19 real-life tips, strategies and words of wisdom on effectively working from home with little kids under the age of 5.
Believe it or not, I’ve been working from home since 2008. Before blogging full time, I was working remotely in hospitality sales promoting resorts and hotels throughout Michigan.
In 2011, my first son arrived and I was quickly introduced to the wonderful world of working from home with a baby. (Hint: Mail order Dark Brazilian Santos Roasted Coffee Beans in 5-pound bags. Trust me.)
Fast forward to 2014 and I now have a rapidly growing blogging business plus another adorable little guy here to keep me company while I work from home. It’s really just too bad he never cracks a smile…
Aside from weight loss advice, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by friends and fellow bloggers is how I juggle working from home with two small kids. To be clear, I really have no idea what I’m doing. But, I think most parents feel that way and yet we all have so much to gain by sharing and learning from one another.
In an effort to help support fellow work-at-home moms and dads, today I’m sharing 19 Tips for Working From Home with Kids – 7 of my own plus 12 gathered from friends. While these tips apply to many ages, these are geared towards those of us home with kids under the age of five.
My Best Tips for Working from Home with Kids:
1. Get Active Every Day:
We try to leave the house every day to engage in some form of physical activity. Whether it’s going for a walk, playing in the park or running around the kid’s area at the gym, I try to get my boys out of the house as much as possible. Not only does it help get out their energy before nap time but the exercise is vital for my health – mental and physical. At the very least, crank up the cardio dance channel on Pandora or do a kids yoga video together in the living room. #noexcuses
2. Find Your Cheerleaders:
There are two types of people in this world: those who build you up and support you and those who don’t. I am so lucky to have a few good friends that I iMessage with daily who are also busy moms in the trenches. Life is too short and you’re far too busy to be sucked into gossip, drama or negative energy. Focus your time on those who make you feel good.3. 3
3. Hire a Babysitter:
Let’s keep it real, friends: as I write this post I am sitting in a coffee shop while my kids are home reading books, singing songs and playing with our babysitter. In about 90 minutes, I’ll be home and my computer will be shut down for the rest of the day. My boys will get my full attention and I won’t have the pressure of deadlines and work over my head because I know that I’ll have another babysitter day again soon. When you’re paying by the hour, you get more work done in a few hours than you would over 8 hours of back and forth between kids, computer, baby and back.
4. Outsource Least Favorite Tasks:
Focus your time on the part of the job you love most and hire out help for the rest. For example, I have no interest in the technical aspect of my business (SEO, ad management, web design, etc.) so I get help from my husband, designers and other professionals to handle those tasks. In turn, I get to spend my time doing what I love which is spending time in the kitchen creating recipes. Hate social media? Hire an assistant or find an intern at a local college to help.
5. Set Working Hours and Stick With It:
When your office is really the dining room table and your smart phone is always by your hip, it can be hard to set boundaries when it comes to working hours. For me, I shut down for the day around 4PM so that I can spend my evenings with my kids and my husband. Just because someone can technically reach me any time of the day doesn’t mean I have to always be available. As a result, I get more sleep, my kids are happier and I’m more focused and energized in the morning.
6. Meal Prep:
On Sundays, I always take time to prep a few meals that will save me time during the week. For example, we make various versions of a Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake almost weekly. 90 seconds in the microwave and all 3 of us have a protein-packed, nutritious breakfast ready to eat during busy mornings. When cooking dinner, double or triple the recipe for lunches during the week. If you’re making soup, cook a double batch and freeze for a busy night when you have no time to cook dinner. Last but not least, invest in a good quality slow cooker. It will be a life saver and is a sure-fire way to guarantee a healthy meal for the whole family.
7. Go To Bed with Your Spouse:
I make it a point to go to bed at the same time as my spouse every single night. He usually goes to bed a bit earlier than I would but it’s important to me to spend this time with him before the day ends. At the end of the day, a happy marriage is more important than typing up one.last.blog.post.
Want more? Check out these incredible words of wisdom from fellow work-at-home moms:
Kath from Kath Eats writes “A few months after my son was born I knew I had to change my work flow. Babies are unpredictable, and I didn’t want to stress out if naps didn’t come easily or leave my blog readers hanging without a daily post. So now I always work a week ahead. I have to be super organized so that if a poor nap, sickness or fun opportunity comes about I have the flexibility to drop everything and be a mom and my posts will continue to go up (and I can catch back up on nights and weekends). I miss my old spontaneous way of posting, but this is what I had to do for my sanity and work-mom balance.”
Elizabeth from Booklyn Supper writes “By knowing how much time each individual task on your list should take, you can be very intentional with any amount of free time you have (no matter how short it might be).”
Amelia from Eating Made Easy writes “Use whatever childcare hours you have to act rather than react: write an article, complete a project for a brand or photograph a recipe. Save the “reacting” – answering emails, phone calls, reader comments, etc. – for naptimes or random moments of downtime. If you’re always going back and forth between acting and reacting, you’ll almost never get anything done!”
Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen writes “Get up before the kiddos do — whether you use that time for a shower, prayer, or work, trust me when I say that you need it! Ain’t nobody got time to wake up with a toddler in their face first thing. Stay a bit ahead on work so if your kiddo gets sick or is having a fussy day, you can be available without stressing out about missing a deadline. And take time to enjoy tea parties and Disney movies and sticky fingers tugging at you — it goes fast :)”
Caroline from Chocolate and Carrots writes “I try to be 100% mama when my little ones are not sleeping or in school, but sometimes I have a deadline to meet and need to get some things done with them around. If so, I try to involve them in what I’m working on as much as possible. If I’m developing a recipe, I’ll have them put on their aprons and pull up their stools and help me. If I’m photographing something, I’ll have them be my “helpers” by sending them to get me certain things throughout the house or sit next to me and talk about what I’ve made, how many there are, how high I can stack them, etc. I try to explain what I’m doing when I’m doing it and what I do as a blogger as often as I can so they feel involved and excited about it. Even though they’re still really young, I show them my posts/videos and they get really into “mama’s work”, which makes me so happy and helps them feel a part of it.”
Nikki from Seeded at the Table writes “Working from home has been one of my toughest battles. Finding a balance is key. Over time, I learned that when I put my family first, I’m more focused on my actual workdays when the kids are at a Moms Day Out program at a local church. When they’re home, I limit work time to nap time. Even then, I often use that hour or two to clean my house instead. Distractions are everywhere when working from home, but it is a huge blessing to have this opportunity!”
Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod writes “We have a nanny who comes in the mornings to help with the boys so I can focus on my work. I try to get everything done while she is here so when she leaves I can put work away and enjoy my family instead of trying to juggle both all day long.”
Andrea Dekker writes “Make detailed to-do lists every NIGHT before you go to bed and know approximately how much time each will take to complete. By knowing how much time each individual task requires, you can be very intentional with any amount of free time you have (no matter how short it might be).”
Lisa from Wine and Glue writes “Working from home with little kids is like going on a diet: You know you want to do it, the results will be great, but its SO hard. And at the end of the day you want 10 cookies and a glass of wine.”
Maegan from The Baker Mama writes “Working from home with little ones certainly has its perks and its poops! ;) I try to cut myself some slack on both being a mom and a food blogger and have found that when I do, I feel more successful at both when I embrace the unexpected and just take it one day at a time. Life with little ones is unpredictable, but I’m doing what I love in the comfort of my own home surrounded by my crazy little loved ones and at the end of the day, I’m so thankful for the blessed mess that is.”
What is YOUR best tip for working from home? Do you have any best practices? I’d love to hear from you.