Working from home with kids can be a challenge. Here are 7 productivity tips to help you balance a work schedule and the attention your kids want.
Working From Home with Kids
Whether you’ve recently transitioned to work from home or are trying to find a balance between a work schedule and the attention your kids want, parents everywhere know the struggle is real.
You want to give them everything they need, including attention to show your love. But when working from home, your adult responsibilities are hard for them to understand.
So how do you find a compromise? Essentially, you need to be more productive so you can finish tasks on time and be there for them when it matters most.
7 Productivity Tips for Working from Home with Kids
To wrap up your responsibilities and tasks, here are seven productivity tips for working from home with kids.
- Spend time with them
- Set clear expectations
- Practice phone calls and meetings
- Establish a home office space
- Ask siblings or a partner to help with childcare
- Offer independent activities
- Prioritize your schedule
1. Spend Time with Them
Spend time with your kids a little throughout the day. Take a lunch break and sit down with them midday to watch their favorite cartoon or TV show. Or grab a snack and glass of water, checking in on them. Regular breaks like this can help minimize interruptions by giving them the attention they need.
You can also spend a little quality time together first thing in the morning, starting a creative project that will occupy them for the rest of the day. Of course, this isn’t always possible, especially if you have an early meeting. But most times, you’d be surprised what a little attention can do.
2. Set Clear Expectations
When working from home with kids, you need to set clear expectations–with your kids, your partner and even your boss. Hold yourself accountable to a schedule and let your employer and coworkers know what hours they can reach you. And whenever you have a call with a client or someone new, let them know of your remote situation and that you have kids, giving them a subtle heads-up that background noises can, or will, occur. Also set clear expectations with your partner and kids, letting them know your hours and if you have any important meetings for the day or week.
3. Practice Phone Calls and Meetings
As soon as you’re on a conference call–or worse, a video call–your kid noisily barges in. Unless you want to go viral, it might benefit you to teach them to take notice when you’re on a call and not to interrupt. Kids may not quite grasp that you’re on an urgent call with your boss, but you can teach them when to leave you alone through practice and repetition.
Many companies understand the challenges of working from home with kids, but you can still save yourself some embarrassment before jumping on your next real call. How? Through practice!
Set the stage by closing the door or running through a drill with specific instructions, asking them to remain quiet for the duration and not to interrupt. Tell them what you’d like them to do and take a pretend call. See how your kids react, giving them praise if they do well or guidance and more practice if not.
4. Establish a Home Office Space
One way to ensure that kids give you space to work is by establishing a home office. Turn a spare bedroom into an office space, if you can, or at least in a room where you can close the door for privacy if you need it.
For some parents who are the primary caregivers of young children who need to be watched, however, sequestering yourself away in a home office is not an option. And with young kids, you might even have to keep your workstation out of reach. For these types of situations, get yourself a standing desk they can’t reach or work at the kitchen counter.
Another option is to let your kids inside the office, setting up a child-size desk so they can “work” right along beside you. Add some paper and colored pencils or crayons, as well as any other accessories they can get crafty with to keep them active. Letting your kids into your office space will also show them how hard you work and instill the same values as they get older.
5. Ask Siblings or Partner to Help with Childcare
Younger children are generally more dependent on adults, which can sometimes make it difficult to get work done at home. To accomplish a few hours of work, ask a responsible older sibling or your partner to help keep an eye on them.
Even if you may not have someone at home to keep them distracted, you could even arrange a virtual playdate with grandparents, their friends or even their teachers. Sit them down in another room where they can have a conversation and tell grandma and grandpa what they’ve been up to lately. Let them sing along to favorite songs, read to each other or play games with friends or cousins.
6. Offer Independent Activities
For very young infants and babies, have them lie down for a nap, or drop them in a swing or bouncy chair as you keep a watchful eye on them nearby. Keep them entertained with something to watch, like their favorite children’s shows or videos of songs.
For toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school-age children, keep them distracted with a movie on your home theater system or let them watch more engaging PBS shows, Disney+, Nickelodeon or play an educational game online or through an app. As they get older, they’ll learn what they enjoy and be able to occupy themselves by reading, drawing or finding a way to socialize with friends online through games.
7. Prioritize Your Schedule
Plan out your week and even down to the day. Plan out to the hour if you want–just remember to be flexible. Make note of what is a priority and needs to be accomplished, knowing this is the time you need uninterrupted concentration. The idea here is to set aside these hours for when you can get your kids to preoccupy themselves.
When your partner also works from home, align your schedules and be flexible so that one of you can attend an important meeting while the other watches the kids. Let one of you work a few hours and then switch off. And when you put the kids to bed, slip in a few more quiet and uninterrupted hours of work.
*This writing was contributed by Lauren Silver to be posted for MyMommyStyle.
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