Tips from 12 Experts: Working From Home With Kids

Reading Time: 17 minutes
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

"Having a child changes your life in many ways."

Chances are you've had at least 99 people tell you the above already, like I was told. I will be the 100th person to tell you this is true. I will also let you know that it doesn't mean life comes to a stand still once you have a baby. You can still set goals for your dreams and make them all happen. You can still travel the world, run a successful business and have sex once a year (even twice if you're really lucky). Everything is possible, even if it's more difficult.

Speaking of difficult, parenting while in isolation and trying to run a business at home. FUN TIMES! It's already a challenge learning how to work from home without kids, but add them into the mix and well, that's like releasing rambunctious monkeys into your office. For those who just started working from home, the challenges are real and we're here to help. I called out to my friends who work from home with kids of all ages to offer some expert tips and advice. Siya and I also share a few tips of our own. Here's how we do it:

Working from home_3
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

Having a glass of lemon water followed by a delicious smoothie. This is how I start my day, everyday. It's simple, making it easily to stick to this morning ritual from anywhere in the world, hydrating and healthy! It also gets me into a routine, which in turn, sets me up for a successful day. It's also very easy to stick to this habit even when taking care of a 1.5 year old. We actually have our smoothies together, and I love getting to spend this time before each working day with my little bean.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Taking short breaks to spend time in nature every couple of hours. Nature is medicine. Just a short walk, quick tree-hugging session or walking barefoot on the earth, is enough to fuel my energy, uplift my spirit and re-ignite my passion and motivation for the rest of the work day.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

It's taken a while to get into a "work from home with kids" flow. Since Siya (my husband) and I both work from home running Hopscotch the Globe, we take turns working and taking care of our daughter. I work Monday's and Wednesday's and Siya works Tuesday's and Thursday's. We divide up Friday's and take the weekend's off from work to spend time together as a family.

Since we actually live with another family, which includes two other kids under the age of three (enter horror film music), I always make sure I'm working away from the chaos. We have an office set up in our bedroom/loft which is a perfect little (quiet) sanctuary for work time. That is until they all barge in every few hours. Now we have a lock on the door which is perfect.

Must have work-from-home necessity:

Noise cancelling headphones are 100% essential when you're working at home with kids. These are the ones I use and absolutly cannot live without. I put on my "Productive Work Day" playlist on Spotify, and completely zone out from the outside noise.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

Spending time outside with my daughter or cooking dinner. Whenever I'm with my daughter, she reminds me to live in the present moment because that's all she knows how to do. It's inspiring. When you live presently, you live peacefully and any stresses melt away. I find that cooking also helps me to live presently. It's super relaxing and creative, which are two things that keep me centred and happy.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Matthew Karsten, Adventure Travel Blogger & Photographer, Expert Vagabond

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

Ten minutes of guided mediation with the Headspace App really helps me stay focused on any tasks I want to complete that day. Sometimes this is done early, before Dylan wakes up, but occasionally I wait until later.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Turning off social media. I log out of everything so I'm not tempted to take a peek and get sucked in. Turning off notifications for all my social media apps too.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

Anna and I both work from home, so we try to take turns watching Dylan while the other one works. Then, when nap time rolls around in the afternoon, we can both work uninterrupted for about 2 hours. Sometimes Anna works late at night, and sometimes I get up extra early and work in the morning while Dylan is still sleeping.

A must have work from home necessity:

Noise canceling headphones! Really helps get me into a productive zone, without having to listen to whatever else is going on in the house. Especially helpful for working from home with young kids around.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

Getting outside. A walk or a short hike -- with or without the rest of my family. Sometimes I'll just walk around with our cat in the backyard as the sun sets behind the mountains.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Kelley Farro, Jetsetter-Host-Vlogger-Producer, Kelley Ferro Productions

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

My work day begins the night before. I have to make sure that I have all my social media scheduled and a list of things to accomplish for the day. I know that I’ll be getting up early and won’t have a break until around 1 PM, so if I need to post anything before that, it has to be done ahead so I can just push a few buttons and put my phone/computer away. My little one does NOT like to compete with a screen!

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

I think having a schedule for the week and the day really helps me stay on task. I prioritize most important first as I never know when my daughter will wake up from her nap. One day it is an hour and a half, the next 30 minutes. Making sure priorities are in order is KEY.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

The balance is heavily on my child at the moment. I do not have any other care (as many don’t during this time). My husband is able to take her from 8-10 some mornings, giving me 2-hours to either workout, order groceries or get a jump on work. I also try to do an hour of work at night after she goes to bed, but most nights I’m so drained from a full day with her, that one is tough!

A must have work from home necessity:

A positive and flexible attitude! Things are not always going to go as planned, so it is key to be able to shift and make adjustments. I also think a separate working space is very useful—one with a door!

Top tip for decompressing from work:

I find my time with my daughter to help me decompress. We do art projects, take walks, jump in puddles, pick flowers, read books—though it’s still being “on” as a mom, it is a way for me to just be present with her and enjoy the simple things. In the evenings after bedtime, my husband and I sometimes play games or do puzzles to have a more interactive down moment together.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Joy McCarthy, Founder & Holistic Nutritionist at Joyous Health

First thing you do before starting your work day, that sets you up for success:

I do a 10-minute meditation before I even get out of bed. Sometimes my daughter is crawling on me and other times it’s total peace and quiet. But either way, it centres and grounds me for the day.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Having a bit of a plan. I say "bit" because since COVID19 and having a 4-year old at home, I can’t be too stuck in my plan. My hubby Walker and I split up our workday so that no matter what we are doing we can be “present.” Some days he works the morning shift and then some days I do mornings so the other person can be with our daughter. Being present is key to being productive.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

Walker and I do shift work. We both work a part time schedule now so that one of us is always 100% present with our daughter. Trying to be a parent and work simultaneously is a recipe for disaster - we know because we've tried that!

A must have work from home necessity:

Good music!

Top tip for decompressing from work:

Working out. Whether it’s a bike ride or a circuit workout at home, I love movement and don’t sleep well unless my body is physically tired.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
First thing you do before starting your work day, that sets you up for success:

I don't rush my mornings. My phone is left beside my bed to avoid distractions. I like to open a door or window to breathe in fresh air and feel the weather. Once I'm fed, kissed and caffeinated, I can start creating.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Keeping my desk clean really helps my mind focus. Clutter in my vision causes clutter in my thoughts. Speaking of which, I have to clean this desk before going further. Much better... I'm focused now. Taking walks to change the scenery helps my brain avoid burnout. A walk in nature is like a nap with movement. When I go back to creating I have a clearer vision and I'm more productive.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

Kristen and I alternate days we work and watch Kai. It took us months before we found a "work from home with kids rhythm." Obviously moments are precious and if something memorable is happening we'll pull the other away from work to enjoy highlights. When we really need to focus, we lock our office door so a band of baboons don't come charging in...it's happened.

A must have work from home necessity:

A wireless charger for my phone so I can easily place it down to charge and pick it up quickly without messing with cables. I also never have to worry about battery life.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

If I can, I separate my living space from my work space. I don't work in areas I like to relax in; keeping the two areas separate helps me decompress when my day is done.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

I have up to an hour of quiet time to ground myself and connect to my spirit, soul, and goals. That time includes meditation, journaling, reading an empowering book, affirmations, connecting to my goals and dreams for the day while drinking a morning lemon tonic tea.

I do not turn on my phone or do anything else until this is done. It really powers me up for success and ZEN!

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

I do my best not to battle against my creative or stuck energy and constant distractions. The resistance to that is what tends to cause angst and suffering.

To help me with this, I have my tasks grouped into those that are creative and need my full attention, and those fiddly tasks that I can manage when I'm up and down like a yoyo. I simply fit them into the current circumstances as best I can bearing in mind when my energy is highest.

I get up early before my kids wake and need my attention. This is my high energy time to do the focused creative tasks. My morning routine helps me slip into that flow.

We've been doing this for 12 years now, so I'm fortunate that my girls are very independent. It took a lot of effort to train them to be this way, but it's really paying off for me now. It gives me more space in the day for the creative tasks.

And if I'm just not feeling it, or my girls want my attention more than normal, then I do the yoyo work like fixing my site, editing my words, social media or SEO.

By the afternoon, my energy is dried up so I turn my attention to exercise, spending time with the girls, housework and dinner prep. By evening, I'm curled up on the couch with Netflix.

I have more tips on homeschooling and training independent learners here.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

The best thing you can do (and this may take time) is train your kids and work with them to set boundaries and expectations.

1. Tell them how much you love your work and how important it is for you to dedicate focused time each day on it.

2. Tell them how much you love them and how important it is for you to dedicate quality time with them each day.

3. Then, let them know that each day for X amount of hours, you'll be working and during this time they can do X - work with them to list all possible things they can do that don't require you. Tell them how much you love being able to work a life like this together.

4. Ask them, "If, during this time you need help, what can you do?" For some tasks, I have the, "you can disturb me only if you are bleeding or dying." This rarely works, but it's improving and they start to understand Mum is serious about her important work.

5. Then tell them, "At X time, we'll have X hours to spend quality time together."  There will be no distractions as your work will be done. At this time, choose something they love to do with you or let them choose. Your computer may be leering at you during this time, but close it and put your phone next to it.  Be present with them. They just want quality time with you.

This is much harder to do with younger children, but you can definitely start training them. Schedule focused work time around their evening sleep, nap times, play time and screen time (if you want them to have it). Do the best you can. DO NOT DO THE HOUSEWORK. That can come later when your energy is depleted and the kids can help you.

They will test those boundaries and do their best to get your attention whenever they want it. Be firm with them. Implement rewards to help. Soon they will learn and a bit of routine and stability will happen.

Quality for a child doesn't mean quantity. When my girls wake up in the morning, I spend at least five minutes cuddling with them, singing to them, being really silly, and telling them stories about how much I love them. My girls soak this up and it puts them in a good place for the remainder of the day. They don't need me as much.

I have more work from home tips here.

A must have work from home necessity:

Wine.

The End.

No in all seriousness, I think having your own work space so you can separate it as best you can from other aspects of your life.

After years of this lifestyle, I finally have my own desk and office area that is surrounded by things that inspire me - plants, photos, quotes etc. It's made such a difference to my productivity and energy. I can switch off much better now at the end of the day as I move to the other rooms in my house and can't see the computer begging me to come finish that one task!

Top tip for decompressing from work:

I tend to reconnect to my body and/or nature. It usually means working out (moving that energy out of my body) or taking a walk somewhere in a green space.

I also take frequent breaks through the day where I sit outside in the sun and earth with my bare feet on the ground. I let Mother Earth take all my worries and frustrations from the day in exchange for a healing, nourishing energy.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Arienne Parzei, Videographer-Travel Writer-Photographer at SeeYouSoon.ca

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

Before I start my work day, I make sure I’ve had a good breakfast. While I’m eating, I’ll catch up on the daily news, scroll some of my social feeds, and answer any personal emails before I get to work.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Limit the number of times you check your email and social feeds. It’s SO easy to get distracted and pulled into something that doesn’t need your immediate attention.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

I’m still figuring this out, ha! But, what I find works best for me is to capitalize on those naps. My one-year old currently goes down for 2 naps, so I schedule in the work that needs my full attention during those times. I don’t always get the same amount of time during those naps, but I’ve become very focused and productive when she’s sleeping. When she’s awake and playing on her own, I can squeeze in some emails here and there, but for the most part, I’m working when she’s sleeping.

A must have work from home necessity:

A comfortable and enjoyable workspace is necessary to make working from home successful. If you love the space where you’re working, and it’s comfortable to be in for a long period of time (ie. supportive chair, natural lighting, etc), then the more likely you are to be productive.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

Make sure your work space is separate from the rest of your living space. This will signal to your brain that once you’re in the other parts of your home, it’s personal time and not work time.

 

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Christopher Staudinger, Founder of Pretty Gritty ToursCaptain and Clark

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

Before the work day starts, I pretend that it doesn't exist. I don't check my phone, I don't look at emails, I drink a coffee and take a shower before I let the anxiety of the day start flowing in.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Guerilla warfare. I don't look for classic signs of success or accomplishment. If I can respond to one email, success. Fix one document, success. Not drink before 10am, a damn success. Anything. If I finish a sentence or edit four seconds of video while feeding my kid something other than Oreos stuffed with whip-cream, success. Anything forward moving is a celebration now.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

I don't. Is someone doing that? I try to give my partner time to work and she does the same for me, but I'm always distracted at least a little. As I am typing this I am pleading with my kids to get off the drone case. I just try to accept that I will be distracted for a while and that needs to be ok. The key is to be calm in distraction, I think.

A must have work from home necessity:

A space for working. It can be anyplace, a corner, a chair, whatever but it needs to be used for only work and nothing else so that your brain knows "this is work time."

Top tip for decompressing from work:

I'm a talker. I need about 30 minutes of venting daily to come down. People tend to think that I am ramping myself up as I rage about the little things bringing me down but I always feel that an honest and over the top tirade help me focus and realize what I can roll with and what I need to adjust.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Solmaz K, Travel Blogger & Instagrammer, The Curious Creature

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

The first thing I do is make a list. I consciously try not to be too ambitious (it's important to know your own capacity) and highlight 2/3 tasks that are musts for the day. If I can do more, great!

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

I think it's impossible to stay focused and productive all day with kids at home. I'd say throw that expectation out the window to begin with. I try to "batch work" throughout the day - so maybe an hour first thing in the morning, when (if) my toddler naps, an hour in the afternoon and then a bit in the evenings. At least, this is what I do with a three-year-old and a husband who is working full-time at home as well! Circumstances will always differ depending on the family dynamics.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

Some days are harder to balance than others. I try to be flexible and not force things. This is really hard to do, but I attempt. Having a separate space to do work always helps. If you have larger home/balcony/garage, I definitely recommend setting up shop to avoid distractions!

A must have work from home necessity:

Strong internet and even stronger coffee 🙂

Top tip for decompressing from work:

I think it's important to have a separate work space so you can "leave work" and not blur the lines with family time/self-care time, etc. We have a tendency to multi-task (especially in my industry where many things are done on the phone) and sadly this doesn't lend well to decompressing from work since we're still actually doing some! Putting on some music, having a meal or taking a shower without any tech buzzing in the background (TV/laptop/phone) helps me transition into relaxation time so I can charge up my own batteries for the next day.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

We normally work in office buildings, so this past month (and foreseeable future) working from home has been a significant change for our entire family. Our kids are used to going to school and daycare while we go to work. Now our days are filled with homeschooling, while working full time jobs, and also blogging. It’s definitely not our normal day to day that we are used too. One thing that we do in the morning to start our day is we get up as though we are going into the office. We shower, try to dress up (no sweat pants), make ourselves presentable, and we are ready and sitting at our desks for the start of our work day at 8 AM. It helps to set the tone for the day that it’s time to focus and work.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

To stay focused and productive, we schedule our day along with breaks. We know our kids will need attention throughout the day, so we schedule this time into our calendars. We also coordinate our times to have one parent free if the other is going to be tied up on a conference call.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

We started a new game for our kids when the quarantine was announced. They make points, spend points and lose points. Making points are doing things where they are learning or being helpful around the house like homework, playing games, cleaning, organizing and reading. They can spend points on video games, TV, movies and snacks/treats. They can also save their points to buy a small toy online. They lose points if they are rude or are bothering us while we are working. It’s been a great success, and it’s working really well for our family.

A must have work from home necessity:

Our must have work from home necessity is individual space to work. Cameron works in the kitchen where he can close the door if needed. Nicole works in the dining room, and sometimes in the bedroom if she has a conference call. Having individual work spaces allow us the ability to think and have some quiet time if needed.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

When our day is done, we put everything away and get off our laptops. It’s easy to start working 12-hour days, but we know it’s also important to take time to recoup. It’s easy to get burnt out if you don’t take time for yourself and your family.

tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs
tips for working from home during COVID-19 from entrepreneurs

Tehseen Merchant, Mommy Blogger & Instagrammer at Momma in Training

First thing you do before starting your work day that sets you up for success:

I wake up 30 minutes before the kids do just to make a schedule and a list of things to do. It really makes me feel successful if I’m able to at least check off one thing each day. Plus, I feel more organized if I’m ready before the kids.

Top tip for staying focused and productive throughout the day while working from home with kids:

Keep a schedule and stick to it. If you have a time slot for work, make sure if nothing else, you get that time in and don’t let distractions take away from that time.

How do you balance work and time with kids without getting distracted:

I try to work in a separate area away from the kids. Even if it’s just one-hour a day, I completely disconnect from the rest of the house and focus on what I have to do.

A must have work from home necessity:

My own space. Currently I don’t have a home office but that would be ideal. For now it’s the bedroom with the door closed.

Top tip for decompressing from work:

Since I’m working online I take any time I can to go outside and get fresh air with the kids or play with them in their playroom making sure my phone is nowhere near me.

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5 Comments

  1. May 19, 2020 / 12:53 pm

    For me, technology is very helpful especially I am a single mother of 1. I get to earn a money at the same time taking care of my baby.

  2. May 12, 2020 / 3:26 pm

    Hi,
    Great work. You make it Totaly simple but it is not a simple work at home
    Because there is no place to go nowadays because of coronavirus COVID 19 breakout situation
    Going to share it, thanks
    rai fakhar e alam recently posted..Top 5 convertible mattress sofaMy Profile

  3. May 11, 2020 / 3:05 am

    For almost two weeks now, families across the country have been forced into this situation as offices and schools have shut down and increasingly strict shelter-in-place orders have gone into effect to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The situation feels impossible for two-parent homes where both partners can work from home — and gets exponentially harder for single parents, kids with special needs, families experiencing homelessness, and parents who have to work outside of the home. Add financial worries, lack of proper technology for online distance learning, and logistical challenges like grocery shopping and managing outside time while social distancing, and it can feel downright paralyzing.

  4. April 30, 2020 / 4:30 pm

    Fantastic article! Lovely photos too.

  5. April 24, 2020 / 7:05 am

    Thanks for sharing this post. Helpful and Informative.