working from home with kids

Working from Home: How to stay productive (even with kids)

Christina Omlor

As of now, 16 states have stay- at -home orders and even full lockdowns in place to slow down the spread of coronavirus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this means that depending on the industry, more than 29% of the Americans are now being forced to work from home.1 This can be challenging, especially if your state is not only urging you to stay at home, but your kids as well by closing schools and daycare facilities too.2

While the distress and uncertainty is rising, staying at home is crucial for decreasing the infection rate and flattening the curve. To disrupt your life as little as possible, here are a few tips for how to manage the situation productively for you and your kids.

Tips to work productive from home

Get your technology sorted ou

Since it’s not yet known how long the state lockdowns will last, it’s the best to set up your workspace with everything you need. List your tech essentials (i.e. monitors, keyboard, hard drive) and ask if you can pick these up from your office. Talk to your IT manager to set up the tools for remote working.

Build yourself an office space

To keep your mind straight and keep strong boundaries between work and life, you need to set up an office environment. Turn a spare room into your new office or set up a designated place where you get your work done. This can be quite difficult if there is another person working from home. You can either agree on one of you taking the spare room or set up separate working spaces in the apartment, like your living room or your kitchen.

Train your brain

The key for successful remote work is to try and not disrupt your usual habits. Therefore, to set your mind and brain for working mode, it is crucial to shower, dress and get ready. Of course you don’t have to sit at home in a suit, but your brain needs to know that you are out of sleeping and in productivity mode.

Create a routine and structure

If you are used to work from 8am to 5pm, do not stop. Use your inner clock and follow your habits and rituals as usual. Having a great morning routine can influence your productivity tremendously. Also keep your lunch and coffee breaks and quit at the same time you usually quit. Do not skip on meetings, as they structure your day and will keep your productivity flow running.

Stay transparent

Setting up a morning email to your boss with your tasks for the day will help you focus on what is important and give you a chance to be fully transparent about your workload. It also gives you a feeling of guidance and control in a changed environment.  In the evening, sum it up and report back on what you have done throughout the day. This allows you to recap on your work, focus on your success and have some idea of what awaits you tomorrow. It most certainly also helps with the next point.

Manage expectations

While most bosses acknowledge the remote working situation, and will adapt, some might tend to push more work on you than usual. This can also apply to the team you’re working with. To make sure you don’t overwork yourself with a 20-hour shift from home, it’s crucial to manage your team’s expectations. Be transparent and tell them what your current setup allows you to do. Share your timetable and prioritize together which task to focus on and which to shift.


Find out more on Coronavirus and work:


The previous tips might not be so easy to manage, if you have a toddler running around crying for attention. Yet there is a way to handle both work and kids in this difficult and challenging situation.

How to stay productive with kids

Give the day some structure, but stay flexible

  • Try to work according to your kids sleeping schedule.
  • Get up early and work past their bedtime, while taking time off during the day. 
  • Tell your colleagues about your schedule and communicate, when you have family time. (e.g by setting up a status in your messenger. 
  • Adapt on your kids’ schedule and mood.

Share the workload

  • If available to you, schedule your most important tasks and ask for your partner to occupy the kids at this time. Return the favor. 

Challenge your kids’ independence

  • Occupy them with their own “Home Office” where they work on their own and in silence for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Occupy them with playing alone for an another 15 – 20 minutes if they are able to play independently.
  • Repeat throughout the day

Accept imperfection

  • Remember: Bending the rules to stay productive is okay!
  • Providing unhealthy snacks and having extra screen time does not make you a bad parent.
  • Accept, that you can’t do it all at once – but you try and that is the first step

 Communicate more with your team members

  • Be open about your schedule arrangements with kids.
  • Inform your team throughout your breaks. 
  • Stay connected with fellow parents to commiserate and share advice.

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Sources:

1Bureau of Labor Statistics
2The Journal