Lately, you feel like you’re being pushed closer and closer to having to choose between being a parent and your career.
The good news?
With remote work on the rise, it’s possible to do both. Of course, it takes serious work to make it happen.
In this post, we’ll put to rest rumors that working from home with kids is impossible.
You’ll learn how to set boundaries, manage your time, and tips on how to keep your kids entertained and safe when you have a deadline.
You can do this — after all, they don’t call you “super mom” for nothing.
1. Set Boundaries with Your Children
When you’re working from home with kids, we know that it can often feel impossible to set boundaries.
However, if your children are old enough to understand them (and to be without constant supervision for a few hours every day) talk to them about your work.
It’s a good idea to set up an office in a specific part of your home, or even just put a sign on the room where you prefer to do your work. When the kids see this sign, they’ll know that you shouldn’t be disturbed.
Create a rewards-based, not punishment-based, system for when they’re able to follow the rules. Also, set up a system that allows you to take breaks to check on your kids at least once an hour. Explain to them that, if there’s a serious emergency, they, of course, can always knock.
2. Reevaluate Your Schedule
If you have children that really can’t be left without supervision, you’ll need to rethink your current schedule.
We strongly advise waking up early when you try to work from home. This allows you to get a head-start on your workday, or to knock of tasks that require tons of focus before your children wake up and your priorities have to shift.
Plus, there are tons of health benefits to getting an early start to your day.
It’s not just about finding time to get everything done. It’s also about being able to squeeze in even 20 minutes of peace and quiet before your kids wake up and your workday starts.
3. Create a Daily Activity for Your Kids
Before your kids wake up, head downstairs and create a “to-do” list of things they need to complete before they can come get you.
This can include chores, coloring in a few pages of a coloring book, or even watching one episode of their favorite show. Look for quiet toddler activities that won’t disturb you, like looking through a picture book or even doing a children’s puzzle.
4. Stop Multi-Tasking
As a parent, we know you think you’re the master of multi-tasking.
However, your productivity actually decreases by about 40% when you multi-task. You’ll also burn out much more quickly than you normally would because you’ll just feel overwhelmed.
Instead, commit fully to whatever task you’re doing at the moment — whether that’s work or playing with your children.
5. Move Your Desk
Especially if you need to keep a close watch on your children, you might be better off moving your desk (or just taking your laptop) into their nursery or playroom.
This way, you won’t be constantly distracted by wondering what your kids are up to, or having to get up and run to another room because your baby needs to be fed.
6. Encourage Siblings to Keep Each Other Busy
If you want to work from home successfully, take advantage of the number of children you have.
Look for activities that require at least two people, like board games, playing catch outside, or even staging a mini photoshoot.
Click here for Spanish-language advice (because isn’t it every parent’s dream to raise a bilingual child?) about how to create awesome games that will keep your kids entertained for hours at a time.
7. Take Advantage of Downtime
When you’re working from home with kids, accept the reality that you’ll likely have to kiss the idea of traditional working hours goodbye.
Look for pockets of time throughout your day where you can get things done (yes, this includes on the weekends.)
Ask your partner, or even a family friend or your parent, if they would watch the kids for a couple hours so that you can work ahead for the coming week.
Ask another parent to host a sleepover, and use the time to catch up on work.
If you have things crossed off your to-do list by the time Monday rolls around, things will feel much more manageable.
8. It’s OK to Hire Help
Finally, when you’re working from home with a baby or a young child, remember that there’s no shame in admitting you need an extra set of hands.
Consider hiring a babysitter who can give you even three to four hours off every week — whether you use that time to get some work done, or to take some much-needed “me time.”
You can also look for childcare with cooking and light cleaning experience.
Sometimes, just having someone to help you prepare meals and handle the dishes can make getting work done seem much more possible.
Working from Home with Kids Is Possible
Above all, when you’re working from home with kids, remember to cut yourself some slack.
Some days, you’re just not going to be able to finish as much as you’d like to. Other days, your kids will be complete angels.
Talk to your company about their expectations for parents who work at home. You’ll likely be surprised by how flexible they are.
No matter what you do or how old your kids are, we have all the advice you need on how to get the most out of every day.
BY DALE HARRIS