Getting anything done with a toddler is HARD so how the heck do you work from home with one? The answer…well there is not one simple answer. However there are many tips you can use to get your work done throughout the day.
You might use all of the following tips or just one but you won’t know what works until you try them. Instead of fighting to get work done each and every day, face each challenge with an open mind. Working from home with a toddler CAN be done!
Here is my guide to managing a toddler and work:
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Get up early or stay up late
We all know how clingy a toddler can be so you likely will have to wake up before your toddler or stay up when they go to sleep. This is the best way to ensure some uninterrupted work time.
Hire a babysitter
You are probably wondering why in the world you would do this because the whole purpose of working from home was to avoid childcare. Well let’s be real….toddlers need A LOT of attention and by a lot I mean constant so if you really need a few hours of quality work time during the day this is likely your best bet (and guarantee for that matter).
Furthermore, this is a great option if you have a weekly conference call or just want a few “guaranteed” hours of work time during the week. Your toddler doesn’t even have to leave your home and in the summer months you can hire someone out of high school for a lower cost.
On another note, you can also do this short term if your toddler happens to be going through a phase.
A day with grandma or grandpa works well too and I’ll bet they won’t charge you a thing 🙂
Create a Schedule
The real secret to success on how to get work done with a toddler is by creating a good schedule. Toddlers crave routine and the more you stick to one the better chance you will have to finish some much needed work.
So what is a good schedule you may ask?
This will differ for everyone and it doesn’t have to be set in stone. Here is a great example of a daily toddler schedule you can follow:
There will be a lot of “fluff” in between but if you focus on hitting each task around the same time your toddler will begin to understand what is to be expected each day.
Once you have your daily routine down that is when you will begin to figure out when to sneak your work time in.
Utilize nap time (or quiet time)
The easiest and the best time to complete some work is during nap time. Have everything set up and ready to go so once your child is down for their nap you can get right to work.
Toddlers (ages 1-3) need 12-14 hours of sleep which includes one nap of 1-3 hours. Typically once a child reaches 4-5 years old they will transition out of taking a nap completely.
What if my Toddler does not take a nap?
If your child is like mine and stopped taking a nap by 2 years old you can utilize “quiet time” in lieu of a nap. Basically I allow my toddler to play quietly in their room for a set amount of time (usually 30-45 minutes).
Meals or Snack Time
Another great time to work from home with your toddler is during meals or snack time. Set up a table near your desk or if you have a lap top sit at the table with them while they munch on their food.
However, I do recommend saving at least one meal to eat as a family. Dinner is most common since everyone is typically home at this time.
Tips for working from home with a toddler
Plan for activities
The goal here is to find activities that would encourage independent play. A normal attention span is 3-5 minutes per year of a child’s age. Therefore, a 2 year old’s attention span would be around 6-10 minutes. It’s no wonder moms can’t get anything done.
Now this does not mean you shouldn’t plan activities. In the beginning you will get little work done but as your child gets older they will develop a longer attention span.
Independent play also encourages learning so regardless of whether you get work done it is still great for your toddler.
So how do you entertain a 2 year old?
The key is to plan a variety of activities. You can find tons of ideas that incorporate problem solving, fine motor activity, letter and number recognition and most importantly are fun for your toddler.
Check out these 10 awesome toddler activities you can do at home here!
Let them work with you
I love this idea and so does my toddler! Every now and then I’ll ask my daughter if she wants to work with me. Typically she gets very excited and can’t wait to go into the office and “start her work.” All I have to do is give her some paper and a pen and she is off to work. My daughter also has this laptop which she pretends be like me (so adorable).
Now sometimes this does end with her on my lap attempting to type on my keyboard but any minute counts right!
Be Flexible (and have a job that fits!)
It is essential to be flexible when you have a toddler. Use your time wisely! Focus on the “meat” of your work during naps or before your little one wakes up. During snacks or activities is when you should tackle your emails or less hearty tasks.
On the other hand, you can’t be flexible unless your job is too. You will not be a successful work from home mom if your job requires you at your desk all of the time. Find a job that works for you and your family!
Check out some great ideas here!
Give your Toddler Undivided Attention
This is the most important tip to getting work done at home with a toddler. I try and give my toddler undivided attention a few times throughout the day in at least 15 minute increments.
15 minutes a day is really all you need but I like to do more because that is the whole reason I decided to stay home in the first place. Toddlers need you to be present and actively engaging with them. They won’t stop until they get it either so it is very important to set aside time throughout the day.
All in all the biggest perk to working from home is getting that quality time in with your kids so take advantage of it.
Learn to be Productive
Now that you know how to get more work time during the day it will not do any good if you are not productive. Follow these tips to stay focused:
- Get rid of distractions (Electronics, food, clutter, etc.)
- Work at a desk rather than in bed
- Get dressed for the day
- Plan out what you’ll be working on ahead of time
- Take breaks & set an end time
In the end, do not set unrealistic goals for yourself and know that it IS okay if your day does not go as planned. No one is perfect and motherhood alone is challenging so keep your head up because you’ve got this!
- Get up early or stay up late
- Hire a Babysitter
- Create a schedule
- Utilize nap time (or quiet time)
- Meal or Snack Time
- Plan for activities
- Let them work with you
- Be Flexible (and have a job that fits!)
- Give your Toddler Undivided Attention
- Learn to be productive
Do you also have a baby at home? These tips also work for getting things done with a newborn and toddler!