9 Ways Your Kids Can Help You Work From Home

Having your kids help out when you work from home can be a win-win situation. The kids learn valuable skills and feel a part of what you are doing all day, making it easier for them to remember the ground rules you set. And work at home parents win by getting to spend more time with their children and by receiving some enthusiastic help. 

It does take some strategy on your part to find those tasks that are age-appropriate and interesting to the kids, yet still useful to you. As parents, we are always looking for ways to teach our kids new skills and to infuse them with a sense of responsibility. This is a perfect opportunity for that.

The younger your kids are when you start having them help you around the home office, the more enthusiastic they will likely be. However, it won’t always be easy to incorporate into your routine the help little ones are able to give. As they grow you will find more things to do.

At first, not everything you might have the kids do will be truly useful to you, but even jobs that you don’t really need to be done prove a benefit. These tasks can teach a skill, make kids feel needed, and keep them occupied while you work. And over time the skills they gain will allow them to become truly helpful to you.

Also as kids grow older, they will be more aware when tasks are busy work, so it is important to keep upping the ante in the complexity of jobs you ask of your children. The ideas in this article generally progress by age, starting with things little ones can do and ending with jobs for older kids.


Sorting and Counting

Child counting on fingers.
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Sorting and counting is one of those things that may or may not be useful to you, but it teaches skills, and it feels useful to the little ones. For kids from preschool on up, it is a task that can be scaled to an age-appropriate level. Young kids can sort and count office supplies (whether you need them sorted or not). Older ones can do inventory if your business is one that carries inventory. If not, kids can take a count of your office supplies, even if you may not really need to know how many paper clips and pencils you have.

If your business takes in cash, let kids count the money after you have. This is a great skill for them to learn, and it never hurts to have someone check your work.



Mother and daughter viewing financial paperwork in living room
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Filing is the kind of task that is probably at the bottom of most people’s to-do list. You know how it goes: You mean to get to it, but things pile up over time. Yet filing is something that children can do well with just a little instruction. If you work in a field where privacy is important, then you probably don’t want the kids doing your filing. Kids old enough to read can help you work through some of those non-private piles of paper.

But don’t stop with paper files. Your kids can also organize your computer files and email, dragging and dropping pictures and other files into folders for you.



Boys playing with shredded paper
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After they are finished filing the paper you want to keep, put children to work shredding documents you don’t want. Kids love to shred stuff! Heck, let them shred your recycling and other paper even if there’s nothing private on it. It will keep them busy.  If your kids are young, you will want to keep a close eye on them when they use the shredder.



Mom and daughter in home office

Encourage kids to be creative thinkers by letting them help you reorganize your home office. Now if you don’t really want your office reorganized, consider letting them reorganize just a corner of your office, or maybe working on a drawer or a cabinet can keep them busy and engaged while you are working. Most important, it gives them a sense of buy-in to the work you do and feels a part of your routine. And you may be surprised at what good organizing ideas you children have!  


Sprucing Up

Father and daughter in home office
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Dusting, sweeping, wiping down surfaces and other small cleaning jobs will keep kids busy and your office clean. They can take out the trash and the recycling. Little ones will think cleaning tasks are more fun more than bigger kids will, who may need a little incentive (i.e. payment) to want to clean. Cleaning is a skill kids need to learn, but it’s also more a way of having the kids with you in your office and busy while you work. It’s a good daily routine to start (or end) your workday with a little straightening up with help from your kids. 



A boy plays with his younger brother in Tennessee.
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Even if your children are not that far apart in age, you can have the older kids watch the younger ones. They will gain valuable skills and confidence from the experience. Investing your children with the responsibility of caring for their siblings also helps to set them up for future employment as a babysitter or mother’s helper. This kind of babysitting might be something as simple reading books to younger kids or playing games with them. Or if your kids are a bit older, you can have the older kids watch the younger ones when they are playing outside. Be sure to reward your “babysitter” in some way or it could become negative. 


Data Entry/Office Work

teen in office
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Of course, this depends on your business or job, but I have found ways for my kids to help in my freelance writing business. The kids have done simple coding. I have had my son read through content looking for errors and duplication. They have entered information into spreadsheets. Mostly I have had them do tasks that I know are worthwhile for improving my productivity in the long run, but not good for it in the short run. I paid them for their efforts and both of us were happy.

While most office work is probably best for older kids, little ones can make copies, collate, staple. They can fold brochures or put business cards in your marketing materials.


Giving Technical Advice

Mother and daughter using laptop together at home
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By the time kids are tweens or teens they may well know more about technology than their parents. If you have a technical issue or are looking for a better way to complete a task, ask your kids for some advice. Every day in school, kids are learning new tricks for how things work. When you work at home, you don’t always have that same level of training on new tech. Kids may have ideas, know shortcuts or be aware of apps or programs that you don’t. And there is nothing more fun than brainstorming with your kids! 


Photography, Social Media, and Marketing

Teenage girl teaching father how to use laptop
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Like the technical advice, this is an area where teens may have some expertise that adults don’t. I’m not proposing that you turn your home business’s marketing efforts over to your kids, but listening to their ideas could give you a whole new perspective. And if your business needs photography, let your teens or tweens take a shot at it. If you need some internet research done, see what they come up with. Teens with an artistic sense might help design flyers or social media memes. Working with your kids on projects like this will mean you will really have to communicate to them what your business is all about. And so in turn their understanding, and perhaps respect for, the work you do will grow. 

By Laureen Miles Brunelli
Laureen Miles Brunelli is an experienced online writer and editor, specializing in content for parents who work at home.