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Keeping Your Kids Amused So You Can Work From Home

Tips for keeping kids busy this summer while you get some work done

Every summer I find myself facing the same predicament: how can I keep the kids busy so I can get work done? I work from home full-time and while my job is very flexible, I have project deadlines. Some of you may have been lucky enough to arrange to work from home more in the summer time. However, with the economy still down, many families are opting to keep their kids home from summer camp to avoid the extra expense. With a few weeks of summer behind us now, I’ve learned a few tips on how to get work done. Here are some ideas:

1. Plan for the unexpected. One of the perks of working from home is the ability to set your own schedule. This comes in handy when one of the Moms in your car pool has to cancel, a child gets sick, or a playdate falls through. So, to plan for the inevitable loss of work time, try to schedule less meetings during the summer. Use the phone more so you can stay close to home. Embrace your phone’s mute button so if the kids get a little rowdy, no one on the phone will know. Focus on projects that you can work on yourself so it doesn’t require a lot of meetings and that can be done late at night when the kids are in bed.

2. Set a Summer Schedule for the Day. It’s hard to get much done when the kids are running in and out of rooms and getting into tiffs that require Mom Mediation. So, rather than yelling to keep it down or pleading with them to let you work for just 10 more minutes, set up a daily summer schedule that includes fun time for the kids. In the morning, tell the kids the schedule for the day so they know when you are working and when it’s playtime. Go to the pool from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. every day. If you schedule their fun time in and they know it’s coming up, they will respect your work time more. Also, for your sanity, keep the schedule the same every day. Consistency will help you focus and help the kids focus on how to respect your time. While I don’t like using TV as a bribe or babysitter, sometimes you need the quiet inducing time TV brings. Plan to do your serious work when the shows are on that you know captivate your children.

3. Enlist Help! Ask your neighbors, friends, or family if you can set up a swap or just plain ask if they can watch your kids while you run to a meeting or write that report. Your neighbors may not mind watching your kids because it helps entertain their bored kids. I have a few Mom friends who work full or part time from home and it has been nice to offer to swap shifts. I will take all the kids for a few hours and then we’ll switch houses. It allows us Moms to get some work done or even run errands during those hours.

4. Time Consuming Activities – Some days you just can’t get the back-up you need and the deadline is looming. Try getting your kids to start an activity that is time consuming, meaning they will be amused for at least an hour so you can work. The WorkatHomeWoman.com has put together a great post on Keeping the Kids Busy:Summer Remedies for Work at Home Moms with great ideas for keeping toddlers busy. Here's another article 94 Ways to Keep the Kids Busy for the Work at Home Parent at the Sparkplugging site. It nicely divides the activities by age. For other summer kids activities, check my post 51 Summer Family Fun Activities. Choose a few of these activities to keep your kids busy and have at it.

5. Work outside – If you have a laptop and wireless internet connection, go out in the backyard to do your work. While it is a little distracting, you'll need to be disciplined, you can go sit on the patio and watch your kids play with the hose, jump on the trampoline, or run around and collect bugs. Another idea is to go to the library. Let the kids read books and play in the play area (if there is one) while you sit at the computers and do your work. You will still need to supervise your children but they might sit or play quietly for while.

I hope one of these ideas helps you meet that looming work deadline or get that project done.

Tara May Tesimu July 06, 2011 at 05:06 PM
This is such a great list of tips!! Sometimes I feel lucky to be at home working with my kids, and some days I feel like it makes everything so much harder (even though I have help!) Thanks for sharing! I have one good tip: Give your kids a list of things to do to earn their privilege. I use a big white board and my daughter, 5, loves checking items off of it. Once her laundry is in the basket, her toys are in the box and her art supplies are put away, she earns whatever privilege is coming that day.
Sue Kirchner July 06, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Hi Tara, That is a great idea! You're right, kids love to check things off of their chore or activity lists. Thanks for sharing your idea and I'm glad the article was helpful. Have a fun summer! Sue
Debby July 06, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Great tips! I used to hire a sitter for one or two days per week. I'd schedule all my client visits on those days.
Sue Kirchner July 06, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Hi Debby, That's a good idea, too. Thanks!
Sue Kirchner July 06, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Has anyone had any luck asking one of the neighborhood kids to come in and act as a Mother's Helper?
Abigail July 07, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Depending on flexibility, a lot of employers allow people to work from home. I am a nurse and cannot work from home. However, my husband does, but the kids have to be with a sitter during the time he is working. His company has strict rules that if someone works from home, children or an elderly person who need someone watching over them have to be supervised by someone other than the parent who is working at home. Companies don't want to be paying their work-at-home employees to be taking care of someone--they expect their employee to work. We have a separate room set up and the kids are not allowed to bother my husband while he is working. Most of the time we have a sitter, or they go to the sitter. We don't want him to lose the privilege of being able to work from home, so we follow the company's rules. A freelance writer doesn't have to be on the clock, but most employees do. My husband worked with one woman who got rid of her sitter when she started working from home because she felt it was an added bonus--the company took away her work-at-home status when they found out she was using THEIR time to care for her child. Being able to work from home is not a right, and it's not so parents can avoid paying for a sitter. One or two people abusing the privilege can get it taken away from everyone.
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Adam Michael Gardner February 27, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Great ideas here. I find it hard to work when your kids are distracting you and you can't focus. I like to be able to work in peace and quite is which when I get most of my work done the quickest. http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-work-from-home-legit-online-jobs

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