How to Keep Kids Busy and Have a Productive Work From Home Day With Kids
When working from home with kids it often feels like a juggling act performed on a tightrope, and one wrong move might lead to hours of work falling behind. So how do we juggle it all while keeping our sanity and maintaining your children’s and your overall health?
Although the need of every home, every family, and every individual varies there is one common tool that can help us all conquer the juggling act of working from home with children. The tool is a schedule. The schedule may vary from family to family and from day to day, but ultimately a schedule is key to successfully balancing work and family.
Below is a schedule to get you started, but know that your schedule should be modified to the specific needs of you and your family. Below the table you can find tips on how to modify the schedule to fit your family’s specific needs.
Tip # 1: Give kids time to wake-up
Everyone has a better time when not rushed in the morning, so always plan time in your schedule to allow the family to “wake-up” without feeling rushed. Let the kids know, let yourself know, you have a half hour or an hour, whatever that time amount is that you’ve set aside for yourself or for them to rise and shine before having to do any tasks.
Tip # 2: Let your kids help make and clean-up breakfast
The more you let your kids help make breakfast the more your kids will learn how to make breakfast. Not only are the kids learning, but you will be confident in what skills your child has to make breakfast. Following tip number 2 will put the dream of your child making their own breakfast in the future sooner than if you make it without their help.
Tip # 3: Expect your kids to help clean-up after breakfast
This tip goes right along with tip number 2. The more you clean-up with your children, the sooner the kids learn it is expected of them, and ultimately it will lead to your children being capable of cleaning up after their breakfast without you. This lesson is an important life skill, and can take a very long time for children to develop as a habit so no reason to think they are too young or you will miss out on a part of their childhood by making them clean-up after breakfast. (Obviously expectations of clean-up tasks will vary depending on the age of your child)
Tip # 4: Clean-up time after playing should be dependent on your child
Every child is different and every child’s clean-up time varies depending on what they are cleaning up. The best thing you can do to get a handle on clean-up time is get to know your child’s clean-up times for different activities. For example my son needs 30 minutes to clean up from legos and only 10 minutes to clean up from playing pretend with action heroes and cars/airplanes. So, depending on what your child is playing be sure to give them enough time to clean-up from that activity without feeling rushed.
Tip # 5: Have multiple lists pre-made for guided playtime
Guided play while working from home has been a saving grace to many moms within my social circle. It has helped numerous times in keeping kids occupied and breaking up the continuous day at home. So how are you guiding play while simultaneously working? Here is what you do, have several lists made up to choose from for rainy days and sunny days, make sure you have as many options as possible. Each list should contain 5 activities that your child can do for 10 minutes each. Here is an example list
5 Activities for 50 minutes: jump rope, see how many card huts you can make or how tall, how many jumps in a row on a POGO stick, BOP-IT, Where’s Waldo book
Along with your pre-made list of activities you will have a pre-made list of what is needed for each list. So, for the example list above I would have with it the following list: jump rope, card deck, pogo stick, bop-it, and Where’s Waldo book. At the beginning of guided play you will give your child the list and ask them to go get the items needed or you can do it one at a time. When your child returns tell them they have 10 minutes on the clock and to start the activity you want them to perform first. While they play you work and at the end of 10 minutes they share how many jumps or card houses etc, that they accomplished and you give them the next activity and reset the clock.
Time will fly and you will hopefully be able to check off an item or two on your to do list from work in between the 10 minute check-ins. When your child is done with the 5 activities, don’t forget to give them 10 minutes to put all the stuff they got out back where it belongs. There’s another 10 minutes for you to work.
Tip # 6: Have snacks prepared and within reach of children
Have snacks ready to go in individualized servings clearly labeled for your children to grab without your help. Simple instructions of it’s time to grab a bag and water bottle with your name on it from the fridge, and sit-down at the kitchen table to eat. Gives you that time to stay in your at home work seat and get more work done.
Tip # 7: Chore chart
A chore chart just like your prepared lists of activities and prepared snacks will save you time. It’s best to have a chore chart that’s used on a daily basis with your family as a regular habit. Then, on days where you are working from home with the kiddos they are familiar with the chore routine, and all you need to do is provide the guidance to look at the chore chart and finish 1 to 2 chores before lunch.
Here is a link to my preferred chore chart, I particularly appreciate all the premade chores/expectations on this chart.
Tip # 8: Take a legitimate lunch break to spend time with your children
It’s no secret, time spent with our children makes them feel important and loved. When we are working from home it is a lot of time when the children are in a space where they typically expect your time, and are now getting the message that they need to wait while you work. Taking an hour to spend with your children for lunch specifically, to spend time speaking to just them can make a world of a difference in how your child feels. Taking time to step away for lunch can be a challenge sometimes so try to have lunch prepared ahead of time to reduce your stress at lunch time. Also, don’t forget to have your kiddos help clean-up from lunch afterwards.
Tip # 9: What to do during creativity time
Time throughout the day for any individual to be creative is important, it’s a great tool to help everyone relax and get a little alone time. This time can be spent coloring, playing with stickers, painting, making paper plate masks, or paper bag puppets, the skies the limit. You can browse pinterest for ideas ahead of time to get your child excited for creativity time and get all the items needed for their project.
Tip # 10: Change Up Free Play Time
Free play is important for every child’s development to create imaginative ideas and test how to execute their ideas. This time also gives your child control of part of their day for what they want to do, which is particularly helpful to children who have what society calls a “Type A” personality. I like to call them our future leaders. While the future leaders will be excited for free play time other children might find 3 hours of free play time in a day daunting . So, if you can change the location of free play time that is one way to prevent the 3 hours from becoming frustrating for your child, and change free play time to durations they look forward to. Here is an example of 3 different locations for free play time: Backyard, Playroom, Family Room. The thought behind the different locations is that your home has different toys in different locations. So, while playing in the different locations your children will hopefully feel empowered to play with different items, preventing boredom from setting in.
There you have it, the best way to maximize your productivity working from home with kids. A schedule that makes sense for your job and for your children, along with preparatory work to reduce stress throughout the day. If you are looking for more tools to help you focus on working from home be sure to check out A Work From Home Focus Toolbox: To Maximize Productivity .