This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a commission if you purchase through my link at no additional cost. You can read my full disclosure here.
If you are a pandemic parent like me, you are a master of working from home with toddlers by now. Working from home instead of the office means trading one set of distractions for another. How can you stay focused when your kids are bored and Netflix just added your favorite show? I know it’s been hard staying focused while I work from home.
Remote work has many advantages, like greater flexibility and zero commuting time. However, creating a system that keeps you focused and productive to get your job done is essential. When my son was younger, it was easier to get more done. But now that he is a preschooler, staying focused is much harder.
Of course, your pediatrician will tell you that screen time is wrong for your young children, which is true. But it can also allow you to take video calls, take a conference call and get the work needed to get done.
I’ve been a work-from-home parent since June 2020, after my maternity leave ended. In the beginning, trying to get work tasks done was a challenge. Still, eventually, I was able to find ways to get things done. Which allowed me to be the best working mom I could be for my son.
This post is about working from home with toddlers.
Working From Home Distractions
Nap time is one of the best ways of getting work done when you have a child. Until your child can do independent play, you’ll realize the most important thing about working from home is your mental health.
Positive reinforcement will take you a long way when it comes to working from home. There will be days when you can get it all done and days you won’t. If you are committed to succeeding in working from home with toddlers, having the right strategies will allow you great success.
Here are a few tips that have worked for me and that I have created for my home daily schedule.
Build your confidence. Think about the things you like about your job. Appreciate the opportunity to do meaningful work that stretches your skills and helps others. Also, think about the blessing of being able to work from home. While it has its challenges, it beats going into the office daily, commuting, and being away from your toddler.
Set SMART goals
Know what you want to accomplish each day and over the long term. Give yourself specific targets to strive for. Having realistic expectations about what you can and can’t do daily will allow you to create work hours that are best for you and your toddler.
You can also talk to your manager or HR about what is possible since work-at-home moms are more common than ever now.
Keep a To-Do List
Use paper and pen or a free app to make a to-do list. Block out chunks of time needed to be in work mode, and then take some time to spend quality time with your toddlers. Schedule a phone call while your toddler is napping or in the early mornings.
If you are looking for a physical planner, this is the one that I use. While I’ve tried to use digital planners, writing them down has allowed me to stay more organized and get a lot of work done more effectively.
Schedule your day based on your child’s needs
Figure out your priorities and the hours when you’re most effective. Devote most of your resources to the activities that create real value. Being a work-at-home parent is not the same as being a parent that commutes to work.
You will have to bake in time, where you will have to spend 30 minutes of work time putting your toddler down for a nap or playing if you have older children.
Designate a workspace, if you can
Carving out a workspace exclusively for business hours will help you keep your mind on your job. While your child is younger, it will be hard to do this. I’ve successfully created a work area in the living and dining rooms.
This gives little kids a lot of room to play, and since they have a larger play area, you have less worry about them getting into stuff.
If your toddler is younger, getting a baby gate can also provide peace of mind while you work. Here is the one that I used and loved when my son was younger. a Pro tip is that no matter where you are, your kids will follow, so make sure that you have a large play space for them to play, and you will be surprised how much you can get done.
You will only be able to work eight straight hours now. You will have to develop a home mom schedule which means you will have to find ways to make working comfortable. I have to work at the kitchen table, which has many benefits since I can watch my toddler play and be in the kitchen for snack time.
While I do have a home office, at the end of the day, finding a place to work that will allow you as much time to hang with your toddler and get work done is best. You will also have to consider the discomfort for your toddler, which working in an office might not provide.
The office may work if you want a great enclosed space to create an activity center. Here are some items you can add to the space for your toddler.
- Play Kitchen
- Here is my top pick for the best stationary toy
- The play yard that I used.
- Obstacle course (especially if you have an active toddler as I do)
- Play Mat
- Top favorite toy for toddlers
Take breaks and lots of them.
You’ll accomplish more if you allow yourself generous helpings of downtime. Try to pause and relax before you feel fatigued. This also means you will have to take breaks to take care of your children.
It’s inevitable. What I currently do is every two hours, I take 15 minutes of quiet time. This could mean scrolling on social media, doing some household chores, or taking a nap when the toddler naps.
If you can have family members come by for a few hours a day to give you a break, that would be a good idea. A few days a week would allow you some downtime with parenting and working.
Move around, and have fun.
Exercise reduces stress and restores your energy. Go for a walk or do yoga during your lunch hour. Use some of your break time to stretch and play with your toddler.
While there are benefits to working from home, we have to talk about all the other distractions that will happen. Trying to stay focused while working from home is not easy, and there are certain external factors that you have to take into account to be productive.
As a mom who works full time, learning ways to make sure that I don’t burn out and give my son and job enough is ongoing. Here are a few best practices that have allowed me to do both and feel at ease that I am doing the best I can.
Ask for help
Let your boss, coworkers, family, and friends know when you need help. While it’s cool to be able to handle it all, as your toddler grows and their demands increase, you will have to be more communicative about what you can do. Nothing is more important than your health, so asking for help is a great way to get what you need.
Put your toddler in child care.
Daycares are expensive. Finding someone to watch your toddler has become more difficult for many parents. But as your toddler ages, you will have to begin to socialize them in a way that will benefit their overall development. Keep in touch with other families to learn about options near you, or ask your employer about taking leave if necessary.
You can read my post on starting daycare, which will give you great tips and realistic goals for daycare and children. I have another post about the signs of when to start daycare so that you aren’t keeping your child home when they are showing signs that it’s time to move on.
Set firm boundaries
When working with toddlers from home, you must create boundaries. Your toddler won’t completely understand what you are doing, but by doing the same things daily, you will build a routine they will get used to.
For your job, you will have to have an important call with your team to make sure everyone understands what you can and can’t do and when. There will be bad days when you have small amounts of time to get everything done because your child is sick, and it just comes with having a home job. You’ll also go for longer periods of time away from your computer, so you might need more time to complete essential tasks than people may want you to.
Since your home situations will change daily, being open about it will allow you to keep your day job. You will also feel like you can keep a good work schedule that will make everyone happy.
Interact with others
Your toddler will join you for your Zoom meetings. Everyone in the office will know about them. This is a great way to mix socializing with adults while being safe.
If you can’t get out of the house much, go to virtual happy hours and turn on your camera. Mom and me events will allow you to feel good about having some adult time which is needed.
Play some music
Create a variety of playlists to mask background noise or stimulate creative thinking. Often, while I have the tv going for my toddler, I have the radio playing so I can get in the zone and get work done.
If all else fails, you can use the TV as the background noise to help get work done. When you can’t play music, getting some good Audio Books might be a great way to finish the late afternoon of work.
Do you love podcasts and want something new to add to the playlist, check me out on the first season of the #MomLifeBeLike Podcast. You will hear my episode with fellow mom and entrepreneur Nicole Van Lun of Gorgeous Confidence. I discuss in-depth my motherhood journey, how I balance it all, and advise new moms.
Hate to break it to you, but your kitchen can be a distraction too. Since your toddler is home with you every few minutes, they want something to eat, drink or snack on; it can be frustrating when trying to get work done.
You will also find it distracting since you might use that time to get a snack. Implementing alarm clocks on when it’s time to break will foster good behavior from you and your toddler about when and how to eat. Eating because you are bored is never good, and using the alarm system has been one of the best tips I received during my pregnancy.
Limit Social Media
While social media can be good when you need to take a break. Mindless scrolling can prevent you from getting back focused on work and parenting. You will develop a daily routine that will work for you and your toddler regarding screen time. Working from home with toddlers means that some form of media will play all the time. Ensure a set time daily on when you will implement media so you can stay productive.
I have a great post about time management for working moms that will help you get more great ideas about how working from home can be a great time if you do it correctly.
There is plenty of parents who are working from home with toddlers that have successful careers. I am one of them. Take it daily. Ensure that you ask for it when you need it in this stay of your life to provide for yourself, your toddler, your family, and your career.
This post was about working from home with toddlers.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to my blog by adding your email address to the form below this post. You’ll be the first to hear about my updates weekly!