I’ve been working from home and taking care of my 3 kids since 2013. When I started doing this, my kids ranged from 1 year old to 6 years old. Now, we both work from home and our kids are often home with us. In today’s episode, we will discuss the things we’ve done to be more productive with our kids around.
It was always my goal to have a job I could do from home that would allow me to earn while I took care of the kids and homeschooled them. But, that kind of work comes with a lot of challenges, especially when they are younger. If you have young kids, then you know how hard it is to get anything done in a day…especially if it requires your attention.
Over the years, I’ve had to get really creative on how to get the work done I need to do every day while still paying attention to my kids. Now, Austin and I both work from home and our kids are in and out depending on the school schedule. We have some tips we want to share with you to help you get more done for work while your kids are with you.
Setting boundaries in general is a good idea with kids. Even when they are very young, you can start setting boundaries. Here’s some of the boundaries we have put in place with our kids:
- When our bedroom door is shut, don’t come in. Knock before entering.
- Our bedroom is not a play place or a hangout. We’ll sit with you on the couch or somewhere else, but not the bedroom.
- Leave us alone when we are in the bathroom and don’t try and talk to us through the door.
- Noisy toys and games should be done in your room with the door closed.
- Not shouting, yelling, or screaming inside. Being really loud is reserved for being outside in general.
- Be quiet while we’re on the phone or on a zoom call.
- Don’t fight and argue with each other while we are on the phone or in a zoom call.
- Don’t talk to us while we are on the phone unless it is really important. (Now that they are older, they can text while we are in a meeting.)
- Give us time to wrap up the email we’re typing, task we’re working on, etc, before asking us questions.
- Don’t climb on us or pull on us while we’re working on the computer.
These are just a few of the boundaries that we started working with our kids when they were really little. Most of these we put in place before I started working from home. So, it really helped when I started working from home.
Even if you have a child as young as 1, these are boundaries you can work on with them. It requires a lot of effort on your part to teach them up front and then continue to remind them. They aren’t just going to get it. Yes, it is exhausting, but it’s important and well-worth the effort.
Take Breaks During The Day To Spend Time With Your Kids
Whether you work for yourself or you’re home because of the pandemic, you can still take breaks and spend them with your kids. Ultimately, your kids just want to connect with you throughout the day, so give them chances to do that. Let them know that you are specifically taking a break to spend time with them. You can invite them to have lunch with you. Or you can go on a short break and sit with them on the couch or somewhere away from your work area.
If you make it a priority to give your kids attention throughout the day, they will go away and entertain themselves more easily when you tell them to. Set the expectations with them about what’s going to happen. For example, say “I’m going to sit here and have lunch with you and then I’ll need to get back to work”.
Develop A Team Mindset
As our kids got older, we developed a team mindset with them. We helped them understand that if we could have the uninterrupted time we needed to get our work done, then we could stop working and go do fun things. This mindset also really helps when you are asking them to do chores or help out around the house. Help them understand that just like working on the computer, or whatever your at home job requires of you is your job…sweeping, dishes, etc, is their job.
Make Your Schedule Known And Stick With It
When your kids get old enough to entertain themselves better and you don’t have to be as hands on, come up with a schedule you can stick with. We’ve talked about schedules before. You can do a general schedule that you keep or play it more day by day depending on your preference and life. But whatever you come up with, make sure you let your kids know the schedule. It’s important that you stick with whatever that cut off time is as closely as you can or your kids will grow frustrated. Even as old as our kids are, they get annoyed when we have long days that go past our normal.
Get Them Involved
Find something in your job that they can be a part of. Maybe it’s as simple as writing out your task list while you dictate it. And if they can’t do a task for your job, sit them beside you and give them their own work. I used to work at the kitchen table on my stuff while the kids homeschooled. When the pandemic hit, we did the same thing with remote learning.
Break Up Your Tasks And Create Placeholders
When you are planning out your day, break up any tasks that you can and find ways to create placeholders. This way, if you need to walk away from your work abruptly, you have a better chance of coming back and picking up where you left off without a ton of re-acclimation. Also, make sure you have a task list so you can stay focused and on point. This way, when you come back, you just look down and know exactly what you need to do next.
Take Turns Caring For The Kids With Your Spouse
Whether you and your spouse both work from home or not, take turns caring for your kids. This may mean you need to carve out a few hours when they get home from a job outside of the house to work uninterrupted. If they work at home with you, then schedule times in the day where one of you is “on-call” with the kids. Meaning, if someone needs help, one person is in charge of helping and you switch.
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Until next week, get out there and start breaking the mental chains that are keeping you from producing!