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Many working parents want to work from home so they can spend more time with their families. This is especially true of people who have young kids. But kids need constant attention, which often leads to difficulty balancing work and family life.
Time and time again, questions pop up in our Facebook groups from people (work-from-home moms especially) asking for advice on how to balance working from home with their personal life or looking after their kids.
Technically their work-at-home job allows them a flexible schedule, but in reality, it’s hard to balance childcare with the demands of a full-time or even part-time job.
For example, this question popped up in our Work-at-Home Heroes group recently — and boy, did some heroes save the day with their advice!
If you’re not already a member of the Work-At-Home Heroes Facebook group, click here to join and use the password #Heroes.
It got me thinking about how there are so many people out there struggling with this very problem — how to be a work-from-home mom (or dad!) without going crazy or feeling overwhelmed!
So many valid challenges of working from home with kids came up in the responses to that thread, and ways to overcome those challenges, that I knew I needed to write a blog post about it to help more parents struggling with this issue.
Help is out there, folks! All you need to do is ask for it!
Here are some awesome tips you can follow if you’re struggling to work from home with kids.
Create a Schedule/Routine
Many kids and adults alike enjoy having a schedule. We like to know what we’re going to do and when.
Try to create a daily schedule of your work and their schooling/activities so everyone knows what to expect.
Make sure that schedule includes uninterrupted time with them. They may be struggling to understand why they can’t talk to you all day even though you’re home with them. Having scheduled together time will help them make the distinction between work time and playtime.
Consistency is key when it comes to getting a schedule to work. Aim to do things at around the same time every day, i.e., mealtimes, schooltime, naptime, etc.
Acknowledge that some days you are going to go off schedule. It’s inevitable! So you may need to mentally prepare yourself that this will happen.
Sometimes you just need to go with the flow.
Set Some Ground Rules
Kids need rules and structure. Otherwise, it’s a free-for-all, and you’ll never get any work done!
But how do you get them to follow the rules?
Julie jumped into the comments on that Facebook thread with the best tip I’ve ever heard for getting kids to respect your work time… The Interrupting Rule!
If your kid needs to interrupt you while you’re working, ask them to place their hand on your arm. You then acknowledge their presence by placing your hand over their hand so they know you know they’re there. When you’re ready, address them and listen to their concerns/questions/demands. 🙂
(Proofreader win! I just used the words there, their, and they’re correctly in a sentence! Once a proofreader; always a proofreader. ;-))
Need ideas for legitimate work from home jobs? Here are the best resources for moms.
Create Visual Cues
Creating visual cues may help your kids learn when it’s okay to interrupt you and when it’s not.
If you have a home office and your kids are old enough to be left alone without you watching them every second, you could implement a closed-door policy when you’re on a conference call or need some focus time.
When the door is closed, you’re not to be disturbed. When the door is open, they can come in and ask a question.
If you don’t have an office, then try to create a designated workspace and make sure your family knows that when you’re in this workspace, they shouldn’t disturb you unless it’s important.
You can also create other cues so they know not to interrupt you, like when your headphones are on, it means do not disturb!
Now you might want to make it clear to them what you would consider important. A cut on their knee from a fall is important; not being able to find the video game controller is NOT important! 😉
Distract Your Kids
Some kids have a harder time keeping themselves occupied than others, so it may help to create a list of creative projects they could work on while you’re working.
These projects don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but it helps if they are things they can do on their own like coloring, playing with Legos, etc.
Pamela jumped into the comments with some amazing ideas to keep the kiddos busy while you work:
Work Around Their Schedule
If you have younger kids or you’re homeschooling, then you’re probably finding it even more difficult to work with kids around.
You may need to work around their schedule instead of yours.
This might mean getting up an hour or two earlier than them or working at night when they’ve gone to bed.
Dawn and Katie broke down their schedules for us to give us an idea of how this might work in practice.
I also love Dawn’s idea of hiring a young teenager to watch them while you work in another room. My friend Monica is also a fan of this idea!
Work in 15-Minute Chunks
Pamela was on fire on this thread!
She advises to fit in work in the margins of your day so you don’t have to do all your work when the kids are asleep.
Make a list of short tasks you can complete whenever you have 15 minutes free.
Examples of tasks you could do include:
- Make/return a phone call
- Send/return some emails
- Post on social media for your business
- Create a social media graphic
- Keep track of your business expenses for the week
Some days are just not going to go your way, and you’ll just have to accept that.
If your patience is starting to run out, allow yourself to take a break.
Maybe take the kids outside for a walk or allow them to have some screen time. No judgment here! Sometimes we all need a bit of peace and quiet so that we don’t explode!
Make sure you take breaks for yourself as well to get a coffee or read a book. You need it and you deserve it!
Acknowledge Small Successes
This is a key piece of advice — not just for parents but for anyone who is struggling with anything.
Not enough people take the time to acknowledge small wins. Instead, we tend to focus on the negatives like we didn’t get as much work done today as we wanted/needed to.
That may be true, but small actions add up. Keep track of all the little things you do, and you’ll soon start to see your progress.
And if all else fails, you could try this…
It’s a different approach, but it might just work! LOL!
I hope you find these tips helpful. Above all, try not to compare yourself to other people. You need to do what works for your family.
It may be a struggle to be a work-from-home mom with kids at home, but the rewards are worth it! Just think of the extra time you’ll get to spend with your kids. And you could earn even more money from home than you do at your day job — possibly even six figures!
Not actually working from home yet, but you want to? Work-At-Home School is packed full of resources to help you start an at-home business.