Many of us are facing a new reality for an indefinite period of time: working from home with our kids. Not only are we moving our office to our house, but our kids aren't attending school and we need to help teach them. I've been working from home with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers for many years, and I have some tips that have helped me juggle it all. These are simple things that will hopefully ease your stress and get you and your kids into the groove of working from home together!
1: Give yourself grace
Right now, we're collectively facing a lot of stressors. Many of us have lost work, events have been canceled, our kids are home every day, and even grocery shopping can be a nightmare. We're seeing a lot of lists, schedules and suggestions for all the things we should be doing while facing all of this, but I urge you to give yourself and your kids a lot of grace during this tough season. It's all a lot for us to process, so don't feel bad if you need to take a day "off" every now and then. It could be a day where you hardly get any work done and you & your kids are glued to Netflix for most of it. It's OK.
I created a list on Instagram of things you (and your kids) can do if you're feeling anxious or stressed during this time. Check it out right here.
2: Create a schedule (that suits your family style)
With the idea of grace in mind, a schedule can certainly help with the work-life juggle. Whether you and your kids like a formal schedule or something a little looser, having one can help ease yourself and your kids into a new routine. I like to block a different activity for both me and my kids each hour of the day, making sure that there's a decent mix of educational and free time.
Your schedule needs to be customized to you, but here's what ours looks like right now (I have it as a Google Sheet so I can change it at a whim when something's not working for us):
If you have younger children, you might be able to work for an hour our two in the afternoon while they nap. If you have older kids, perhaps they can keep themselves occupied for a lot longer than mine can. Create a schedule that your family can handle, but also leave room for "down" days and any movement that might need to happen dependent on moods and needs.
3: Make time to focus on the kids or work exclusively
Is it possible for you to work with your home office door closed for an hour? Is it also possible for you to focus exclusively on your child(ren) for an hour or two while your phone and computer are locked away? I sure miss having childcare and school so that I can focus exclusively on work for hours at a time, but it's still possible for me to do this in shorter chunks throughout the day. These are usually hour-long sessions where the kids are either having free play time with screens, playing outside, or sleeping. Admittedly, I do my best work when my kids aren't asking me a question every 2 seconds, so I definitely need these little blocks of work focus. However, I also know my kids need my 100% focus throughout the day. Closing my office door and locking my phone away so that I can help my kids with school whole-heartedly, teach them a new skill, or give them cuddles is a big need for us both.
For your time at home when focusing exlusively on the kids, here are some ideas of things you can do together:
- bake together (try my banana bread!)
- do a craft together (here are 14 kids' craft ideas to make at home!)
- play outside together
- print out some free activity books and work through them together (try my FREE Easter activity booklet)
- clean and organize your kids' bedrooms together
- make a fairy garden together - outside or inside (check out our outside fairy garden here)
- create cards or gifts together to drop off on the porches of loved ones
- play video games or watch TV together
- exercise together (we love Just Dance or a family dance party in the living room!)
4: Involve your kids in your work (if you can)
Depending on the ages of your kids and what sort of work you do from home, try to find creative ways to involve your kids in what you do. For me, there have been a lot of ways that my kids can work WITH me, and it usually turns out to be a lot of fun! I might not get as much done as I like, but when I'm able to marry motherhood and work it's SO satisfying. For example, my oldest daughter who's 11 is very interested in photo and video editing. Every so often, I'll walk her step-by-step through editing one of my photo sets or videos and she LOVES the time spent together and the whole process. Another example? When I'm working on a room makeover that I want to film, I'll have my kids help me pick paint colours, furniture placement, and I've even had them help me paint the walls!
Some other ideas that kids can help with for other sorts of jobs include: organizing paperwork, shredding paper, and cleaning and organizing your home office. Related: have your kids help with chores around the house throughout the day, too. Not only will that ease your burden, but it will teach them skills they'll need for later in life.
5: Learn to say "no" or "yes, later"
Working at home with kids can be tricky and unexpected things can come up. You might have to adjust how much work you take on, and how long it will take you to complete your work. I've found it crucial to say "no" to certain projects that I can't do with my kids at home (i.e. on-site work, long phone meetings, anything that requires a spotless house, haha!) and "yes, later" to almost everything else. With all three of my girls at home all day long, it's going to take me longer to finish most of my work. I don't want to put even more pressure on myself. Most people will understand and respect these boundaries.
Overall, working at home with kids can be a tricky juggle, but it certainly makes for a rich, at-home experience! I feel so lucky to have been at home with my growing girls while I'm working. Being a mom AND being a DIY blogge are both things I love, so it's an incredible privilege to do both in tandem.
I hope these tips will help you as you navigate working at home with kids. It can be a tough adjustment, but give yourself grace, give your kids lots of love, and you'll be A-OK.