For those of you who are used to working from home with a toddler, you know this can be an extremely difficult task. From the countless interruptions ( Currently, I’m being asked to play Barbies while typing this), to nap times and nursing, the fact we even get anything done is pretty much a miracle. Maybe you’re new to this whole thing due to the pandemic and it’s got you beyond frustrated, using Google to find tips to help. Such a defeating feeling I know all too well.
There HAS to be a better way, or at least some helpful tips to be more productive in this weird space we are all in. I’m here to tell you, there is. It might not make all the craziness disappear, but I have been balancing work and a child together for both of my kids since they were born, so I know a few things that work. I want to share with you my Top Ten Tips for balancing work with a toddler, straight from a source who actually lives it. Working from home with young children is not easy by any means, but I’m convinced to my core that it is worth it. You can have your littles AND the career…just takes a bit of patience and balance. So without waiting any longer, let’s dive in!
Get Dressed For Work
I know we all talk about how wonderful wearing our tie-dye sweatsuit to the couch to work is, but does that help you get in “work mode?” Probably not. You’re going to work, dress like it. Does this mean you need to iron out that suit you hated wearing pre-pandemic? If that’s not your speed, than of course not. You should however show up as an elevated version of yourself. Find a nice sundress and throw on some makeup. Take the time you usually would to present yourself to the world as the BADASS you are! It will also help the kids see that “Mommy is going to work” which will provide boundaries for your time. When I get dressed and put makeup on, the kids know that I am about to start work, and so the guilt of separation decreases when its go time. I also just find myself more productive when I’m not in jammies, so get ready for work, okay?
What I mean by that is, have a clear layout of what you’re trying to accomplish for the day. Do you make lists? If not, start to. You will be distracted, it’s inevitable. When that happens, a list helps you keep track of the mental checklist you’re trying to accomplish. Don’t put so much pressure on your brain to do it all. It’s already multi-tasking more than it ever has before, so help a sister out and write it down. This may come as no surprise, but be prepared to have your list happen when it happens. Don’t put expectations on when you will accomplish a task, but rather just focus on accomplishing it at all. You may get taken away from your project and need to go back to it once the kids are sleeping. That could mean that you might miss your T.V show tonight, but that’s okay, you get to spend this moment with your little AND you’re making time for work later. All good.
Accomplish The Big One First
This may sound silly, but DO prioritize your list on what task you want to finish NO MATTER WHAT. We all know that defeating feeling of going an entire day in “mom mode” and not getting the one thing done that made the difference. Do it first. Don’t let anything get in the way of doing it. I know it’s hard, but were all more than just “mom.” Go after your goals with fire and if you cant do it all, focus on the BIG ONE.
Keep A Daily Routine
As best you can, I know its not perfect. The concept of keeping a daily routine of when they can expect things like breakfast, playtime, as well as mom’s work time will help the transition. Kids thrive on routine, so if you incorporate this into your planning, it will help kids get the grasp that parents are also in fact, working from home, and it’s completely normal.
Rotate Toy Options
This will help keep your toddler engaged in their toys while you attempt to work and take over the world. If they have access to every toy option in the toy box, they will quickly become stale and old in their eyes and lose their luster. Take a few boxes out as soon as you start to work, and choose a completely new set the next day. They will get so excited as if they’re brand new toys, and you will get some moments of peace.
Take The Work Outside
Sometimes we all need a change in scenery. This can be the same for your toddler. Being cooped up inside during these times can take its toll on all of us, including your toddlers. So grab that laptop and handful of toys and head to the front yard. It will provide a completely new play space for your little, and give you some much needed vitamin D to recharge those mental batteries. By the way, a bubble machine or sandbox will buy you at least an extra 15 minutes!
Take Advantage Of The High Chair
This is a secret weapon we all cant live without during mealtime, but it can also be your guardian angel come work time as well! Snag some non toxic crayons and paper and have them work next to you! They’ll love that they feel like they’re going to work as well, and you’ll have some quiet time to focus on work, or snag another cup of coffee. Grab some action figures for imaginative play, or slap some cheerios down for snack time. No matter how you incorporate the high chair, you’ll come out winning.
Use Screens Sparingly
This is a tough one to get behind, especially for kids that are younger. But we all are trying our best to provide for our families from home, without the option of childcare. As long as you’re taking advantage of the thousands of options for educational programming, it can be a great way for your kiddo to learn, while you’re trying to finish a task or two. Don’t overdo it, and keep a constant eye on what they’re watching. In moderation, a television show or Disney movie can be a great babysitter!
Accept The Mess
If you’re a Type A perfectionist like me, messes can be your Kryptonite. Try your best to ignore it and stay laser focused on what is really important; time with your work. Don’t spend your extra time cleaning up every mess as it happens. No one is hosting parties or making surprise visits, so who are you trying to impress? It’s okay to not have the perfect home while you’re trying to run a business and a family. Give yourself some grace and spend any extra time you have giving love to yourself or your babies. The messier the house, the happier the kids.
Give Yourself Grace
You’re doing your best and that’s MORE than enough. It’s okay to have days where little or nothing gets done. Maybe you had this vision of being productive and your kid wakes up sick…now what? Don’t worry about it. Working from home is tough, but it can be so very rewarding. You’re teaching your kids to go for their dreams and showing them what work ethic really is. You’re raising a family and bringing home an income, you’re AMAZING! Just do what you can to control what you can, but know that life is a bit out of control to begin with. No matter what the day brings, know you are already making them incredibly proud!