Working from home sounds like a dream – until you’re five minutes from your deadline and getting pelted with Nerf darts. The reality is that working from home with kids isn’t easy. And no one can juggle everything 100 percent of the time. There will be things you need to work around. Admit that and you’ll be on your way to boosting work productivity. Here are five tips boost work productivity with the kids around:
1. Divide your time purposefully
If you can spare an hour or two to spend with your kids, do so. During that time, give them your full attention. Plan a morning activity, get some work done, and then play for a few minutes again after lunch. When your kids are acting out during the day, it’s usually because they’re struggling to get your attention. It’s not entirely their fault. They need it.
But if you can choose when to shower them with attention, you’ll probably get more work done. This isn’t to say they’ll leave you to work the rest of the day, but it’s definitely more likely.
2. Consider hiring a mother’s helper
If you have the budget, consider hiring someone to watch your kids while you work. You’ll typically spend less on a mother’s helper than a babysitter or nanny because you’ll still be there to supervise and help when necessary. Look for students or retired moms in your area to fill this position. You can also place an ad on Care.com to find someone experienced.
You may find that the extra work you can get done during the day will pay for the added expense. This is especially true if you’re a freelancer, independent contractor or get paid by the hour. And as a bonus, you’ll get to keep more of your precious sanity when you have a little help.
3. Keep a work space
If you have a home office, work there. If not, designate an area of one room where you work. Either way, this space should be a relatively kid-free zone. Of course, if you have an infant, you’ll be juggling work with the baby on your lap, so that’s an exception.
It will take some time for the kids to respect your space, but keep trying to enforce the rule. If your kids feel free to run into your space at any moment, you’re just asking for interruptions. You’ll also need that kid-free space to keep your home office as a tax deduction, so there’s another incentive.
4. Invest in good coffee When you have little ones, interrupted sleep is a way of life. That’s probably why most of us moms need coffee to function.
But when you’re drinking more coffee than water, it’s time to upgrade your morning cup. Better quality coffee may not contain more caffeine, but it is less likely to give you the jitters.
It’s kind of like how cheap wine is more likely to give you a hangover; cheap coffee is more likely to leave you with negative side effects.
When you’re looking for a good quality cup, pay attention to more than price. Expensive doesn’t always equate to better quality. Find a single-origin coffee that was roasted recently. This means buying from a local roaster or boutique coffee retailer. If possible, buy coffee beans whole and grind them yourself. You’ll always get a fresher cup this way.
When you’re already running on fumes, little things make a big difference.
5. Keep your kids on a schedule
Most kids function best when they have some sort of routine. So try to keep your kids on a schedule. They should eat breakfast at the same time each day, and then make time for things like outside play, arts and crafts, music and dance. When they know what they should be doing, they’re less likely to get into trouble with things they shouldn’t be doing.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any foolproof plans that will work 100 percent of the time. Even with the best intentions, you’ll have good days and bad days. But if you work at a routine and set boundaries, you’ll get more work done overall and the kids will be happier. It’s a win-win (mostly).
What are your best tips for getting work done while your kids are at home?
Vice Bean Coffee
Christina is a work-at-home mom and founder of Vice Bean Coffee. While she’s sipping on a fresh-roasted latte, you’ll find her writing about things like the work-life balance.