Productivity as a WAHM: Lists for the Kids

June 18th, 2009

Hi, I’m Nicole Dean, and I’m guest blogging here on Lexi’s blog this week as part of my Summer Blog World Tour. This is Day Four in my “How in the World can You be Productive when you Work from Home” series.

Yesterday I talked about making a to do list for yourself and how that simple activity can help you to get more done every day. If you haven’t read that post yet, check it out here: Productivity: A Daily Action List

Today, I’d like to talk about giving the kids their own jobs to help you better focus. My kids are 7 and 12, but, I’ve been working from home since 2001, so I’ve been home with little ones long enough to share battle stories. But, let’s make sure to clear one thing before I begin. I surely don’t want to sound like I know it all. Anyone who has been to my house knows that I do not have it all under control. Not even close.

I’m figuring it out with you, so I’ll just share what works best for me. Every parent knows there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution when you’re talking about kids, so read my suggestions and adjust for your family from there.

Set Expectations and Communicate Them Clearly.

I am a creative, go-with-the-flow kind of gal. That’s one of my best assets, but I believe it’s also a huge hindrance when working from home, compared with someone more structured than I am. Structure and routine is not something that comes easy to me. Therefore, I found that I have the best results when my expectations for my kids are put in a written list. My kids have daily to do lists that must be performed in order to keep Mommy happy. And, since Mommy’s business pays the bills, it better get done… or else.

Now I sound like a total meanie, but the lists are basic stuff, which, unfortunately won’t get done unless I either have it on a list where it has to be crossed off – or I cross my arms and stand in front of each of my children until it’s done. I choose the list.

Specific Tasks are Essential.

I try my best to set my kids up to succeed. I find that kids do much better with specifics rather than blanket statements. I have found in my parenting over the years, with my own kids, neighbor kids, and in being a Girl Scout Leader that kids respond much better when given a specific task rather than a general one.

For instance, when my son was about 5 years old, I’d come into his room and he’d be surrounded on the floor with Legos. I’d say “Please pick up your Legos” and he would promptly burst into tears crying “there’s too many!” I found that, by asking differently, I’d get a much better response. So, instead I’d say “Please pick up all of the green legos.” or I’d say “Please pick up 50 legos”. Either of those would get him moving. It still works.

I say this because you have to break down tasks to their very basics for certain children.


Here’s my daughter’s daily to do list. She’s 7. (Click here to view it as a .pdf file.)

She is required to complete everything on the list before friends can come over and before she can use any form of technology. That means, no TV, DS, computer, etc, until the list is done.

Benefits for Me.

What does this all have to do with productivity? If my kids are doing their jobs, then I’m free to be focused and do mine.Otherwise, when I’m battling and micromanaging my family, I work too many hours, am miserable and spend less quality time with them. Of course, listing “Kiss Mommy” on the list isn’t such a bad thing for me, either.

Drawbacks for Me.

I have to make sure that it gets done and stick by my rules, even when the TV would be such a nice babysitter. However, I’m a mom first, so… the list has to be done before the TV goes on in my house.

Can this Work for a 2-Year Old?

Certainly. In fact, I highly recommend it. Of course, you’d need to use pictures instead of words until your child can read and you’d probably want to laminate the list. But, outlining the morning and evening routine for your toddler, including brushing teeth, picking up toys, and kissing mommy is a great way to give your child pride, confidence, and set him/her up to succeed.

On that note, I’d love to hear your tips for working from home with children. I’ll be back tomorrow with the last post in this series.

Reminder: don’t forget to check out Jimmy D. Brown’s report: “Homepreneur Habits: How To Run A Successful Home Business” to learn how to work less and profit more.


Nicole Dean on Twitter| Nicole Dean’s Blog & Podcast

5 Responses to “Productivity as a WAHM: Lists for the Kids”

  1. Lorraine on June 18, 2009 12:08 pm


    These are great tips. Breaking down tasks is useful for everyone–parents and kids of all ages.

    My children are teens now, but–as a writer who requires absolute solitude to work–I always struggled to work at home when they were young.

  2. Nicole Dean on June 18, 2009 2:17 pm

    I agree, Lorraine.
    The solitude and getting in the groove is the hardest part for me, too. That’s why the timer is my bestest friend. :)

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Teresa Hall on June 18, 2009 3:06 pm

    It’s funny – my “baby” is 17 and she still needs a to-do list to follow! (Of course, so do I!!)

  4. Nell on June 18, 2009 3:18 pm

    I love the one about the 2 year old … love it!


  5. Mary on June 18, 2009 3:53 pm

    While my son was in Iraq, I babysat my oldest grandaughter,(she was about 18-20 mos old at the time), to help out my daughter-in-law. As long as she had her headset like granny’s and her paper and crayons so she could work at her little desk, she was usually very good.

    When she was about 3 she loved having her own keyboard (an old electric typewriter,without the cord and such) so she could work at her puter.

    Wish I would have known about your To Do List at that time.

    I now watch my 2nd grandaughter who just happens to be 2. So I will trying the list thing out with her.


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