Working from Home With Young Children


It sounds fabulous at first glance. Save commuting time, minimize childcare costs, and maximize time with your children. How can you work from home when you have small children while remaining productive? We share our most important tips of crunching out work more effectively than in an office, and avoiding traps to sap your productivity. I’ve worked from home since my 2 and 5 yr old were born, and my sister since her older was 4 and younger child was born.

 

  • Childcare is a necessity. While it’s tempting to save money by working during naptime or TV time, nothing saps productivity like a crying baby or needy toddler, and my children always choose to argue over the TV remote during my work phone calls. Childcare allows you to focus on work, which will allow you to focus on your children when your childcare provider leaves. If your work requires a lot of phone calls and virtual meetings, childcare is essential to prevent an embarrassing disruption that could risk your job.

  • Young Kids PlayingSet no work times. The corollary to rule one, having childcare, is having time to spend with your children. It hit home to me when my then 4 year old told me, “Mama, it’s ok if the game takes longer to finish. I miss you. You’re always working.”

  • Focus. Set clear priorities. If you’re a bootstrapped entrepreneur, remind yourself that you can’t do everything. Limit your to do list for what you can realistically accomplish. For me, that means limiting social media and email to specific times of the day or maximum frequencies.

  • Separate physically from your children. Pick a location, whether your home office or bedroom, and close the door so that your children don’t pop in to visit you. If your home is too small for any separation, either ask your childcare provider to take the children to the playground, choose a provider outside of your home, or rent an office where you can focus. Some cities have drop in work space with childcare, such as NextSpace in San Francisco: http://nextspace.us/nextkids.

  • Choose schools with after care. If you have the choice, choose a preschool or elementary school with aftercare, ideally something flexible if you might need to add extra days. We find aftercare much simpler than separate nannies/babysitters to pick up the kids, and with the kids at school, we can work from home (see the last rule). Added plus, our kids love aftercare and spend the time with their school buddies.

  • Consider vacation camps. Whether spring break, summer break, holidays or teacher catch up days, children at home are a distraction from work. Per our above rules, choose which ones you will work, and which you will take as vacation. For the working vacations, find a fun camp or activity for your children so that everyone is happy.

  • Prepare for sick days. Sometimes, we have no choice. If your child is home sick, liberal use of screen time can help. Additionally, I try to buy fun, small gifts on sale and hide them for just these days. For instance, puzzles or puppets make great diversions. If you are caught off guard and have a phone call, be sure to mention the kids up front to avoid an embarrassing interruption.

 

What are your tips for working from home?

 

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