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How to Work From Home With Kids

Are you one of the large percentage of Americans who now works remotely from home? If so, you may be trying to juggle that responsibility with caring for little ones at home or your school-age kids during the summer break.

This work/family dynamic may make it seem impossible to get anything done. But the following tips can help you develop a routine and environment that works for you and your family.

Create and Follow Routines

Kids thrive on consistent routines like those they have at school. So make a list of what your family needs to accomplish throughout the day, such as work calls, completing tasks, school work, meals, chores, and anything else. Be sure to include some time for fun as well!

Now, start filling in a schedule with the activities that occur at set times and work on other responsibilities and activities to create a family schedule. Include your kids in the planning so they feel involved and more willing to follow the routine. Then post the agenda where the whole family can see it. Also, be sure to adjust the design of the schedule for the age of your kids. Younger children benefit from straightforward visuals using bright colors, precise times, and pictures to make the plan clear.

Set Clear Expectations

Kids and adults tend to do better when there are clear expectations set beforehand. Agree on a set of rules and expectations for the day regarding your work time and their school time. With older kids, sit down and make a written contract. If you have younger kids, work together to create a poster with visuals. To make it clear, talk about what different parts of your schedule, especially your work time, look and sound like, and what everyone should and shouldn't be doing.

This will probably be a difficult adjustment at first. So it can help to set up a visual reminder to let your kids know when you cannot be disturbed except for emergencies. Create a sign outside your workspace that clearly states your work hours' beginning and end times. This can help kids to be more patient. For younger kids, use a countdown clock so they can anticipate the end time.

Designate a Workspace

If you're not used to working from home, recreating a space that feels like going to a workplace can get you into a better routine and improve your focus. Try to create your workplace away from the main areas of your home and, if possible, with a door you can close. These tricks will also help remind your kids not to disturb you when you're in your workspace. Make your workspace as similar to the one at your job as possible. You can also play music or wear noise-canceling headphones to reduce distractions if another adult or older child cares for the younger ones.

Ask for Help

This isn't the time to try to do everything yourself. If you have a partner at home, take turns spending time with the kids so you can each have uninterrupted time to focus on work or time to yourself to recharge. If you're feeling overwhelmed or are struggling to get something done for work, talk to your boss or team about the situation before things become too difficult. If you're struggling to balance work and being home with the kids, try talking to them at their level. Kids are more aware and understanding than we often realize. So an open conversation with them may help.

It may also be necessary to hire a babysitter to come to your home or where you can send your kids, at least for part of the day, to improve productivity.

Be Flexible

Unexpected things will come up in your work, with your kids, or other aspects of your life. So, try to build in some wiggle room because you'll likely need to make changes as you go. For example, if the day is going really smoothly, perhaps work a little longer to accomplish a bit more in case things don't go smoothly on another day.

Stay Positive

Focus on the positive aspects of being home with your kids, and remember, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Try to balance work and quality time with your family while you're working from home. The effort you make to do so can help your family bond and turn a challenging period into one filled with good memories.