The social distancing guidelines and school closures caused by COVID-19 have forced many parents to stay home and juggle working with caring for their children. Although some parents figured out the perfect formula from the beginning, most aren’t as lucky.

To help our members increase their productivity while working from home with kids, we interviewed busy working parents to collect their best tips for parents working from home. Read on to see how you can improve your routine!

Schedule Your Time

One of the best ways to jumpstart your productivity while working from home with kids is by creating a schedule. If your children are still in school, it’s helpful to plan their week out at the same time.

Suzanne Brown, founder of Mompowerment and OKSuzi suggests making your schedule flexible to accommodate new tasks that might pop up. “As new information comes my way (e.g., client questions I must answer, etc.) or one of my boys needing extra help, I figure out what adjustments I need to make. Now I also compare my schedule with that of my husband’s, who is currently working from home.” Working together with your partner to take turns caring for your children can help increase both of your productivity.

Shannon Tisdale, the founder of Work Breastfeed Mom, also stresses the importance of setting a schedule not only for yourself but also for your children. “Just like you have a schedule when you are in the office, set a schedule when working from home. Keep your kids on a schedule, too. This will prevent you from running around like a chicken with your head cut off and getting nothing done.”

Start Your Day Earlier (or End it Later)

Those rare hours when everyone in your home is asleep are the perfect time to get work done. Whether this means you wake up an hour or two earlier than usual or stay up late, it can help you gain back quiet hours in your workday.

Tom Massey, CEO of Snowy Pines White Labs plans his day the night before including his work tasks and helping with his children. “If you know that your kids will need help with schoolwork or need to be fed lunch sometime in the middle of the day, put that into your schedule so you know that you need an hour or two midday. In order to compensate for this, maybe start work earlier than normal so that you can take a longer lunch break and still be done with work by five. If your kids go to bed early, and you’re still up, you can always put an hour or two of work in before bed so that you have a little less to do the following day.”

Another busy parent, Caitlyn Scaggs, Associate Vice President for University Relations at Radford University, also adjusts her sleep schedule to make more time for her tasks. “I often wake up before my kids, around 5:30, to start my workday, and I also accomplish tasks after they go to sleep. It takes a great deal of intention and self-motivation to remain productive while also teaching and caring for my kids.”

Create a Home Office and Set Boundaries

One of the best ways to stay productive while working from home with kids is by setting up a home office, preferably in a room with a door you can shut. Once this is in place, establish some ground rules with family members, letting them know they are not to disturb you during certain hours or when the door is shut.

Kenny Trinh, CEO of Netbooknews, says, “The best thing I ever did was to establish a room as my office. When the door is closed, they leave me alone. It’s taken some training and a lot of attention, but it works pretty well now.” The more consistency you create around the boundaries you’ve set with your children, the more likely they are to respect them.

Although creating a workspace helps establish boundaries, Jenny Abouobaia, COO of Clever Touch Marketing, recommends creating a home office to create the right mindset. “…it’s quite important to have your own workspace that helps you be in the right mindset to work properly, but I believe it’s equally important to change that working environment from time to time.”

Talk to Your Children About Responsibility

If your children are old enough to understand you, it’s helpful to explain to them why you’re working and why they need to leave you alone while you work. The more they understand, the less likely they will interrupt you.

Caitlyn Scaggs takes this approach with her children and enjoys quiet Zoom calls as a result. “[I have] age-appropriate conversations with my kids about the work I do and why it is important. It matters to me that they realize I have a job with a great deal of responsibility and that I genuinely enjoy my career. In sharing with them, I find they have a greater understanding of why I need quiet during Zoom calls, for example.”

Not only should you explain to your children why work is important, but what this means for their time with you. Chad Hill, CMO at Hill & Ponton: Veterans Disability Lawyers, suggests re-orienting your children when they want to spend their entire day with you: “Some kids may not understand the concept of working from home, but it’ll help if [they understand] that you will be working and that you’ll play with them once office hours are done.”

Don’t skip an important conversation with your children just because you don’t think it’s age-appropriate. Shannon Tisdale believes all ages can understand the concept of working from home; it’s just a matter of explaining it to your children. “Kids understand more than we give them credit for. No matter their age, explain to them what it means when you are at your computer.”

By explaining to your children why working from home is important and establishing boundaries, you’re setting yourself up for a more productive work environment at home.

Take a Break

Many parents have stayed productive at home by taking a break. Yep, that’s right. Working and caring for your children all day long can drain your brain and limit your productivity. By including breaks throughout the day, you will stay more productive and less stressed.

Chad Hill swears by taking 10-minute breaks throughout the day. “It is essential for everyone who’s working to observe the break time to keep your mind refreshed … Keeping a presence of mind is a great help, especially in this situation where parents work double-time: dealing with their bosses or client and dealing with their spouse and kids.”

Although it’s important to take a break here and there, Shannon Tisdale plans her breaks ahead of time in her daily schedule, “Set a time to start working, morning break, a lunch break, afternoon break, and a firm time to stop working.” In addition to scheduling breaks, she suggests parents “Set a timer they can see or hear to know when it is time for a break. Let them know you need to work until the timer goes off, and then you can play with them for a bit before setting the timer again.”

If your children know when your work breaks occur, they have a sense of when it’s inappropriate to disturb you throughout the day. Discussing work breaks should also be part of your discussion about boundaries with your children.

Provide Your Children with Activities for the Day

If your children tend to interrupt you throughout the day, give them different activities to work on to keep them occupied. Chad Hill suggests “[giving them an assignment] to keep them busy. Your loving kids will follow through and do their assigned tasks. Note that kids love rewards, [so] it is also helpful if you’ll give them a token of appreciation with their behavior.”

Shannon Tisdale also keeps her children busy with activities during the day when she needs to focus. “In order to keep your kids busy during the chunks of time where you need to focus on work, have activities they can move through (with your help, of course). This is where multitasking and being able to juggle work and kids come in. Things like Play-Doh, puzzles, coloring books, painting, costume boxes, board games, etc.”

Working from home with kids is much easier when your children are consumed with their activities. It’s even better if they’re excited about them!

Utilize Naptime

Make the most out of your children’s nap time while working from home with kids. These quiet hours are precious times to complete your most demanding tasks without being interrupted by your children. Casidy Marks of Sincerely Marks suggests planning your most focus-consuming tasks during your children’s naptime or during hours they entertain themselves. “Once you know when you will have the most dedicated chunk of time to put into your work, then you have to prioritize what you want to get done. I find it best to tackle any thought-provoking work or creative work during this time.”

By taking advantage of these often brief periods of quiet time, you will stay productive.

Get Rewarded For Working From Home

We hope these tips can make working from home with kids a more productive and enjoyable experience. However, if you’re finding it difficult to stay productive at home or need a break from your full-time job, a reward might motivate you to keep up your hard work. Earn cash or gift cards for simply taking online surveys. Make money off surveys with us at Branded Surveys doesn’t require quiet hours or too much focus. You can take online surveys while you’re taking a break from work, watching your kids or watching TV. Even when you can’t stay productive at your full-time job, you can still earn by taking online surveys.

We’re an online survey platform that connects people with surveys from brands that are conducting market research. In exchange for completing online surveys, make money by giving your opinion. After our members earn at least 1,000 points, they can redeem their points for gift card rewards or cash. You can take as many surveys as you want, whenever you want – we’re always adding more!

Start rewarding yourself for working from home and sign up for Branded Surveys today!