5 Tips For Running Your Home Business with Your Kids "At School," Again

Whether you’re a parent who’s used to running a home-based business or new to the remote workforce due to the pandemic, the trepidation is the same. You’re facing a new school year with your kids at home for online learning, again.

The good and bad news: you had a dry run of this last spring when the crisis first hit.

Like teachers, administrators and students, you know more about what to expect this time and had a summer “break” to prepare. But it also means you understand that working at home while managing your kids’ remote learning is no easy feat.

Check out the latest tips on how to make your household a more amenable environment for work and school, while increasing your chances for sustained productivity (and sanity).

Prepare your kids’ lunches and snacks in advance.

Think of it as a hopped-up version of the make-ahead drill you honed back when school was  on-site every day, packing lunches the night before to make mornings less rushed. Same theory but now its purpose is more aimed at eliminating interruptions to your workday.

Plan out lunches and snacks in advance of the work week. Make them easy-to-grab – by your kids ideally – from the refrigerator or countertop without a lot of fuss come break times.

Food writer and cookbook author Genevieve Ko says planning out school lunch options for her three kids during remote learning can also avoid the midday conversation about what they “feel” like eating, opening up more time for her to work.

“A lot of kids are perfectly content eating the same lunch most days or prefer the regularity of a scheduled menu,” writes Ko, food editor for the LA Times. “Make everyone happy by establishing a regular lunch repertoire: You can keep dishes in rotation to eat when cravings strike or assign certain lunches to certain days.”

She also suggests this plan-and-prep approach to other meals, basing it on your work schedule.

“Morning people can make huge breakfasts that last until lunch; folks with evening meetings can prep enough lunch to stretch to dinner,” she writes.

Rethink school day hours to match with work needs.

This idea comes from experienced homeschooling parents who are used to setting the structure of the school day at their house. Look at rethinking the typical 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. time frame at your house too.

If you have any flexibility to when your kids have to be online, consider ways to restructure the school day to integrate with your work commitments.

For example, make a late school start if it improves your chances for less interruptions during a client or vendor meeting or free up more time to focus on a project deadline.

Reconfigure spaces & roles.

If you’re used to running a successful home-based business, you already know the dangers to productivity when boundaries of your personal and professional lives blur.

But the lines blur even faster now that your schedule includes kids at home for school as well as another at-home parent or caregiver in the mix. So, look at redefining physical spaces and roles.

For example, is there still enough distance between your office and other household activities, including your kids’ online learning areas?

If you’re working with another parent or adult at home, identify specific work blocks to build a schedule for each week that includes responsibilities like meals, chores or childcare, advises Avni Patel Thompson, founder and CEO of Modern Village, a software company focused on working parents.

“When you’re going to be fighting for every inch of productivity, you want each day to feel like an established habit, no wasted time on wondering what’s for lunch or when we’re going outside to play, “ she writes in a Harvard Business Review blog post.

Create a new sense of normal.

What you want, Thompson says, is to create a new sense of normal routine that gives everyone a chance to succeed.

“The key is to invent new ways to preserve old routines,” she writes. “Maintaining a sense of familiarity and consistency is both comforting and therapeutic in times of upheaval — but it’s also practical.”

Adjust your mindset.

One thing we understand is how stressful it is trying to run a business let alone in the midst of a pandemic when kids are at home for school.

There aren’t enough hours in a day for this new arrangement to be successful every day, even with the lessons from the spring, the best intentions and preparation.

Unrealistic expectations can lead to increased stress for the whole household. So be willing to shift your mindset accordingly.

If it doesn’t go well on Monday, shoot for a more productive Tuesday. Learn to embrace the smaller pieces of success and retool as you go.