Keep busy items on hand. Working at home in the presence of the kids requires creativity on the parent's part. Of course you will need to play with the kids and give them attention. But there is no reason they shouldn't also have some playtime independent of you. In fact, it’s probably good for them. During those times, they can play with what I call busy items. This would be any item that the kids are very interested in and can play with for long periods of time. Craft supplies, puzzles, building blocks, crossword (and other pencil) books, and favorite stories are just some ideas. Whatever keeps your child busy will be ideal for this time. When it is your child's busy time, it's also your busy time with work.
Take family field trips and schedule activities. This may seem like a distraction to your work from home job. But if you don't take care of yourself and your family, you are not going to perform as well at work. Take time out for fun so that the kids know you care and so you can get in a break. When you can have fun days mixed in with the work days, it helps create balance, leaving you and the kids less frustrated during work time. You can also schedule activities for the kids, such as team sports, dance, and other things they may be into. Be sure to schedule both activities you can participate in with them, as well as those they do independently. Work harder at home when the kids are away and enjoy them when you can have fun together.
Schedule what you can around the noisiest times. You know what times the kids are most likely to be full energy. Try to schedule family fun into that slot and your work in another. Chances are that if you try to work through the noise, you'll get less done. You might as well save the work for later if you can. As I always say, 10 minutes of focused time is more valuable than an hour of chaos. Fit your work in where it makes sense, if your work at home job is at all flexible. Because I am a writer, I can write at any time. Sometimes I find myself writing during graveyard hours because it just didn't happen that day. If you have to, try changing your hours so that you are not working at all when the kids are home or awake.
Call in a mommy's helper. If all else fails, hire someone to help you out. My oldest child is a teenager, so she can do this when necessary. Just have someone around (perhaps an older child or a good friend) who can supervise the kids while you work. You can still be the main supervisor, as I am in my house. But the mommy's helper can help with things like keeping the kids busy, preparing lunch, cleaning up small messes, answering the phone, and more. Even though you are paying this person, when it's an older child, be careful not to work them too hard. You should still be the main supervisor. But having a mommy's helper can really take away a good amount of the stress and frustration so you can get your work done.
Just let it flow. This is probably my life saver tip. Sometimes it helps to just relax and let things go however they go. My work at home career is pretty flexible, as far as time. There are deadlines at times. However, I find that I get things done best when I don't over plan or over schedule. I just do the work when I can and let things flow. Sometimes I want to work when the kids want to have fun. If I don’t have a deadline, I don't worry about it. I just have fun with the kids, such as when we take our nature walks. I complete the work when we get back. There are times when work has to come first. But the kids should also know they matter. For me the key to keeping it all together is letting go of all the worry. My mind is freer, I get more work done, and my family is much happier.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network