Essential Tips for Working From Home With Kids
Shortly after I had my first child, Aiden, my employer agreed to let me work from home four days a week. This helped us so much with daycare costs. If it is something your employer will agree to I definitely recommend it; however, it can be hard. As our now toddler gets older he wants more of my attention throughout the day which sometimes leads to distraction and mom guilt, but I have found that there are ways to make working from home with kids easier. Here are my favorite tips for working from home with a toddler.
I want to mention that our toddler does go to home care three days a week. I think this is important because I don’t believe I could be the best mom or employee if I was trying to juggle both five days a week. He is home with me two days a week while I work and occasionally on other days when our home care provider can’t take him. On these days it takes a bit of creativity but it is definitely possible to work and be home with our kids.
Tips for Working from Home with Kids:
The good news about toddlers is that they can communicate. I started explaining to him (even before he could talk) that mommy has to work just like daddy and during work hours I need to focus some of my attention on my computer or phone calls. I’ve found that explaining things to a toddler makes everything easier.
We are fortunate that our toddler still takes a nap on most days. Even the days he doesn’t nap we have a period of quiet time where he sits in his bed and reads or plays quietly for an hour or two. I use this time wisely.
On days I know I will be home with my kids I structure my schedule in a specific way. I usually wake up two hours early to get anything important done that requires all of my attention. I schedule calls during quiet time, or early in the morning if I can. When my toddler is up I will work for 45-minutes and then take a 15-minute “play” break. The time when my toddler is around and active I reserve for checking/responding to emails and other things that don’t require a ton of brain power.
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Based on the schedule above my toddler usually has a total of 3-4 hours of independent play. I usually try to keep specific activities during work periods so that he looks forward to them. Here are some of the activities we use for independent play:
Vtech Touch and Learn Activity Desk: We have a Vtech Touch and Learn Activity Desk which Aiden refers to as “his desk”. We set it up next to where I work at the kitchen table. I love that it is educational, but there are tons of activities so keeps our toddler entertained for a good amount of time.
Playdoh: Aiden loves Play Doh so this is another activity that entertains for awhile and it is a great sensory activity. I can have him with me at the kitchen table as he plays. I usually only let him play with one color at a time at this point because otherwise it becomes a muddy mess. Also, because it can be messy so I don’t give it to him if I’m not doing something that I can easily be pulled away from (ie; emails).
Busy Bags/Boxes: Each week I like to set up a few busy bags/boxes. I will fill a brown lunch bag or small box with random items like pipe cleaners, stickers, beads, paper, pom poms, match box cars, or other things that are just around the house. It’s fun to see what his imagination comes up with when he goes through the boxes!
Skills: Things that require a lot of concentration usually keep my toddler busy for a long time, plus it is great for his development. Things like using child scissors to cut, gluing things to paper, and practicing letters on a chalkboard are easy ways to practice skills.
Dance Parties: As long as I don’t have calls, I will set Pandora to Toddler Radio and let my toddler have a dance party. He loves to dance and it’s a good way to let out some pent up energy. This is one I usually do before nap time!
Snack tray: I got this idea from Mandy. I will put together random food items on a charcuterie board and let him snack on it. This is not something we normally do so it’s special when I am working from home. It eliminates the constant whining for snacks because once the food is gone he knows he won’t get more -- and what toddler doesn’t love snacks?