priority goals are:
- To write between 500-1000 words daily
- Create new Pins and actively pin on Pinterest.
I then batch other tasks together once or twice a week such as:
- Editing and scheduling posts
- Carrying out keyword and competitor research.
In order to prioritise your own goals, ensure to block out time each week for when you will work on your goals and what task you are going to do in each time block whether it’s for 10minutes or 3 hours.
For example, in my schedule when I time block 3 hours, I know this is dedicated writing time. Whereas for smaller chunks of time such as 10 minutes, I know I can manually pin on Pinterest or respond to an email.
If you are looking for a bit of additional support in order to keep focused and remain productive whilst working from home, I highly recommend the 2020 Productivity Bundle from Ultimate Bundles. This bundle was released in January this year and has become so popular, they have extended the initial one week release to now have the bundle available all year. This bundle is jam-packed full of products focused on:
- Building Routines (11 products)
- Getting Organized (9 products)
- Goal Setting (9 products)
- Overcoming Obstacles (7 products)
- Planners (10 products)
- Review and Reflect (10 products)
- Shifting Mindset (12 products)
- Time Management (6 products)
A total of 73 products worth $2837.06 priced at only $67.
The productivity bundle is ideal to help you set routines at home with your kids, organise and plan, along with managing your time and achieving your goals whilst working from home.
When you work from home with kids, emergency activities are those toys, games, and activities you have put aside for when you really need to focus and concentrate.
Emergency activities come in super handy as they keep your kids occupied and engaged a lot longer than their toys and games that they have access to on a daily basis.
The key to emergency activities being successful is the ‘newness’ aspect. So it is important to not have these available at all times so that your kids maintain excitement for something new to play with.
The best activities are those that are more open-ended. For example in our household, my kids become really engaged with:
Wooden train tracks and wooden push-along trains (not electric): using wooden train tracks leave it to our kids’ imagination how they want to create the track and then, they physically have to move the push-along trains to actively play, rather than observe an electric train.
Explorers set with mini beasts: my kids just love this! As it comes with items such as binoculars and a magnifying glass, plus a selection of minibeasts, my kids have had hours of fun setting up scavenger hunts in the house, identifying each minibeast and using the different tools. (Helpful tip: hide the whistle BEFORE you give it to your kids. Learn from my mistakes! Once they have learnt how to use the whistle, there will be no stopping them).
Box of blocks: a completely open-ended activity where it’s up to your kid’s imagination to create something. Mine have created rockets, race tracks, buildings, and cars, just to name a few creations.
Tangram Shape Puzzles: this activity box comes with shapes and then cards which show you how to make different pictures with the shapes. So your children can make them without support.
Reusable Sticker books: I love these sticker books as our kids can use them again and again without me having to keep buying new stickers. They have different scenes for kids to create their own pictures.
These are just a few examples of things that I would class as emergency activities because they are so open-ended and hence can occupy our children for at least 30minutes-1hour at a time without the need for adult support.
Alternatively, our children also have a Fire Kids Tablet each, on which they have a number of educational apps downloaded and are allowed to play on when I am working.
Or, if you already have a selection of toys at home, you can also choose to use the same system as we do, in that you rotate your children’s toys around. Our kids used to have all of their toys accessible at the same time. But we found they would get bored easily and not want to play with anything.
Since we moved their toys all upstairs and selected one toy box at a time for downstairs, they are so much more engaged with their toys and play with them for a lot longer than before.
Don’t Be Afraid of Messy Play
Another idea is to allow messy play whilst you are working. I know us mums often dread messy play as more often than not, it takes longer to clean up than it does to set up.
However, kids LOVE messy play and it can occupy them for ages and can be a godsend when you are trying to get some work done from home.
Messy play doesn’t have to be ‘super’ messy. Things such as playdough, painting, and even kinetic sand, are great messy play options to occupy your kids.
Alternatively, if you have a kid’s table such as this one which we have, you can set up activities in each box for them to explore e.g. water play or finding different letters in the sand.
If you don’t have this kind of table, you can also purchase a tuff tray and do the exact same thing, creating different messy play activities which can be contained inside the tray.
Of course, these are just a couple of examples. You can always just use items that you already have at home. Here are a few things I have set up for my kids when I have wanted to crack on with some work:
Set out different metal pots and pans with spoons for them to create music (I suggest plugging in some headphones for this one! Soundproofing anyone??!!!)
Provide a couple of ingredients, bowls, spoons, and scales for your kids to pretend to be chefs. I will often include some cheap cupcake cases as well with ingredients such as cereal, fruit, and sometimes milk (depending on how much mess I fancy clearing up). But the kids love this AND, it kills two birds with one stone as they get to eat their creation as their midmorning snack.
I know messy play sounds daunting and why on earth would you want to set something up which provides you with even more housework to do. BUT, if you are struggling to work from home with your kids, this kind of activity works brilliantly for enabling you to work from home.
On the plus side, kids LOVE getting involved with housework (young kids do anyway). So give them a cloth and get them involved in the cleaning up process at the end. We love singing this song as we clean up in our house.
Set Up Snacks
Are your kids anything like mine and ask you about 50,000 times a day for a snack? It’s definitely my kid’s favourite phrase ‘I’m hungry’!
To save you a heap of time AND the hassle of telling them no gazillion times, have a selection of snacks ready prepared. Then teach your kids that those are their snacks for the whole day and once they are gone, there are no more.
My kids are still quite young (4 and 2), so they require something visual to help them see how much they have for the day and also, to help them break up their snacks rather than eat them in one go.
We have purchased these snack tubes and they work so well, separating each snack into different compartments. So we can tell our kids that they are broken into morning snack, afternoon snack and then a final additional snack for if they get super hungry and need a little extra.
Get Them Involved
Kids love to help out. If you can, job dependent, try to get them involved with what it is you are working on.
A big part of this blog involves writing and creating different graphics. My daughter has been learning letters at present, and really enjoys finding and recognising different letters on my keyboard as I write.
My daughter and son both love choosing the colours and images I use to create different products or graphics.
On one of my other blogs, I create some children’s graphics for homeschooling and they love to select what pictures to use and also are great for testing out each activity at home for the blog.
See what tasks you can get your kids involved with. They will love to help you, plus it’s spending time together whilst you still work from home. Not to mention, training the next generation from an early age with a business mindset and that they too, can work from home when they are older if they choose to.
I hope these tips from my own personal experience will support you also to work from home with your kids.
I’m not going to lie. It is tough and comes with its own challenges compared to working outside of the home. But, there are so many benefits.
These top tips will help you achieve that balance and provide you with some ideas on how you can work from home with kids.
Do you have any additional top tips to help mums work from home successfully? Share them in the comments below.