In this complete guide to on how to work at home with kids, we’ll cover:
- Why work at home
- My work at home journey
- Strategies to stay sane while working at home
- How to keep your kids busy while you work at home
- How to create a work at home schedule with kids
- Additional links
Use the titles listed above at any time to jump to any section of this article.
What is work at home and why choose it?
At the time of this article many parents are forced to work at home due to the coronavirus pandemic and it’s one of the ways the virus just might shape our world. Regardless, working at home is an option many people choose every year for a myriad of reasons.
The work at home arrangement is one that allows you to earn an income outside the traditional office setting. It can be a flexible money saving way to grow your family while still bringing in an income. For example you save money on daycare when you can work at home and watch your own child or children.
Working at home allows you control over your own schedule, more time for personal pursuits, and you can make money doing something you love. Many people, especially in larger cities, like the idea of no longer having a commute. And lots of entrepreneurs love that they have control over their income and a greater opportunity for growth.
Are you still looking for the right work at home option for you? Then check our article 30 Work at Home Opportunities You Can Start Right Now or check out the Top 10 Legit Companies that Offer Work at Home Jobs.
My journey as a work at home mom
My journey as a work at home mom began about a decade ago. When I became pregnant with our first child I was already working as a freelance graphic designer. None-the-less the transition from just working at home, to working at home with a baby (and later two babies) was an interesting time to say the least.
There were days when I questioned my decision to work at home because it was so hard. But then there were even more days when I couldn’t imagine doing anything else because I was so happy to get so much extra time with my boys. There are pros and cons to working at home, just like anything else.
The brutal truth is that yes, it is challenging to work at home and raise your kids. It requires passion, discipline and consistency. But it can be done, and done well. I share more of my thoughts in my other articles What It’s Really Like to Be a Work at Home Mom and Why I Chose to Be a Work at Home Mom.
I’ve worked at home bringing in a full-time income, while having both of our boys at home. In this article I share most of my secrets to making it all work out. I invite you to also consider grabbing my Work at Home Moms Guide to Getting Started and the Work at Home Beginner’s Guide.
Strategies to stay sane while working at home
While there is no exact method to working at home with kids, there are a few golden nuggets of information that can keep you on the right track.
- Create a daily routine. Kids thrive on routine and it will make life easier! See more tips on this below.
- Have a plan to keep your kids busy while you work. Read on for ideas in any age group.
- Take breaks
- Have dedicated kid time and work time.
- Be ok with it not always being okay
You can read each of these in greater detail in our article How to Work at Home without Totally Neglecting Your Kids and Tips to Work at Home with Babies & Kids.
How to Keep Your Kids Busy While You Work at Home
I’ve been working at home since my first baby was still in the womb. That means I had the luxury of deciding to teach my kids from birth how to be happy on their own. I started when they were babies.
I was very much a fan of attachment parenting, but I still took moments when they were content to teach them how to be happy by themselves. This was very handy for getting work done, and having peace in our house.
Even if your child isn’t a baby, there is still time to master this skill. Kids are flexible and often more capable of change than we may think.
At the beginning, babies are like luggage in the sense that you can put them somewhere and they stay there. They just lay and coo, eventually rolling over. This is an easy stage to handle! When my children were young, I just had a play mat like this one set up near my desk so they could roll around – and I would work.
At around 4 months, I transitioned my babies to play in the jumparoo. This is the BEST stationary toy for this age – and allowed them to jump and play near me independently while I worked. My babies would usually jump in this up to an hour or two a day. They enjoyed it – and I loved it.
1-2 years old
As my kids got older, I created a gated-in baby playing area where they can walk around and play with all their toys. It was right by my desk, so they could play and still be “close” and I could keep an eye on them while I worked. My kids loved this space and it had everything they needed and it was completely baby-proof.
As kids get older they naturally want a bigger space to play in and you can provide them with that by using this baby gate/fence. You can use it to enclose a large play space – or to block off part of the living room.
At this age you may even consider having a designated space for toys, games and coloring fun items. If you can, try to have several cabinets or a tote where you can rotate toys. These toys will seem “new” to your child and keep them interested longer.
In the morning I use to allow my kiddos to watch a little show while I cleaned up the kitchen and returned work messages. Get creative and remember it’s all about what works for you and your family.
This is the age when kids start public school 5-days a week. We did public school for a couple years before deciding to homeschool. So I thought I’d include tips in this category too.
By this age your child is gaining independence by leaps and bounds. This means he can do simple tasks on his own, and greater tasks with your help. Your child can help you with chores around the house AND can help keep younger siblings entertained (which will all be valuable skills for later in life.)
How to Create a Work at Home Schedule with kids
To create our schedule I’ve used something called time blocking. This has served me well for the past decade so I continue to use it.
Time blocking is a time management method where you divide your day into blocks of time. Each time block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks. For example you might have the time block of “breakfast” and this would include everything associated with breakfast – making it, eating it, cleaning up.
To create your own routine using time blocking, consider what matters most to you and how much time you have in a day. Create blocks for your most important tasks first.
I tend to do a lot of my work in the morning before our kids wake up, but I also take about an hour or so during the day and a couple hours after bedtime.