Need tips for working remotely?
This guide for how to work at home with kids will show you how to do it – without losing your mind!
I’ve been working at home for over 3 years now and want to share my advice for how to thrive when you’re working alongside children.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I could earn a commission if you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
My Experienced Working at Home with Kids
Can you work from home with a child?
At the time of writing this post, I’m 32 weeks pregnant and spend almost 24/7 with my busy 3 year old!
My husband works in the film industry and averages between 12 and 20 hour days – depending on whether he’s prepping or on set.
So, needless to say, I’m responsible for the vast majority of housework and childcare here – I also manage three websites and our home-based business.
But, after years of trial and error, I get it all done daily!
Work at Home Blogging
I started a blog as a hobby – little did I know I’d be make a living doing this today!
Imagine generating income doing something you LOVE.
If you know how to write, that could be blogging!
Blogging allows you to choose your own hours, write about what you want, grow at your own pace, and best of all? You get to be you’re own boss!
You can create a blog now on Siteground for 60% off the regular price when you use my link.
It costs as much as a trip to Starbucks to host your blog monthly!
More ideas for working at home:
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How to Work at Home with Kids (10 Realistic Tips for Busy Parents)
This guide to working from home includes tips for:
- planning your days effectively
- how to actually get work done from home
- entertaining kids
- how to manage housework
- and more
Keep reading to see how you can boost your productivity right now.
1. Set realistic expectations
I used to be notoriously bad at writing huge to do lists!
Seriously – I’d have about 20 things on there and maybe get 2 done.
That’s just the reality of being a first time mom with an infant – learning to work at home with a baby was an adjustment!
I’m much better at planning my days now because I understand my toddler’s needs and take into account what I’m actually capable of doing.
To set realistic expectations for your days, consider the following:
- do you have a spouse that’s able to help out?
- does your little one still take naps?
- how long can you keep your little ones entertained?
- how are you keeping your children entertained?
- how many things can you actually accomplish while you work at home?
- what external factors might prevent you from getting it all done?
Think about what your days normally look like and reflect on any common occurrences.
For instance, my little girl still needs assistance with the potty!
So, instead of writing during the day – which for me, is a mental task that requires 100% concentration – I save that for evenings.
When I’m called away from what I like to refer to as “housekeeping tasks”, I can jump back in between disruptions no problem.
Pro Tip: Save focus-based work for nap time, bedtime, or screen time!
Do less mentally demanding work during the day while you’re little one plays or does school work – it’ll save you a ton of time and unnecessary frustration!
2. Plan ahead
Plan, plan, plan!
An agenda should be your best friend – here’s one that gives you a brief overview of the month and a more thorough look at each day of the week.
On a tight budget? Here’s a free printable monthly calendar you can print as you go to get organized 🙂
I have an agenda for my personal life and for each one of our businesses – I find it easier to keep track of everything this way instead of letting it get jumbled up together!
When you work at home, it’s easy to go in blindly.
But I guarantee that if you plan your days, and even the month ahead, you’ll get much more done!
Pro Tip: Choose 1 or 2 main priorities for your work day and write them in your agenda or calendar.
I like doing a basic breakdown of my month before it starts and during breakfast time, I’ll create a to do list for how I’m going to accomplish those main goals.
The further you break things down, the more realistic each one of those goals becomes!
3. Take care of priorities first
It’s so easy to get distracted – especially when you work at home with kids!
That’s why it’s important to set priorities.
Be realistic – you don’t have a quiet office space to work in today. You’re working at home alongside one or more little people that you adore!
From the moment they wake up, they’ll be asking you for snacks, to play, telling you that they’re bored, etc., etc.
My 3 year old also likes to crawl into our bed overnight and since she’s such a sensitive sleeper, it’s hard to get out of bed without waking her up in the morning too.
As a result, we start our day at the same time every day so, if I need to make an important phone call or take care of a time sensitive task that morning, this is when I rely on new activities or screen time.
Pro Tip: Remember those two main priorities we talked about in the planning section above?
Don’t start anything else until you finish those! Everything else is a bonus!
4. Find things they like to do
It can be a challenge to keep young kids entertained – especially if you have just one!
Kids are social, they love using their imaginations and playing with other children and their parents but sometimes, this just isn’t an option.
If you’ve got a huge workload on your shoulders, today might be a day to introduce a fun new and exciting activity.
Watch your child play and pay attention to cues – you’ll pick up on things they can spend 30 minutes or even a few hours doing!
Now that Marina is three years old, she’ll play independently – with the right toys – for up to 2 hours.
It makes it way easier to work at home with a toddler!
But when she was two, I was lucky to get just one solid hour of work in – her interests are still really similar now to what they were then though.
How to Keep Kids Busy While Working from Home
Indoor Activities for Toddlers
Here are our 9 go-to activities for independent at home play.
If you have a toddler between 2 and 3 years old, try some of these ideas to see how your child does:
I bought 3 or 4 sets of these Melissa & Doug stickers for potty training and M still plays with them over a year later! They’re reusable, so you won’t need to restock your sticker supply every week! Winning!
I LOVE these Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free sets! These markers only work on the included “magic” paper, so it’s a great activity to do at the kitchen table, on the go, or even in her bedroom.
I love this Play-Doh set with the activity table – it’s great for storing everything in one place once your child is done for the day.
It’s easily been M’s go to activity on the daily for the past year – one of her favorite things to do is creates costumes for her Peppa Pig characters out of Play-Doh but so long as it’s not a plush or Barbie doll, any plastic toy is fun for her to use with Play-Doh!
(4) Lego Duplo
We have a little Bakery set similar to this Duplo Cafe one. M loves to build different scenes and acts as different members of the included family while she plays.
If you’re going to buy these building blocks for your toddler, I highly recommend picking up a Baseplate too!
Kids at this age just don’t have the patience or understanding to build this stuff on carpet – the large baseplate is a super user-friendly platform where they can easily build all of their blocks.
It’ll keep them occupied and you sane!
M doesn’t have the patience for palettes that require dipping in water between painting at this age, so I invested in this quality color paint set – art smock included!
Protect your table with some cardboard and tear pages out of coloring books for your child to paint.
Don’t have an unused coloring book on hand?
You can download my free printable alphabet coloring pages for toddlers and preschoolers here – there’s 52 pages in English to keep your munchkin entertained!
(6) Dressing Barbies
My little girl loves to change her Barbies from dresses to big ball gowns – these pieces are also easy for small hands to hold and don’t require a ton of adult assistance.
Here’s a Barbie fashion closet that even comes with a doll!
(7) Driving cars on an activity mat
M LOVES Paw Patrol!
We’ve almost finished her collection with this Marshall Split-Second 2-in-1 Transforming Fire Truck – the fire truck breaks in half and comes with Marshall and Rubble toys.
This city play mat lets her use her imagination so the Paw Patrol can save the day all over the place.
(8) Alphabet and number magnets on the fridge or cookie sheets
I spent a lot of time working on the alphabet and counting with M when she was 2 and at just 3, she can read the numbers 1 to 100 now!
This is a really cute set that includes 142 letters.
And here’s another basic magnet set that includes numbers and letters.
I let M stick these on our fridge and on cookie sheets – if I have to work in my office or needed to move downstairs, it was a great way to make this educational activity portable.
Giving her muffin tray also brought new excitement to this activity since there are different levels to stick the magnets on!
5. Involve your kids in household tasks
I prefer to do chores at the start of my day – clear space, clear mind!
I just find it hard to get motivated to do anything in a mess.
So, usually after breakfast, I’ll pick a couple of chores that Marina and I can do together.
At three years old, your little one is also likely capable of helping out with the following:
- sorting laundry – according to wearer, color, purpose
- matching socks
- helping you unload the dishwasher
- taking things to the garbage
- putting away their toys
- taking a single object up or down the stairs
- helping out with food prep – i.e. topping a pizza, coating bread for French toast, etc.
Getting kids to assist with housework is exciting for them and teaches pride and responsibility.
It also makes it easier on you and is fun to get things done together!
6. Use screen time effectively
I am SUPER picky when it comes to what is permitted during M’s screen time.
I’ve set up YouTube Kids on our iPad and block a channel whenever I don’t find it educational or approve of the message it’s sending.
I think every parent suffers from guilt when they turn on the TV for their child.
You read all of these studies about the negatives associated with screen time and a lot of other parents don’t like to admit they rely on screen time occasionally too.
It feels really taboo!
But let’s be real, when you’re all out of options and it’s crunch time, screen time can be a lifesaver.
I’ve loaded our iPad with educational preschool games and puzzles plus our modified version of YouTube Kids – Caitie’s Classroom and Super Simple Songs are two of our favorite channels.
They often feature fun replicable ideas that you can create from materials you already have at home plus printable templates you can download from their website!
7. Spend time with your kids
This one seems so simple from the outside looking in but when you’ve got a deadline, it can feel impossible.
I’ve had days where it feels like I was working all day alongside a whining toddler – ugh!
Then during bedtime, the mom guilt kicks in – you beat yourself up because you realize that all this amazing little person wanted from you was a moment of your time!
And you know what, it’s not the end of the world to spend an hour or more playing with your little one.
As more and more of us have started working at home, sharing an office space with your kids has become the norm.
Our little girl walked into a Zoom meeting my husband was having with the producers of Sonic 2 the other day and you know what – NOT one person complained!
The majority of these people have kids too and if they don’t, they certainly know someone who does.
If you make those non-negotiable tasks your priority at the start of your day, there’s no reason you won’t have time to read a couple of books with your kids or even play for an hour at some point later on!
And remember those chores that we talked about doing together?
This is quality time together too – your kids just want to get some time in with you, it doesn’t matter how you spend it!
Trust me, it makes a HUGE difference!
8. Make the most of bedtime
The biggest mistake you can make at bedtime is turning on Netflix and calling it a night!
Yes, it’s nice to relax but this is prime time, friend.
Your home is finally quiet and you can concentrate on the things that require the most attention now.
For the past month, I worked on our corporate taxes EVERY evening – it was exhausting but number crunching and calculations are far easier to do when there aren’t little voices pulling you away from your work.
It might take a little bit of getting used to because, let’s face it – we’re parents!
By the time your kids go to bed, you’re probably drained too! I know I was for the first two years.
So, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, pour a glass of wine, and take 5 minutes to breathe.
Then, figure out what you can do with all of this glorious quiet time!
Pro Tip: Set a timer and make sure you go to bed on time.
Once you get in the groove, it can be easy to stay up way too late and you’ll be completely exhausted the next day.
Everything in moderation!
9. Ask for help – if you can
We’ve been fortunate enough to never rely on day care.
But as my business grew, I started asking my mom for help with child care after Marina was about 2 years old.
It’s not consistently devoted to my work days since we have a lot of other things on the go like renovations and a baby on the way, but I like to try and get in 4 hours a day twice a week for my blogs.
If my husband hasn’t had a huge week on set, I also rely on him to help out on Sundays – I work from about 10am until 7pm when it’s time for Marina to go to bed.
All in all, I get about 17 hours of coverage during the week – it’s not a lot but it makes a world of a difference for me!
I also LOVE what I do, so I consider these breaks my self-care time 🙂
I used to struggle with asking for help but as someone who’s been there, I can tell you that it’s life-changing when you do.
You’re a better mom when you get to feel like you again, even if it’s just for a couple of hours here and there.
10. Take breaks
Again – so guilty!
But honestly, those micro-recharges are really beneficial for your clarity and your mood.
It’s hard to take a break when you’re in the zone but the moment you start staring at a blank cursor or getting frustrated by your kids or the work in front of you, that’s the moment it’s time to walk away.
Get down to your child’s level and ask them what’s going on – for us, Marina usually just wants a little bit of attention and spending 15 minutes playing with her is enough of a recharge for both of us.
Is work the issue? Step away and pour yourself a glass of water or make a cup of coffee or tea!
Try not to think about what’s bothering you and instead, focus on turning it off for just a few minutes.
If possible, try and come back to that task at a later point during the day – it’s amazing how a fresh set of eyes can help you see more clearly!
Learning to work at home with kids doesn’t have to be a struggle – in fact, you can actually thrive at it!
You just need to be patient with yourself and your little ones as you figure out a system that works best for you.
My 10 best tips for working at home with kids are:
- Set realistic expectations
- Plan ahead
- Take care of priorities first
- Find things they like to do
- Involve your kids in household tasks
- Use screen time effectively
- Spend time with your kids
- Make the most of bedtime
- Ask for help – if you can
- Take breaks
Try it for a few days and let me know how it went in the comments below 🙂
Thanks for reading, friend!
Blessed mama of a beautiful little girl plus one on the way. I’m a full-time blogger and social media content creator who teaches moms and boss babes how to start an online business. Follow me on social for clever ideas to make money using the platforms you already love!