How to get work done when the kids are with you

This week on the live Periscope show we talked about how to get work done while the kids are with you!

We're coming to the end of our school holidays which means I've been working from home and looking after the kids at the same time for almost 6 weeks.

I do my best to cut back on work in school holidays by adding an out of office to my email that says this:


I'm taking a well earned break over Christmas and the New Year and plan on spending a lot of time relaxing and hanging out with the family while we are all on holidays from school and work :)

I'll be back to business as usual from Monday February 1, 2016 (Sydney timezone) and I will do my best to return your email then if it is still valid.

If you are a private client, feel free to text any urgent messages to my mobile phone and I'll get back to you within 3 business days during this holiday period.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

x Marissa

But even then, there are still some commitments I need to keep with my premium clients, plus video filming, blogging, etc - so I have a couple of techniques to fall back on when I just have to get work done while the kids are home.

Want to know my favourite 'Get Work Done While The Kids Are Home' tips?

You can watch the video below or keep scrolling for the main points below!

#1. Make sure all tools are ready and mobile: When the kids are playing well and I have to work and focus, I don't really want to 'shush' them - I want them to keep playing interrupted!

But I need a quiet place to focus and that's certainly not going to be in my lounge room / office where they play the most.

Instead, I make sure my laptop and mobile phone are fully charged and that I have my headphones ready - so when I start work, I can pick the quietest room in the house and work there (and I can even move around if needed).

For example, if I'm on a client call, I'll dial in with my mobile (whether it be Skype or a phone number), and work on my laptop. Sometimes I sit on my bed, sometimes I stand at the kitchen counter, sometimes I sneak into one of the kids rooms and stand at their dresser ;)

Note: If I'm Skyping with a client and the kids are home, I'll suggest audio rather than video, so if I do get interrupted by the kids it's minimal and I can use body language or written notes to communicate with the kids while the client is on the line (e.g. "your lunch is in the fridge").

I also keep a small notepad and pen handy for quick note taking that again, is easy to move around from room to room if needed. I like to jot down the main points of my call so I stay on track and on time. This also works well if I'm blogging, I'll jot down each step of writing the post, then creating and adding images, publishing and social sharing. It keeps me on topic with my video filming and editing as well.

#2. How I keep the kids busy: My kids play well together when they have something to do and when they have full tummies, so these are the two things I focus on.

I'll pretend it's a school day and pack their lunches into lunch bags, add healthy snacks, maybe a little treat, and a bottle of water and put these in the fridge at a level they can reach themselves. Then just before I start working I let them know their lunch boxes are in the fridge, they can have as much or as little as they like, but once they are finished, that's all there is - so save some for later if they can. This reduces the "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty" interruptions, I know they aren't eating everything out of the cupboard or fridge while I'm busy, and they get a kick out of being independent.

Entertainment: I like to quietly set up 3 play areas while the kids aren't paying attention - nothing fancy, I just get a few things ready to go so when they stumble across them they just sit down and play. My kids are 6 and 4 years old so they respond well to ideas that seem to 'present themselves' rather than me rattling off options for them, and they play well together, so it's just a matter of setting up something that will suit them both.

I keep the play options pretty simple and choose 3 from the following list:

  • board game
  • card game
  • drawing or colouring
  • puzzle
  • lego
Worst case scenario, I have a movie ready to watch if we need it. I try to hold off on TV before that so that if they are going to watch, they'll watch the whole movie and enjoy it instead of wondering off bored after a few minutes.

#3. Time with Mum: This makes a BIG difference to how well the kids play while I'm working. When I take at least 15 minutes (more if I can) before I start working and spend it with them, playing together, or brushing their hair, reading, chatting doing craft.. when I'm fully present with them before I work, then it's like they get their fill of time with me and are happy to play by themselves afterwards. 

I tend to work an hour at a time when I'm home with the kids, and for their age group, these techniques work really well. If I need to work more than 1 hour, scheduling really comes into play here - I can't book 3 client calls back to back and expect the kids to look after themselves the whole time. So I space everything out, balance it over the day, and make sure that when I'm not working and I'm with them, I'm REALLY with them and they know it ;)

I think it's good for my kids to learn to keep themselves entertained - there are plenty of other times I'm not available to play - it's just real life. Sometimes I'm cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, having a cup of tea with a neighbour, reading. I'm there if they need me, but I'm not responsible for their entertainment - they do a great job of that themselves.

However, if I'm doing something on paper - writing a draft blog post, organising my week, planning out a webinar or some online training - I'll do that with the kids. I'll literally sit down with paper and textas with them and while they draw and colour, I'll do my planning - yep, in pretty texta colours ;)

Then I'll take my phone, snap a pic of my work and email it to myself to finish later. Easy!

#4. Do I tell my clients my kids are home? If we'll be talking for more than 10 minutes, I'll say "The kids are home so you may hear them in the background." 

That's it. No need for an apology, we're doing nothing wrong. 

But I'm happy to let them know so they don't get surprised by a little voice in the background ;)

My clients are mostly parents anyway so they understand and often have kids with them too, and I'm always clear about it when I first get hired, so that makes it easier. 

That's the beauty of working for yourself, if you are clear about how you work, and you can still help your clients, it's rarely an issue. 

Thinking of working from home online and not sure where to start? Come visit me at for free tips & tools, or send me an email if you'd like to work together to get your business up and running.

That's it! That's how I get work done while the kids are home. I hope these tips have been valuable for you, and I'd love for you to comment on the blog if you have some of your own ideas to share!

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