It takes a lot of patience and planning when you are working from home with toddler. Here are tips for how to work efficiently from home with toddler from a mom who does it every day.
If you have worked from home, you probably know what it takes to get a few minutes of uninterrupted work time!!
The hilarious video of professor Robert Kelly’s toddler daughter swaying her way into a BBC News conversation can explain what I am talking about.
If you new to working from home (due to current situation), you will learn pretty soon (or you already have!!) that how frustrating it is to get serious things done when you have a toddler around the house.
Toddlers are naturally busy people. They are busy needing constant attention from you or pulling everything out of your cabinet or playing with soap and water in the washroom (lol..). Basically, they are busy keeping you busy at home.
I can totally understand, if you feel little frustrated trying to get real work done while constantly meeting the demand of a toddler.
While working from home with a toddler or 2 years old is not easy at all, but I am committed to it to get best of both worlds – the ability to be available for my kids while still supporting your finance. I ditched the commute and started my own stay at home mom job.
So, here I am to share my best tips with you for working from home efficiently with a toddler or infant and still keep your sanity.
I started working from home after birth of my second son. I worked in a job that I had a passion for 15 years and I still do but staying home with kids was also I wanted to do since birth of my first son.
By no means I am saying that its easy to get real job done when you have toddler around, I did have my breakdowns (a big time!!). But when you are committed to doing something, you achieve it with few adjustments and mental preparedness.
If you are working from home out of necessity or by choice, here are my full proof tips on how I made working from home with a toddler
manageable while getting best of both worlds. I am been doing it from last two years and have learned what works best for my toddler.
15 Tips for Working from Home with Toddler
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These helpful tips will ensure you get real work done while keeping your toddler happy and entertained.
Disclaimers: These tips are not intended to give you 8 hours of uninterrupted work from home with a toddler. But I ensure that you will get uninterrupted chunks of minutes here and there to do your serious work from home.
(and, yes, if you figure our secret to uninterrupted 8 hours of work from home, do let me in comment section below !!)
Tip # 1. Plan Your Day According To Your Toddler’s Schedule
A typical day of toddler’s life is – skimming through one toy to another, eating time and nap time. And after nap time, it starts all over again.
The key to get work done is knowing your toddler’s schedule and planning accordingly while knowing that their attention span is really short.
While things may not be same every day with toddler, but you’ll want to think about following question
- What is their wake-up time, afternoon nap time and bedtime?
- What your toddler interested in?
- Check their attention span for different activities so you can have next one ready in time
- How long your child can play alone happily?
- When your child usually gets hungry?
TIP # 2. Set Realistic Expectations While Working from Home
It is highly unlikely that you will get an 8-hour of workday when you work from home with a toddler, unless you and your partner take decide to take on shift work at home.
A realistic goal is 5 to 6 hours a day. With my 2-year-old I get 4 to 6 hours a day depending upon how he cooperates.
If you start your day with 8 hours of workday in mind, you will most probably be disappointed and frustrated at the end of the day. An 8 hours of workday is possible when you have an infant, as they sleep most of the time of the day.
As you work from home for a week and get somewhat into schedule, you will get an idea about your realistic goal.
Tip # 3. Get Up Early in the Morning
The best tips for working from home when toddler is around is getting things done when they are not around.
Set an alarm for one to two hours before your toddler wakes up, and work on important projects that need your undivided attention.
What if you are not a morning person?
Waking up early can still benefit you. You can get your thought organized, plan your day, check your emails and reply.
TIP # 4. Use your Work time Wisely
Accept the fact that you will have to work in increments (half an hour to hour at a time) when you are working with a toddler.
You will get most done either very early in the morning or during nap time or after they have gone to bed.
Also, you can tackle some of your work when you get 30 to 45 min window when they are busy doing some fun activities.
I set up my laptop on kitchen table so I can work and keep eye on him at the same time. When my toddler gets busy doing some activity, I take an advantage of those 30 mins to 1 hour to concentrate on my work.
Many people suggest setting up a work area different from play area to get an uninterrupted working time. As much as I would love to do that, but honestly does not work with toddler. Next thing you know, they are banging door when you are in the middle of group meeting.
When he sees me working in front of his eyes, he is calm and does not come waddling to me.
TIP # 5. Prioritize Your Work
You may not be able to get to everything on your to-do list. So, prioritize your work and focus on a work with the most imminent deadlines.
To do so, you need you make a to-do list in the order of priority first thing in the morning or before your bedtime. Work toward it whenever you get a block of time when your toddler is busy doing something.
TIP # 6. Swap sitting Duty with your Partner
If your partner is working from home (specially during current situation), swap sitting duty with your partner. Come up with a plan between two of you about who will watch the kid for how long. That way both of you will get couple of hours of uninterrupted work time.
Usually my husband does not work from home (except now), I usually manage my work in block of time that I get during the day. When my husband is back from work, I get 1 hour of work time until dinner is served.
TIP # 7. Get most out of your Highchair
I have to admit highchair is my secret weapon to get 30 to 45 minutes of work time.
When my son is done with his breakfast in his highchair, he is so quiet and content and loves to just sit and observe me what I am doing or look outside the window. I grab this opportunity to make few important phone calls or get to some imminent work done.
I also get 30 to 45 minutes after his lunch on highchair. At this time, I give him washable, nontoxic crayons and papers and he enjoys playing with it.
TIP # 8. Keep Routine
Kids loves routine so if you don’t have one, its time to create one and be consistent with it every day.
If you are consistent with wake up time, bath time, lunchtime, nap time every day. they will look forward to doing this same time every day.
This consistency will give you more control over what to expect next and that way you can plan your work accordingly.
Even smaller kids look forward to doing same activity every day at same time. If you teach them a routine, they are more likely to follow it.
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TIP # 9. Long Bath time
Disclaimers: Do not leave your child unattended in the bathtub.
My another secret weapon to get uninterrupted 45 min is bath time. I fill bathtub with little bit of water, give him bathtub crayons and his bath toys and done!!
I bring my laptop to the washroom and work while keeping eye on him.
Kids get bored so easily with same thing every day too!!. So to spice things up, I give him bucket full of water with plastic tumbler and his bath toys and alternate bath time with bathtub to keep in interested.
TIP # 10. NAP time
Nap time is compulsory for my son. As soon as he is out to sleep, I tackle some of my important work or make phone calls or attained a pre planned meeting online.
To improve your focus while your child sleeps, a video baby monitor in your office can allow you to see the difference between a kid who’s up and one who’s just making noises in their sleep.
TIP # 11. Line up Activities
Rule of thumb when working from home with kids is knowing: Toddler have very short attention span and they get bored quickly.
What that mean is plan lots of fun and engaging activities for them. So, when they are done with one offer them another thing to do.
Also, do not offer same toys every day. Instead, place toys in different bins, and give them one bin of toys to play with that day.
This will help them be entertained for longer periods of time as they don’t see every toy every day.
TIP # 12. Make a Playroom
For toddler I am not in a favor of separating play area and work area. They will be happier and more willing to play independently if they can see you.
But I do like to put physical barrier in one room separating work area and play area. Pressure gate mount are great for this purpose as you can take it with you from room to room.
TIP # 13. Allocate Screen time Wisely
I believe, there is no harm in giving little bit of screen time every day. There are many free educational website that can educate them in addition to entertainment. If you work from home than it is absolutely necessary to get serious things done.
But if you overdo it, it defeats the purpose of getting distraction free work time when you really need it.
Use device time when it is absolutely necessary like during meetings so you can concentrate.
TIP # 14. Get most out of Weekends
Weekend looks different for everyone. For some, weekend is time for grocery, laundry and cleaning, while for me, it’s an opportunity to get 5 to 6 hours of uninterrupted work.
While daddy is enjoying quality time with kids, I get my work done.
Sunday, I give undivided attention to my family and spend time prepping for food for weekdays.
TIP # 15. Block out the background Noise
One of my work at home mom hack is using noise-cancelling headphone while making an important work call no matter how busy your toddler is while making a call.
You never know when they start banging pot and pans from the kitchen cabinet. Mine does it all the time!!
This USB headset has excellent noise-cancelling microphones and mute button to block unwanted background noise.
Working from home with toddler is tough job. You will have to let go the mess kids create and concentrate on important task while keeping them happy and entertained.
If you are being forced to work from home, count that as a blessing and opportunity to be with your kids and still able to bring paycheck home.
How do you keep your kids busy while you work from home? Share your secret below in comment section.