In today’s episode, I cannot wait to chat with you about how to be productive in your business with kids at home. For those of us with school aged kids, this has been a huge adjustment. However, even if you normally have kids at home with you, these tips are going to be applicable for you as well. I’m also so excited to be debuting my first guest on this show and together we are going to be sharing five tips for working with kids at home.
Ashley: Hey mama, welcome back to the show. I am so excited to be here with you right now. I. Could not be more excited to share with you and introduce my first guest ever on the show. Her name is Scarlett. Scarlett would you go ahead and introduce yourself to the listeners?
Scarlett: My name is Scarlett Freehan and I am Ashley’s daughter, if you don’t know. And I enjoy gymnastics or cheerleading, and I also enjoy playing Barbies and I also really like to hang out with my mommy and read books.
Ashley: Thank you so much for sharing that, babe. I like to read books with you too. So, these mamas Scarlett are having a really difficult time having their kids at home because kids are pretty needy. Would you say that’s true?
Ashley: What do you guys think you need the most?
Scarlett: Well, most of the time I think, most of the time I think that your kids or Mayor my little brother, would need like time with you. Because if you’re on the phone, like my mom has like three phone calls like a day or something like that, and it just gets pretty boring for me and my brother, especially with this quarantine.
Ashley: Thank you so much for sharing that Scarlett. So, you would say that it’s really important for parents to spend time with their kids because it’s really difficult for all of us during this quarantine is that right?
Scarlett: Yes, because it’s kind of boring for kids because usually they can go out to the park and play on the playground or usually, they can go to Pump it Up or Balance You or something like that. But now they can’t, so they just feel like cooped up in a house and especially if you’re on phone calls a lot, then they feel like they are bored and have nothing to do.
Ashley: So we’re so excited to help you mamas out today because we want to give you some tips that have helped our family really kind of adjust to this craziness where the kids are used to going to school and having a list of things that their teacher expects of them. But now that we’re homeschooling, it feels different because everything’s different at home, right?
There’s less rules like it’s not as structured and so we want to help you guys find a little bit more clarity about how to keep everyone entertained and happy. Okay so let’s jump right in to all these juicy tips.
Tip 1: Prioritize Your Tasks
So, tip number one is going to be to prioritize your tasks and loosely time block. So of course, when our kids are not home, it’s so much easier for us to time block and have really productive times in our schedule. But now that things are very unpredictable and we don’t really know exactly when our kids are going to need us, we need to time block a little more loosely and just be really flexible.
So, when I say to prioritize your tasks, I really want you to every single day, or if you’re really organized, do it every single week. So, for me, it’s really hard to set aside just one day a week to organize everything because my schedule feels like it’s changing every day. So, what I like to do is sit down every morning and just think about the top three to five things that I want to accomplish that day.
And then I’m going to kind of think about too, like, okay, when does Scarlett or Jaden have necessary homeschool things. Most of the time it’s pretty flexible, it’s all on Google Classroom, so we don’t, we’re not planning around live Zoom calls or anything like that. But I know that some of you are, and so when you look at your day, want you to kind of already plan out what is expected from your school and then plan around that.
So, for me, again, since it’s very flexible, my time blocks usually look something like this. Between nine and 10:00 AM, is when my kids do their online learning. And so, I have some time to get things done that don’t need like a lot of dedicated focus. And so, for instance, I might be working on planning my photos for Instagram or doing email connection and things like that.
Again, things that can easily be interrupted. And then I have a time block between 1 and 2:30 which is when they typically do their quiet time. And then honestly, because let’s be real, whenever else I can squeeze in some work. Because again, every day feels like it’s changing. I don’t feel like I can have a set schedule, that’s just not realistic for the times that we’re in right now. So that’s why I say to loosely time block, so at least you kind of have a general idea of when you’ll be able to get things done.
The next thing I really want you guys to think about is when you’re doing this prioritizing, be really realistic because we are in such uncharted territory and it just feels so different all the time. So, I’m giving you permission to really give yourself some low expectations here because I want you to know that this is not going to last forever. And don’t beat yourself up because you’re not as productive as you once were. Because obviously we cannot be when we have our kids’ home that need us more frequently than normal.
Tip 2: Front-Load Connection with your Kids
Tip number two, front-load connection with your kids before you get started with working. Now, what I mean is to make sure that your kids have had enough of your attention and their connection buckets are full before you start doing any type of work. If you haven’t already, make sure to listen to Episode 10 where I talk about the four things your kids need the most. One of which I’m just going to touch on really quick or to recap if you’ve already heard, is connection.
One of the most important things that our kids need from us. Is connection. They need to feel loved, validated, assured, appreciated. They need to know that what they say is valuable and important, but they also need to know that when they need you, you’ll be available and ready to help. So, make sure that before you get to work, I’m going to say this so many times, front-load the connection. So, I’ve been trying to really take the time to at least do together time with my kids. So, spending 20 to 30 minutes doing a together activity before I jump right into work.
I’ve noticed though, that my kids are feeling extremely depleted in the connection area because I’ve been so busy on phone calls and I’ve been really trying to push forward in my business. And so that to me is a red flag when my kids are showing that they cannot wait when I’m on a 30-minute phone call, that’s a red flag to me that I need to boost their connection time.
So, I want to ask our guest Scarlett just a few questions to give you guys some insight about what it feels like from our children’s perspective.
Ashley: So Scarlett, why is it so important to you that we spend time together?
Scarlett: Well, if we don’t spend time together, then we don’t feel like we are important or special as we really are. And so, it’s important for you to have special time with your kids because that your kids will feel like they are not important or appreciated if you don’t have special time with your kids.
Ashley: Thank you for sharing that Scarlett. So how does it make you feel after we have spent special time together?
Scarlett: And that she loves me, and she cares for me and it just makes me feel good when I get to know that I am being cared for.
Ashley: I love that Scarlett; I love to spend time with you too. So, can you share with our listeners what is the difference between special time and together time?
Scarlett: Yes, so special time is where it’s just you and your mommy or your daddy if you’re having special time with your daddy. But special time is just you with either your mommy or your daddy, and together time is with both of you and either are your mommy or your daddy or all four of you, which would be family time. But together time is with just you and your sibling or siblings and special time is just you, just you, where you get to choose what you do.
Ashley: Absolutely. So, we call our special time together, Special Mommy Scarlett time. Is that right? So, it makes you feel special to know that you have kind of like protected time just with mom and no brother is that right?
Ashley: And do you look forward to this special time every day?
Scarlett: Yes, because it’s kind of the only time that I have with just my mommy or just my daddy because it’s usually my mom’s on a phone call or my dad’s at work.
Ashley: Or I’m wrangling both of you right? And so, it’s hard for me to try to divide my time between you, equally right?
Ashley: So, it’s really helpful also for mommy to be able to have special time with each of you because it’s so fun to be able to just talk to you without Jaden interrupting and then, vice versa right?
Ashley: So, what is your favorite thing to do with me during special time? Or maybe you can give a few examples.
Scarlett: Okay so I enjoy reading books with you or playing Barbies or like what we do sometimes.
Ashley: Sometimes we just make lists or write cards to people, right?
Ashley: Because you’re very organized and you like to know what’s going on. And so, you sometimes want me to sit down with you and just create ideas, right?
Scarlett: And I’m creative so yes.
Ashley: Scarlett, I would love for you to tell everybody what special time is and what special time is not.
Scarlett: Okay, so special time is where you’re both connecting and it’s like if you are reading books together, like doing like a handclap game like lemonade, iced tea or something like that and like elevator. Those are some ones that I know, I also know more. But special time isn’t just like watching videos you actually have to be like playing or reading or connecting with your child. Not just like watching videos or like watching TV together because that does not count.
Ashley: That’s definitely true Scarlett, I’m glad you brought that up. Also, who is in charge of special time?
Scarlett: Your child is the one who gets to choose what you do because then if they get to choose what they do, they feel like they are finally in charge of something or like something like that. Or that they get to be the one who is in charge of what you guys do. But if it is like a video or something like that, then you can tell them that is not what special tiny is because we’re not connecting.
Ashley: Oh, I love that. So, when you guys are doing connection time with your children, Scarlett brings up a lot of good points. There does have to be conversation happening, physical touch is so important for your kids to know that they are so important to you. Also make sure you put away any technology, so not only just videos, but also your phone, like do not respond to any text messages.
Do not get on social media like that. Just shows to your children that they’re not the most important in that moment. And I struggle with this too. It’s not something that comes easy to me. And so, I’ve given my children the words though to say to me, Mommy, please put your phone away. Because I want them to hold me accountable. Just like when they’re older and they have their own phone, I’m going to hold them accountable as well.
Tip 3: Get Your Kids Involved
Okay so let’s move on to tip number three, which is to get your kids involved. So, this has always been something that I’ve been a huge advocate of because kids are more likely to get on board with your new family rules, your new boundaries and routines if they have a say in what’s happening.
So, the other day, I came up with this idea to brainstorm some ideas with my kids of what they can do while I’m working. So, I actually created a template for you guys to download for free to organize your ideas with your children, and you can download that at thepurposegathering.com/brainstorm.
Okay so let me explain to you a little bit about the template that I created. So, there are four main pillars, I guess you could say. And I like to think of these as locations of where my kids can play. So, they can play outdoors, they can play in their playroom, they can play in our kitchen and they can play in their own room.
So, then I had my children break down in each location into subcategories. So, what are some different themes that they can do in each area. So Scarlett, would you like to share with them the four ideas that we came up with, of things that you guys can do when you’re outdoors.
Scarlett: Okay, so the first one is water. The second one is sports. The third one is like parks so that we could ride our bikes round since we can’t really do anything. And then number four is activities.
Ashley: Thanks Scarlett. So, breaking down each location into some sub themes helps your kids just really organize what there is to do outside. So, when they go out there, they’re not going to be like, Oh, I’m so bored, I don’t know what to do right? So, we take each of those four subcategories and we now break it down into five very specific activities that they can do outdoors. So, with water, what are five things that you can do outside with water?
Scarlett: You can do a water table if you don’t have one you could make one. I don’t know how, but you could. Then you could use like a hose or a sprinkler. You could do water balloons; you could do like an inflatable pool or like a slip and slide is what I really want to do.
Ashley: So, some of these ideas that they came up with are things that we don’t have, which is fine because you’re really getting your kids to brainstorm and help you think of ideas. And so, what can we do to help implement that? So, we are going to be having our, my husband, their dad, right, make a water table. And this is just really a cool way for them to be able to explore and do some new things because you can use a water table and so many different ways. So that’s one example of something that my kids really wanted, and it’s kind of cool when you have them help out because I really hadn’t been thinking about that, that wasn’t on the radar.
So, I hope this gives you just some insight into how easy it can be to get your kids involved. And then they’re going to want to reference this and say, I don’t know what to do, I’m so bored. And you can say, grab that sheet we made, check it out. Where’s our brainstorm list? And they can refer to that when they feel bored.
Scarlett, do you like it when I allow you to be part of the decision making?
Scarlett: Yes, I like to be a part of the decision making because then I actually get a say in things and what I want to do and not just what our parents want us to do.
Ashley: And you have some really good ideas that I’ve never thought of before, so definitely get your kids on board with helping and being involved. Okay so now I’m going to ask Scarlett to please share with us some structured play activities and give the listeners some ideas for what their kids can do.
Scarlett: Okay, so the first one is changing up the scenery. So, you could take a regular activity and change up the location. Have your kids do Playdoh or paint or another independent activity on a card table or lay out a picnic blanket and encourage them to play cards or board games.
So, on the Play-doh one me and my brother took a table outside and played with the Play-doh out there, we had a lot of fun. Okay and the next one is imagination time, encourage your children to get creative. Set up a tent inside your home, which we did before, to pretend they’re camping, make signs and create a doctor/ veterinarian’s office with real patient forms. And help them create a computer, maybe start their own business and help them set up an office with an old keyboard, fake phone and fake checks me and my brother have done that before too.
Repurposed recycled trash is the next one. Let your kids go through the recycle and pull out pieces of cardboard they want to use to create a city. They can paint the boxes and make signs for a bank, a school, a gas station, et cetera. Use little people Playmobile or Lego people to interact in their new city. The sky is really the limit here, maybe they want to build a spaceship for their action figures or a hotel for their Barbies.
Back yard play. Instead of just sending your kids outside to play, give them some structured ideas like ride their bike for 10 minutes, do sidewalk chalk for 10 minutes and then play basketball for 10 minutes. And another idea you could also encourage them to work together by creating an obstacle course and then timing each other. Those are just some really good ideas. Me and my brother have done, I’m pretty sure all of them. I’d have to go back through and read again, but I’m pretty sure we’ve done all of them and for the record, they are pretty fun.
Ashley: Thanks, so much babe. And that’s why I decided to share these because they’re really actionable and they’re things that we have done and most of them were not my idea. Like most of them were their ideas that I just helped kind of enhance and take it to the next level, so that they really could enjoy what they were doing together.
Another quick tip that I wanted to share with you guys on that same note is if you have younger kids or even my age kids, they are five and eight. I am going to be purchasing some timers off of Amazon that are just very inexpensive. So that, I can make them a little sticky note checklist that says, you know, 10 minutes of bike riding, 10 minutes of chalk, and then they actually can be independently resetting the clock every 10 minutes.
So, they kind of have a guideline for what does 10 minutes look like right? So, the idea here is that you’re not just sending your kids off to play. You’re not just saying, okay, get out of my hair, go play so I can work, because that just doesn’t work. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t last for very long. But if you give your kids a very detailed, specific outline of what they’re going to be doing or allow them to at least choose what they’re going to be doing, it makes things a lot easier.
All right. I hope that you guys are tracking with us and that these tips are helpful. So just to recap a little bit, tip number one was to prioritize your tasks and loosely time block. Next, you’re going to front load connection before you get to work, that way your kids are less likely to interrupt you because they feel loved and cared for. Tip number three is to get your kids involved in creating a master brainstorm list of what they can do while you’re working.
Tip 4: Get Creative
All right, and tip number four is to get creative. We all know that every day is a new day, something that worked last week probably won’t work this week, so you’re just going to have to get creative. Sometimes when I feel stuck in a rut, I’ll get on Pinterest and I’ll just research maybe like some fun activities. I let my kids look with me and then they pick, and I try to set up some things that they can do to introduce.
So, every week I feel like is starting from scratch, honestly. So, some things that I have done that have been really helpful is to set up a computer lab time. So, we had to borrow a laptop from my mother-in-law. Because we didn’t have three. So now my children’s sitting in my office with me, so I’m on my computer and they’re both on a laptop and I let them have some extra educational learning. So, they can do activities on Starfall, I have them look up some education videos on YouTube. They also have really great resources from their school, things like.
Scarlett: Prodigy, which is like a math game where you’re a wizard and you have to do different Math things.
Ashley: And you enjoy doing that right?
Scarlett: Yes, to cast a spell you have to get the math problem right. And I don’t know if you can do this at home, but maybe if they have like a teacher or something you can like request it to their teacher and then maybe they can like find out how to like make a class code or something like that and give it to all of their class as like a different learning thing.
Ashley: That’s a great idea and I think a lot of you guys have really great resources from your teachers. Just be sure that you’re actually utilizing them because there’s a lot of really great online learning happening right now, and it’s a really great way for our kids to become immersed in just learning, but also understanding technology. Because we all, I feel like have this negative association with technology and not all technology is bad. So, I think it’s really important to think about what your kids are doing while they’re watching or learning on technology.
So, we already mentioned this before, but just changing up the scenery can make a mundane activity that your kids normally do just really fun and new and exciting. The other thing that my children have expressed to me, mostly non-verbally, but they just want to be around me when I’m working. And at first that was really annoying to me because I feel anxious when they’re around, but we’ve kind of come up with a pattern and some boundaries around it that I’m okay if they come in my office as long as they’re being quiet and letting me work. We’ve also been utilizing headphones a lot, so I just put on headphones. They can bring in some activities to work on in my office and I’m okay with that, as long as I’m getting something done.
Something that I’ve really been struggling with that I think that you can probably relate to is that everybody lately wants to have a Zoom call. And so, I feel like I’m doing at least three to four Zoom calls a day, and it just feels great to talk to people. And so sometimes a 30-minute conversation turns into an hour, hour and a half, which is really hard. So I feel like I need to be a little bit more upfront with the person that I’m talking to and just saying like, Hey, I know that we’re probably going to get chatting and I’m going to want to chat for a long time. But I really want to try to keep our conversation to about 30 minutes because it’s really difficult for my kids if I’m on the phone any longer than that.
So, something that I thought of that I haven’t implemented yet is doing a phone box. So anytime that I’m on the phone or I know that I’m going to be on the phone, is having an activity box that has different toys and different activities that my kids only have access to when I’m on the phone. This, I feel like is going to be so helpful because they’re actually going to look forward to me being on the phone because this box will have things that they have chosen in it that they can do to help me stay focused, but also help them stay entertained.
So, the final thing that I want to mention here is arts and crafts. I know for a lot of us moms, it feels really hard for us to let go and just let our kids be messy and let our kids be creative because it does raise our anxiety level when their stuff all over the table and there’s messes everywhere. But I feel like the one thing that I have learned throughout this quarantine season, and there’s many things, but one of the main things that I’ve learned is that I want to say yes as often as I can to anything that my children are asking. I try to make it a point to allow their creativity to come to life because that’s what we all want, right?
We want kids who are go-getters and we want kids that have great ideas, but if we stifled them when they’re little, then why would they ever try when they’re older? So, I really want to encourage you guys to say yes more often. But also, just to let go of the mess, and I say those words and you know, my anxiety level gets a little higher because it’s hard for me. And I’m not saying leave it a mess, I’m just saying in that moment when your kids are being messy, just let them be messy.
For example, yesterday my kids went outside in the backyard and they’re playing with the hose and I thought they’d be out there for maybe 10 to 20 minutes. They were out there for a total of two hours just having a fantastic time together. And I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to go out there and be like, okay, we’re done, you’ve wasted enough water. Okay, you’re done now there’s mud everywhere, but I just had to let it go and let them have fun. And I honestly think it was one of the most exciting moments that they’ve had during this quarantine. Scarlett would you agree.
Scarlett: Yes. It was actually really fun because we have different levels, well not levels of water but different water things.
Ashley: Like different settings.
Scarlett: Like there’s jet where it just goes like, it actually kind of hurts if you put your hand in front of it. Because it just goes like, but there’s also mist where it feels really nice and stuff like that. Like it feels like it’s sprinkling rain and then there’s like shower where you’re like in the shower and I made my brother be in the shower. There’s much more, but that’s all I’m going to share.
Ashley: Awesome. So Scarlett, would you say that I say yes more often than I say no when it comes to your ideas?
Scarlett: Yes, because most of the time I try to keep my ideas like where I think you’ll say yes and then most of the time you do say yes.
Ashley: How do you feel when I say no to something to like one of your really exciting ideas, what does it do to your self-esteem when I tell you no?
Scarlett: Well, it kind of makes me sad that I don’t get to do something that I thought would be really exciting to do. But I mean being a mom seems pretty hard from what my mom has described to me in this podcast and at home.
Ashley: I would agree, it’s really hard to be a mom, but it’s also really hard to be a kid too.
Ashley: So, we kind of have to meet each other in the middle right
Okay. So, onto tip number five.
Tip 5: Implement Quiet Time
If you do not already implement a quiet time in your home. And I know that some of you are going to laugh and maybe roll your eyes and be like, Ashley, you’ve never met my kids, there’s no such thing as quiet time. And I’m going to challenge you and say that it’s possible. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to take some training, but it’s absolutely worth it. So, I implemented quiet time as soon as my kids stopped napping. I think I’ve said this several times throughout many episodes of my podcast, but repetition is key.
Implement a quiet time and just follow through with it. Start it small, maybe it’s only 15 to 20 minutes of quiet time, and then build up their stamina so it’s longer. So, my kids do quiet time for an hour and a half, and since they’ve been home in quarantine, I let them do their quiet time together as long as they’re relatively quiet. Because you know what? Like I’ve learned that they actually like to play together, and I think that a lot of siblings do, they just don’t really know how. And so, I really want to encourage you guys to take the time to really focus on fostering that relationship.
And if you guys feel like you need some help with this, that you’re feeling like you’re constantly diffusing their battles. You don’t really know how to handle their conflict with confidence. You kind of feel like you’re always just reacting instead of responding, I totally would love to introduce you to a workshop that I put together just for you. It’s called Parenting with Purpose, and it’s going to walk you through all of the things that we’ve been talking about in more detail. It’s going to help you feel more confident.
It’s going to help you prevent sibling rivalry. It’s going to help you just handle things and foster that sibling bonding and create a peaceful environment in your home. I know that we all want that for our family, and I want to show you exactly how to make that happen. So, if you’re interested in checking that out, head to the purposegathering.com/parenting for all the details and to get started right away.
Bonus Tip 6: Expect Interruptions
All right, mama, I want to give you a bonus tip that I think is so important, and you probably already know this, but expect interruptions and know that this is hard on our kids too. This is an absolute difficult time for us all to navigate and hopefully soon things will be a little bit more normal. But for now, and for now, just expect the interruptions and understand that kids really need us more than ever.
So, before we leave you today, I just have one more question for my sweetheart. Scarlett. Why do you think kids feel the need to interrupt their parents so often? Especially when they’re working or when we’re on the phone. Why do you guys do it?
Scarlett: Well I, this is like the truth why I come and interrupt, I don’t know if it’s why your kids interrupt, but for me it’s because I don’t really like to wait for my mom to be done. Because I just want to sit on her lap in her office or something, or just like be in the video or at least just be in the room.
Ashley: So, you just want to be close to me that’s what you’re saying?
Ashley: Totally, and I would agree that’s probably the reason why most kids interrupt, is they’re just looking for that attention from us. They just want to know that they want to remind us that they’re there and like, Hey, pay attention remember me? And I feel like as tempting as it is to just shoo our kids out of the room, I think it’s so important for us to just embrace that moment, let them know that we care about them. We obviously have those boundaries in place, but right now I think the boundaries can be more flexible than normal because of what we’re all going through.
But I hope that you guys found this episode encouraging, inspirational, and just helpful. I want to just say thank you so much, Scarlett, for being on the show with me today. Do you have anything that you want to say to these mamas?
Scarlett: Yes, I would like to speak for all the kids out there that we’re all in this and it’s all very hard for us. And parents, don’t forget about your kids and maybe if you do more special time or something like that, they won’t bother you as much and just spend time with your kids.
Ashley: There you have it mamas wisdom from an eight-year-old who speaks for all the kids out there. Don’t forget about your little ones. Give them extra love and support and snuggles, and don’t forget to embrace all of these mundane moments because mamas one day we are going to miss this time.