Last Updated April 24th, 2019

How To Prepare For A Work At Home Job Interview

How to prepare for a work at home job interview

Once you’ve applied for a work at home job, you need to be ready for interviews. You need to prepare yourself for your interview, so you do well. It can be different from what you may be used to from other jobs, as your work at home job interview may be done over the phone or by video. Make sure you’re ready to show your best qualities during your interview.

Make Sure The Interview Looks Legitimate

It’s not unheard of to realize that you’re on the path of a work at home scam when you schedule the interview. Some scams hide pretty well until they give themselves away at this point.

For example, work at home job interviews held over Google Hangouts are almost always scams. If things are looking good but they say the interview is on Google Hangouts, consider this a red flag. It’s possible that a few legitimate employers use this, but it’s far more commonly used by scammers.

Schedule Your Work At Home Job Interview Carefully

schedule remote interview

You can usually request a particular interview time frame. Make the most of this and choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. Make arrangements for any children to be gone at school or with friends or family if at all possible. The fewer people in the house, the less likely it is that they will interrupt your work at home job interview.

Make sure you know what time zone your interview is scheduled in. A 10 a.m. EST time is very different from a 10 a.m. CST time. Getting the time zone wrong can make your hours early or late for your interview.

You should also find out what kind of interview you will be preparing for. There are several types, and knowing which sort to expect can help you prepare for it.

Research The Company And Position

These days it’s easy to research potential employers online. Most have websites which give at least basic information about the company. Search for news releases about them as well.

You can also learn about them from what they post on social media. Consider the kinds of things and the tone they use. This can give you a feel for how the company wants to be seen.

It’s can also be a good idea to find out what working for a potential employer is really like. Look up potential employers on sites such as Glassdoor to see what others think of them. Glassdoor is a great place to find out what employees really think of the companies they work for.

That said, remember that these reviews can be done anonymously, and may not be completely accurate. A disgruntled employee or customer may post things that aren’t true.

Be Ready For The Usual Questions

There are some questions you will almost always be asked during an interview. You should be ready with clear answers for them. These include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Questions about your work history and qualifications.
  • Why are you interested in the job?
  • How will you handle the lack of face to face interaction while working remotely?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?

When possible, use solid data in your answers, especially when discussing your accomplishments. If you work in sales or marketing, you may be able to discuss dollar figures or percentage improvements you’ve made. Writers can discuss how many words or articles they can write in a time frame. Managers can include how many people they supervised and the results.

Be sure that your answers are focused more on how you benefited your previous employer, not on yourself. Focusing too much on yourself can make discussing your accomplishments look like bragging.

When it comes to your reasons for working at home, go ahead and mention your personal reasons, but also discuss how working remotely will make you an effective employee.

Whatever you do, don’t create scripted answers for yourself. You can create notes on points you want to cover, but you’ll sound more natural if you don’t force yourself to keep to a script. After all, the things you want to say may change during the interview. If you’re relying on a script, you could end up struggling for words.

Review Your Qualifications

remote job interview

Go over the job listing carefully, paying close attention to the qualifications required. Consider how your skills, training, and experience meet these qualifications.

Think about what you can say about your qualifications during the interview. How did you get these skills? Are they advanced or is this your first job in this area out of school?

The more closely you meet the requested qualifications, the more the company is likely to be interested in you. It’s vital that you be able to talk about them clearly.

Be Ready To Demonstrate Skills

Sometimes interviewers will ask you to demonstrate some of the skills you would use on the job. A customer service interview, for example, may have you pretend to be helping a customer. Software developers may have to demonstrate their coding skills.

It’s also a good idea to develop your skills with common online productivity and communication tools. You may need to be familiar with Skype, Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Docs or other such tools.

Try to find out what the company uses in advance so that you can learn how to use any tools which are unfamiliar. It’s a big advantage if you can say you know how to handle these things. Not many companies do significant team communication over email during the workday.

Prepare Questions

Employers expect you to have questions during the interview. You want to ask the right ones.

Don’t ask questions that you can readily find the answers to on your own. Some positions, for example, will tell you straight up that there are no fees associated with the work, or that there will be a fee for a background check. If you ask questions on this subject, make sure your question shows that you know the basic information, but simply want more detailed information.

Have a list of questions ready beforehand, but be ready to cross some off if they are answered earlier in the interview. Also be ready to add some new ones if you come up with ideas during the interview.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What is a normal workday like?
  • What challenges can I expect on this job?
  • How will I be trained?
  • What opportunities are there for advancement?
  • What are your expectations of employees in their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
  • Are meetings by phone, on Slack, or otherwise online?
  • How frequent are meetings?
  • How often do you gather in person?

Ask for more information on the responsibilities of the position, training, scheduling, minimum/maximum hours allowed, and similar subjects. You can also ask about opportunities for advancement. Ask when the job starts and when you might hear back about it. You want to show your interest in the job.

Have Work Samples Ready

take interview notes

Having work samples ready to share at your work at home interview can also be a huge help. There’s only so much you can do for some positions – it’s not likely that you have a sample of a customer service call you’ve taken, for example. But for any position where samples are relevant, have them ready.

Depending on your work, this could be a link to a blog, a GitHub repository, or files saved to your computer and ready to share. Actual samples of your work can show far more of your ability than anything else you do in an interview.

Prepare Your Workspace

Make sure the place you’re going to work in is ready before your interview. This is especially important if you’re doing a video interview or if you need to send pictures of your home office.

This means having a clean desk in an uncluttered area of your home. Be sure that the space you use for your interview would be acceptable to the employer as a workspace should you be hired. If they expect you to be in a room where you can close the door, you need to interview in a room with the door closed.

Test Your Equipment

One of the surest ways to fail a work at home job interview is to have an equipment failure. If it’s beyond your control, you may be able to explain and get a new interview, but if it’s something you should have prepared, that’s a major problem.

An interview over the phone will be pretty easy to handle. A landline may be a safer bet than a cellphone if available, as the connection may be clearer.

If the interview is over Skype or similar services, practice on it with a friend. This is especially important if it’s a video interview – you need to be sure that you know how to make it all work.

You should also turn on your webcam if it’s a video interview to see what your interviewer will see. You may notice some things you hadn’t spotted just looking around the room. Position your webcam right above your monitor so that you appear to be looking at the camera when you look at your screen.

Headphones with a good microphone will be a huge help. This will help keep other noises out and avoid echos.

If at all possible, use a landline telephone or wired internet connection for your interview. The connection will be faster and more reliable. Cell phones, in particular, may have poor connections right when you need them.

No Background Noise

This is utterly vital if you’re trying for a job that requires you have a quiet workspace, and still very important for any other work at home job. This shows potential employers that you won’t be constantly distracted by things around the house as you work.

Talk to your kids, spouse, and anyone else in your home about what you’ll need from them during your interview. If someone can take the kids out of the house during your interview, so much the better. They can’t make background noise if they aren’t home.

Another advantage to getting everyone out of the house is that it keeps them off your internet. You don’t want your connection to lag because someone else is streaming videos or playing online games.

If you have pets, make plans for them as well. The dog may need to be taken for a walk, and the cats closed up in a room well away from your home office or wherever you’re doing your interview.

Contact Your References

If you haven’t already let your references know that you’re job hunting, now is a good time to do so. It’s nice for them to know that they may be called.

Help your references out by letting them know what kind of work you’re interviewing for. This will help the know what to say if they’re called. If there’s a particular skill you want highlighted, don’t be afraid to let your references know.

You can also try to get more recommendations for your skills on LinkedIn. Potential employers are likely to check you out there as well as on other social media.

Practice

Whether your interview is over the phone or on video, or even in person for a more local company, take some time and practice for your interview. Read up on job interview skills and have someone help you practice using them. Remember to smile – a smile can help project a positive attitude even if they can’t see your face.

Have a friend or family member help. This will be more effective than practicing on your own.

Plan For Problems

No matter how carefully you prepare for your work at home job interview, sometimes things will go wrong.

home office desk

Some may be minor. A sick child might stay home, in which case you need to make sure they stay quiet. Your internet connection might lag. A neighbor could start mowing their lawn during your interview.

Others can be disastrous. Know what you’re going to do if your internet connection completely fails or other such problems occur.

These preparations will also be useful if you get the job. The day I was supposed to start my work at home medical transcription job, the phone line I was supposed to use for it was turned off for fraud. It took hours to convince the phone company that their employee had entered some information incorrectly (I used to work for that company and knew exactly how it had happened), and that there was no fraud on my part. My employer, fortunately, was both understanding and amused, as that was the most unique reason they’d ever heard for failing to start work on time.

Dress Appropriately

If your interview is by phone, this is less important, although you may find it helpful to dress nicely for psychological reasons. If it’s a video interview, you definitely want to look appropriate. For home based work, this is probably not a suit, but you should be neatly dressed. A video interview may be your potential employer’s only visual impression of you, and you want it to suit the position you’re after.

Get Some Rest

All this interview prep can be exhausting, but you need to get some rest too. This way you don’t look completely stressed out when it’s time for your work at home job interview. If you’re tired during your interview, you probably won’t perform as well as you would otherwise.

Be Ready Early

Don’t wait until your scheduled interview time to get set up. Have your computer on and log onto anything you’ll need to be logged into for the interview several minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. This will give you time to deal with any minor issues that may come up.

Punctuality is a huge deal for some remote jobs. If you’re taking technical support or customer service calls, for example, you may be expected to adhere to a very strict schedule. If you’re late for your remote interview, that won’t look good to the employer.

For other positions, it still matters. Being punctual shows that you are capable of managing your time well.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 11th, 2019

Should You Only Work At Home While Your Children Are Small?

Should You Only Work at Home While Your Children Are Small?

Having children is one of the big reasons why people get started working at home. It saves a ton on childcare and you can still earn some money. There’s often a question, however, of how long you should keep working at home. Should you only work at home while your children are small, or do you keep going when they’re all school age?

Honestly, there’s no one answer to that. It really depends on how well working at home is going for you and if it still meets your family’s needs.

Consider The Financial Aspects Of Continuing To Work At Home

Money will be a huge factor for many families. Once the kids are all in school, childcare costs go way down, making working outside the home more affordable. If your work at home income is minimal, that can make a big difference in your desire to remain at home.

successful working at home

On the other hand, you may be earning more from home than you’re likely to earn outside the home. In that case, finances aren’t really a consideration. Odds are good that you’ll choose to keep working at home unless you’re really just done with it all.

Think about your future as well. Will your career advance as well working at home as it would working outside the home?

What About Retirement?

Of course, your finances now aren’t the only consideration. Are you able to save appropriately for retirement while working at home? You may not feel the pinch now, but what about later on?

Certainly, you can keep on working at home even past retirement age, so long as you keep your skills up and you’re physically able, but not everyone will want to. If the work you do at home isn’t earning enough for you to save for retirement, you need to think about how you’re going to handle it.

It’s a good idea to save for retirement as a stay at home mom or dad regardless of whether you work at home, of course. That’s not possible for everyone, but if you can find a way, make sure you put aside money for your retirement. You’ll be glad of it later.

Are You Still Enjoying It?

working mom

Working at home is wonderful in many ways, and terrible and others. Many people find it isolating. It can be hard to put your work aside enough to have time for yourself. You may be finding it more difficult to be productive simply because you aren’t enjoying being at home so much anymore.

This may or may not be a reason to find outside the home work when the kids get bigger. We all have times in any job where we’re just tired of it. Location doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. On the other hand, you might just be done enough with the whole work at home thing that outside the home work will be better for you.

What Kind of Work Can You Get Outside the Home?

Getting back into the workforce is hard for many people. Working at home means you at least have something to put on your resume, but how will it relate to the work you’d like to do? Are you going back to a field you used to work in, continuing in more or less what you’ve been doing at home or trying something new? Are your skills up for what you’d like to do?

to work at home or not

Finding an outside the home job is hardest, of course, if you haven’t been working at all for a few years, and are trying to get into a demanding field. It’s much better if you’ve kept up on your skills, and better yet if you’ve been actively using them. Things can change quite a bit over a few years. If your skills and experience are somewhat out of date, you may have to start lower than you anticipated.

If you’re having trouble getting back into the workforce, consider updating your education. Figure out what you need to learn to move your career in the direction you’d like it to go. This may involve going back to college or taking classes online.

What Does Your Family Think?

While the final decision must be yours, take your family’s feelings into consideration. Kids who are used to having you at home may not be all that comfortable with you heading out to work. Be prepared to deal with the adjustment if you decide that you aren’t remaining at home. The kids will adjust – they’re flexible like that – but it may take a little time.

As for me, when the time came, I chose to keep working at home. All of my kids are in school now – one is even learning to drive! It’s not always easy, and there have been times that I’ve considered heading to work outside the home.

It comes down to this: I like working at home. I like working on my own schedule. And I love that I can be there when my kids need me. They still do sometimes. They’d be shocked if I started a job outside the home, although I’d be lying if I said I never considered it.

Whatever you decide, don’t feel guilty if it’s not what everyone in your family wants you to do. You’re allowed to consider your own needs as well as those of your family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 4th, 2019

Working At Home Means Knowing When To Say No

Working At Home Means Knowing When To Say No

Do you feel respected when you tell family and friends that you work at home? While some do, others don’t. This is because some people assume that work at home moms or dads are available to them all day. It becomes extremely important to know when to say no when you work at home.

The image many people have of what people do when they work at home is unrealistic, although it has improved as remote work has become more common. Nonetheless, some will picture you lazing about, not really getting anything done for the day, maybe playing with your kids or pets.

Odds are that they have no idea what the reality looks like.

Explain Work At Home Reality

When you’re having a lot of trouble with someone who makes demands of you during your work hours, it helps to explain the reality of working at home.

  • You aren’t free to watch their kids.
  • The time you can spend texting, chatting on the phone or in person is limited or nonexistent.
  • You really do have to get things done.
  • Yes, you do have a schedule, whether it’s a personal preference or a professional obligation.
  • Your work at home time is precious, and sometimes hard to find.

When To Say No

People generally feel free to make demands of people who work at home that they wouldn’t consider making of other people. They want your time or services. They don’t understand what you do or how important it is that you keep working.

yes or no

Some people will just come up to you and ask if you can (fill in the blank, but keep it clean) for them. Maybe it relates to what you do at home or maybe they just want a babysitter for their kids. In any case, it’s probably completely ignoring the value of your time.

These are the things you may have to learn to say “no” to.

  • Working for free. Exposure to their hoped-for audience is not payment.
  • Watching their kids for no pay, unless it keeps your own kids busy.
  • Idle chitchat during your work hours. Just because they have time doesn’t mean you have time.
  • No, you won’t (fill in the blank. Are you still keeping it clean?).

Yes, sometimes you can decide to give someone a freebie. If you do this, make sure you explain what you normally charge and that you won’t keep doing it for free. Build respect for what you do at home.

But They’ll Be Angry At Me!

Yes, some people may be angry when you start saying no to them when you used to do things for them. That’s not your fault. It’s theirs.

If you want to work at home successfully, you can’t let people walk all over you, demanding time you don’t have to spare.

Hopefully, most people will be accepting when you say you can’t do things you used to do. But if someone is angry at you, don’t give in. Don’t let them walk all over you. Stand your ground.

Besides, are they really a good friend if they get angry at you for needing to work?

Consider saying no as a form of self care. You’re cutting down on the stress caused by trying to combine work with whatever others are asking of you. It’s not selfish.

You Don’t Have To Answer The Phone Or Door

When people call you on the phone or come to your door while you’re working at home, you may feel an obligation to answer.

work at home reality

You really don’t have to.

Build the expectation that you won’t answer the phone or door when you’re busy. This won’t be easy with some people, but others will be quick to understand that they need to respect your work hours the same as if you worked outside the home.

Set your smartphone to its Do Not Disturb mode when you need to work uninterrupted. Turn off the ringer of the house phone, if you have one. The only phone you should be hearing from is any phone related to your work.

I don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers very often these days, regardless. They’re mostly spam or fraudulent calls anyhow. I look at the caller ID and decide if it’s worth the trouble or if it should just go to voicemail.

I strongly recommend getting a Ring or other video doorbell when you work at home. Not only will it help you see who’s at the door, but it can also help you spot when deliveries come. Not all delivery people ring the bell, so having a doorbell that will alert you anyhow is nice.

The ability to see who’s at the door without leaving your desk can be a huge help. If you need quiet because you’re working on the phone, you can turn the sound on your phone or other devices connected to the doorbell off.

Build Respect For Your Work Hours

Overall, you need to build respect for your work hours. The more you show that you respect these hours by refusing distractions, the faster others will learn to respect them and you.

Talk to people who interrupt your work hours about the times that you are able to just sit and talk. Especially if you have young children, your work hours may be sharply limited. You cannot tolerate losing too much work time.

Others will assume that it’s so easy to work at home that they can interrupt you freely. Sure, it’s easy for some people, but most of us have to work hard at our remote jobs or online businesses. Most people don’t get the big bucks for just a few hours’ work.

When To Say Yes

when to say yes

Just because you need to be careful about agreeing to do favors when you work at home doesn’t mean you should always say no. There are times when yes is a perfectly reasonable answer.

Volunteering

I like volunteering at my kids’ school when possible. It’s a good way to keep up on events happening at school, and I get to see the kids. My youngest still loves seeing me there. It’s also a bit of social time for me with other adults.

But I do not volunteer for everything that comes up. I choose my times. If I’m too busy, it’s a no.

I also make sure my husband takes on his share. Our youngest is doing Destination Imagination (DI) this year, and he’s the appraiser for one of the challenges. Every team has to supply appraisers, so this is an important time for us as parents to step up and volunteer.

What we don’t do is assume that I’m the one who handles all the volunteer work just because I have a more flexible schedule. DI appraisers attend training on weekends, and most competitions are on weekends. Short of making Global Finals, it’s as easy for him to handle as it would be for me. This year it’s his turn.

We also volunteer at a local animal shelter. Once again, it’s fun, a nice break from my work routine. It also helps that we do this on Fridays, which is one of my less productive days due to the kids’ school schedules. Some of the time I lose volunteering would have been spent picking kids up anyhow.

Don’t let volunteering take up too much of your productive work time. But when you want to do it and it fits in your schedule, go for it!

When It’s A Part Of A Commitment

There may be things in your life that take up time you’d rather spend working that you can’t get out of. In some way, you’ve already committed to it.

For example, what activities are your kids in, and what do those activities demand of you?

My older two kids do archery, and my youngest does Destination Imagination, as mentioned above. While neither of these require much of time time most of the year, competitions for both happen in the spring. Often, they involve a bit of travel.

Having both of those hit at once can be a bit hellish on my work routine. Even the regional competitions can be a 1-2 hour drive away, depending on location and traffic. As they start early in the morning, we often opt for a hotel stay rather than getting up at 4-5 in the morning and trying to make sleepy kids compete.

While these mess up my work routine, that’s something I accepted when allowing my kids to participate in these activities. They can’t be on these teams if they don’t compete, and they can’t compete if we don’t take them there.

When You Can Afford The Time And Want To Do It

make it happen

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing favors for others when you want to and it won’t interfere with your work.

Since I don’t need quiet when I work, for example, I often let my kids have friends over while I’m working. This was especially useful when they were young enough to want someone to play with all the time. If a friend came by, they were it. Otherwise, my kids wanted me.

That made it practical to sometimes help other parents out by having their kids over. Sure, I had to get snacks for the kids sometimes, but otherwise working was often easier with an extra kid or two in the house, not harder. Weird, but true.

These days, the school my kids go to is far enough off that I drive to pick them up. I also sometimes end up driving some of their friends home. As this adds less than 10 minutes to the trip, I don’t have a problem with it. It also means their parents are willing to do favors if I need them.

Remember That You’re Fortunate To Work At Home

Even with these challenges, make sure you make the most of being able to work from home. Enjoy yourself. Talk about what you do just as other people talk about their jobs. Enjoy the ability to be closer to your family, even when you have to sacrifice and work more hours at home than you’d ideally like to.

You’re very fortunate. You can do something many only dream of. Earning money from home is something very, very special.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 27th, 2019

Combining Office And Playroom – Is It A Good Idea?

Combining Office And Playroom - Is It A Good Idea?

When you work at home with small children, one big consideration is how you deal with the kids while you’re working. Smaller children need a lot more attention, and it’s not always easy to figure out how to make it all work. Combining office and playroom is hugely tempting. But is it a good idea?

That depends on a few factors. We’ll start with the problems with adding a play area.

Disadvantages Of Combining Office And Playroom

Not All Employers Allow It

You may not always be able to combine office and playroom. Many work at home employers do not allow distractions in the same room. If you work a lot on the phone, they probably especially do not allow background noise.

And we all know how good little kids are at making background noises.

Don’t risk your job just to keep your kids nearby while you work. If it’s a problem for your employer, find another way to keep your kids busy while you work. Trade babysitting, work hours when your spouse or someone else can care for your kids… whatever it takes, find a solution.

Kids Are Distracting

Let’s say you work for yourself or background noises aren’t a problem for your employer. Having kids in your home office can still be a problem.

Kids at play are distracting. Possibly less distracting than wondering what they’re up to in the other room, but still distracting.

Distractions mean you work more slowly and get less done. Odds are that it means you earn less money if you’re paid on productivity or by project, or that eventually, your employer will realize you aren’t as productive as you should be.

That’s a problem. A big one.

If you can’t cope with the distractions, don’t let your kids into your home office.

Tax Issues

Adding a play area for your kids may mess with your ability to take a home office deduction. If you aren’t taking that deduction, obviously this is not an issue, but it’s something to consider and bring up with a tax professional if you want the deduction. I can’t tell you for certain how it works if they only play while your work, but if the kids use your office for a play area or homework at other times, it’s absolutely not going to work. A home office must meet an exclusive use requirement, and letting the kids play in there is going to mess with that.

Child Safety

There are risks to having your child play in your home office too. Odds are there are a lot of power outlets with cords coming out, your chair may have wheels that can roll over small fingers or feet, kids may knock things down. If you want your kids in your home office, make sure you look at how you can make it safe for their age.

Advantages Of Combining Office And Playroom

play area

Kids Are Right There

This can be a huge advantage with small children, if they let you work. No worries about what they’re getting into. They’re in easy reach if they need you. They get to spend time with you even though they aren’t your main focus when you’re working.

An infant, for example, only needs a crib or playpen much of the day. If you’re into baby wearing, you may be able to do some work that way, so long as noise and speed don’t matter.

When my kids were toddlers, I used a combination of baby gates at the doors and play yard panels to keep them near and safe. I did medical transcription at the time, so I could generally respond quickly to their needs.

You’re Setting an Example

I believe that work at home parents can set a very good example for their kids. You’re showing them how to make work a part of their lives, how you help support your family. I like making sure my kids know that there’s more to life than being a mother, even when I’m prioritizing motherhood.

They Will Grow Out Of It

Your kids will only need to play in your home office for a relatively short time. Soon enough, they will be old enough to play in their bedrooms or other parts of the house without leaving you to worry about what they’re up to. Then there’s school, friends and all kinds of other reasons why they don’t want to be limited to the home office playroom anymore.

My kids almost never come into my home office anymore unless they need help with homework. It’s a lot quieter in there now than when my kids were little… although it helps that this is the first home we’ve been in where I have a door to close.

On the other hand, that door means that my home office is also the guest room. Sometimes there’s just no way to keep a space all to yourself. At least it’s mostly mine.

How To Make A Combined Home Office And Playroom Happen

If you really want your combined office and playroom to work well, you need to play it out. Don’t just throw a few toys around and call it good. The room has to work for both of you.

mom office desk

Set Up The Home Office First

The first function of your home office space must be as an office. What do you need to set up your work space?

Even if you have a laptop computer, I recommend having a desk and chair. These give you a defined place to work.

When the kids were little, I liked having a big enough desk that I could give them a little space on the desk too. This allowed them to pretend they were working too. But consider your work needs before you do this – for some jobs, it may be too much to have your kids right at your desk.

Consider what else you will need in your home office. Do you need a place to store your supplies? Do you need a printer?

Make the space as comfortable and productive a workspace as possible. Combining office and playroom creates enough challenges as is – consider your work needs before your child’s play needs, or this isn’t going to work.

Childproof

The next thing you want to do is make your office as safe as possible for your child. Exactly what this means depends on your child.

A child young enough to mostly be worn or limited to a play area won’t need a lot of childproofing. One who can wander the entire room but is still young enough to get into things will take more work.

As I said above, I used play yard panels to keep my toddlers out of the way. I wrapped them around my desk, so my toddlers had plenty of room to play and I didn’t have to worry about rolling over little fingers.

In general, you want to keep cords out of reach and make sure kids can’t punch the power button on your computer. There was a time when I had to cover the power button on my desktop computer with cardboard because the pretty, shiny light was too attractive to my kids. Toddler-induced shutdowns are a bad thing!

Get anything else you don’t want the kids to reach in a safe place too.

Make It Fun

Once everything is productive for you and safe for your kids, make it fun for them. The more fun your kids can have, the more they’ll let you work.

Pick out special toys that your kids love but are just for when you need to work. I always liked to include an old keyboard when my kids liked to pretend they were working too. Young enough kids never notice that it isn’t attached to anything – in fact, we removed the cord too.

If you need quiet in your workspace, think carefully about how you set your child up. It will be hard enough to have quiet with them in there – don’t make it impossible with noisy toys.

Art supplies are a great choice once the kids are old enough. Set up an easel or small table with protection for the floor, and let your kids go at their favorite art supplies.

A chalkboard wall is another fun idea. Then your kids will have a space where they can draw on the wall.

A cardboard box playhouse can also be a great idea, and free, if you can find a large enough box. We’ve built them out of appliance boxes and boxes we had saved for us at home improvement stores. Cut some doors and windows, and kids have a great place to play and draw.

Don’t Forget A Spot For Naps

Young children fall asleep at the most random times. Make sure they can do that in your office too – you might just get some extra quiet work time you weren’t expecting.

A blanket and some pillows can help with this. Kids don’t mind sleeping on the floor, but you can add some cushions for them to curl up on if you want.

The blankets may also be good for making a blanket fort, which all children enjoy.

Make The Most Of Storage Space

Just because the kids play in there doesn’t mean your home office needs to fall into chaos. It’s okay if things get messy when the kids are actually playing, but you don’t want a mess all of the time. Set up enough storage space to put your things away as well as the kids’ toys.

Storage bins are great for children’s toys. They can handle odd shapes easily. Have a little fun with color to make the room more interesting for the kids.

Bookshelves and file cabinets can be a help too.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t allow clutter to mess up your workspace. If a clutter problem develops, find a way to control it. Add more storage space if necessary and possible.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated March 22nd, 2019

25 Free And Cheap Online Tools For Moms

25 Free And Cheap Online Tools For Moms

Keeping up with all you have to do is not easy for a stay at home or work at home mom. No matter what you do, something will come up to use up all of your spare time. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and cheap online tools for moms which can help you get everything done.

Groceries And Meals

AllRecipes

All Recipes is my favorite recipe site, mostly due to the user ratings. If I like a recipe, I print it out and file it in a binder. Much more effective for me than buying a cookbook. I write notes on changes I’ve made so I can keep track easily.

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Yummly

Yummly is another great way to find recipes online. You can select recipes and use them to create a shopping list for the week. The recipes come from blogs all over the internet, so the range of possibilities is amazing.

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Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh offers grocery delivery to your door in certain areas. If it’s hard to get out shopping, this can be a huge help. You can get fresh produce, meats, prepared foods and more through Amazon Fresh. This is an addon membership – you must also be a member of Amazon Prime.

If Fresh isn’t available in your area, you can also get items delivered via Amazon Prime Pantry. You must be a member of Amazon Prime to use Prime Pantry.

InstaCart

InstaCart is a grocery delivery service available in many areas. You can get same day delivery, which is great for those times when you don’t want to drag the kids to the grocery store.

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groceries

Money

Ibotta

Ibotta gives you cash back on qualified purchases. The offers change regularly, and may include cash back on purchases from popular stores such as Costco, Whole Foods, Walmart and many more. It’s not just groceries, too. You may get cash back on travel, electronics, and more.

If you use my referral code – gflmbgj – I get cash back and you get a bonus in your new account too.

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Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is much like Ibotta. Find deals on the app, then buy the items and scan your receipt. The great part is they don’t care which store you bought the product at.

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BerryCart

One of the biggest problems with a lot of the money back shopping apps is that they don’t give money back on many healthy foods. BerryCart does. Their focus is on organic, gluten free and non-GMO foods.

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Varage Sale

Want to get rid of the clutter in your home? The Varage Sale app can help you list things you’re ready to sell. They verify the identity of all users, so you know who you’re meeting up with when you make a sale or a purchase.

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Scholly

As your kids approach college age, odds are that scholarships are on your mind. Scholly can help you find scholarships for them to apply for. The monthly subscription is $2.99 as of this writing, but it could easily pay for itself if your child finds some good scholarships.

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mom texting

Communication

Skype

Skype has become quite popular as a way to call family members who are far away. The company one of my sisters works for even uses it to keep all their home-based employees in contact. They just stay logged into Skype anytime they’re working, for meetings and so forth. For many uses it’s free, but other features require payment.

If you have Windows 10, you already have Skype on your computer.

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Google Voice

You can use Google Voice to send text messages or make phone calls from your computer. It’s a great option for a free phone number if you have a home business.

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Peanut

Finding mom friends is hard, and that’s where Peanut comes in. It’s kind of like Tinder, but for making friends with other moms. You can chat and create group conversations, and make plans to meet other moms in your area.

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Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a way to keep up with what’s going on in your neighborhood. I honestly have mixed feelings about it, as some people can be awful on it – just check out the Worst of Nextdoor Twitter account. On the other hand, it can be hilarious, as seen on the Best of Nextdoor Twitter account – which still shows some bad behavior, but it’s the stuff you can see as funny.

In some neighborhoods, it works out pretty well. You can find out about local events or ask neighbors how to find a local babysitter. Your address has to be verified to join.

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mom phone

Scheduling

Remember the Milk

There’s a great free version that will do for most people. It can remind you of tasks by email, SMS or instant messenger. You can even attach files in Google Drive or Dropbox to tasks.

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Cozi Family Organizer

Cozi Family Organizer can help you keep your life organized in so many ways. You can help everyone in the family keep up on family activities and events, update your grocery shopping list, plan meals, and more. You can share appointments from calendars such as Google Calendar to Cozi.

The free version of Cozi is supported by ads, but you can pay for the Gold version to get rid of the ads and get some extra features.

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Google Calendar

Yes, I enjoy a lot of Google’s free products. Google Calendar lets me input all kinds of important events, from birthdays repeating every year, to one time events. Then it can be set to email me and anyone else I choose in advance as a reminder. I’m terrible with birthdays, so I like setting reminders to about two weeks in advance. Makes me look like the organized one in the family.

Events can be set to public or private, so I can keep things to myself while sharing things that I want others to know.

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Chorma

Whose turn is it to take out the trash? Figure it out with Chorma! The app makes it easy to assign chores and give points for doing them. It syncs between devices, so everyone knows what jobs they need to get done.

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When You Need Help

Task Rabbit

For those times when you need help getting something done around the house. You can use Task Rabbit to find someone to do general handyman work, assemble furniture, heavy lifting, and more.

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Bambino

Need a sitter? Bambino will help you find one, even if it’s short notice. You pick from sitters in your area who can then accept or decline the job. You can even pay with the app.

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mom fitness

Fitness

Fitbit

Wearing a Fitbit can be a great way to keep track of your physical activity throughout the day and track how you sleep. There are, of course, many other fitness trackers to choose from that will do much the same.

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FitMama

FitMama offers workouts that you can do in 5-10 minutes, with the goal of getting fit after having a baby. It allows you to choose a pace you’re comfortable with and tracks your progress.

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Healthy Wage

If you’re really confident that you can meet your weight loss goals, you can risk some money through Healthy Wage. You can make an individual bet or join a team challenge. Obviously, this could get expensive if you lose your bets.

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For The Kids

Playground Buddy

Finding a playground in an unfamiliar area is difficult. Playground Buddy makes it easier by letting you search a database of more than 350,000 playgrounds in over 170 countries. When the kids really need to get some energy out, that could be a huge help.

If you know of a park that isn’t in the database, you can add it. Share the features of the park to make it really useful.

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Trekaroo

Much like Playground Buddy, but Trekaroo helps you find all kinds of family friendly activities, including hotels and restaurants.

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Happy Kids Timer

How long does it take your kids to get through their morning and evening routines? I have to be honest, sometimes even my teens go slow. And while a teenager isn’t likely to appreciate being timed by an app, younger kids may like how this app turns it into a game.

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What Online Tools For Moms Do You Like?

Now it’s your turn. What apps and online tools for moms help you keep your life organized, save money or otherwise help you be the best mom you can be?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.