Working from home with young kids is a hot mess of chaos. I prefer to have the kids in childcare because it’s better for me and for them. But, because my job, a communications assistant/social media strategist, is not an essential service, I don’t have childcare anymore.
I occasionally work from home without childcare – I did a little when I had my bunion surgeries, sick days, and on the occasional afternoon. Expect to work in 20-30 minute intervals – that is the average attention span of a 3-4 year old before they need you again (from wiping bums, grabbing snacks, changing the channel, finding more craft supplies, or complete meltdown).
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6 Ways to Make it Easier to Work from Home with Kids
- Avoid the television/iPad/electronic games as long as you can – I’m not perfect and electronics save me daily, but every morning I try to challenge myself to go as long as possible without them. Sometimes it’s only an hour and sometimes we make it all day.Why? Because electronics create lots of garbage behaviour in my kids that is more frustrating to cope with than over-excited in-your-face kids.
Typically, we do TV at 1pm as a quiet time for the kids. I also set timers around the television and let them know when they will get to watch TV again. My kids have my addictive behaviour around television, so trying to create boundaries helps reduce some of the more challenging issues. It’s not perfect.
- Get outside and play – and right now in the winter, that’s really hard but 30-40 minutes of biking/walking/snow-shoveling/scootering is the difference between destruction and creativity.
- Play Doh, or whatever craft activity keeps your kid happy – setting up my computer at the kitchen table, and a pile of play doh offers me up to 2 hours of quiet play. They love being able to show my their creations while I write/work, and enjoy the table activity. This is one of my most successful indoor activities.
- Rotate the Toys! Yes, put away some toys and bring them out every now and then for something NEW AND EXCITING. I have scaled the toys back to super minimal and bring out a new bin of toys every couple of days. There’s a freshness to it that gives me some time.
- Let them play in your office – this irritates my husband but sometimes when they can do things they aren’t normally allowed to do it, it ends up okay. They want to be with you – so encouraging a quiet play activity like dolls, iPads, or crafting in the same space as you can help add a few productive hours.
- End the Day with a few great books – we recently gifted a subscription box to LillyPost. They send new books for your kids age rage each month, and it has added some much needed wind down at the end of the day. Once in bed, I get back to work because by this point, I still have only clocked a meagre 5-6 hours of work.
And if you’re lucky, you will get 4-8 hours of work billed.
Working from home with kids is not easy. Yes, there are parents out there who do it and excel, but this is not everyone’s story. Many of us will and do struggle with young kids interrupting and needing our time. Your day will look like 20 minutes of writing, 10 minutes of distracting kids, and 40 minutes of this and 30 of that. It begins to feel very chopped up and sometimes you might wonder if you did anything at all.
My kids are most content if I can work in the same place they are – so reading emails when we play outside, listening to training while we play trains, drafting graphics while we do arts and crafts.
Regardless, this is not forever and they will be just thrilled to return to their childcare centre next month.