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3 Keys to Working from Home with Young Kids

These tips on working from home when you have young kids are shared by the Co-Authors of Parenting while Working from Home.

How do you manage multiple responsibilities that all seem to be truly needing your attention at the same time?

How do you make plans, meet deadlines, and stay productive when you never know what any given day will bring?

How do you avoid feeling like you are falling short in every aspect of your life?

I certainly don’t have all of those answers, but I do have certain strategies that have helped me personally over my last decade of working from home with young kids.

Picture of white woman at laptop with young child playing with toys at desk next to her and picture of Black mom holding baby while working on laptop with text in between pictures that reads 3 Tips For Working at Home With Kids.

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How to Work at Home With Young Kids

1. Manage Responsibilities

One of the keys of working from home with young kids is getting really clear on your priorities on any given day. You no longer have the luxury of wasting time.

This doesn’t mean that you should be doing something every second of every day, but it does mean that you should be purposeful in all of your choices.

Think through your to do lists for work, the kids, the house, and yourself. What has to happen on any given day? On my best days, I am very intentional about what needs to happen throughout that day (not that week or month… just that day).

I include every little detail on that list because even though taking a shower seems trivial, it takes time out of my day!

I include my kids on my to do list and will often have a bullet point with something like, “chat with the kids,” “do a science experiment,” “play LEGO for 20 minutes,” or “go outside.”

Happy Black family sitting on the floor together and playing with colorful blocks.

I include those types of items on my list because they are important! And when the days get really busy, I need a concrete item to stop me and give me a much-needed break.

Instead of tuning out and scrolling through my phone for 20 minutes, I can do something more purposeful with my time – like take a shower or enjoy some quality time with my kids.

I also try to avoid busy work at all costs. I put my time and effort into things that will really move the needle. I prioritize work tasks that will bring me the biggest results, and I try not to get caught up in the smaller things that I could be doing at any given moment.

Think through your to do list and think ahead to a month from now… if you didn’t do any of those items on your list, which ones would have a negative consequence?

Now you know what to prioritize!

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2. Make Routines

Karissa (my co-author and partner for shared her top tip for managing responsibilities a few years back, and it has helped me so much ever since.

The concept is simple – she has work days, house days, and family days.

On work days, the main focus for that day is work tasks. My kids still get taken care of, but I don’t feel guilty about staring at my computer for most of the day and giving my kids extra screen time.

White mom working on laptop at the table with young child sitting next to her with toys all over table.

On house days, the priority is whipping the house into shape! I will throw in one load of laundry after the next, do some deep cleaning, and have the kids pitch in to help.

And on family days, quality time with each other is the priority! The dirty dishes can sit in the sink, and the emails can go unanswered while we focus on doing something fun together and creating memories.

The beauty of this concept is that you don’t have to find a perfect balance within each and every day. The goal is to find a good work life balance across the course of a week (or even a month).

It is much more manageable this way, and you will be able to stay productive!

I also like to try to create routines instead of rigid schedules for me and my family. I used to try planning out my days hour by hour, but I would inevitably get frustrated when that schedule was ruined.

Life with kids is chaotic and unpredictable!

You never know what the day will bring so we have to get used to going with the flow a bit more as parents. There is no “powering through” with a fussy toddler!

Instead, we can seek to create routines that meet our families needs. These routines should match your family’s natural rhythms, and they will likely need to change as your kids grow into new stages of life.

White dad sitting on floor with two daughters smiling and drawing.

But just because life seems to be ever-changing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to create some structure. Our kids thrive on knowing what’s next, and so do we!

Try to think outside the box when creating your own routines. If your job allows you flexible hours, then use that to your advantage.

When are you most productive?

When are your kids happiest to play independently?

When do you have outside support so that you can get away and get some focused work done? And how can you incorporate all of this into your routines? 

3. Minimize the Guilt

You are doing a good job. Do you know how I know that? Because the simple fact that you are reading this article means that you are trying.

You care about your family and your career, and that alone tells me that you’re doing a good job.

The parent guilt is very real, and some days will always be worse than others. But when it feels really crushing, I find that it helps to zoom out and reflect on the bigger picture…

  • Scroll through the photos on your phone, bask in your kids’ smiles, and remember all of the fun adventures that you’ve had together.
  • Go back through your email inbox and take notice of just how much you’ve done in the past few months.
  • Compile a list of your recent wins – both big and little. Give yourself credit for all that you’ve accomplished!

Sometimes when we are feeling the most frustrated, we need that reminder that we are moving forward. We are accomplishing amazing things. We aren’t stuck in time.

Those are important things to highlight in our lives because parenting and working from home are often thankless jobs. We work all day long without any outside recognition.

Smiling Black mom holding sleeping baby while working on laptop.

No one gives you a raise for soothing a tantruming toddler right before an important work call. We don’t have coworkers to vent to in the middle of a crazy day, or anyone to lend a helping hand on a particularly difficult day.

So with all of those things considered, we shouldn’t be making our own lives more difficult by feeling guilty on top of it all! We need to try our best on any given day, but “our best” varies from day to day.

Your mind won’t be as sharp after the baby was up with an earache all night. And you won’t be as patient with your kids when you have a tough work deadline looming.

But that’s okay… it will all balance out.

If we can approach each day with flexibility, perspective, and priorities, then we’ll get through just fine. And the more that you practice these concepts and ways of thinking, the easier it will become.

While working from home with young kids looks very different from family to family, you can find ways to make it work for you!

Looking for more on this topic? We wrote an entire book about it!

Parenting while Working from Home: A Monthly Guide to Help Parents Balance Their Careers, Connect with Their Kids, and Establish Their Inner Strength is now available for purchase.

Parenting While Working From Home hardcover book standing up on white background.

Parenting experts and founders of the popular website, Adore Them Parenting, Karissa Tunis and Shari Medini share actionable tips, heartfelt insight, and planning strategies to help you enjoy your own parenting journey while working from home.

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