Working from home with children

Working from home with children

Have you ever tried to do a full day of work with the children underfoot? It can be a real challenge, and very stressful as you try to juggle deadlines with wanting to give your child the attention they deserve. After all, no one wants to plonk their child down in front of the TV all day long.

But there are ways you can manage to get the most out of your work day while also caring for your child – and it can be done guilt-free too!

Have a set work schedule – Kids cope better when there is a routine in place. If they know your work hours, then there will be no surprises when mummy has to stop playing and needs to sit down at the desk for a while. A strict routine will ensure less tantrums and the children will understand that when you do have a scheduled break, they will get your undivided attention.

Have a definite finish time – and stick to it! This one is for your sanity as much as anything else.

When your home is also your office it can be very easy to fall into a habit of working on and off all through dinner prep, bed time routines and weekends. Not having a clear ‘knock-off’ time that office workers have – where you stand up, take your bag and leave the office – means the lines can be blurred between work-time and mummy-time. If you find yourself saying ‘I’ll just send out a quick email’ on your way to running the bath for the kids, stop yourself right there. Downtime and switching off are very important for all mothers, and it will make you able to focus more when you next sit down at your desk.

Have a designated work space – The reason for this is similar to the two points above. When you are ‘at work’ it needs to be a defined and serious boundary for you and for the children. Everyone will soon learn that when you are at your work desk, it means you are not to be disturbed. But when you step away, you are free to chat and play. It will also help your mind switch over to work-mode if you keep a special space just for your work needs.

Otherwise, if you are sitting on the couch with your laptop while the kids are running around you, you’ll be distracted by them … and also by the big pile of laundry you can see out of the corner of your eye.

Kid-free time – Let’s be honest, no matter how well-behaved your children are and how well they entertain themselves, you’ll always need a bit of child-free time to get some work done.

There are a few ways you can manage this: You can set the alarm super-early and get up before the rest of the family, you can rely on naptimes if your children are still at a day-napping age or you can go to bed late.

The problem is, these solutions won’t work all of the time. You might end up needing that pre-breakfast time to organise the household for the day, or by the end of the day you might be so wrecked that you can’t do anything but stare at the TV. And you can guarantee that if you are up against a tight deadline, your once Olympic-grade-sleeper will suddenly drop naps altogether.

This is where some hired help can save the day. A great option is to get a casual babysitter in. On the weeks where you know you’ll really be swamped by the demands of work, you could set it up in advance for them to come in a few hours each day. Alternatively, if work is consistently busy but you like the idea of keeping the kids close by, you could look into hiring a nanny. A live in nanny can be the perfect solution when your kids are at an age where they need to be taken to activities and sports, but you are unable to ferry them around because of work. This way, you get your work done and your kids don’t miss out on anything either!

Plan activities in advance – Each Sunday, as you prepare the family for the week ahead – meal planning and shopping, clothes washing etc – put aside some time to think up some activities for the young ones to do while you are working.

If you come up with some new and exciting activities for them each week, you might be amazed at how much time you can buy to get some work done.

Keep the ideas simple, such as a dress up box, colouring in activities, playdoh with some rolling pins or setting up a painting easel outside – within view of your desk. This way the kids will get to have loads of fun and use their imaginations while you finally finish that report you’ve been working on.