Wondering how to get all your work done and make sure your kids are still alive at the end of the day?
I hear you!
I’ve been working from home full time for a couple years but my daughter was always at daycare or in preschool.
I had no idea how ingrained my routines and habits had become until my little buddy was upending every single one of them.
Having my daughter home all day forced me to stop and rethink all the routines I had established.
I’m not one of those moms with a perfectly decluttered house that’s spotlessly clean every day.
And I admit that the clean laundry pile is taller than it should be.
But working from home was like a winning lottery ticket to me and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
I tested out a lot of ways to balance being a full-time working mom with the unexpected challenges that come from working remotely.
It takes a different set of skills to manage the flexibility and freedom that comes with working from home.
And it takes a WHOLE ‘NOTHER set of skills to manage working from home with children.
I’m sharing my top sure fire tips for surviving working at home with kids to help you survive and get to the weekend with some of your sanity left.
9 Sure Fire Ways to Survive Working at Home with Kids
1. Create a Morning Routine
Create a morning routine is my number one recommendation for surviving working at home with kids.
No matter what age your children are or what time they wake up having a regular morning routine helps everyone start the day on a good foot.
When everyone knows what to expect each morning there is no need for arguing, nagging or negotiation.
Teeth Brushed? Check
Bed Made? Check
Awesome! Now go have a fun day.
My preschooler prefers to lounge in her pjs till mid-morning and I’m okay with that.
If you aren’t then add everyone getting dressed as part of your daily morning routine.
It might take a week or two but your crazy crew will get used to having a morning routine and will start to implement it without all the fussing.
But if the struggle is really hard, try using a behavior or reward chart until they get the hang of it.
You can download my super simplified behavior chart for kids and moms if you don’t have a reward chart that works for you.
Your morning routine is just as important as your kids’ morning routine.
For example, my morning routine includes me getting out of bed earlier then my family.
I wasn’t always a morning person.
Once I taught myself to wake up earlier, I fell in love with being able to work during quiet mornings.
Waking up early is a part of my work from home schedule that I’ve maintained even with my daughter at home.
Not sure you can get up early?
Check out my morning routine and then give it try yourself.
2. Eat Lunch Together
You need to eat lunch.
Your kids need to eat lunch.
One of the special things about everyone being home together is that you can eat lunch together.
We all know family dinner time is important for children and now you can eat lunch together too.
Lunch as a family doesn’t have to be every day.
But try to pick which day(s) of the week you will regularly eat together so your child can look forward to it and the extra time with your attention focused on them.
If your child is old enough you can even assign them to make lunch one day a week.
An important part of family lunch is making sure that you leave your phone on the charger.
Turn on your email or text auto reply if you need to.
If a work conflict is unavoidable on a family lunch day, make sure you make up the lost time during afternoon snack or another time block that you focus exclusively on your child or children.
Lunch with Mommy will become one of their and your favorite memories of their time at home all day with you.
3. Master the Instant Post and Air Fryer
I have to admit… I’m a slow adopter of kitchen gadgets.
It took me awhile to befriend our Instant Pot and Air Fryer but now we use them all the time!
The return on my investment of time learning to use Instant pot has been totally worth it. I’ve even got a pot Cuban black beans – adapted from this Cooking Light recipe – in my Instant Pot while I’m writing this.
Th Instant Pot I have is very similar to this one on Amazon. I love the saute in the pot feature.
The Air Fryer is fantastic for quick frying everything from thin pork chops to tater tots.
We also use it to heat up leftovers at lunch time.
Just toss the basket in the dishwasher for easy clean up! My husband picked us out this Air Fryer. Its very user friendly and easy to clean.
Three meals a day at home for your whole family is a lot.
Let your kitchen tools make things easier for you!
4. Use Habit Stacking to Keep Up with Toys and Chores
You know that painful feeling that happens when you step on barbie’s shoes or Legos?
With all the toys that had taken over our house my feet and sanity had finally enough!
I knew things HAD to change.
Then I remembered a book I’d listened to last year, Atomic Habits by James Clear (a book I didn’t want to like but ended up loving!)
I’d had success with a couple of theories discussed in the book and decided to try another one to address the uncontrollable toy tornado.
The theory I tried is called habit stacking.
If you haven’t heard the theory of habit stacking, basically you combine a new habit with an old habit to make it easier for the new one to stick.
I decided to stack evening toy clean up with turning on the bathtub.
Every night when I turn on the tub, I help my daughter clean up her toys until the bath is ready.
My daughter’s motivation is whatever time is left once the toys are put away she can watch TV until the bath is ready.
Not only has this habit stack worked surprisingly well, but my daughter is starting to realize that if she puts her toys away during the day that she has more time for TV before bath.
It’s a Win-Win for everyone.
I did start turning on the tub a few minutes early to give us a little longer to clean up without impacting the rest of her bedtime routine.
Mama, do what you need to do!
Stacking these two habits together has worked way better than I ever expected.
I encourage you to figure out what you can stack toy clean up with and then give it a real try for a couple weeks.
Your feet and sanity will thank you!
5. Daily Quiet Time for Your Kids
No matter what age your children are send them to their bedroom for at least one hour of quiet time every afternoon.
They can read books, play with their toys, nap or even pout.
What they do in there is up to them.
The goal is for everyone to have a little space away from each other every afternoon.
And for you Mom, you will have at least one hour each day you can accomplish things without being interrupted.
It might take a few days for your crew to get used to this new routine.
If you need to resort to rewards like M&M’s at afternoon snack – or whatever your kid’s currency is – for them to get used to it that’s ok.
You get rewarded with time to yourself – a small treat for you child is worth it!
We do at least 90 minutes of quiet time at my house. I use that time for work conference calls.
My colleagues have caught on that there is no little person interrupting our calls after lunch. Now they automatically schedule important calls in that time block.
6. Exercise Almost Everyday
I totally get it.
There’s no way you are going to be able to get a full workout in every day.
But make it a priority to get at least 10 minutes of exercise in almost every day.
Go for a walk, go for a run or do Cosmic Kids Yoga with your kids. Do whatever it takes.
Some days I push my daughter in the jogging stroller for 15 minutes, some days I walk beside her while she trys to learn to ride her bike and other days I sneak out for a 20-30minute walk with a favorite podcast.
And yes, some days all I do is Cosmic Kids Yoga Betsy the Banana.
Keeping your body moving is as important for your mental health as it is to burn off the extra treats you’ve been eating with your kids.
If you can’t carve out 20-30 minutes a day for exercises make it a priority to set aside 10-15 almost every day.
7. Outsource Help
Asking for help is a really hard one for me and maybe for you too.
But the reality is none of us is Superwoman. Mom, get yourself some help!
Working Mom, you MUST learn to outsource.
Sure, it might cost you a few dollars, but you will make that up by feeling less stress and having more time for your family.
Then try in Target Drive Up (make sure to check out my post about what to know before you try Target Drive Up.)
And then go big and find a neighborhood kid to watch your kid(s) for a few hours.
We are lucky that a wonderful teenager lives across the street from us. She is worth every penny of the eight hours a week she plays with my daughter.
If you aren’t that lucky make a couple phone calls, send a couple text to parents of teens or relatives
Even a couple hours of help on the weekend is better then no help at all.
You aren’t a bad mom for needing help.
You are good mom for allowing yourself time to fully focus on non-child things so you will have more focus for your children.
8. Make Peace with the Tablet and/or TV
I know screen time is a controversial topic. It’s something my husband and I still have disagreements about.
But working at home mom, if you want to keep your sanity while your kids are at home then you are going to need to make peace with television and/or tablet time.
What I love about my daughter’s Amazon Fire tablet is that I can control what she has accesses to.
I’m an NOT tech savvy and I was able to figure it out pretty easily.
Most of what she can access are educational games, books, PBS Kids, ABC Mouse and Nick Jr.
Nick Jr. & PBS Kids do have TV shows but sometimes we all need to veg out. And kids are no different.
I use the parental setting to limit the amount of time she has access to the tablet daily and then it’s the tablet’s fault when it turns off not mine.
If you don’t have a tablet yet and get one I highly recommend splurging for the extra memory. We didn’t and I regret it.
9. Grow a Very Small Vegetable Garden
Yes, really, plant a small vegetable garden in pots to survive working at home with your children.
I’m serious – hear me out!
There is something amazingly therapeutic about gardening.
Not only that but no one argues when you say
“I need to run outside for a minute to water or check on the tomato plants.”
Instant alone time!
The supplies you need to plant a very small vegetable garden in pots is
- A basil plant from the grocery store or home improvement store,
- a Cherry tomato plant from Home Depot, Lowes or your local garden store,
- a big bag of garden soil (any kind)
- a smallish pot for the basil,
- a larger pot & tomato cage for the tomato plant
- and a bag of veggie plant granulated fertilizer (any kind.)
When you get your small vegetable garden supplies home (or they are delivered – remember outsource!)
- Have your child help you fill the pots 3/4 of the way to the top with the dirt
- then dig a hole in the middle of the dirt
- Mom (or an older child) add a little fertilizer to the hole (I never measure just sprinkle some in)
- squeeze the plant out its pot and put into the hole
- add more garden soil around the stem of to the tomato plant (a couple inches if you have enough soil) and add the tomato cage.
- Then Mom (or an older child) you add a little fertilizer to the hole and transplant the plants.
Keep the plants in a sunny spot that you can easily reach with a garden hose.
That’s really all there is to it!
The trick is to grow small tomatoes. Cherry, grape or any small variety of tomato.
Then water them regularly and fertilize occasionally.
Small tomatoes like cherry and grape are more likely yield a lot of tomatoes that can be picked often.
And kids LOVE to pick vegetables.
In addition to your tomato plant being a good excuse for you to escape outside for a few minutes, your children will also get to learn very valuable lessons.
From patience waiting for the tomatoes to grow and ripen to the joy that comes from growing your own food.
Not to mention the memories they will make doing this activity with you.
As for the basil plant, I included it because what goes better with fresh tomatoes then fresh basil? And according to many gardening books tomatoes and basil are considered companion growing plant so I always keep them next to each other.
Tomatoes love Basil.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention according to Plato and I totally agree with that especially when you are a working mom at home trying to keep you sanity!
But the good news is you don’t have to spend time and mental energy trying to come up with ways to make it work.
With these 9 Surefire Ways to Survive Working at Home with Your Kids you can easily create new routines for your family that will help your maintain your sanity:
- Create a Morning Routine
- Eat Lunch Together
- Master the Instant Pot & Air Fryer
- Use Habit Stacking to Keep Up with Toys and Chores
- Daily Quiet Time for Your Kids
- Exercise Almost Everyday
- Outsource Help
- Make Peace with the TV &/or Tablet
- Grow a Very Small Vegetable Garden
And if I were to add a 10th tip, at bedtime I encourage you to ask your children what their favorite part of the day was.
I bet you’ll be surprised by their answers and feel a lot less guilty about how the day went.