Working from Home With Children

at home

For most people, working from home sounds like a dream come true – you can be available to the children and make money at the same time.

But as most parents quickly find out, it isn’t always that simple. There are many considerations when you work from home and child care is a big one.

Work time is not “Me Time”: When kids are with the nanny or at school, resist the temptation of using daytime hours for personal leisure. The days of leisure are generally gone when you have two kids and working from home. That said, it can be tempting to use work time as “me time.” In my personal case, this only leads to stress with work piling up and needing to be done off hours- hours that should be spent with your kids, your spouse, or yourself. My evening hours are sacred family time, so I do my work during the day and keep evening hours reserved.
Kirstin Sanders, Director of Public Relations, Orca Communications Unlimited, LLC

Inevitably, a child will have a blow up while you are on an important phone call. Your youngest will suddenly become clingy and need you to hold them non-stop, when what you really need to do is be typing up an important ‘emergency’ memo.

It will happen.

So the best plan of action is to have a plan in place BEFORE it happens.

How do moms and dads who don’t put their children in fulltime daycare, work from home and keep their children occupied or watched while they work? There are two options: have someone help, or do it all on your own.

When deciding which option to choose, consider your work habits and also how your child fits into this. You know your child best, so make the decision that is best for you and for them. Most people enjoy the thought of working from home because they like the flexibility of being able to be available for their children, when they are needed.

For some parents, they find that their children and/or their job create an environment where interruptions aren’t a big deal. If you aren’t on the phone with your job, there is no need to worry about the children’s noise level. If your child plays well independently, keeping them occupied while you work may come easily.

For other parents, they are lucky to find privacy in the bathroom, let alone when an important conference call is taking place.

Some suggestions and options others have made work:

The simplest answer, when you are facing it alone, is to schedule your work around the times that your child is napping, or playing quietly, or after they are in bed for the night.

Stay stocked on kid friendly activities: play-doh, crayons and paper etc. Set up a little table near your working space that your child can play office on. Give them their own “in-box” and add things for them to do into it. Check out: Independent Play Activities on about.com

Hire a part-time student If you live near a college, you might try finding a student who attends part time to come over during the day for a couple of hours. Be sure to use that time for those work items that demand your full uninterrupted attention. Other options: hire a neighborhood child after school, swap time with another mom one day a week to take care of pressing things

Set a timer for yourself and your child. Help your child to understand that when the timer is ticking, they need to work quietly. Once it has gone off, they may request help from you.

Keep favorite DVDs set aside for only those times when you need a distraction for your child (don’t hate. sometimes, it’s necessary – and besides, it allows me to still be available to my child)

Allow yourself flexibility. Things are going to come up. Children will get sick. Something will get broken. Know when you need to take some work time off.

And most importantly, don’t forget to stop and play. One of the many beauties and benefits of being a work at home parent is having a built in playmate. Take a break and play with your child. Go for a walk around the block. Put on some music and dance. Make a work of art out of play-doh.

Remember why you came home to work and learn what works best for your family.

Sound off: How do you work from home with children? With school almost out, older children will be home, which provides another issue – how to entertain them while you work.

photo source: alizzze

Comments

  1. It's a challenge, for sure! I just try to grab time when and where I can get it. :-)

  2. Thank you for these great reminders! I needed to hear this the most: "And most importantly, don’t forget to stop and play." Thanks!

    As an artist I'm able to do most of my work why my kids play in the room with me. I also work while they are asleep or napping. Since I sell my work online, I can be home with them instead of traveling around to galleries or stores. It's great!

    • I love that my kids can play near me while I work too. I have a Little Tykes table set up near my desk and they sometimes play office. It's so funny watching my three old because I get a sense of how he sees me when I work!!

  3. This is great!! I work from home and have a 5-month old. I have been thinking about asking my cousin to keep my daughter for a few hours one morning so I can make phone calls, thankfully my boss schedules calls for times when the kids are napping. Thanks for this post!!

  4. I have my mom watch my son two days a week (this will be unnecessary this Fall when he enters Kindergarten). They both love to spend the time together. So that gives me two days in which I have hours to myself – no kid interruptions.
    When he is home, I try to juggle spending time with him (playing, doing a craft – we like painting on canvas, watching a movie) and working. Some times I set up "base camp" on my bed. I work with my laptop in bed and he has a bunch of toys, paper and crayons, etc. So we hang out together while I'm working. Other times he may play in the other room and I will call him in the room from time to time to help out on "spy missions" and "business work" because he loves to feel like he's helping out.
    His dad also works from home and there, he has a huge u-shaped desk area set up with an extra laptop. Our son will watch kid-friendly youtube videos and listen to music on the additional laptop while hanging out with daddy and "helping him with work."
    Obviously, this won't work with the really young ones, but it works when they are 3 and up…

  5. I have been working from home with 3 kids (oldest is in school full-time) since last fall. In the startup phase of my biz it has worked out okay, lots of time to take breaks BUT I'm getting busier and busier and realize I'm going to need some form of childcare help by fall. Middle child going to kindy then so hopefully can find some help 2-3 mornings/days per week for littlest!

  6. Really like the Timer Idea, might help keep me more focussed too!

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