6 Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There Too

One of the first complete sentences my younger son said when he was little was, “Get out of my office!”  My little dynamo was imitating me.  How cute…and accurate.

Apparently I was being a bit too territorial — I grew up with four siblings who always messed with my stuff — and I didn’t want anyone in my home office space.

Working from home with kids during the summer break can be challenging, but there are a few ways to make it work.

1. Schedule alternating play dates.

One day your child could have a friend over for a few hours, and then a few days later your child could go over to a friend’s house.  Depending on your child’s age, your child and his/her friend could play (and still be supervised) while you work. While you’re not supposed to keep score with regard to friendships, make sure that one parent isn’t watching the kids more often than the other.

2. Find day camps that your kids want to attend.

Churches, Temples and other non-profits usually offer reasonably-priced camps. If you have kids under 16, find out whether or not they can volunteer to be camp helpers. It will give your kids something to do all day other than watch TV or play video games.

3. Create a mini home office within your office.

Set up a little table and chair in your home office for your child to use. You could even give him or her a toy telephone or an old cell phone, tape dispenser, ruler, and safety scissors to help them feel as if they’re working, too. Add plenty of paper and markers to keep them busy.

4. If your child is old enough, involve him or her in your business.

Your child could help you update mailing lists, find articles for you to include in Tweets, or enter other computer information. Your child could also help you fill orders and package your products for you.

5. Take a book trip.

Go to the library or your local bookstore and stock up on books, or buy books online. Most libraries have a collection of DVDs you can check out for free. You could also visit your local Red Box to rent a few movies, but limit the number of movies your kids watch each day. It’s difficult, but try to avoid turning the TV into an electronic babysitter.

6. Work around your kids’ schedule.

When your kids are napping, make calls or send e-mails. Save video or TV time for when they’re awake so you can make calls or answer e-mails. If your kids are older and go to camp or summer school, work while they’re gone, instead of doing laundry, cleaning house or making personal calls.

In my next post, readers share their tips for working this summer with kids around.


  1. My office suites at home (I have an upper and lower set) always had an extra desk and computer for my children, when they were younger. that way they could “work” too, and still be near, should the need arise for some special consideration. It also taught them what work was about, that daddy could sit for three hours with two computers (there were no multiple monitors or high speed computers back then), four piles of papers on the desk, a modem, and a fax machine and get his work done- with folks around the world. It probably also taught them that the radio at half-to-full blast was not really a distraction, and that coffee and/or Diet Coke (before I gave up my 6 L a day habit) was a requirement for getting things done, too…

    My youngest still have his own situation by my side- even though, he had a nanny. But, he only used them a few minutes a day- unless I had a special project (usually a response to an FDA inspection) that HAD to be completed NOW- and he “worked” beside me for an hour or 90 minutes in the evening.
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. @Cerebrations.biz recently posted..Drugs on demand?My Profile

    • What a perfect arrangement! Not only were you able to be productive, you taught your children about business. They no doubt have a strong work ethic now. Also, even though you were working, you were able to spend time together.

      I love your story (thanks for sharing it) and I’m glad you gave up your massive Diet Coke habit. 🙂
      Lisa recently posted..Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There, TooMy Profile

  2. Its been a long time since I worried about kids at home but when the grandchildren are around – its time for them and the business works around our plans. Funny how parents wanted more family time but still find ways of missing out
    Roberta Budvietas, recently posted..How Has the Web/Internet changed Business?My Profile

    • You’re right that many times you need to work around family activities. Being able to spend time with the children is one of the many advantages of working from home. The challenge is to balance both work and family, but in the long run, it’s easier to do that when they’re both in the same place.
      Lisa recently posted..Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There, TooMy Profile

  3. These are great tips Lisa and I would have used a couple of them when our son was younger. I actually had a small classroom desk (antique) that my son would sit at. He loved to pretend he was ‘working’ just like me. But then of course, they get tired of that easily.

    Now that our son is at college it has been nice to have a full days of actually getting work and projects done, lol!

    I think your key message is that we should always put family first and that is what I believe in as well.
    Lynn Brown recently posted..Building Confidence for Online Business SuccessMy Profile

    • Yes, as difficult as it is at times, and especially with tight deadlines, it’s important to put family first. The business will always be there, but the children won’t. The old saying, “They grow too fast,” is very true!

      I have a few friends who regret not spending enough time with their kids when they were little. They still work from home, but wish they would have carved out more time for their kids.
      Lisa recently posted..Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There, TooMy Profile

  4. There are so many unique day camp options available these days to expose children to a wide range of experiences, develop social, athletic and other skills…far more educational, inspiring and engaging than relying on the television which, as you noted should be used as minimally as possible.

    With the rates of childhood obesity and the studies about the preventative nature of exercise, it is imperative parents somehow carve out the time to make sure their children are physically active and at an appropriate weight…during school or school breaks.

    You’ve got an excellent list of ideas and, as someone who formed so much of my self-confidence, work ethic and healthy lifestyle habits out of after school and summertime sports and athletics, including training camps that my parents had to work very hard to finance, I must double underline the incredible value of planned activities and sports training. If camps are not affordable, then parents can role model by putting down the phone, getting everyone on a bike or a hike and getting active with their children. The energy you gain from regular physical wellness outings will fuel far more work hours than plugging away at your desk without some balance, a break and time with children while they are still young.
    Tambre Leighn recently posted..Fertility, Parenthood & Cancer SurvivorsMy Profile

    • Tambre, I couldn’t have said any of that better! I especially like your point about the importance of planned activities and organized sports. Coaches and teammates can have a positive influence on so many lives.

      There’s a misconception that the harder you work, the more you’ll accomplish. You’re right that you’ll be more energized when you take breaks and recharge. Plus it’s a good excuse to spend more time with the family.
      Lisa recently posted..Ways to Work From Home When the Kids Are There, TooMy Profile

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