When many people were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, the majority seemed to be happy with the change. In fact, 97 percent of remote workers say they’d like to keep this setup, at least partly, post-COVID.
For working parents, it was a welcome change since they now get to spend more time with their kids. More family time is one of the top reasons why 40 percent of moms are actively looking for a new job that offers them an opportunity to work remotely.
However, it’s not easy to juggle a full-time career and full-time parenting all at once. So, is it possible to work from home with a toddler? Most parents admit that it’s unlike any challenge they have ever experienced in life.
Come to think of it. How can a 2-year-old understand why his parents are at home but can’t play with them?
As a parent and professional who works around the clock, you have no option but to try to adjust to the new “abnormal”. Sometimes, you can’t seem to get anything done amid the constant barrage of interruptions, arguments, and snack requests. When this happens, it may feel like working from home with toddlers is impossible.
The good news is, many parents do it, and you can too. In this post, we share some simple but smart strategies to make it more tolerable.
A Guide to Managing Your Sanity While Working from Home with a New baby
It’s easy to overburden yourself when managing all childcare duties while tackling job responsibilities. If you have a partner who also works from home, try dividing duties so no one gets overwhelmed.
Come up with a strategy that will favor your work schedules. For instance, you could work in the morning hours and switch roles in the afternoon for your partner to work.
Plan Your Schedule with Your Kid in Mind
Nothing is as important as planning how to spend your days. When you know how many hours you hope to work, you can find a way to take care of your kid and still fulfill job obligations.
For example, once you know when your kid is likely to need your attention most, you can fix your schedule to accommodate their needs. Moreover, you can plan to wake up very early, and focus on work for a few hours before they get up.
Be sure to take everything into account, and fill your schedule with the various activities you can engage with your child. Whether it’s arts and crafts time, playing outside, dance party, etc., assign each a sizable block of time and stick to the schedule.
Also, remember to plan for interruptions while working. While you can set boundaries, toddlers may not understand that you’re on a business call and can’t play with them right then. Additionally, someone might get sick, or naptime may fail to happen. Take advantage of the flexibility of working from home by setting an adjustable schedule.
If you’re employed, be sure to discuss your work schedule with your boss to avoid misunderstandings.
Find Quality Screen Time for Your Toddlers
As parents, it’s advisable to limit screen time for your kids. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under two years. However, times have changed, and there is plenty of educational material for kids.
One suggestion is Sesame Street, a site filled with fun videos and activities that can keep your children busy for a couple of minutes. Red Yarn is also a great option packed with engaging sing-along performances targeted at kids. The show also involves puppets and dance parties, as well as information about how to stay safe during the pandemic.
Sometimes, you can let your kids watch fun movies, and use the time to engage in some deep focus work. Now, don’t feel guilty about it. These are strange times, and there’s nothing you can do about it except embrace the new working style.
Take Regular Breaks
Working for hours on end can lead to overworking, and eventually burnout. It’s also unhealthy since your body, mind, and eyes need to relax. So, make sure to include breaks in your schedule, and use the breaks to spend time with your children. You can engage in some dance or games, play outside, or go for walks.
When your break ends, let them know that you’ll be going back to work for just a little while and join them again in an hour. If your kid is old enough, he’ll come to understand and expect to spend short periods of time with you throughout the day.
Children can focus on their own for 30-45 minutes. With that in mind, you can plan to work for 45 minutes and break for 15, or work for 30 minutes and break for 7 to 8 minutes. To make this more achievable, consider using a time tracker, so you don’t lose track of time.
Find a Good Child Care
One of the best ways to work from home successfully is to find a helper. It could be a nanny, a home daycare, or a big daycare center. Knowing that your child is well looked after will help alleviate much of the guilt and sad feeling of leaving your toddler alone.
If you opt for a nanny, be sure to set a regular routine. This way, you’ll know what to expect and plan your work schedule appropriately. Most importantly, make sure you communicate often with the nanny, babysitter, or daycare administrators to stay on top of your child’s development.
You’ll still be actively involved in your loved one’s safety and well-being while focusing on your work.
Establishing boundaries with toddlers is not as easy as it is with older kids and teens. You’ll need to explain to them in an age-appropriate way why you need to stay indoors but can’t play with them.
Explain to them why you need to work from home and how they can help you attain your daily goals. Where possible, set up a separate home office and make sure your child knows when not to interrupt.
For example, let them know that when the door is closed, and they need something, they can knock once to get your attention.
Remote work is here to stay and if your kids can grow up learning to respect boundaries, you can work from home with ease.
Babywearing allows you to be close to your baby while taking care of business. Not only can the practice reduce crying, it means less stress for you. For starters, you can nurse the baby while working, especially when using a standing desk.
There’s also growing evidence that skin-to-skin contact offers a great way to bond with your child.
Additionally, babywearing eases your everyday life since it’s hands-free. This means you can work on your assignments using both your hands.
Block Out Noise and Distractions
You may manage to keep your kids out of your office during working hours, but it may not be easy to get them to stay quiet. Kids are a playful lot, and you simply can’t deny them their right to play.
To avoid having to put up with kids’ ruckus in the background, consider investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headsets. Alternatively, you can put on some deep focus music to help you concentrate on work.
Take Advantage of Nap Time
Usually, parents use the time when the baby is asleep to get an extra hour or so of sleep, as well. However, as a work-from-home parent, your priorities are different. A baby’s nap time may be the only available time to focus on work.
That’s why it’s critical to establish a nap time routine each day. Not only is napping beneficial for your baby’s growth and development, but you’ll also find time to be productive.
Most toddlers nap in the afternoon after eating. Use those few hours to get some work done. It’s also advisable to enforce early bedtime since it gives you extra hours to do other chores.
You may be struggling with staying focused working from home while taking care of your toddler. The secret is to make use of productivity apps designed to help you manage your time efficiently and become more productive.
For example, project management software lets you know which tasks you need to do next. It enables you to organize your projects or tasks, be aware of deadlines and keep track of your work progress.
Additionally, to ensure you accomplish your daily goals, digital-note-taking tools are essential. They let you create to-do lists and cross them one by one as you complete them. Plus, some allow you to set reminders to get alerts when the next agenda or task on your to-do list is coming up.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
Lastly, working from home while parenting is no picnic. So, give yourself credit for the good work and have time to celebrate small achievements. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget our own health, especially when we have our plates full.
Go outside, take a walk, and enjoy the fresh air. Find time to socialize by visiting friends or going out for coffee or dinner. Look for things that will satisfy your own needs. Your mental health and wellbeing are crucial as a remote worker, and more so as a parent.
Make Working from Home with Toddlers Easier
It is possible to work from home with a toddler. It can work, and it does work. However, everyone has unique challenges. Find out what works best for you and those you love to strike a work-life balance while staying productive.