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Work-At-Home Experts Share their Tips for Working At Home With Kids
Summer break is a busy time for most parents, but it comes with a few unique challenges for parents that work from home. How do you keep your children busy, while you are trying to run a business? It can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never experienced this situation before. We’ve asked these experts to share their tips and strategies for surviving your child (or children’s) summer break! Good Luck!
1) Arrange for pre-approved electronics time to overlap with your most productive work time – Before summer starts, I set up a routine for us to follow. Breakfast is around 8-9 AM, but then pre-planned “independent playtime” including some electronics time is between 10-12 pm before lunch. This is the time I set up any phone appointments, so I know they will be occupied and I let them know ahead of time if I have an appointment and they know that, unless they are bleeding or there is an emergency, I am not to be disturbed. We then have lunch together and they have more “play time” (usually outside) in the afternoon 1-3 PM, for example. Setting their expectations ahead of time is crucial and letting them know I am working.
2) Avoid the Summer Slide – I also give them some “summer bridge” activity books where they need to do a couple of pages of the workbook after lunch, so they can keep up with their math and reading to prepare them for the next school year. They also do some reading. Keeping them busy with a few pre-planned tasks will avoid “I’m bored” type of interruptions.
3) Chore List – The kids are given chores on most days to keep them busy and contribute to the household. A couple of summers ago, I would work all day only to come out of my office and see the kitchen a mess or similar. Not anymore!
Dr. Ty Belknap
Communication is the best way to work at home with kids during summer break. Sit down with them, maybe at breakfast, each morning and let them know what your schedule is. Maybe you are thinking there is no way a 10-year-old will care about my schedule. So highlight the times you will be available for them. Tell them that you will take a break from 10-10:30 to talk and maybe play with them for a bit.
Communicate your schedule in a way that emphasizes their wants and they just might follow it.
How I stay productive during the summer break – we currently home school, however I have spent the last 7 summers WAH during my daughter’s summer break:
1) Set-up your office with a space for your child or children to do activities while you are working. If there’s not enough room, move your laptop to a different area of the house during the day so that you can be in the same room as your kids. This strategy works well with children above the age of 5. Younger children will have a much harder time doing an activity on their own.
2) Trading off child care with other WAH parents. This has been really helpful for our family, as we know many other WAH parents. By taking turns watching each other’s children, we can each have focused ‘chunks’ of time to work.
3) Work from the beach, pool or park. How much of your business can you do from your phone? The more that you can do from your phone, the better this strategy. This has worked really well for us now that my daughter is old enough to swim on her own. I set up my beach chair at the pool, work for 30 minutes or so and then jump in the water to cool off and play with my daughter. It’s truly amazing how much work you can get done on your phone these days. If you have an older phone with a smaller screen it’s worth investing in a phone upgrade so that you can be more mobile. There are trade offs for sure, as you cannot be 100% present in all activities when you’re working, however it’s a good compromise and allows you to enjoy some of the summer fun as well.
1) Wake up before your children’s usual waking up time. Use that hour (or more) to focus on what you have planned to do on that day.
2) Make sure you organise your time to accommodate both – your business and your children. If you are lucky to have someone to look after your child that’s brilliant; if not, please make sure your children are happy with what they do when you are busy. I usually allocate a few hours to do something nice with my daughter or take her somewhere outside the home for
a bit of play.
3) Teach them to be quiet. It’s the hardest part but so worthy if they can keep their mouth closed for a few minutes while you answer the phone.
1) If you have any Skype or similar meetings scheduled, book a babysitter for the entire meeting plus a half hour either side. This stops the kids bursting in (hopefully) and gives you some wiggle room if the meeting goes over.
2) Prep loads of easily consumed snacks and lunches and place them where your child can easily access them. Filling plenty of water bottles or stocking up on drink cartons can save you a ton of interruptions, as can having small containers pre-packed with your kiddos favorite snacks.
3) Invest in plenty of craft kits, STEM activity kits etc, that can be completed by a child with minimum supervision. Then you can set your little one up on the floor of your office or work space and keep an eye on them while you work
Note from Leslie:
My kids are grown and pretty much gone, but when I started working at home, they were very young. Working at home at that time felt a lot like juggling. My tips for working while the kids were home include:
- Extensive planning and preparing. When kids are around, you need to be even better at working efficiently to get the most done in the least amount of time.
- Set routine. Kids do best with a routine. In my case, I worked a lot in the early morning, took a break in the afternoon to be with them, and then worked later in the evening while their father could be with them.
- Get them involved in other activities. Play dates, summer camps, and other activities in which the kids are entertained elsewhere give you time to work.
- Have a place for them in your office. Many kids like to play school or office, or will be happy to color or do a quiet activity alongside you.
- If you need quiet for phone calls, have help if the kids are young, or teach them to be quiet during those times, and then give them praise and time when your call is done. I always told my kids not to interrupt me during those times unless there was blood or fire. Then afterwards I’d do an activity with them.