8 Tips for Working from Home With a Toddler
Well, it’s officially been two weeks (technically it’s day 17!) since we’ve been sheltering in place. I do feel like each week gets easier and feels less heavy—I think it’s just part of getting used to this new normal.
Owen and I have fallen into a better week day routine and I’m definitely figuring out a better way how to work and entertain my crazy little guy.
I fully admit that I’m not getting as much work done, but we’re in a weird season of life, and I’m rolling with it. It’s all we can do, right?!
Either way, I know a lot of you are in the same place right now, so I wanted to share some tips that are helping me actually be productive with short periods of time and some activities that Owen enjoys that allow me to get some work in while he’s up.
How to Work from Home with a Toddler
Plan Your Week in Advance
I absolutely love this practice and even more so now that my time is extra limited! I take some time on Sunday to write down all the things I want to do that week. Then I go back through and fill out my week with what I think I can actually accomplish. Does everything on my list get done—hell no, but doing this definitely makes me more productive than if I was just winging it every single day.
Block Your Time
I got so much better about blocking my time when I became a mom. If I don’t have a clear cut schedule of what needs to happen at what time, I end up wasting my time.
I block my nap time off and turn off any distractions—no emails, no scrolling Instagram, no phone calls. Just getting my 1-2 tasks done for the day.
Take Advantage of Nap Time
Nap time has become my most precious work hours. Because I’ve planned my week ahead, I’ve actually been incredibly productive during these 1.5-2.5 hour stretches. I got lucky, and while I’m writing this, we’re about to hit 3 hours! He rarely naps this long, but I’m taking advantage!
Get Up Early
I am not a morning person, but I’ve been toying with the idea of getting up just an hour earlier to knock some items off my list before the day starts. I find that a lot of my anxiety in the first half of the day comes from the fact that I feel so behind.
I know that taking this time would make my life a lot less hectic, but being pregnant, I’ve been extra tired, so right now I’m choosing sleep.
Set Realistic Expectations
As much as I’d love to check all the things off my to-do list, the reality is that it’s just not all going to happen. I’m learning to let go and not let it bother me as much. Instead of piling your to-do list with a zillion tasks, consider how much time you know you have and prioritize your top 1-3 things each day.
Take Advantage of Quiet Activities
Depending on the age your kid, this may work and may not. I’ve found that Owen plays quietly when I pull out the kinetic sand at the table. He plays, and I can get a little work done. Usually I reserve this time for tasks that don’t require serious focus, like checking emails, posting to social media, organizing my calendar, etc.
Don’t Feel Guilty About Screen Time
I know this is a touchy subject, but let’s get real. Life is NOT normal right now. A little extra screen time here and there is not going to majorly impact your child. I’m not suggesting you plop them in front of the TV for hours on end, but if you need an extra hour or so to get work done, turn on their favorite movie.
How many times will we watch “Cars” before this quarantine ends?! I don’t even want to know, ha!
Ask for Help
Rob’s job is not as flexible as mine, so during the week, I’m on Owen duty pretty much all day. On the weekends, I’ve asked him to step in, which he has gladly done, and give me a few hours to work quietly without a hard deadline.
It’s been great and since I get so much time with Owen during the week and we can’t do too many activities as a family outside the house, this has been a great compromise!
Our Work from Home Schedule
- 7:30-8:30—Wake up, change, play, eat breakfast
- 8:30-9—Family walk to talk Oliver out and get some fresh air
- 9-10—Free play while mom eats breakfast and cleans the kitchen
- 10-11—Read books, watch his school’s videos, play games, dance, etc.
- 11-12—Weather pending, we’ve been going out for scooter rides, long walks to look at plants, nature, etc.
- 12:15-1—Lunch, read books, wind down
- 1-3—Nap / Work
- 3-3:30—Snack and relax
- 3:30-4:30—Go for another walk or play inside. Often times, I’ll squeeze in an extra hour of work and let him watch a movie or a few episodes of his new favorite show—Stinky & Dirty.
- 4:30-5:30—Play, dad comes and hangs out, prep dinner
- 6:15—Eat Dinner as a family (one thing I LOVE about quarantine!)
- 6:45-7:30—Bath, wind down, read books and Owen’s bedtime
- 7:30-9—I usually try to knock out a little bit more work. Sometimes I don’t, but usually I do at least an hour of work after Owen has gone to bed. I try to shut it down around 9 so the blue light doesn’t affect my sleep. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a goal!
I hope this is helpful for you guys, especially these next few weeks. I’d love to hear what activities entertain your toddlers while you can get work done too! Hang in there friends, we’re all in this together!