9 tips for working from home with kids

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 Working from home

In our new "Mompreneur series," I will be sharing experiences, tips and advice for being an effective mother and entrepreneur in the Middle East.

If you are a mom and an entrepreneur who works from home, you might find it hard to concentrate on work with your kids around.

It's toughest when you have toddlers underfoot. At that age, their attention span is almost non-existent, which makes it difficult to distract them with toys for more than a couple of minutes at a time. It's also impossible to leave them unsupervised in a non child-proof environment.

Most moms who stay and work from home also often feel guilty sending their kids to daycare. By keeping them at home, you might convince yourself that you'll manage to get things done without sending them away or paying daycare costs. But between feeding time, diaper changing and dealing with a tantrum, the day can be over and you've only finished 20% of your tasks.

With a few tricks, however, you can manage to actually work around your kids, rather than try to work with them around.

  1. Turn your house into a fully childproof environment. Toddlers like to crawl around the house and explore every corner, so this can distract them for a good amount of time. Just make sure there is nothing to worry about. You can use this childproofing checklist to ensure that you're not forgetting anything.

  2. Implement a routine. Children are calmer when they know what is coming next. When they are used to a 30 minute playtime after breakfast, they will be anxious to get to it, while they will start yawning while having lunch if they know nap time comes next. Don’t forget that early sleeping routines are both a healthy habit for small ones and an efficient one for you. My 16 month-old sleeps from 6pm to 6am every day, and has an hour long nap at noon, which allows me to work for a good two to three hours in the evening.

  3. Refer to games. For example, teach your toddler to play a silent game when your Skype or your phone rings. This can turn into a routine, as toddlers get used to not making noise when you are on a call. When you just have to take a call with your child in the middle of a tantrum, you can use the situation as an icebreaker, start the meeting, and ask to push it back five minutes to calm the baby down.

  4. Save TV time for when you have a meeting or need that 30 minutes of full concentration. If your baby is used to sitting in a stroller, keep a light one around the house and use it for TV time. With a seatbelt on, toddlers won't try to crawl around, and are more likely to have a quick nap.

  5. Make your child familiar with your work. As toddlers get older, explaining what you're doing at work will help them understand why you have to sit at a table or take meetings instead of playing with them. Use your work stories as bedtimes stories, and talk about your colleagues so your kid is familiar with their names. This can become a soothing conversation you can use to turn your child’s attention away from a noisy toy or a tantrum. 

  6. Have a specific workspace with its own rules, like no toys or noise allowed in. This also helps your toddler understand that when you are in that room or space you will not be answering his demands on the spot, but he needs to wait a little before you do so. 

  7. Delegate housework. Reach out for your spouse’s help with work around the house. Even if you are the one staying in, he can pitch in. In order to motivate him, have him babysit for a day to better appreciate how difficult it is; in contrast, asking him to do few chores will seem very easy. Involving your toddler in the housework, like coming to bring laundry to the washing machine, and picking up toys is also a good way of keeping him busy.

  8. Schedule outings for your child. Invite your spouse to dedicate two hours a day for a couple days a week to take the baby out, whether it is to the supermarket or to pay grandma a visit. You can also agree with another mom on swapping the kids once or twice a week for a couple hours as well.

  9. Don’t exhaust yourself by waking up earlier than your toddler and sleeping later. This is not always a good strategy to follow, as your productivity and physical stamina will be affected by your lack of sleep. Work on better organizing your daily hours instead and prioritize different tasks for different times according to the napping times of your kid.

To stay motivated, it's also important to remember why you are working from home from the first place. Whether you choose to freelance or start your own company, your family was likely a part of the reason for that decision to stay at home. So don’t try to do it all and slow down. Keep in mind that it gets better week after week and that it is a temporary period. In no time, your kid will be four years old and they will want to spend more time playing alone or with their siblings, giving you more space and time.

 

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