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If you’re trying to work from home with school aged kids (I’m talking grades K-5 in this post), you’ve probably already realized that in many ways, it’s easier than working from home with a toddler. But, it’s not all a walk in the park.
Since I’m a homeschooling mom, my kids are home with me all day long. These are the strategies I use. However, if your kids are in school, you can use these when they’re home at night and during the summer.
Share Your Why
If you’re just starting a business, you need to get your family on board. If you’ve had your business for a while and haven’t shared your vision with them, take the time to do so.
School aged kids are capable of understanding so much more than their younger siblings. For instance, most kindergartners understand that it takes money to buy things.
Use this understanding to your advantage as you share your why. Why are you working? Are you trying to earn money so you can:
- Take a vacation next summer
- Pay off debt
- Pay for a specific expense
- Afford more treats
- Allow your spouse to find a less stressful/more available job
Frame your why in words your children will understand, and tie it to a benefit. This way, your time at the computer isn’t just Mommy ignoring everyone. It’s Mommy working hard to accomplish x,y, or z.
This subtle shift in mindset is huge.
Integrate Your Kids
What can your children do to help you grow your business? Families working together for a common goal is the historic norm in our country. Think farm kids helping bring in the harvest, or kids helping in the family store.
Work is good for kids, and it teaches them so many skills they’ll use throughout their life.
To decide roles are best for your children, think about their individual skills, talents, and interests. Build on these, and watch your child’s skills grow.
Here are some suggested ways your kids can help:
- Proofread a blog post
- Take photographs for you
- Design a pin
- Pin other people’s content to appropriate boards on Pinterest
- Read a post aloud to you
- Help balance the books
- Brainstorm post ideas
- Draw a picture to illustrate a point in your post
Not every child will be able to do everything, but most kids will be able to help in some way. Talk to them about your business and ask them for insight.
If you don’t find a way for them to help directly with your business, see if you can come up with other ways for them to help. Maybe they will entertain the baby or toddler for an hour each evening so you can work. Or take on an additional chore to help clear your plate.
Find ways to integrate your kids, and make this more of a family effort. Your family will become your motivators and cheerleaders.
Track Your Progress
School aged kids understand progress monitoring. Whether they’re keeping track of grades in their classroom, or doing a sticker chart at home, they understand how a bunch of little steps add up to a big result.
Bring your kids into your progress monitoring. What stats do you keep track of in your business?
If you’re a freelance writer, maybe it’s articles sold in a month.
Or clients written for.
As a blogger, you might track posts published, email followers, or social media shares.
Think of one or two stats to monitor, and share your results with the kids. Some months you may not do as well.
That’s okay! You can model what to do when you fall short of a goal. This is important for kids to see – they will eventually not do as well as they were hoping, and they need to know how to cope.
Talk about setting goals that you have control over. And making sure they’re realistic.
Then, track the goals together. You can use sticker charts, a money tracker, or a big paper pie on the wall with a pie piece (with Velcro on the back) for each client you need to meet your goal.
Once a week, talk about progress and update your trackers.
Then think about rewards. What will happen when you reach your goal?
Will you go out for ice cream? Or have a family movie night?
Are you saving for a special vacation?
Having a reward in place is motivating. It’s something you can remind the kids about when they’re starting to fuss about you working. You can remind them that you’re trying to meet your goal so you can do something special. It’s definitely more of a team effort this way.
Family Writing Time is an essential portion of my working from home with school aged kids. It allows us to spend quality time together each day, while I’m making progress in my business.
My e-book The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Family Writing Time walks you through starting this time together. It has everything you need, including dozens of ideas for what your kids can do during this time. It’s only $7.99, so pick up your copy today!
Have a Dedicated Work Space
You need a place where your business stuff can reside. It’ll help you stay organized and help minimize misplacing things.
Your elementary school kids don’t need you right there all the time, so it might be a good time to transition to an office where you can shut the door while you’re working.
You can also opt to continue working at the table, or at a desk in the living room. Just make sure you are comfortable and have access to what you need.
Stop Entertaining Your Kids
You don’t have to entertain your children every second of every day.
Children who grow up relying on others to entertain them will be adults who do the same.
It’s much better to help your children learn to self-entertain. To use their imagination, and create on their own. (Here’s a list of over 100 ideas for them to try!)
If your kids aren’t used to playing by themselves, it will be a bit of a transition. Start with five minutes, and slowly work your way up. They WILL get there if you are consistent and don’t give up at the first sign of whining.
You may not get a ton of work done while they’re learning to play alone, but it will pay off in the long-run.
What are you doing for your kids that they can handle? Think of all the things they need to be able to do on their own before they move out. Then, slowly start teaching them.
Kids who know how to work, and understand that it takes work to keep the house clean and food on the table aren’t typically as entitled as those who have everything done for them. They are better prepared for adulthood.
What can school aged kids do?
Well, there’s a big difference between a kindergartner and a sixth grader, but here are some ideas:
- Prepare simple meals or snacks
- Fold laundry
- Sort dirty laundry
- Unload the dishwasher
- Load the dishwasher
- Make the bed
- Gather dirty laundry
- Clear the table
- Set the table
- Feed and water pets
- Sweep the floor (my five-year-old son is the best sweeper of all my kids – he loves using the broom!)
- Organize shelves/drawers (my eight-year old daughter LOVES to do this…)
Teach your children how to do the tasks. It might take a couple of weeks to do the “I do, we do, you do” transition. But, it is time well invested. They will be a huge help not only now, but also into the future.
I assign my kids chores each July, and they keep them for an entire year. This way I’m not constantly teaching new things throughout the year. By the time we start school again in mid-August, the kids have the chores pretty much figured out. It’s much smoother!
Spend Time Together
Your school aged kids still need you. They need to spend time with you, on a regular basis. After all, they are still children!
We have Family Play Time in our daily routine. Whichever child is the kid of the day picks our activity. Then we all play together, including me – and it’s NO PHONES ALLOWED!
During this time we might:
- Play hide and seek
- Take a walk
- Play an invented game (my six-year-old daughter loves to play Baby in the Mailbox, where she gets “delivered” to the house as a baby and we take care of her)
- Have a dance party
- Turn on the bubble machine and see who can pop the most
- Cook something
It’s always something different, and we have a ton of fun together.It’s a time the whole family looks forward to.
I also have a dedicated special time with one child each day. This quality one on one time is so important. This post shares how I manage special time with a large family.
Kids need us. Make it a point to play with your kids everyday. We’ve incorporated an hour-long Family Play Time, and the child whose day it is gets to pick what we do.
This is something we do each day. The kids know that they’ll get to pick once a week, and also know that we’ll play together. It’s a time we all enjoy!
Fresh air is refreshing for everyone! No one likes to be cooped up inside all day long.
Sit outside with your laptop and let your kids play.
Have them ride their bikes on the driveway.
Create a scavenger hunt for them.
Here’s a post on more ideas for incorporating outside time into your days.
Have Quiet Time
School aged kids don’t really need a nap. But, they do still benefit from having some quiet time alone. I work with my kids to help them develop a quiet time schedule. This way they aren’t constantly doing the same thing or spending it all on a screen.
Here are some of my kids’ favorite activities from this year, and years past:
- miniLUK Brain Challenger Complete Set
- Pattern Blocks
- Coloring books
- Craft table
- Use cookie cutters as stencils
- Draw on a white board
- Car rug with toy cars
- Build with LEGOs
- Look at pictures in a cookbook and make menus they’d love to eat someday
- Make a reading fort at the table
- Dress up
- Listen to audio books while coloring
- Use shaving cream on table
- train tracks
In order to spend time with your kids, take care of the house, and grow your business, your time management must be on point. Make a meal plan. Create a chore chart.
Know what needs done each day, so you don’t have to waste time thinking about it.
Streamline a lot of the day-to-day operations so you can move through them efficiently. Create processes and procedures for your business. Make some checklists so you remember what needs done each time you publish a post.
Have a template for emailing potential clients.
Sign up for a stock photography subscription (I love Pixistock!)so you don’t waste time searching for the perfect images.
Whatever you do routinely, brainstorm ways to do it more effectively.
Also, consider batching tasks. Spend one day working on drafting posts and another working on editing. This way your brain can really focus on the task at hand and you won’t constantly be switching.
If you need help with tackling the streamlining process, check out my course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines. It’s over thirty lessons designed to help you minimize your decisions, maximize your productivity, and successfully work from home with kids.
Send Them to Bed Early
Since moving bedtime up, I’ve noticed they’ve been a lot less grumpy. They play better together and don’t whine as much.
I’ve learned that whining kids are almost always either tired or hungry. An early bedtime helps take care of the tired part.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Your school aged kids are growing. They’re learning a ton. And they are still kids.
There will be bad days when nothing goes as planned.
Your primary goal needs to be your family. So that means you may have days where your business doesn’t get as much attention. Always make sure you have buffers on any deadlines, and that you are being reasonable with your self-expectations.
Don’t work yourself so much that you’re drained and have no energy for your family. Drink plenty of water, get enough rest, and take time off to recharge.
Build some favorite family traditions. Take time to build the memories you want your kids to have.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on the today that we lose sight of the big picture. Don’t do that. The years really do go by quickly, even if each day seems to drag.
You Can Work from Home with School Aged Kids
This doesn’t mean that you should stop all business plans until your kids are grown. You can work from home with school aged kids. I’m just asking you to not get so focused on your business and career that you lose sight of everything else.
You can do this!
Do you have any additional tips for working from home with kids in this age group? Please share in the comments below.