Working from home has its challenges, even without kids at home. Once you add kids to the equation, it becomes much more challenging, especially if those kids are mobile toddlers.
I am here to tell you that it’s possible to manage your work at home with a toddler. T Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can!
A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Deciding to Work from Home While Caring for a Toddler
There are several things you have to keep in mind though.
Toddlers are not meant to sit still
They are meant to explore the world around them and interact with people so they can learn. I work from my living room couch on my laptop. This means that if my daughter is wanting to be close to me she can easily sit next to me on the couch and watch what I am doing. If she is playing, I can see what she is doing and I don’t have to worry about being in another room.
Toddlers like to mimic
Toddlers also like to copy, this is just how they learn. Chances are if you work from home they want to do what you are doing. They either want your phone, your computer, or your paper. No big deal, give them an old cell phone to play with so they can copy you. If you have an old computer with an old keyboard give your little one the keyboard to “type” on. As for paper, give them an old notebook and crayons or you can buy a cheap easel for them to use.
Toddlers thrive on routine and schedule
Try to keep the same schedule every day. Here’s an example of what our typical day looks like:
- I usually get up before my daughter to work out, get a shower, and get a little work done
- When she wakes up, I spend time getting her dressed and giving her breakfast and starting some laundry
- When she is done with breakfast she plays while I work until lunch time, then after lunch she plays a little more until nap time. She knows I work until after nap time before we play
This routine is very helpful. It helps her understand when it’s time for mommy to work and when it’s time to play.
Starting your day early and take advantage of nap times
Speaking of a routine, the earlier you start the better your child will respond. For my daughter, this is all she has ever known so it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for us. If you are just starting to work from home with a toddler start out slow and work your way up to a full day if you can. If you can’t, just do what you have to do and eventually your child will get used to it.
Take advantage of nap time, and any other time your toddler is sleeping. I get most of my work done before my daughter wakes up in the morning or during nap time. These are the only times that I am not constantly checking to see what she is doing, talking to her, changing her diaper, or just dealing with her wanting to read to me. I use this time to make any phone calls I need to make or just to churn out a lot of work as fast as I can.
If your toddler doesn’t nap, have a quiet box that will keep them entertained. If you have a job that requires you have quiet for a certain amount of time so you can make phone calls but your child doesn’t nap, these can be a great way to entertain them for a little while and ensure they are playing with quiet toys.
There will be times when none of this works, but even then there are ways around it so that you don’t have to give up on your dreams.
Don’t forget to take breaks
Sometimes, you just need to take a break and play with your child. There may be times when your child just doesn’t want to play by herself. She will come to you and pull on your arm repeatedly until you get on the floor and play with her. Don’t worry about it. You can take a break from work for a few minutes until she is done. You may find that after a few minutes of undivided attention from you, your toddler will be ready to play by herself again, and you will be more productive and have a fresh mind when returning to work.
You don’t have to send your child to daycare. For me, the reason I work from home is so I don’t have to send my daughter to daycare, not to mention all the money I make would go to daycare and gas to get there so it’s just not worth it. You can find alternatives if you are having a particularly difficult week.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I have found that having a grandparent come over can be a huge help as they can play with my daughter and keep her entertained while I get some work done. If dad is home, he can do the same thing.
Another alternative is to toddler swap. Find another work at home or working mom and take turns watching each other’s kids while the other one works. This has the added benefit of helping your child develop social skills.
The biggest challenge when working from home is dealing with a sick child. Some days you may just have to take off, just like you would with an office job. If you can, you may be able to make up the hours later in the week when your child is feeling better, though you may have to recruit family or use some other creative ways to keep you child occupied longer.
What challenges have you faced working at home with a toddler? Do you have any tips that you would add?