6 Simple Steps for Successfully Working from Home (with kids in the mix)

Mom working on computer with daughter leaning against her with text how to work from home with kids around

Working from home can be quite a challenge when you add kids to the equation. The day my baby girl turned 3 months old was the day I went back to work. Yes, I was only working part time from home…but, back to work is back to work and the life of absorbing sweet baby cuddles all day was gone. Even though we had a trusted nanny, I quickly realized that I was unprepared for working from home with our baby nearby. I felt blessed to be able to work with my baby close, but hadn’t realized some of the challenges that would come with it.  Each year, the number of remote workers increases.  Here are six simple steps for successfully working from home (with kids in the mix)

1) Set a schedule

Before kids, I was primarily concerned with my customer’s needs. I had a lot of flexibility with my time and so if they needed to meet at a specific time when I hadn’t planned on working, I could usually accommodate their need. Since having kids, I have found that a schedule is a cornerstone to my success. It allows me to be fully present when I’m working and fully present with my kids when I’m not working. It enables me to organize consistent childcare. Also, it allows me to plan around the organization and/or family needs such as critical meetings or preschool pick-ups. On the other hand, I’ve had friends that worked from home but did not set schedules.   They felt pulled from both ends, with their work contacting them at all hours (literally day and night) and not feeling like they were able to fulfill their family needs. A set schedule provides boundaries that are ultimately helpful to you, your family and your colleagues.

2) Secure childcare

If at all possible, get help while you are working. A daycare, babysitter, nanny, or family member(s) are all possible options. We found that a nanny was the best option for us. This allowed me to have maximum time with the kids when I wasn’t working. We only have her during the hours that I work, but her presence allows me to fully focus on work during my set times. (see my post on How to Find the Perfect Nanny) I’ve also found that back up services are important if your daycare is closed for a professional development day or your nanny/babysitter can’t make it to work. When we’re in a pinch, we have a go-to list of backup help we can contact.

desk with computer, notepads, pens, and coffee cup
3) Office Space 

Create a separate office space with a door and ideally a lock. I have an office on our main floor, but my husband, who also works out of the home, has an office in our guest bedroom in the basement. We’ve both found that we need a dedicated space for our professional lives. A place where we can shut the door when we’re on a call, keep important supplies or work documents. We try to implement an open door policy so that our kids know they can pop in if it’s open. If you don’t have a lock on your door, some of the time a closed door isn’t enough of a barrier to your toddler. You may remember the BBC News contributor whose kids walked in while he was being interviewed for a news update in the Spring 2017 [video] or the spoof of a mom in the same situation [video]. Bottom line, a dedicated space is a plus…if you have toddlers/preschoolers, a lock is a HUGE PLUS!

4) Right tools and resources

If you’re working from home for a company that provides your equipment like my husbands does, this may not be much of a consideration. On the other hand, if you’re independently employed like I am, the responsibility falls on you to make sure you have the technology and tools you need. In my line of work, a good Internet connection, reliable computer, North American Telephone line or Cellular service, and online meeting capabilities, are critical. If you don’t have these basics taken care of, a lot of time can be wasted.

5) Self-care

It’s easy to get in a rut of wearing yoga pants, putting your hair in a knot, and not getting fully ready for the day. This becomes even more challenging when you have one or more kids in the mix. I’ve found that I feel better when I get dressed, do my hair and make-up, and am prepared for the day. Even things like making sure you stand and walk a little bit are critical when you work from home. Depending on your job, it’s easy to keep your face in the computer and not take a break. But, it’s critical for your mental and physical health to do things like you would if you were in an office. Stand up…go get some water, walk a little bit to get the blood flowing. Even taking your office to Starbucks on occasion can be a great mental stimulant. 🙂

6) Develop Community

When I was physically in an office with other colleagues, I had a sense of community. We would grab a coffee or go to lunch, share our lives with each other. This was more difficult once I started working from home. It’s important to figure out how you’ll connect with other professionals. It can be by going into the office on occasion, making small talk before or after a meeting, connecting via Instant Messenger, by joining a professional organization, or even by networking with other people that work from home in your neighborhood. Relationships are important and can help stimulate you personally and professionally. Remember, this is your “adult time” …time when you’re not fully focused on the kids and get to relate to other adults.

These six simple steps are not rocket science. They may be fairly intuitive, but perhaps something you haven’t given a lot of thought. If you find yourself working from home with kids around, be sure to set a work schedule, secure childcare if possible, and create a consistent location to do your work.  In addition to making sure you have the right tools and resources, make self-care and community a priority.   If you have the benefit of working from home, employ these 6 steps to make it simply successful!

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Comments

  1. Kristenn says

    October 9 at 5:18 am

    I love your blog! And I’m seriously taking down notes from what you’ve written. I’m a new mom and also WAHM. Will definitely need this guide when my baby starts walking lol!

    • Melissa @ Our Happy Hive says

      October 9 at 10:02 pm

      Awe! Thanks so much Kristenn! I sincerely appreciate your feedback! I hope your transition goes well. It’s fun to work at home with your kids around and a little prep goes a long way – helping you to balance both work and family!

  2. Jen via Jennibearrxo.com says

    October 23 at 2:54 pm

    Love this! I don’t have kids yet, but I definitely can relate because I work from home and have an 11 week husky pup who needs supervision 24/7 or else he gets himself into trouble lol. I couldn’t agree more with how important it is to create a schedule, find child (or in my case, dog) care, and have a special office space of your own. Awesome post Melissa! 🙂

    • Melissa @ Our Happy Hive says

      October 24 at 3:37 am

      I hear you…I feel like I’m mom to our fur baby too!!! Thanks for weighing in! 🙂

    • Melissa @ Our Happy Hive says

      October 24 at 3:28 pm

      I agree! That’s is important. We’ve turned a bedroom in our basement into a second office for when my husband works from home. Thanks for chiming in!

  3. Tannah says

    October 25 at 3:43 pm

    This is great! I work from home but tend to do it in the evenings, or during naptime when my little one is asleep. I also usually use my laptop and sit in the living room but really thinking maybe using my office and setting up the designated work area may be a good idea and more productive.

  4. Danielle Faith says

    December 30 at 4:25 pm

    I have no kids. However, I can definitely relate to setting a schedule. I recently fell out of having a schedule with the Holidays and I actually miss having my day scheduled.

  5. Tonya says

    December 31 at 1:34 am

    I almost couldn’t finish reading because of how cute those baby toes are!! I love baby feets! Haha! But yes, this is so important. Having kids in the mix is a big deal. Life gets a lot easier when you make sure you secure child care! Stuff happens!

  6. Marjie Mare says

    December 31 at 1:46 am

    I’ve been working from home for the past four years, and one tip that I can say you must have is self-discipline to avoid distraction and focus on your work.

  7. Stephanie says

    December 31 at 2:16 pm

    It’s not always easy to work from home with kids around, but both my husband and I have been doing it for over a year now. Setting a schedule has been the most important for all of us. We have an office that we share (it’s big because it’s technically the formal dining room in our house) but it doesn’t have doors which is the only thing we wish we really had to shut out the noise.

  8. Terri Beavers says

    December 31 at 4:55 pm

    This post came at a great time. I’m now working from home due to failed back surgery and I really need for this to be a successful venture. I’m going to try your tips and see if they’ll help me out.

    • Melissa @ Our Happy Hive says

      January 1 at 3:41 pm

      Terri – I hope you recover soon from your surgery and I hope these tips help with working from home!

  9. Robyn says

    January 2 at 5:41 am

    For me, while working at home I try to set a time and date that I want my project to be up. I always try to give myself the weekend off at least twice a month.

    • Melissa @ Our Happy Hive says

      January 2 at 5:16 pm

      I’m going to work on more balance in 2018 and make sure I take Sundays off from blogging. I don’t want to get burnt out!

  10. Lauren says

    January 2 at 3:50 pm

    GIRL YES!!! I have a few of these things in place as well so that I can work from home while also taking care of my home life and family as well. I have two employees and one of them also helps with the kids as well when I need it. It’s made all of the difference!

  11. Angela Cardamone @marathonsandmotivation.com says

    January 3 at 2:36 am

    These are all great tips! I work from home on my blog, but also work outside the home as a Nurse, I am always juggling something!!

  12. Ariel says

    January 4 at 5:08 pm

    These are great tips for working at home with kids. I love the part about self care. I am a firm believe in self care. I will have to remember these tips when I have children.

  13. Renata says

    January 17 at 3:18 pm

    Great advice! I’ve been a SAHM for 16 yrs and started working from home about 10 yrs ago. The 2 hardest things for me is setting a schedule (that we can stick too) and self care (time for me and only me).

  14. Tiffany says

    January 17 at 8:32 pm

    Unfortunately, in our current home, there isn’t a space that I can go to work, and get away from my kiddos, but I work mostly during nap time, so it has been okay so far. I have just recently started making sure that I get dressed every morning and it has made a huge difference! These are all great tips. It’s definitely a different animal when you work from home.

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