Working from home while your kids are home with your kids is not easy! I have done it for several years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two. Working part time while managing kids is hard, but if you are trying to work full time, I really feel for you. Yes, it’s hard. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, it’s just hard. Give yourself lots and lots of grace. These ideas will help, but they won’t be the magical wand that suddenly turns you into super mom and enables you to do everything. Here are some tips I’ve learned about managing life as a stay at home/work from home mom.
But first, do you need some ideas for independent activities to have your kids do when they complain that they’re bored? Get your free boredom busters checklist below!
Tips for Managing Life as a Stay at Home/Work From Home Mom
1. Plan the night before.
You may want to have a few very simple activities planned and prepared and have a general routine planned for the next day. Prep a snack basket so your kids can be as independent as possible. You can even make lunches and stash them in the fridge so your kids can get those for themselves when they are hungry.
2. Set a designated “wake up time” for your kids.
You may want to give them the option of getting a book to read in bed or another acceptable quiet activity to do in their room if they wake up before the designated time. Enforce it. It may take some practice, but once there’s a set time that you know your “mom job” starts, it can be a lot easier to plan your time.
3. Set your own wake up time.
Get up before your kids and get your day started well. Read your Bible. Drink your coffee. Take a shower. Depending on how early you’re able to get up, you may be able to get some work done before they get up.
4. Connect first.
When they wake up, give them your undivided attention for at least 10-20 minutes. Engage. Connect. Affirm them. Cuddle. Ask them how they slept. Ask them if they had any dreams. Tell them you love them. Tell them something specific that you love about them or that you’re proud of them for. Fill their little love tanks. They will be much more likely to let you get work done if you have connected with them first.
It’s also a good practice to give them 10-15 minutes of your undivided attention midday, and then spend some time connecting with them when your work day is over.
Related Post: 16 Ways to Fill Your Child’s Love Tank
5. Have a simple routine planned that works for your family.
You will have to tweak this until you get it right – you can’t expect to use any one else’s routine as the magical formula for YOUR family. You can take ideas from other people, but you are going to have to figure out what suits you.
6. Designated “work time” – work for you, school for them.
If your children are school age and doing school work at home, you want to put that at the time of day where they will be in the best frame of mind to focus.
This may be right after breakfast, or it may be a little later in the day.
It’s different for everyone.
Figure out when that will be for you.
If your assistance is needed, try to do it promptly. You may be able to set up a work space for them next to a work space for you so that you’re there to answer any questions they have.
This may work for you, or it may go horribly and you may not get any work done (‘cause let’s be real… not all jobs lend themselves to having a kid sitting next to you).
If it does NOT work for you to do work while they do school work, help them get their school work done first. Incentivize the heck out of it. Whether it’s a sticker chart or a marble jar or “mom bucks” – give them an incentive to stay focused. Tell them what you expect clearly and make your expectations appropriate for their age.
For example: “We are going to work on this math assignment. I need your full attention for X minutes and I need you to give me your best effort. If you do that, you will earn ______.”
Related Post: 8 Tips for New Homeschooling Moms
7. Have an arts and crafts time.
You can set up SIMPLE activities in advance, or just pull out a few of the less messy craft supplies you have (crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks) and explain the activity. Give them freedom to work on it. Clearly explain the expectations before hand and set a timer so they know how long they need to stay at the arts and craft station.
I find it helpful to put some music on during this time as well and let them know they can dance or do another independent activity after they’ve finished with their arts and crafts.
Using Art hub for kids videos is another great thing to do during this time.
8. Set up centers.
Pull out 4 or 5 activities and set them up in centers around the room.
I like to include things like a book center, a building center (with legos or magnatiles), a fine motor center (handwriting pages, drawing, using an age appropriate activity book, etc.),puzzles, a toy or toys that they don’t play with often, etc…
Tell them that for the next 30-60 minutes they need to occupy themselves with the materials provided.
If you need other ideas for independent activities that will keep your kids busy without too much oversight on your part, grab this list of boredom buster ideas!
9. Set up pretend play scapes.
Pull out things to spark creativity. I like to pull out things like maps, notebooks, a back pack, and play binoculars and tell them to pretend like they are embarking on an expedition. They have to decide where they’re going and play pretend with it.
You can pull out a doctor costume and set up a mini hospital in your child’s room and have them treat their stuffed animal “patients.”
You can set up a pretend restaurant or store…etc.
10. Implement Rest Time
Your kids may be too old for naps, but enforce a quiet time where they have to read books or listen to audio book. It will be good for everyone’s sanity. Another option is to enforce room time where they are required to play in their rooms quietly so you can get work done.
11. Use screen time wisely.
I’m sure there are moms out there who manage to work from home and never use screens to occupy their children, but I’m not that mom.
I’m here to tell you that your kids brain will not melt if they get some screen time here or there. HOWEVER, there are lots of really awesome educational shows and videos on youtube. I love to teach my kids about a topic and then have them watch some shows related to the topic (because it makes me feel better if I can say that their screen time was part of “school” for the day).
There’s also some great Bible shows on youtube and Amazon Prime, surprisingly enough. (My kids love Bible Adventures and Connect HQ by LifeKids).
12. Involve your kids in household tasks and cooking dinner.
If your children are young, like mine, they won’t be able to do these independently, but they love to feel like they’re helping. Let’s be real, that makes it take longer and can be stressful so it’s not something that I do every time, but if I can tell my kids are needing some connection with me but I need to cook dinner, I let them help.
Final tips about being a work from home, stay at home mom…
It’s not easy. It’s tiring. It’s chaotic. It’s messy. You have to give yourself grace. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Do the best you can. You’ve got this!