INSIDE: Working from home with toddlers is certainly not easy. In fact, it's downright ridiculous sometimes. But there are some tips that can help ease your frustration and help you to be more productive.
Many of us have been working from home for almost a year now, whether we wanted to or not. Though quite a bit of time has passed, things haven’t necessarily been all sunshine and roses for some. This can especially be the place if you have found yourself working from home with toddlers for the first time. While older kids can get involved in your work, little ones are probably not ready for many of those tasks.
My 7 Best Tips for Working From Home With Toddlers
Whether you are working from home by choice or necessity, whether you are starting your remote work journey now or still struggling, we have a few simple tips to help ease everyone into a new routine.
1. Decide If a Schedule Is Necessary
We are all wired differently – adults and kids. Some families thrive on a schedule, others need room in their day to move. Maybe your household is not one that will ever be able to time block every hour of the day. That’s okay. If your family only finds more stress in a schedule, do what’s best for you. Your main goal is to create less stress not more.
2. Go Strong During Naptime (or Bedtime)
Even when you're working from home with toddlers, there are probably some parts of your day that are pretty consistent. Naptime and bedtime are likely two of those times. Rather than spending that time squeezing in housework, schedule your virtual meetings during this timeframe or use this time block to focus on that big project.
It can be hard when working from home to “get into a groove” that allows us to start and finish in one setting. When you have an hour or two of uninterrupted time, take full advantage of it.
3. Focus on Productivity
If your job is flexible and doesn’t require punching a clock, try not to focus on “hours worked” each day if it isn’t necessary. Especially if you are coming from a traditional office setting, you may feel stressed if you aren’t putting in eight hours every day. To the contrary, however, you may actually be getting more done in less time while working from home.
If your job allows you to focus on getting things done as opposed to being present from 9 to 5, take advantage of it. That makes working from home with toddlers so much easier. Prioritize each days tasks and get things knocked out as your toddler’s schedule and attention span allow.
4. Offer Your Kids Plenty of Distractions
Busy bags can be a great way to keep small children occupied while you work. And not all activities will require a lot of money or materials. The internet is full of ideas for free activities for all ages. And with little ones, you can rotate toys and games to keep them from burning out on the same ol’ thing day after day.
5. Enlist Help Watching the Kids
We all need somebody to lean on from time to time, and that is definitely true when you're working from home with toddlers. If you have a spouse or older child also at time, work out a schedule where you each have time to work while the other is tending to the little one. If that isn’t an option, it’s time to think outside of the box – or house.
Perhaps there is a teenage child in the neighborhood that wouldn’t mind getting out of the house and earning a few bucks a few hours per day or week. Are there other parents with small children in the neighborhood? Maybe you could alternate hosting playdates or taking the little ones for a walk around the neighborhood or to the park.
There may even be times when a long-distance sitter will work. Maybe grandma and grandpa could read a story via Facetime or Zoom while you cook dinner or finish a project.
6. Use Smart Screen Time to Your Advantage
No one is advocating setting your toddler in front of an electronic device for several hours per day, but there are some pretty cool things on the ‘net that can be both entertaining and educating. For example, so many great zoos across the country have started offering live feeds and virtual field trips. Check out this list for some very cool zoo cams.
Khan Academy is also a great resource for educational materials for kids of all ages. From printables to Circle Time, you are likely to find something to keep your little ones entertained for a bit. And, it’s free!
7. Practice Grace
Many have had to accept for the first time that we don’t always work well under pressure and we can’t be all things to all people all of the time. It’s been hard, but it’s been hard for everyone else as well. Practice grace with yourself, your toddler and other members of your team.
Know that when you have to end a call suddenly because of a toddler interruption, the person on the other side of the screen has likely had to do it as well. We have all had to embrace a lot more patience and understanding this last year. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
You may not be able to control your toddler at all times, but you can control the situation. Anything you can do to make it a little easier on the both of you will pay off in dividends.
Here are some additional work at home mom tips that you might find useful as well.