Working with kids at home can be difficult, but here are a few tips that will make it much more livable and even enjoyable.
Checklist for Work-from-Home Sanity
- First and foremost, create a kid schedule
- Secondly, set up “busy stations”
- Thirdly, plan for active outdoor time
- Fourth, enlist help
How to Work from Home without Losing Your Mind
Working with kids at home can be difficult, but there are a few approaches I have found helped me:
1. First, make sure they have a schedule. What happens when kids don’t have a schedule? They bug you. And bug you. And bug you. A schedule gives kids a framework for their day, and it also gives them purpose. Create a schedule in 30-minute increments for the entire day. Include exactly how much and what type of screen time they get and (ideally) spread it out in small chunks throughout the day. Give them a timer to make it more fun. Include learning expectations. (My kids had reading and math assignments during the summer, just to keep their brains from turning to mud.) Include chores. Kids complain about having to do chores and “brain work,” but they’ll thank you later. My grown kids have. I found that it takes about two weeks of putting up with complaining, and then kids start to accept what they have to do. Stand strong!
2. Set up some stations for times when they’ve finished what’s on their schedule and need to be kept busy. Each station can be a different kind of activity that works for many days in a row. Obviously, it depends on the children’s ages, but salt dough, Perler beads, sand and water sets, etc. can be stations that tend to keep kids happy. Coloring, listening to music with big DJ headphones (or something that makes the child feel cool), puzzles, etc., are all great options. These stations can be left up as long as you need, and you can switch up the contents to keep things fresh. I’m telling you, a few minutes of effort in this area will buy you so much time to yourself for working.
3. Give them outdoor active time. If you have a yard, make sure every day has scheduled outside play. You’ll be amazed at how much better they stay occupied once you’ve worn them out! If you don’t have a yard, make time to run around the block with your kids or find some way (maybe a babysitter) to get a good dose of outside play. I swear by this. Once they’re physically exhausted, they’ll be more willing to sit and do brain work, etc. In fact, my suggested order of activities on their schedule might be something like: 1) chores, 2) outside play, 3) brain work, 4) screen time, 5) stations.
4. Enlist help. Swap working times with a spouse, neighbor, or family member. If you work at different hours, it’s easier to cover the kids. Do hold your partner accountable to contribute time to helping the kids get the attention they need.
It may feel bothersome, but spending a few minutes planning and setting up for a productive day makes all the difference. You may even find yourself enjoying it!