OK all you WAHM’s (and dad’s) out there!! This one is for you.
Did you know that studies have been done to show that stay at home and/or work at home parents are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than parents that work outside the home?
It’s sad, yes, but totally understandable… staying home with kids all day is not only physically exhausting, but it is mentally demanding as well. It is hard to be home all day, and see everything that needs to be done, but not have the time (or energy, let’s be real) to do it.
Then, if you manage to scrape together the time to do all of said things, you feel guilty about taking that time away from the kids!
If you are also working a job or business from home, it is that much harder, to find the time needed to accomplish everything that need to be done around the house, on top of your work tasks for your career… OH, and keep the kids alive and happy. There’s that too. 😉
The struggle is real.
The bad news is, I can’t take away ALL the stress for you. I wish I could tell you that I have some magical method, that will turn you into a giddy Mary Poppins creature, joyfully able to control and conquer her surroundings with perfect patience and grace.
But I don’t.
However, the good news is, I do have 15 tips to show you how to be productive when working from home, even with the crazies running around.
These are things that I have learned and implemented personally into my work-from-home schedule.
This blog post may contain affiliate links. These links provide me with a small percentage commission, with absolutely no extra cost to you.
1. Turn. Off. Your. Phone.
Turn that dang thing off and put it away!!
Ain’t’ no WAY you’re getting anything done with that thing on. We all know how social media can suck us in!
We be like… “Lemme’ just check Mr. Pinterest here REAL QUICK for some dinner ideas before I start work….” Then BAM… one hour later and were now “ooooo-ing” and “awe-ing” over gorgeous capsule wardrobes, UH-mazing Joanna Gaines style home décor, and fricken adorable chicken coop set-ups that must cost a fortune, all for chickens to just poop all over…
OK, maybe that last one is just me… but you get the idea!
TURN IT OFF.
2. Set designated work hours.
This is very important. Setting designated work hours will keep you on track, and will also help your kids know what to expect. Kids thrive on a routine. If they know that mom/dad works every day at so-and-so time, they will be much more likely to behave during those hours, than if you switch it up every day. Trust me.
It will also help you to get more done, in a shorter period, if you have specific hours set into place. Otherwise, you will be trying to squeeze things in here, there, and everywhere, and you may find that no real work is being accomplished.
3. Plan your day the night before. (or even days before, if you’re all organized like that!)
Get yourself a beautiful planner, and get your planning-skills on! Having a plan for the day ahead is CRUCIAL for a productive day at home with kids. I plan my days by the hour and sometimes even down to every half hour if it’s a really nutsy kind of day.
You will be shocked how much more you can get done if you aren’t running around in circles wondering what you should do next, and what things are worth spending your precious time on.
My all-time favorite planner is the Day Designer. It devotes one whole day to every page, (except the weekend shares a page) so you have PLENTY of room to write down everything that needs to get done throughout the day. It also allows you to create a to-do list, keep track of appointments, write out your goals and accomplishments, and much more.
I’d feel lost without my Day Designer. It is a huge reason why I am able to keep my life organized in the midst of chaos!
4. Carve out special time with your kids every single day.
This should be a given, but between making meals, (and approximately 1,000 snacks) doing dishes, feeding pets, laundry, errands, trying to work from home, and ENDLESS messes… it can be hard to make time to just be present and simply enjoy being with your kids.
But it’s necessary.
SIDE NOTE – Guys. Raising our kids is THE most important job in the ENTIRE universe. We are literally raising up the next generation. Above all else, I want my children to be loving, kind, and to know Jesus. How can I expect them to learn about these things unless I teach them, and be an example for them? Carving out time for our kids needs to be a priority, whether we work outside the home, in the home, or if we are a stay at home parent not working any other job.
OK, so how does this make your work day at home more productive?
Because it creates a happier child, whose love tank is full. A happy child with a full love tank, will be way more likely to allow you some time to work in peace, without acting out and trying to get your attention.
Have you ever read the book “the 5 love languages”? There is also one called “the 5 love languages of children.” If you haven’t read them yet, GET THEM!!! They are so good and will teach you exactly how to fill your child’s love tank, by speaking his own unique love language. (The original 5 love languages is for you and your spouse, or significant other, and is also just as important to read, and super helpful to learn how to love someone in the way they desire to be loved.)
If you can speak your children’s love languages every day, you will see a difference in their behavior and their willingness to allow you some work time.
I usually spend quality time with both my kids right before my 2 year old’s nap. After he goes down, I spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour with my 4 year old, depending on what else I need to get done that day. Her love language is a close tie between quality time and words of affirmation, so I let her pick whatever she wants to do, and we do it, with full attention on each other. I also try hard to give her plenty of encouragement, and love with my words, all day long.
We laugh and enjoy every minute of our special time together, and than I tell her that I need to get a little work done. I’ll set her up with something else to keep her busy while I work, and most of the time, if I play my cards right, I can get 30-60 minutes of work in, before my little guy wakes up.
You can also sit down and get work done first, than tell your child you will spend special time with them as soon as you are done. Every kid is different with this. You may have to experiment with which way works better for you both!
That was a long one guys, sorry… But it is probably one of the most important tips to keep your kid’s sanity and your own.
5. Have sensory activities planned for your kids during your work hours.
Kids LOVE sensory activities, and it is hugely beneficial to their developing brains as well! Win, win.
(If you haven’t heard of this before, or you’d like some awesome ideas for sensory play, check out this post! – 5 AWESOME sensory activities for your kids, that will buy you all kinds of precious time)
I have tried all kinds of fun games, toys, crafts, and activities for the kids to keep them busy while I work, (It is good to change it up sometimes so that they don’t get bored) but the activities that buy me the most time, is always some kind of sensory play.
Plan a prehistoric play dough world in a box with play dinosaurs, or a bin with kinetic sand and some sea shells to dig up, or a tub of water dyed blue with sea animals in it that your child can fish out with a slated spoon.
Activities of these kind have the power to keep my daughter entertained for hours some days. They can be messy yes, but it is worth it, and very good for your child’s developing brain as well!
Try it! You will see!
6. A little bit of TV time is not going to kill your child.
Listen, some days I spend special time with my daughter and we have a blast, and after that she just can’t get into “quiet time” mode, and her little lips are still just a flappin’ away with aaaall the things she feels that I need to know…
On these days, I do not let myself feel guilty for popping in a movie or turning on some good Ol’ Daniel Tiger.
Heck, even when I wasn’t working from home, I still used the TV sometimes just to get a break from her almost constant talking.
I love her to death, but the girl can TALK.
IT’S OK MOMMA. Their brains will not melt from 30 minutes of Doc McStuffins… It wont even melt from watching an entire Disney movie!
No, I don’t use TV as a babysitter for hours on end, (unless I am sicker than a dog, than you’d better believe that I do… HA!) but a little screen time will not hurt them, and I even see my kids learning wonderful life lessons, and ways to show kindness and love from shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood!
If books, busy boxes, crafts, and toys just aren’t doing the trick… pop in Frozen, and sing along to “Let it Go!” while you “let go” of mom guilt and get some work done.
7. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
This is especially true if:
1. Your kids are not in school yet.
2. Your kids are young and are home schooled.
Both these seasons in life make it nearly impossible to get work done during the day. If you set unrealistic goals, you will be so overwhelmed and flustered with trying to meet them, that you will actually find yourself less focused and therefor, less productive.
Set realistic expectations, and easier, smaller goals that work together to achieve a bigger goal! That way you can power through them, and feel proud of all you were able to accomplish!
8. Set goals and intentions. What is your “Why?”
You have got to have a “Why” behind your goals and intentions, otherwise you will lose motivation and begin giving up on meeting your goals.
Why do you want to work from home?
Your answer cannot just be “because I have to.” If this is your situation, and you’d rather be able to stay home with your kids and not work, but you need the income, First of all, I am sorry. It sucks when you truly want to be able to call being a mom your only job, but you can’t for financial reasons. I have been there for a short time, and it really stunk.
But it can’t be your why. You will lose your drive to work for yourself and your family if you do not have a solid “why,” and that is no good for anyone.
If you HAVE to work, but you’d rather not, let your why be because, “I want the very best for my family,” or because, “I want to be able to send my daughter to dance classes,” or, “I want the best treatment for my child who has disabilities,” or, “My dream is to eventually be a stay at home mom and focus on only that!”
If you WANT to be working at home, whether you simply love your job, or you are starting/running your own business, than let your reasons for working drive you in this scenario as well.
“I want to be able to travel and take my work with me wherever I go!”
“My dream is to take missions trips whenever possible, and help those in need.”
“I am working hard to buy that beach house for my family so that we can make amazing vacation memories there every year.”
“I want to retire my spouse so that he/she no longer has to work 80 hours a week.”
Whatever your “Why” may be, write it down, and revisit it every day (and if needed, revise it) before you begin working. Once you have figured out your intentions for working, set goals. Write down the large goals that you are aiming for every year, and every month, than break them down into smaller weekly, and daily goals, that all work towards your BIG FISH Goal in the end.
You. Got. This.
The Day Designer planner I talked about earlier has an amazing goal setting section in the beginning pages of the book, just another reason why I love it!
9. Do what you need to do to in order to kick your goals in the face. (That’s a good thing)
If you consistently cannot make the goals you set, than you need to go back to those expectations you set for yourself, and not feel guilty about lowering them a bit. In case we all haven’t noticed. Working at home with kids around is HARD.
Go easy on yourself.
If you don’t want to change your goals, but you are still having trouble accomplishing them, than it’s time to make some sacrifices!
Find some money to hire a sitter for a few hours each week to give you uninterrupted work time. (maybe use vacation money, or your own spending money if you have those things in your budget) Ask family for help. Stay up late, or wake up early and sacrifice a few hours of sleep here and there. Humbly go to your spouse, and ask them to take over evening dishes and bedtime routines for a season, so that you can take some time to work.
Your hubby may not go for this idea at first, especially if you’re starting a new business, but ask him to believe in you, and let you have this time just for a season. By the end of the season if your goals are met, he will see how his sacrifice for you has enabled you to work towards your dream, and provide for the family. If he sees the fruit of your labor starting to blossom, he should be excited for you, and willing to help more!
If you’re still crapping out on your goals while he is making this sacrifice, or getting distracted by your phone or other things… he will probably not be helpful in this way for long, and may end up resenting this new venture of yours!
So be grateful for his sacrifice, and work your butt off if he agrees to do something like this for you.
10. Plan and prep your meals ahead of time.
I do not enjoy cooking or planning meals of any kind. I just don’t. Some topics you will probably never find on this blog are recipes and cooking instructions!
Meal-prep advice though? You may find some of that, because it all goes towards being more productive and creating a healthier lifestyle.
Planning and prepping whatever meal or snacks you may be eating during your work time, will greatly improve your productivity AND your health!
If it is not made ahead of time and easy to grab out of the fridge, you will likely choose an unhealthy, quick and easy option, or you will just skip eating all together. I am guilty of both of these things at times because, need I remind you, I hate getting meals prepared. I wish I could just survive without eating ever… LOL!
BUT food is delicious. So there’s that.
Whenever I DO take the time to make a salad, or a sandwich, or some chicken and veggies beforehand, I feel so much better for having eaten a healthy meal, my brain is less foggy, and I feel recharged to take on the rest of my work!
If I skip a meal all together, I often find myself thinking about food and my growling stomach and not getting as much done as I had hoped.
Prep those meals! Even if you despise it like me. Just do it. K?
11. Have a designated, and clutter-free
Ya wanna know something else that I have been guilty of?
Working on my computer in my bed. Ugh. It’s just so comfy!!
But, that is exactly the problem.
Working in your bed or on the couch is not evil by any means, but it could definitely make you less productive. I usually stay up until 11:00pm or 12:00am working on the blog on week nights. If I am in bed while I do this, I get too relaxed and tired very quickly. Sometimes I still make it until midnight, but it is in between lots of yawning, brain farts, and mental blocks.
I am able to work more deliberately, and stay focused, if I am sitting in my office at my clutter-free desk. I also get excited about crawling into bed afterwards, so I tend to work harder and faster, so that I get to bed sooner!
A designated work desk also helps to teach your kids boundaries. When Momma is at the work desk, it is time for them to play quietly on their own for a while. It takes time for young kids to learn this concept, but it will come, and doing that special playtime beforehand is the key for teaching this and avoiding meltdowns and poor behavior while you work.
Having an organized work space is also imperative for having productive work time. If my desk looks like a natural disaster just went through my office, that is ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT. I cannot focus on my work without a pretty, and organized space to work from.
12. Wake up before your kids.
This one is hard, and because of that, I have written an entire post on this subject alone, and why you should do it!! You can read that HERE.
Does anyone else out there realize that somehow we can become super human when we are child-free, and can accomplish way more in an hour without kids, than we ever could before we had kids in the first place!? It’s like were set on fast forward and someone promised us a million dollars if we get everything done on our to-do list before we have to be parents again! (That’d be cool right?)
I am asking you to use this super human strength to your advantage!
Wake up an hour before your kids and be amazed at all that you can get done before their little feet hit the floor.
This course – “Make over your Mornings.” By: Crystal Paine – helped me tremendously in taking this thought, and turning it into a daily discipline.
This is a 14 day online course that comes with a downloadable.PDF workbook, teaching you exactly how to transform your mornings into an incredibly productive time, that you will actually begin to look forward to!
If you really want to take your mornings to the next level, and achieve maximum productivity in your days, I HIGHLY recommend taking this course!
It is stupid affordable guys, like stupid as in, way cheap… and worth every penny and much more.
- I have also created a Morning Routine print out designed to help you achieve a productive and successful morning! If you’d like access to this free print-out, sign up below and it will be sent directly to your inbox! 🙂
13. Outsource work if you can, or set up automated social media posting if you are a blogger.
This can be a huge time saver if your work requires you to be on social media. Social media is a time-sucker. Even if you are only using it to promote, and not for personal use, it can still take up a lot of time that can be put to better use.
Promotion is important, don’t get me wrong, that’s how you gain customers, or an audience. However, it is also pretty easy to outsource the work to someone else, or at least set up posts on auto so that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with it every day.
If you can go about your work without having to spend too much of your time on social media, you will be FAR more productive.
14. Take breaks and plan getaways!
Soooo… if you are currently borrowing from your vacation fund, like I mentioned above, so that you can afford a sitter here and there, this one might have to wait a little while. But do not put it on hold for too long!! Your mind NEEDS a break from it all.
Even if you just do a stay-cation and separate your brain from your work for a week, it will be so beneficial to you.
You will come back feeling refreshed, with a revived passion for your work, and you will be all the more willing to fight for your dreams, so that you can take even more vacations and breaks for yourself!
Even if you cannot afford a full-blown vacation, be sure to schedule breaks for yourself.
If you keep working day in and day out, and refuse to take breaks from it here and there, you will put out the fire that ignites your passion and desire to work hard.
You will burn out.
Don’t let yourself burn out. You are too special and important to not allow time for self-care… Got it!?
15. Pray girl… PRAY
Last, but certainly not least, in fact I dare say that it is the most important part for me.
PRAY girl… just pray.
This season is crazy, it can feel never-ending, it can feel depressingly monotonous, it can feel like you work your butt off, but never get to accomplish your own goals.
But remember, this is just a season, and these young years with your kids??
You will never get them back.
You don’t get a do-over for this. THEY are your most important work. Nothing else could possibly be more important, more worth your time and efforts, more worth your dedication, care, and love than those precious children that are always at your feet.
These are the years that we lay down the foundation for their little lives to grow upon. Build those foundations to be absolutely invincible.
And just pray.
Pray that you will find time to work towards your dreams as well, because it is OK to still have your own dreams…
Pray for patience, wisdom and guidance for how to teach your kids kindness, and love, while simultaneously teaching them hard work, and dedication by not giving up.
Pray for a clear mind, and the ability to be productive in all that you do.
I pray these prayers in the morning before my day begins, and than focus on things that I am thankful for… and guys… It really does makes a huge difference.
There they are, my 15 tips for working at home with kids, and how to stay productive…
Time to wrap it up, but I truly hope you found at least some of these tips helpful, and that it also gave you the motivation to put them into action!
It can be hard to stay focused, and push yourself to keep going. Some days will feel like a total loss, and other days will be a HUGE win. That’s ok! You’re working the hardest job out there already (parenting) and then trying to add another job on top of it. Take it easy, and do what you can.
Keep your mind on your “Why” and your eyes on the prize!
Have any other tips and tricks for staying productive as a WAHM?
Let me know in the comments below!
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