how to work at home without totally ignoring your kids

Being a work at home mom can offer some amazing perks. Your list of reasons for working from home might look something like this: 

But here’s where it gets tricky: you have to try and balance the demands of work with being present as a mom. 

And some days, it can feel impossible.

Five years into being a freelancing, homeschooling mom, I’m still challenged by trying to wear all the hats at once. It doesn’t necessarily get easier as kids get older either.

But these strategies have helped me fine-tune my work from home life so my kids don’t feel neglected. And they can help you if you’re facing the same struggle.

Create a Daily Work at Home Routine

Routines can be sooo helpful when you’re working from home and not just for you. 

Your kids, whether you have toddlers or tweens like I do, will appreciate having a regular rhythm and structure to their days. If you don’t have a work at home routine yet, it’s time to get one. 

How you approach your routine may depend on how old your kids are and whether they’re home with you during the day. If you have an infant or toddler, for instance, you may have to mold your working hours to fit around their routine. 

With older kids who go to school, you may be able to block off your work time while they’re out of the house. When they get home, you can “clock out” and switch to mom mode.

Pro work at home mom tip: Try to tailor your work time to when you’re most productive. 

For me, that’s 8 a.m. to noon. For you, it might be mid-afternoon or after 9 p.m. 

Working when you’re most productive can help you get things done more efficiently. And that can help you stay focused on your kids when you’re not working, instead of worrying about an unfinished to-do list.

Keep Kids Busy While You Work

This is a simple tip and it’s one that can save you when you’re working from home with kids.

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Keeping kids occupied, even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, leaves you free to jump on some work tasks. And you can work alongside them so you can keep an eye on them.

There are lots of ways to keep kids busy throughout the work day. For younger kids, you could try:

  • Building a pillow fort in the living room or your office where they can play.
  • Setting out picture books, board books or simple puzzles they can explore on their own.
  • Covering the kitchen table with an old tablecloth and breaking out the (washable) art supplies.

Older kids may be able to come up with things to do themselves, like baking brownies or reading. And if all else fails, you can make your work time their chore time. 

You can be productive, they’re not complaining about having nothing to do and maybe you get out of folding the laundry to boot. It’s a win all the way around. 🙂

Take Breaks 

Taking breaks when you work from home is important for two reasons.

First off, sitting down all day? It’s not great for your health. 

And two, building breaks into your day gives you a chance to connect with your kids if they’re home with you.

If they’re in the middle of an activity, ask them how it’s going or if they need any help. Offer them a snack. Give them a hug. Take a 10-minute walk around the block. 

They’re little things but to a child, they can feel huge. So make breaks a regular part of your work from home day.

And try to plan in some longer breaks too. 

Make weekends family-only time. If that’s not doable, try to keep work activities to a minimum on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Take a family vacation together and leave your laptop at home. If that’s not an option, try a staycation instead and unplug from work for a few days.

You get time with your kids and hopefully, you can come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in to your busy mom life. 

Have Dedicated Kid Time

My kids know that most days, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. is a no-work zone for me. During that time, we read out loud together, bake, homeschool, walk the dogs, watch movies, play board games — whatever they’re in the mood for.

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As you shape your work from home routine, see where you can pencil in some kid time. Bonus points if you have more than one child and you can spend focused time with each of them every day.

So what should you do with that time? 

For me, simple is better. Take an interest in what they’re interested in. Ask questions. Let them teach you something. Just play. It’s not supposed to be complicated. 

And when it’s kid time, make sure distractions don’t have room to creep in.

Silence your phone or better yet, leave it in another room. Unless your time involves watching a movie or tv show together, turn it off.

Put your work worries on the backburner and give your kids your undivided attention. 

Get Comfortable With Imperfection

As work from home moms, here’s a hard truth that a lot of us struggle with: we can’t do it all. And if we try to, something usually falls through the cracks and then we end up feeling guilty about it. 

But you just have to do the best you can for your business and your kids each day. 

Will your business grow as fast as you’d like? Maybe not. But your kids will grow faster than you think. 

So don’t try to be perfect. Instead, use these tips to manage working from home with being a mom so you don’t miss out on time with your kids.