How To Successfully Work From Home With Small Children

Share Article

It seems like the absolute best of both worlds. Being able to make a living and not missing out on anything your little miracle does.

Unfortunately, not everything is rainbows and unicorns when you have children. Here are some real-life tips on how to make working from home a success when you are also taking care of your kids.

Be Realistic In Your Expectations

One of the main issues when working from home is overestimating the time you have available for actual work. Even if your child normally naps between 11 and 1, that does not mean that you have 2 hours to work. They could go to sleep a bit later, or wake up in between. You also might want to make a cup of coffee or put away the dishes or need to do other household chores. Then there is the time that it takes to start up the computer, get into your work, or get everything ready. Soon a 2-hour nap means only getting to do about an hour of work. And that is while praying that your child won’t wake up early.

Naps also change. The older a child gets, the fewer naps they need but the more attention they ask from you. This means that even if in theory they could entertain themselves, they usually won’t. There is this window of time before they go to pre-school and after dropping one or all naps where working from home is extremely difficult without some extra help.

It won’t be impossible, but it will be more difficult.

Setting realistic expectations will save you a lot of stress and anxiety.

Have A Back-Up For Important Deadlines

If you know that you have an important deadline coming up, make sure that you have a back-up plan to have enough time. Murphy’s Law applies here as well. Just when you are running out of time and really need to push through some work, your child will get ill or ask for more attention.

Back-Up can be as simple as having them watch a bit more tv than you normally allow, or play with a tablet (but use in moderation). Sometimes grandparents can watch the little ones, or you could even hire a babysitter. It may not be ideal but it is better than neither your child getting the attention they need, nor you getting your work done.

Helping each other out

If you do not yet feel comfortable leaving your little one with someone else, just having someone in your house who can help keep them entertained will allow you with some time to work. I have hired teenage neighbors to play with my daughter while I was working. I was still in the same house to keep an eye on them, just in case, but constant supervision wasn’t necessary. It gave me just that little bit of extra time I needed to focus on finishing my work.

You can also agree with other parents to watch each other’s children one day a week. After the age of 3, more or less, the children will keep each other busy so you do not have to do as much active parenting. And another day your child will be with their friend, giving you even more time to work. Your child will be happy playing and you will get your stuff done.

Working from home parents need help, and isn’t it best if we can all help each other?

Being A Parent Is Also Work; Be Aware Of Burn-out

Especially when you work from home and everything blends together, it can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself. It is very important though. If you work at an office you have coffee breaks, lunch breaks, breaks where you are not working and get to recharge. When you work at home these little breaks are often filled with either doing housework or being with your child. And that is exactly the reason why you are working at home and it is fun, but remember that it is not really a break, it is just switching from one job to another.

take some time off

If you can, try and take at least 15 or 20 minutes a day where you do something that is absolutely only for yourself. Just drinking a hot cup of coffee and playing on your phone for a bit can be enough to feel recharged for the rest of the day.

Schedule Important Calls When Your Child Is Not Around

I really wish I would have made this up just for the sake of this article. The reason I do not schedule important calls anymore when my daughter is home is because of something that happened when she was about two and a half years old. We had just dropped diapers and everything was going well. It was nap time and she reliably napped for about an hour in the late morning, so I thought it was ok to schedule an important but short phone call during that time.

About halfway through the call, I hear her calling out to me. I tell her to just play and wait a bit. I don’t hear anything anymore, so I take my time to finish the call. The scene I walked in on when I went to check on her was one of a real-life horror show. There was poop and pee everywhere it seemed, and my daughter sleeping in it.

She had woken up just enough to warn me that she had to go potty, but not enough to keep calling out. Since I was on the call and didn’t check up on her right away, she had pooped her bed and was now sleeping in it.

That was the last time I scheduled an important call without having a back up at home to take care of her.

I mean, sure, it is also important to seem professional, which is difficult when a toddler is screaming in your ear at the same time as you are trying to make a point. But nothing compares to having to clean poop from between the spikes of a crib and from all over your toddler.

Divide Your Work Into Smaller Parts

divide your work

Most of us parents know more or less how long our children can keep entertained without us. When you divide your work according to your child’s attention span you reduce stress for everybody around.

What I do is a variation of the Pomodoro technique. I set my alarm for 20 minutes. It is 20 minutes of work, and 20 minutes of play. Repeat for as much as is needed. My daughter knows not to bother me unless it is an emergency during the work time, and when it is her 20 minutes, she knows she has my full and undivided attention.

It may take some training, and starting with smaller amounts of time. But, eventually, you will get a decent chunk of time that you can use for work.

What are the main problems you run into when working from home? And how have you solved them?

Subsribe to our Newsletter:


Affiliate Disclosure

We love finding new methods and tools to improve your Remote Work life and sharing them with you.
Some of the recommendations we give contain affiliate links, which generate a small commission. This happens at no extra cost to you, and sometimes we can even negotiate discounts for our readers.

You might also like