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Staying Productive When Working from Home with Kids

Work-from-home parents can stay productive by occupying kids with age-appropriate activities that take the focus off them, while setting structure for the other members of the household.

Working from home doesn’t always mean waking up late, spending the day in your pajamas, and calling into Zoom meetings. As any parent knows, your kids can become a distraction to your productivity with constant demands, tantrums, and accidents.

If you’re wondering how to keep yourself on task without worrying about what your kids are getting up to, schedule activities to occupy your kids and tactics for your own peace of mind.

Activities for Your Kids

Your children may or may not be able to understand why you aren’t always available to them right away. You can try to explain why you’re busy and provide them an idea of when you’ll be available.

If all else fails, set them up with a distraction that can give you an hour to finish a task and then get back to them.

Three Years & Under

  • Let your toddler smash on an old keyboard, so they feel like they’re “working” alongside you.
  • Set them up with a live stream from your local zoo or aquarium, so they can get some educational screen time.
  • Provide basic craft supplies, like chalk, canvas, and cardboard boxes, so they can go wild without making a mess.

Four to Seven

  • Inspire them to create a performance for you from their favorite hobbies including dancing, music, or storytelling.
  • Borrow books, music, and movies digitally from your local library with apps like Libby or OverDrive.
  • Give them a mission, like organizing their toys or checking that all the doors in the house are locked.

Eight to Twelve

  • Plan virtual playdates with their friends where they can talk and play a game through video.
  • Find readings or videos of their favorite authors reading some books. Many times, these are free!
  • Give them an art project they can do on their own, like creating toilet paper roll animals or tissue paper flowers.

Productivity Tips for You

Staying focused when you have distractions around you is tough, but it is your responsibility to plan appropriately and take charge of the situation.

Set Expectations

Talk to the relevant people in your life about what’s on your plate. Whether it’s talking to your spouse about trading shifts to entertain the kids or letting your managers know that there are some new limitations when working from home, being transparent is helpful for everyone.

Set expectations for yourself, too — be honest about how much you can realistically get done with kids around.

Create Structure

Maintaining a structure is important for yourself and your kids. It sets you up for success when there’s a routine that your children know to follow. For younger kids, a checklist with chores, projects, and tasks is fun to cross off.

Older kids do well with independent learning when you make things fun. Give them a theme and assignment for the week and you’ll be astounded with their creativity.

Practice Self Care

Making sure you focus on your mental health is critical to staying productive. Take the time to make a cup of coffee, go for a run, or have a bath allows you a short break from work and your kids — resulting in higher productivity once you get back to it.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

All of these tips are great ways to stay sane when your whole family is cooped up together, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your children’s schools to see what they offer or ask other members of your family to jump on a call to entertain your kids for a little while. Reach out to other parents for more ideas and use these tools to keep everyone happy.

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