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How to Win at Working from Home with Kids

by Andrea Updyke

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If you work from home with kids, you already know the challenges. If you don’t and the summer months are filling you with panic, I’m sharing my top 3 tips on how to work from home with kids and hang on to your sanity. 

One week til my boys are out of school for the summer. One. Week.

I know many people have a bit longer to prepare, but around here I am in full-on summer prep mode. Thankfully, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that make working from home with kids a little more manageable. At the end of the day, it’s all about having a plan and sticking to it. 

The funny thing is, I’m not panicking at all. The boys are at an age where they are really independent and I don’t HAVE to do things with and for them all the time. I like having them around and for the most part, they are content to be here with their stuff (and each other some of the time). We’re gonna make it work.

Read: Take the Summer Sleep Challenge

Updated from 5/2018. My posts contain affiliate links, which means I may earn money on purchases made. 

laptop and magazine on kitchen table

3 Tips to keep your sanity when you work from home with kids

I have a few tricks to keep the peace so I thought I would share. Yes it’s possible to work from home and keep your sanity during the summer months.

Write these down, put them on your schedule, make a plan and you will already be winning summer (and your job) before the last bell rings. 

Tip #1 – Make Information Work for You

My kids can read now and it’s b-e-a-utiful thing. For some reason, the written word holds more meaning than the sound of my voice so I write things down. All the things. And they are posted everywhere.

When you work from home with kids, interruptions and more importantly, questions are enemy number one. My goal is to minimize the questions or at the very least, my need to answer them.

Take a moment to think of the potential questions your kids may have throughout the day and then go ahead and answer them now. Write it down, make a printable chart, use a whiteboard. Find something that resonated with your family and put it to work! 

To get you started, here are some questions I know to anticipate and how I answer them ahead of time. 

Dealing with Questions when working from home with kids

  • Can I get up? 
  • What’s for dinner? 
  • Can I have a snack? 
  • Can I watch screens? 
  • What can I do? 
  • Mommy, LOOK. 

Here is where I admit that I am not as good at this throughout the year, but you better believe that during the summer months, I am ON TOP OF IT. 

We create a daily schedule or routine together and decide when the kids will have screens or snacks or play outside. Oscar made his schedule last year and I didn’t need to change much at all! This year we will review it and see if there is anything we need to tweak. 

Summer Schedule

When it comes to dinner time, I typically meal plan and fill in our weekly menu board with dinners. That way, the kids can go right over to the board to see what’s on the menu and while they may not always like it, they accept it! 

Why does the written word hold so much more authority than the things that come out of my mouth? I’ll never know but I’m going with it. 

Summer Meal Plan

Do you have early risers like us? Our boys have both learned to wake up with the sun, much to our dismay. This is great for getting to the parks early on a Walt Disney World vacation but not so much when you really need like 20 more minutes of sleep before a long workday.

 My husband made this flowchart, which really made me laugh at first. But guess what? It was on our bedroom door for at least 2 years and it WORKED. 

I don’t know why we took it down, but things are slipping and the 7am morning hello seems to be creeping back to 6:30 so I’m going to go ahead and reprint this one. I may even laminate it this time.

Tip #2: Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists or Children

My kids are very clever. My oldest especially has found a way to ask the EXACT same question in 46 different ways so technically, mom it’s not really the same question. *brain explodes*

I read an article a couple years ago that suggested the phrase “asked and answered” each time the same question is proposed. As much as you don’t like hearing that question again, they don’t like hearing that answer. This is a great tool to remind the children that your answers are real and binding. And they aren’t changing any time soon.

I’ve decided to answer questions the first time I hear them. WAIT. I’m going to restate that. I’ve decided to answer questions THE FIRST TIME I hear them. 

Moms, we are bad at this. We say, let me talk to dad or maybe or “we’ll see” in order to prolong the decision process. But this backfires so quickly, ya’ll. Because you have given your tiny tyrant hope and added about 300 questions to your day.

Do not give hope to a yes that will always be no. 

Practice this after school in the remaining weeks before summer and you’ll be a pro in no time.

Question>Decide and Answer>End of Story

Same Question> “Asked and Answered” > Repeat as necessary

Summer Brothers

Tip #3: Take some Play Breaks

When my kids are home all day and I’m trying to work, I tend to either be really frustrated or really scatterbrained. I’ve learned to face the truth that 9-5 workdays are out the window insasmuch as they were ever happening in the first place.

Also, I want my kids to enjoy summer and to enjoy our home during their break. I could send them to camp all day for 8 weeks, but that’s not the right choice for our family. So we have to get creative.

I’ll be honest that play is hard for me. When I get in the zone I want to keep working and play breaks really aren’t high on my list of to-dos. But it’s summer and I work from home for a reason. I’m lucky that my kids still want to spend some of their time with me and I want to take advantage of that.

A good old fashioned brain break a couple times a day to hang out, work on a puzzle, do bubbles outside or whatever else we come up with will help us stay connected and honestly produce better work overall.

This is a win all around because they need my attention and I really need to take more breaks.

Summer LEGO Play

When you are working at home with kids around there really isn’t going to be a set stop or start to anything. The line between business and family is never straight and the name of the game is flexibility.

The sooner we adapt to that, the better summer will be for everyone. Also? Use paper plates. Trust me on this one!!

Do you know a parent  who needs to hear this? Please share this post and let’s make this the most stress-free summer yet!

Use these 3 tips for working at home with kids this summer and everyone wins! Stay motivated and enjoy the flexibility of a job you can do at home.

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