As a crafter, trying to find the time and space you need to focus on your projects is a challenge on a good day. If you have kids who are still at home, it can be even more difficult. You need to finish a commission but your kids need attention, too.

How do you balance these needs, meet your deadlines, and give your kids the attention they need all at the same time? Here are some tips.

The seconds are literally slipping away! What do you do?

1. Be Honest

Tell your kids what’s what. You’d be amazed by how many fewer interruptions you have to deal with if you simply tell your kids that you need to focus for a while and that you will play or help them with something later. Your kids want you to succeed as much as you do.

The trick? Ask them to “help” you by playing quietly on their own while you focus.

2. Take Regular Breaks

Take actual breaks regularly to check in on your kids and make sure they aren’t trying to jump off the roof or play in the street. This helps them feel like they’re getting attention and eases your worry that they’ll get up to something you wouldn’t like if left unattended for too long.

3. Give Yourself a Break

Now give yourself a break from the guilt you might feel at not dropping your commission to do whatever your kids want. Yes, your kids always come first in the large sense. This doesn’t mean that their want of a song sung for the 400th time that hour trumps your need to earn money and put food on the table.

4. Give Them Their Own Projects

You undoubtedly have some scraps or crafty items on hand that are meant for kids to play with. Settle them in with those and ask them to create something for you. Kids, typically, love arts and crafts projects, and they’ll like that they get to “work” with you. If someone rebels, let that child read a book or play quietly nearby.

5. Homework!

Surely your kids have homework (if they’re school-aged). While usually your craft space might be off limits for things like homework, on a snow day or school holiday, letting them work on their school stuff in your work area can be a great way for everybody to take care of the things they need to finish.

If there are little ones who aren’t in school, they can be settled in with crayons and paper and their own “assignments” so they feel like their “bigger” siblings. If they are too young for that, you can let them play with blocks (always a great attention-grabber for toddlers).

These simple tools can hold attention for a long time.

6. Ask Your Kids to Help

If your kids are old enough to help you with the smaller parts of your project, ask them to help you. You can put them to work on the parts of your commission you know they can complete. This helps involve your kids and helps you complete your project on time.

7. Put Them to Work!

If your kids are old enough for chores, set them to work! You can offer rewards for the extra chores you’re asking them to do to increase their interest in doing the extra load of laundry or raking the back yard. If there aren’t any house chores to do, put them to work in your studio. Sorting supplies, filing – these are all things your kids can help with.

8. Play Dates

Setting up play dates with nearby friends helps keep your kids happy and gives you the space you need to focus freely on your projects. Make sure to offer to host the next play date to give your kids’ friends’ parents the same break they’re giving you.

9. Get Out!

Is your work portable? If so, take your kids somewhere that they can run around and play and be engaged but that you don’t necessarily have to be with them 100% of the time and can keep an eye from a distance. Indoor playhouses are great for this. Library storytimes and movie days are another fantastic option. See if your local community center has any special events planned for kids that day!

10. The Bad Babysitter

Nobody wants to advocate sticking kids in front of a screen all day, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Setting your kids up with a marathon of fun educational programming is a great way to keep them occupied while you get work done. Allowing them to have extra “screen time” with handheld gaming devices is another option. As long as you make sure your kids know this is a treat and not the norm, you should be okay.

Have you ever found yourself staring down a deadline while having to also entertain your kids? How do you accomplish both goals?

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon. She covers topics ranging from reviewing strollers to personal finance.