While working remotely can be a tremendous blessing, it’s also the ultimate juggling act. On the one hand, your children need your full, undivided attention. On the other, that task list is not going to complete itself. Something has to give, and managing that perfect balance can be exhausting. But how do you boost productivity when working from home with kids?
5 Easy Ways to Boost Productivity When Working from Home with Kids
As a work-at-home mom of almost five years, I am intimately familiar with these challenges. Here are some quick tips you can use to help you work at home with kids productively and, most importantly, without sacrificing precious time with them.
Time Block Your Tasks in the Morning
How you spend your first working hour can make or break your day. So, use the first fifteen minutes of it to plan.
I like to use a scheduling method called “time blocking.”
To time block, you divide your task list into small chunks. A monthly/daily/hourly planner is a great visual tool to do this. When you’re up to your eyeballs in diapers and fruit snacks, this visual representation of your to-do list can help you focus.
Schedule your top three tasks during your most productive times. Most people are more productive in the morning. If that’s you, schedule your most crucial tasks during this time.
However, if you work better at night, adjust your schedule to your needs. Knowing and accepting your natural biorhythms can dramatically increase your task efficiency.
One final tip: be generous and flexible with your time blocks. As moms, we’re constantly putting out fires. Adding extra time to your schedule reduces stress and allows you to plan more effectively.
Invest in Activities Rather Than Toys
My children practice “independent playtime” while I complete low-level tasks.
Independent play time fosters your child’s creativity and developmental skills and releases you from the guilt of working during your child’s waking hours.
The key to a successful independent play session is finding the right activities. Not toys. Toys can become tedious, inanimate objects very quickly.
Nine times out of ten, my children gravitate toward a bucket full of rice over a toy. They love getting their hands dirty and digging into new, exciting things.
Focus on low-prep, hands-on activities. Kinetic sand, sensory bins, puzzles, and sandboxes are just a few of my favorite go-to’s. If you’ve tried all these and are fresh out of ideas, I have discovered many sensory activities at some of my favorite mom blogs.
Be Smart About Screen Time
Let’s be honest. Television can be a perfect short-term babysitter when you need to concentrate on a specific task. However, less is more. Since it loses its magic the more you use it, I recommend using screen time sparingly.
Experts recommend limiting screen time to about an hour a day. Make that hour count. I like to use it for completing tasks that require my full attention (like writing an important email) or wrapping up one of my high-priority tasks. I do not recommend beginning a crucial task during screen time because there’s a higher likelihood of being interrupted.
When you use screen time, try to play educational shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Sid the Science Kid, Mickey’s Clubhouse, or even Blippi. These shows focus on building vocabulary, early math skills, and preserving your child’s attention span.
Plan Your One-on-One Time
Mom guilt can be particularly sharp if you work at home with kids. There’s something about constantly splitting your attention between your children and work that makes you question whether or not you’re doing enough for them.
That’s why I am a huge fan of scheduling playtime. Now, this might sound a little strict but hear me out.
Planning intentional, one-on-one playtime gives my little ones something to look forward to, ensures that I don’t spend all day dividing my attention, and alleviates mom guilt. When your playtime is on the schedule, you know you’ve spent quality time with your kids.
Interestingly enough, I’ve found that my children are much more likely to enjoy themselves independently when they know I’m taking them to the park afterward. I’ve also noticed that my girls play better after our one-on-one time.
I always try to block out at least an hour. Your activity should not be Pinterest-worthy, but it should be screen-free. No phones, no work emails, and playtime with the kiddos.
Aside from alleviating mom guilt, blocking out playtime also ensures that the problem-solving side of your brain takes a break. Believe it or not, breaks increase your productivity.
Schedule Time for You
On that note, it’s also essential to schedule periods of rest.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but when you pencil in some downtime for yourself, you’re much more likely to be productive. According to Psychology Today, breaks minimize decision fatigue, mental blocks, and overwhelm.
The fact is, our brain needs rest. It needs time to process everything that has happened during work and problem-solve in the background.
Remember, self-care isn’t just about kicking back. It’s an essential function–just like eating or sleeping. You’re not as emotionally equipped to respond to your children’s needs if burned out.
Any break is excellent, but research suggests that movement and relaxing activities are best. You are reading, exercising, journaling, gardening…those kinds of things. If you can, try to avoid scrolling through social media. Some studies show that social media stresses you out more.
What Are Your Tips to Boost Productivity when Working from Home with Kids?
Working from home with kids will never be easy, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste your productivity. The tips above have been essential to my success (and sanity) as a work-at-home mom. I hope you found them helpful as well!
Do you have any great productivity tips for working at home with children? Let us know below!