I’m sitting here thinking of my first days working from home with kids, and how hard it was. Yes, I had some help from grandparents and my husband, but most of each day was spent working quality work hours (8-5 for a real employer) while accommodating my daily schedule. Every day I had to come up with clever ways to survive working from home with kids.
The best way to work at home with kids is to continually find clever tricks to do both at once. Every few days or weeks I would research new tips – new toys – new schedules – and I would adjust. Here are some of my discoveries that helped me work from home with my daughter.
Here are my 7 favorite ways to survive working from home with kids
1. Before you Start – Decide Your Priorities
No one wants to decide between their job and their kids. But – you have to. Every day you will be making decisions that favor one over the other. And making that decision early on helps with the mom/work guilt. I decided early on – before I had my daughter – that work was going to be my priority. Because I love my job and we needed the money – I decided to prioritize my employer and give my unadulterated focus to work.
This means – that I was willing to find extra (paid-for) care for my daughter if/when I couldn’t handle both. I would find childcare before I would sacrifice work.
You aren’t really choosing your work over your kids. No one is holding a gun to your head. If they did, you would choose your child OF COURSE. But your child isn’t suffering if you find extra care for them.
2. Teach your children to play creatively alone for short increments of time
At the beginning babies, just lay and coo and roll around. This is an easy stage to handle! I always had a play mat set up so she could roll around – and I would work. I was able to “train” her to occupy herself with little baby toys for periods of time – and I would stretch it up to an hour. Of course, I was always there to watch her, but she quickly learned how to be happy by herself.
(Honestly, even if I didn’t work, I’d probably want to teach her this same thing. To this day, she is very content learning and playing by herself. She didn’t grow up with me as a built-in babysitter.)
When she got older, I created a penned-in baby playing area where she could walk around and play with all her toys. It was right by my desk, and she honestly loved this area and looked forward to playing in it. Again – she had everything she needed and it was completely baby-proof.
To see how I made this, check out this post where I share my super-cheap $8 play mat solution and the best baby gates to make this an enclosed space.
3. Buy new learning toys for each stage
I was constantly Googling “best toys for 1 month olds”, “best toys for 4 months old.” With every stage, I wanted her to be engaged and have clever, learning toys to entertain her.
When she was a baby, this was her favorite toy that she would stare out and play with for hours. I loved how it hung in her crib or car seat.
When she reached 4 months old, I bought her a Jumparoo which she would play in next to my desk – for hours.
Every time I bought her a toy, I knew it was cheaper than childcare – and was engaging my daughter creatively.
I also REALLY love KiwiCo activity boxes. These come to your house every month – and give you creative planned-out activities for your child. my husband started buying this for our daughter over a year ago – and we have bought every month – we weren’t given any freebies.
The subscription is so great because it uses the STEM process (science, technology, engineering math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child – for all ages. We love it because my husband watches my daughter a lot while I work – and it gives him activities that are more than just “go to the park”. (He’s an engineer and loves how it teaches her so much.) Click here try it out and get 30% off your first month.
4. Use your silent meetings and phone calls wisely
If you have any work periods that involve just listening (meetings you join in, phone calls, training sessions) use that time to multi-task. Either nurse/feed your baby during those periods – or use those periods to empty your dishwasher! I would often be able to care for my daughter while fully listening and engaging in the meeting/training.
My favorite tool for my meetings is these bluetooth headphones. They are WAY cheaper than most on the market, and I’ve loved them for years.
Check out the current sales here.
I started using them when I was breastfeeding, I asked my husband for bluetooth headphones that were comfortable (as opposed to the Bose ones that give me headache. Anyone else?) – and I also didn’t want them to be sound-deadening. That freaked me out – not being able to hear my child. He did the research and got me these – and I use them all the time. I’ve even been asked by a man in Starbucks what kind they were – because they look cool. Totally recommend.
5. Identify your Fringe Hours to Improve Working from Home with Kids
I listened to the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner (listened – because didn’t have time to read!) and loved her concept of finding the tiny areas in my day that were wasted.
Now, I know we all need to use our mornings and nap times wisely. That’s so obvious, I’m not even including that in my article.
But, I found that I had some un-used time around certain lunchtimes – and also between 5-6pm. I started using my time more efficiently because of this discovery – and it made my days so much easier! I also was able to (magically) fit in some exercise, because the time spent wasn’t interfering with either work or being a mom!
I’d totally recommend The Fringe Hours!
6. Cut out household chores
I quickly realized I couldn’t keep up with my personal chores during the week. I started ordering my groceries for pick-up, and having all my household items delivered from Amazon or Target.
Wal-Mart Pickup and Delivery is the ONLY way I function nowadays. I just order my groceries online – and then pick them up in my free time – with everyone staying in the car. It’s a FREE service – and you can shop now and get $10 off your first order of $50 or more. Use code WOWFRESH.
I would save my cleaning and household chores for the weekend – when I could knock them out during her naptime.
This often meant that my house would get a little dirty during the week. But, that was a sacrifice I was ok with. I quickly learned I couldn’t do everything!
Another option is to hire a house-cleaner. I might still do this down the line – but right now it’s not in our budget. But, I LOVE the idea of making household chores as easy as possible.
7. Complete personal and home tasks during family time
Another sacrifice I made were “family meals”. For breakfast and lunches, I would feed her, and I would complete a lot of tasks while she eats in the kitchen.
I keep my makeup and hair dryer in the downstairs bathroom (or in the kitchen) and I get ready while I’m watching her eat – and I simultaneously often eat standing up.
I also use this time to fold clothes, empty the dishwasher, and clean up a few rooms.
When my husband and I have time in the evening, I often just catch up with him in the room that needs work – either the kitchen or bedroom so I can do chores while we chat.
We made sure to still have quality family time – but multi–tasking during meal times and “hang out” times really helped my schedule.
I hope this helps give you some ideas on how to work at home with a baby! I definitely treasure both my jobs as mother and employee – and am thankful every day that I can earn a living and spend time with my family.
Do you have friends that are trying to survive working from home with kids? Please SHARE this with them!
Doing this on a daily basis can be so isolating – so please send them these encouraging tips to know they are not alone.