Updated August 15, 2022
Getting to work from home with kids sounds like the best of both worlds when you’re a parent, right?
You’re home for your kids’ milestones. To be able to fold a basket of laundry on your lunch break. To hide the Amazon boxes before your husband sees them. And get a paycheck at the same time!
Then reality sets in.
At least, my reality, and I’m assuming yours, as well: the moment my laptop opens, the kids clamber onto my lap asking to videochat with Grandma. They want to click the mouse. To see what happens when they push the power button. They need my phone. They need a snack. I have to wipe a butt. They start fighting. Crying. Whining. Spilling things.
My attention is divided into 52 places at once, and simple projects that should take 10 minutes wind up taking an hour.
I’ve been working remotely since I got pregnant with my daughter in 2013.
Over the years, I’ve tried a number of tactics to work from home with kids, all to varying degrees of success, to figure out how to continue to make a living without getting a 9-5 outside of the house.
My mom friends with out-of-the-house jobs occasionally try the working remotely thing, and often I’ll get a text message from them halfway through the day: “How do you DO THIS!? I’m going crazy over here!”
When everyone was getting comfortable working from home during the start of pandemic, I finally felt some sort of camraderie. This is freaking impossible stuff, right!?
And to be honest, the times I get my best work done are still the times when my kids are GONE. Babysitters, day camp, school, my husband getting them the hell out of here for a day- that’s when I buckle down.
But I still have had to work while the kids were in the house with me, and I’ve figured out ways over the years to make it work.
So with that in mind, here are 7 of my tried-and-true tips to work from home with kids without losing your freaking mind.
1. Hit the ground running both in the morning and at naptime
Set everything up the night before, the hour before, whatever: just make sure that your laptop is on, the big kids’ tablet is charged, snacks are accessible to them without your help, and that you’re ready to go the second a kid goes to sleep or you’re back at your desk once they’re out of the house.
Before I finish one day’s work, I plan out what tomorrow has to look like. And not just in my head- I use lists, ClickUp, reminders in Slack, and templates to help automate as much as possible and help me be productive.
If I sit down ready to work with a plan, I’m much more productive in that hour than if I sit down to work, THEN figure out a game plan once I’ve arrived to work. Set yourself up for success.
2. Batch work so the planning is easy
I do as much of one thing that I can complete in one push, at once, and then I stop letting that thing take up brain space.
Here’s what I mean: I have “days” when chores around the house get done. Laundry is done on Mondays. Folding laundry is done on Tuesdays. Meal prep for the entire week is done on Sundays. And so on.
I do the same thing with work, as much as I’m able. I don’t take meetings on Fridays and I keep a light Thursday so those are my “thinking” days- big projects are planned out then. Mondays and Tuesdays are spent setting up the rest of the week. Wednesday is a “catch up” day where I try to fill in the blanks on missed items.
3. Prep with purpose
When you work from home from kids, you gotta make every action count.
Make everything grab & go. Lay out your clothes the night before. Make your breakfast and lunch so they’re literally grab and go (overnight oatmeal and smoothie bags are great for this). Keep a bottle of water and sneaky snacks stashed next to your desk.
4. Join the 4am Club (or the 1am Club if you’re a night owl!)
I live and die by this rule and it has changed everything for me.
When I became a mom working from home, I also became one of those obnoxious early risers. I wake up most mornings at 4 or 5am to get as much work done as possible before my kids wake up.
This worked well for me for a number of reasons:
One, I was already dead ass tired by the end of the day that going to bed early was easy, and waking up early became easy (eventually, at least. It’s not easy at first!)
Two, I found that I am at my best first thing in the morning. I have a clear head. The day’s events haven’t already bogged down my brain. And it’s so deliciously quiet.
Three, I am a better mom, wife, person, friend if I spend that time by myself first. I fill my cup before anyone else’s and that sets me in a much better mental space for the rest of the day. Over time I craved that feeling more than anything else.
For my tips to wake up earlier, read 7 Crazy Ideas To Make You Actually Wake Up Earlier, or for some inspo checkout 8 Early Riser Quotes That Will Inspire You to Get the Heck Up
5. Order everything you possibly can.
We are lucky enough to live in NYC, where we can have everything from laundry to prescriptions to wine to pizza delivered right to our door at all hours, but you’d be surprised what you can have done even if you’re not in an urban area.
Dry cleaners will iron your clothes, so you just have to pick them up. The pandemic made it easier than ever to get your groceries ordered and delivered.
If you can’t get something delivered, try Task Rabbit or Facebook Marketplace to find someone who can help you lessen the load.
It takes a village to raise a family while working from home, girl. Even if you have to pay that village!
6. Use the Pomodoro technique but do it to a Paw Patrol episode.
This is a thing. The Pomodoro Technique is a method of working where you “sprint” for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break.
Coincidentally, 25 minutes is exactly the amount of time of one Paw Patrol episode. Pop the kids in front of the TV, and see how much you can bang out for one episode before refilling your coffee.
7. Give yourself grace
It’s true, my friend. We can’t be all things to all people and all needs- so you have to make sure you’re fitting in some self-care time.
Remember that life moves on, even if we fail at some things. The important part is that we keep going.
Getting to work from home with kids means you gotta roll with the punches, but the payoff is that much sweeter.
Was today a disaster? Tomorrow is a fresh start. You got this!