Summary: Working from home with kids at home can be a challenge. I have worked from home for a majority of my 30+ year career in technology, business and consulting. We also homeschooled our kids during their early years, so believe me, there were plenty of interruptions! Let me share with you some tips I learned along the way of managing work and life.
1. Set aside a room for the sole purpose of being your Home Office
This is by far the number one most important tip I could give you. This could be a spare bedroom, a built out portion of your garage, a bonus room, wherever you can have a room that is only yours to use for an office. Being able to go into a room and shut the door, allows you to focus on work. It can’t be dual purpose. Don’t combine your workout room with your home office. If you can have a lock on your door this is a huge bonus. There were times when we didn’t have a spare room for me to work and I’d move around from living room, to dining room, to our bedroom. None of these felt comfortable and none were free from interruptions. I understand this can be your circumstance and I feel your pain. If you are a “floater” in your house, I’d recommend getting some headphones that have a quick mute switch that allows you to turn off your microphone quickly in case of kids running through your office.
2. Designate times throughout your work day that you will spend with your family
We all need breaks throughout the day, but if your young kids are always wondering when Dad will come out to play, they will literally be sitting at your door when you open it. Give them a schedule for when you can interact. For example, when my son was two, I introduced him to a game called “Just Grandma and Me“. It was an interactive book by a company called Broderbund Software in a series called “Living Books”. The game play was while the book was read to you, you had lots of fun surprises to click on with lots of animations. He loved it! And I loved playing it with him!
But, he would frequently pop in throughout my work day, saying “Daddy, play Grandma and me?”. It was so sweet, but often times as a software developer, this would break me out of a deep train of thought and frustrated, I would say “Not Now!”. Talk about feeling bad about yourself. I didn’t want to have these types of negative interactions with my son, but I had a boss that was demanding as well and deadlines to meet. What to do?
We found a solution. I took 10 minute breaks about every 2 hours and my son learned to be at my door ready to play at 10am, Lunch time, 2 pm and 4pm. Of course we would play after work as well or on weekends, but it took the pressure off of him and me, and we settled into a schedule. BTW – this game was designed for Windows 3.11, so it’s no longer available on modern computers, but I did find a website called “Classic Reload” that allows you to play the game online, along with some other cool old-school games. And bonus, it’s available to be read to you in English, Spanish and Japanese. Great way to learn a foreign language with your kids!
For older kids (5-9), here’s some other old-school educational games online from Broderbund Software.
3. For older kids (10-18), get them to help you with your tasks
I had some tedious data entry tasks that were part of my job in software development. Many of these tasks could be performed by a teenager. And, once my kids learned how to type (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing was a great program to teach this), they could actually be very helpful. We homeschooled our kids, and they would frequently finish up with their studies and homework and projects in about 3-4 hours leaving them with extra time on their hands. Since we didn’t want them playing computer games all day after that, although strategy games like Age of Empires and Civilization actually taught them a great deal about history and strategy, these games could be all consuming.
I wondered how could I get my kids to learn programming? For data entry tasks that didn’t involve sensitive customer data, I had my kids help me typing in information into spreadsheets and I even paid them a few dollars to do the jobs. I was also able to teach my kids how to use Excel and how to program. One took to it more than the others and I gave them more complex programming tasks along the way.
This was a great way to get them to learn the value of work and really help out their overworked dad!
Of course, it’s always fun to let them pretend like they’re working, no matter what their age!
4. Here’s a few tips from my Entrepreneur Wife and Homeschooling Mom
- You must put your blinders on during your work-time to absolutely ignore messes around the house, dishes, laundry, etc. Do what I call a “Power Hour” or half-hour, enlisting help from your family if needed and knock it all out in the evening or on the weekends.
- If you have young kids, it is so important to put them on a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Kids thrive on schedules once they get used to it. That includes eating, napping, room time, outside playtime, screen time, quality time with you, and bedtime. Note: all my 3 kids went to bed at 7 pm every night until they were older. The evenings were our time to recharge, spend time together, or catch up on work that didn’t get done during the day.
- Set up clear boundaries for your work time. Ignore personal phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media while working. You can check these during bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, or in the evening. I used to call people back when I was walking, driving, or waiting in the car while my kids were attending activities outside the home.
- Sometimes days just get away from you and you just have to realize that’s part of the job. Don’t get stressed out because your day didn’t go as planned. There’s always tomorrow. Do you feel like this mom sometimes?
5. Connect with a Community of other Remote Workers (Work from Homers?)
There is a fantastic opportunity right now for you to join other parents that work from home. The Work at Home Bundle includes:
- 11 eCourses
- 9 eBooks
- 4 Printables and Workbooks
- 4 Templates
These are valued at $1603.90, but you can get it all for just $47.
One of the courses is one that we have created called: “Work from Home: Remote Work made Simple” you can get it as part of the bundle price of $47. Our course also includes the opportunity to connect with a community of others that work at home for FREE. Our Upskill Create Community is Free to join. We are 2,400 IT and Business Professionals that include Remote Workers as well as traditional Office Workers, although with COVID19 and many newly working from home, what is “Traditional Office Work” anyway?
Our course also includes a 30 minute consultation with one of the course instructors which includes me and my wife, who between the two of us have decades of experience working from home with kids and now as empty-nesters with our kids on the opposite side of the world and managing zoom calls with our grandkids! Can you believe I read “Just Grandma and Me” on a shared screen on a Zoom call to New Zealand with my grandson? My how life goes in a full circle!
Make sure to click this LINK: https://bit.ly/wahbundle (or click the image below) to take advantage of this amazing package of 28 resources for just $47!