My 5 Favorite Tips for Working at Home with Family

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Over the last 25 years, I’ve worked from home as a mom, wife, nana and daughter in a variety of situations.

  • Building a business from scratch (kitchen table to corporate campus)
  • Direct Sales rep
  • Corporate Executive

Along the way, I learned tips that helped me be both productive with my career or business and plugged into my family.

And by ‘along the way I learned’…I mean my hair was on fire quite frequently and sometimes I let my business heart fire get out of balance with my family heart fire…which just stoked the fire in my hair!


When I as a homeschooling mom of 4 with 3 more that I cared for from 6am-6pm, I was inspired to start a business making dry food mixes to sell at vendor events and craft shows as well as offering in home parties. I was the manufacturing, packaging, distribution, marketing, sales and accounting departments all at the same time for the first 2 years. I wish I could say I did it all with grace and beauty…but the hair fires blazed often and some days it was pretty ugly.

But I learned. One day, week, month at a time I learned.


Currently my work at home situation is as a writer as well as employed as a company executive. I’m officially an empty nester and my husband often works evening shifts, which means he’s home when I’m working. Oh…did I mention he’s the gregarious extrovert who has a quota of words he must use in a day or he will explode? (ok… not sure if he will explode, it’s just my theory. He actually hasn’t had a day where he missed his quota!)

I found that some of the ‘work at home mom’ tips I learned over the years applied to this new season and may have contributed to saving my marriage. (grin)


My work schedule as a company executive can be demanding. My heart as a Nana thinks I should be retired with 24/7 availability for my grandbabies. (Current count at 6…fingers crossed and prayers up for more!)  Some of these tips have helped not only my children know what to expect, they have helped me have reasonable expectations of myself.


My widowed dad lives with dementia and my daughter heart wants to be there for him all the time. This new season of life is still new to me, but I’m finding that some of these tips I learned along the way are helping him and me find our way through it all.


So, if you’re blessed to be working from home (and wondering where the blessing is because your hair is blazing on a regular basis), maybe a few of these tips I learned along the way will help!

#1 – Post a schedule

Put it where the family can see it easily, even the youngest family members.

  • The schedule should show committed family time AND work time
    • Use color coding blocks of time when you have littles who can’t look at an online calendar (This tip has been helpful for my new role as daughter too)

#2 – Set expectations

When it’s a dedicated work time for you, setting specific expectations will serve you well:

  • Define what they are expected to be doing during that time, vs just saying “I’m working now, so go do something without me”.
    • Have a box or basket of toys, books, videos that they can only use when you are working. (Warning – refrain from going to this box when you just want a time out! It will lose its power for dedicated work hours)
    • If you allow screen time, make your work time the only time they are allowed to have it.
  • Tell them what the working time frame is, even if it’s on the calendar. Just reinforce how long they can expect you to be working.
    • For younger children, set a timer
    • For the youngest children, you will want to schedule ‘breaks’ over the course of your dedicated work time. This helps you manage personal expectations as well. Consider things like a 5 minute hug break every 30 minutes, or a 10 minute check in break every 40 minutes.
  • Tell them what happens after work time is over. Give them something to look forward to or expect to happen.
    • Consider putting a dedicated family time right after a dedicated work time. Let them know that if work time is interrupted, family time will be impacted (made shorter to make up for lost work time).
    • Go to the park, read a story, go get ice cream, play a game….

#3 – Make it obvious that you are working

This helps with kids, spouse, anyone who might think they can just interrupt you at any time. 

Think of it this way, if you were working in an office, people (a spouse, kids or friends ) wouldn’t think it was ok to come up to your place of work, burst into your office and ask your opinion on what they are wearing, where to find that thing, what there is to eat…or any other random thought they wanted to share with you. If they did, the boss would quickly put an end to it.  Ahem…at home, you’re the boss!             

When we office at home, these kinds of boundaries are easily blurred. Have a conversation with the family using this example I’ve just shared and then establish a system that lets them know when you are ‘in the office’ and business courtesy is to be adhered to.

  • Wear something specific – a sweater, a hat, a color, a pair of fuzzy slippers….
  • Designate a specific work area – a desk, an office, a room with a door closed…

#4 – Get help

This is especially helpful when your children are too young to be self-supervised for a period of time.

  • Hire a teenager to come play during your dedicated work time.
    • As a business coach, I often hear “I can’t afford to”. I respond by asking how much can they earn in 1-3 hours, how much does a teen playmate cost and what would they be able to do with the difference between what was earned and what it cost.  Will it pay for a family outing you’d have to say no to otherwise? How can that income add value to my family life vs letting this be the excuse for not being able to do more.
    • Swap kids – find other parents needing dedicated work time and set up a play date schedule to give each parent dedicated time for ‘office hours’.
      • Warning…this requires discipline to use these office hours for work and not time to just escape!

#5 – Share a family goal

As a family, define how the income earned when you are working will be used to do something, go somewhere or get something that benefits everyone.

  • Have a way to measure results along the way – like a jar you can fill with marbles or a chart you can fill in as income is earned, or a bowl you fill with money…
    • It’s great if there is a way to show results after each work day, but weekly or monthly can work as well.

Our family priorities can be the reason we find ways to make working at home a blessing or it can be the thing we use as an excuse to justify not having the life we want for them.

Each day we get to decide which it will be!

Need help? Let’s connect

Living with your heart on fire and keeping the fire out of your hair is not a special skill or ability that some have and some do not, but sometimes we need help stoking the right fire. One of the things that sets my heart on fire is helping others sort and sift through their thoughts, find focus, and develop habits that will serve them well. {stoke a heart fire – not a hair fire!} Wanna chat? 

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