Truthfully, working from home with toddlers can be difficult. It might be smooth with an infant because they can sleep for hours. However, a toddler is mobile and wants your full attention, so being productive can be challenging. Fortunately, there are ways you can get the best of both worlds.
Whether you run your business from home or you work for a company, there are proven ways you can attempt to stay productive and spend quality time with your kids. Remember, every family is different, so pick what works best for yours.
1. Wake up early
Are you a morning person? If you are, waking up a few hours before your toddler is an excellent way to get some work done. You can start by doing the most urgent tasks, so throughout the day, you can steal a few minutes here and there away from your child to work on the small ones like replying to emails.
If your mind is not made to function at total capacity in the mornings, you can still wake up early but start with the simple tasks and plan for the rest of the day. Don’t forget to drink your coffee first!
2. Have a schedule
Many home working parents will swear by a schedule. As you already know, routines are essential for young kids. Your old way might not work anymore because kids are not in school and you are working from home. However, it’s necessary to try and preserve your old schedule as much as you can. The best way to do it is to have the same blocks of time with different activities. The only time that should remain constant is bedtime.
Experienced home working parents suggest scheduling your kid’s days in 30 minute or one-hour time blocks. Within this time, they can play, nap, have snacks, or watch their favorite kids tv shows on their devices.
3. Create a workstation
Understandably, not everyone has a home office. Those who have an office find it easier to stay productive because it is a place you associate with work. Fortunately, creating a workstation at home is not as difficult as you might think. All you need is good lighting, a table, and a comfortable chair to get started. You can create this set up in your living room or bedroom. Some home working parents have even done it in the closet.
Having a designated area for working helps your toddler understand what you're doing.
Whenever you sit there, they know that mommy or daddy is working, and they can’t play right now. You can set the boundary with creative ways, like having a stop sign or a thumbs down sign to indicate no kids allowed. You can make the signs together as a fun art project.
The rest of the family can also use the workstation. In this case, when you sit down to work, your toddler can also be bashing away at an old keyboard so you can be ‘working’ together. Don’t feel guilty about giving them their devices to play or watch some educational games and shows on apps like KidsBeeTV. You might get a solid hour to get some work done, especially because you know the app is safe for your little ones.
4. Be transparent with your co-workers
You have seen it happen several times to other parents while on a video call from work. A baby is screaming in the background or running around with nothing but a diaper playing innocently. Communicating with your co-workers will help them take it easy on you sometimes.
Some of them might even offer to keep your child busy with stories or games while you get something urgent done. Some companies might even consider making your schedule more flexible to accommodate your parenting duties.
5. Ask for help
This might be disappointing to hear, but parents are regular humans, and sometimes we can’t do it all. Life becomes much easier when you get help from your friends, family, spouse, or babysitter. Think about all the things you have to do in a day: cleaning, cooking, working, giving your baby attention, and everything in-between.
Overworking yourself might lead to burning out, and that’s not good for anybody. Normalize asking for help from your spouse or getting a babysitter to help out during the day. You can also talk to other parents working from home with toddlers to gain some tips or have a babysitting arrangement that works for all of you.
Whether you need help or not is determined by how flexible your job is. If you work full-time or are required to attend several meetings in a day, you might need help. If you only work for five hours a day, you can plan your day accordingly and get everything done
6. Practice self-care
It hasn’t been easy for adults or children adjusting to the new normal. Children might need more emotional support, but don’t forget to take care of yourself either. Before you book a spa day, start with the small things like taking work breaks. If you play with your kids before work, take a minute to ground yourself before you start working.
Working from home can be just as stressful as a day in the office. Find a stress outlet to help get rid of the negative energy and blow off some steam. You can work on a paint project with your toddler, go for a walk, call your friends, journal, listen to music, whatever works for you.
It could be a good idea to check out our 8 self-care strategies for parents who have no time for themselves.
Finally, it's easy to feel less productive when working from home, even when you do your best.
It all comes down to the planning. Here’s a tip for you, focus on making meaningful progress on the most critical tasks at work and having memorable moments with your kids. Remember, families are different, and what works for someone else might not work for you. Be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time. It’s possible to work from home and spend quality time with your family.