Seven Tips for Working at Home With Young Kids

How to Separate Business from Personal When You Work at Home

When I first became a mom I was completely consumed by it.  My every waking thought was of my son, and even though I was lucky enough to work for a company that allowed me to work remotely, I basically cried through the last two weeks of my maternity leave.  I couldn’t imagine having another priority outside of parenting.

Once I actually went back I found that it really wasn’t so bad…and then I had another baby and I had to figure it out all over again.  It can be tough to find the right balance, but for many of us, working from home feels much less daunting than having to commute to work and leave our kids every day.  I’ve learned a lot along the way, so without further adieu, here are some musts for working at home with your kids.

Take Advantage of Flexible Hours

One of the greatest benefits of working remotely is that it often does not require adherence to a strict schedule.  Make the most of the hours your kids are asleep or most content, and don’t focus too much on the usual 9-5. The lack of a commute frees up morning and evening time you otherwise wouldn’t have.  If you’re up before your kids, get some work done early in the morning. If they nap for two scheduled hours in the afternoon, schedule calls within that window when possible. If they get particularly rowdy later on, take them to the park and get back to work later on.

Have Trustworthy Childcare

I’m not saying you need a full-time nanny on staff, although it’s worth considering if you have a rigorous and inflexible job.  However, most of us that work from home will run into an issue at some point where there’s an important call during your kid’s lunchtime or you have to go to an in-person meeting.  You also still need to be able to get work done and meet your deadlines even if your kid is having one of those days. For those instances, it’s advantageous to have someone you trust that can step in and handle the childcare while you attend to your work responsibilities.  This is often a great job for friends and relatives if you have some that are willing and able!

Limit Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking at work is great, but toggling between work and kids, while sometimes necessary, tends to leave you half assing both.  Try to commit 100% to what you’re doing whenever possible. When the kids are occupied by someone else, grab your computer and get to work – they’ll let you know if they need you.  When you’re playing with your kids, walk away from the computer and put down the phone. Give both the attention they need.

Be Transparent With Your Partner

If you live with a spouse or partner, make sure they understand what you need in order to be successful.  If they’re not used to working from home they may not quite understand the blurred lines that come along with it.  On the other hand, if they also work from home it’s critical that you agree on how to share responsibilities. If your partner leaves for work, perhaps you ask him or her to take the kids out for a walk when they get home, or if they work at home also maybe you decide to split the day in half.  This probably looks different for every family and may change often, but regardless, communication and transparency are key.

Set Aside Time for Your Kids

If you’re anything like me, you’ll sometimes find yourself missing your kids while you’re working.  They’re also likely not to understand why you’re home but not available. You’ll all spend less time pining for each other if you set aside a little time to be with your kids.  I always try to spend lunchtime with my kids. I have to eat anyway, so we spend that time together and then I can get back to work.

Save Time for Yourself

At the end of the day it can feel like you haven’t had a moment to yourself…and that’s because you probably haven’t.  Once you’ve finally put the kids to bed and shut down your laptop for the night, take a little time for yourself. It’s important to recharge and maintain your mental health.  I tend to take about an hour at the end of each day to eat ice cream and mindlessly watch reruns on Netflix.

Working from home with young kids isn’t easy, but the benefits can make up for it in spades.  No commute, plus I can work in my PJs and see my kids whenever I want? Sign me up!

Photo by Nicole Honeywill / Sincerely Media