Working from home sounds like a dream for many and once you add a kid or two to the mix, many moms find the prospect of stay at home work even more enticing. For many of us, being a work at home mom with kids gives the best of both worlds – the opportunity to bring in a steady paycheck whilst being able to spend more time with their children.
When you look at the expense of childcare, time and money spent commuting and of course the extra flexibility working from home offers to work around your children’s needs and activities, it seems like a no brainer to try the work from home gig. But is it really that easy?
As the owner of a leading Digital Agency in Newcastle NSW and mom to an active toddler, I’ve learnt a trick or two to maximising my productivity to get as much work done as possible, keep on top of chores and spend quality time with my toddler.
Here are my top 6 tips for working from home with a toddler.
Toddler Tip 1: Use Your Toddlers Nap Time To Your Advantage when working from home
Whether you have a baby who naps a few times a day or a toddler who does a single nap after lunch, this is your best time to get a solid block of work done. Ensure you know what your going to work on as each nap time approaches so you can hit the ground running as soon as that sleepy head hits the pillow. And when you do get that uninterrupted block, use it to tick off big tasks. Leave the emails, small jobs and admin to when you have smaller windows of time or are able to work with your toddler present.
Toddler Tip 2: Get Up Before Your Children
You know that saying “the early bird gets the worm”? This couldn’t be any truer when it comes to work from home mums. Most people are at their most productive in the morning so it’s a great time to take on that big job on your too do list. Not a morning person? Don’t worry, I wasn’t either but you can train yourself by getting up just a little earlier each day or if you’re a super sleepy head like me, use this time to have a coffee, get your too do list in order, go through your emails or organise yourself for the day so when opportunities for work time arise, you can really get into the important stuff.
Toddler Tip 3: Give Your Toddler Quality Time
When it comes to working from home with a toddler, its all about quality over quantity in regards to time. Choose the times you will work and the times you will spend with them and really stick to it. This means not texting on your phone or sending emails when its their special time. Get down at their level, observe their interests and engage with them. Doing this not only gives you special time together but it will enable them to play better independently when you do need time to work.
Toddler Tip 4: Use Awake Times To Get Non-Work Activities Done
If your children are anything like my toddler, they love to do everything mummy is doing. So, use this to your advantage. My one year old helps put clothes in the washing machine or dryer, unstacks his plates from the dishwasher and scoops peas into the pot for dinner. Not only does this count as quality time together, but you get all your chores done, leaving maximum time for working when you get opportunity.
I also use his awake time to get all the errands completed.
He loves riding in the trolley while we pick out fruit and vegetables or going for walks in the pram to the post office to pick up parcels. This also includes making sure you eat your meals together, which is not only beneficial for establishing good eating habits in children, but frees up time for you to work without needing to stop for lunch breaks.
Toddler Tip 5: Teach Your Children How To Play Independently
As a work at home mom, when I first started working from home with my toddler, I used to get so frustrated trying to work while he played (or rather didn’t play).
Why couldn’t he just build with some blocks or play with his cars by himself so I could get things done?
The truth is, kids don’t just come out of the box with the skills to play independently and its our job to teach them. I also had to remind myself that part of the reason I wanted to work from home was so I could spend more time with my children.
The key to independent play is to gradually teach them to be happy on their own.
Sit and play or even just watch and engage with your child and after a while tell them you’re just going to get a drink.
Leave for a minute and come straight back and play again.
After a while, you will find you can leave for longer periods, maybe to put a load of washing on or answer a few emails. And eventually you will be able to work for longer periods. As they get older, you can also let them know that mummy is going to work until the clock says 10 and then we will play.
Toddler Tip 6: Set Your Children’s Play Area Up Inside Your Office
You may have noticed your children just like to be near you and they like to be able to check in with you on regular intervals between play. This means your best bet at getting work done is to set up where your children can see you.
For us this meant having our home office/ play area in our dining room and another play space off the kitchen for meal prep times.
This enabled our toddler to play next to us, which meant we could supervise for safety and he felt content that he had constant access to us to show us something or have a quick hug.
Ensure you hide away any cords, place computers and documents in a safe place and only provide toys that can be used safely without supervision.
A baby gate on the doorway will keep them where they are meant to be with you or out of the office space when you’re not there.
Well there you have it, my top 6 tips for working from home with a toddler.
I hope my experiences of how I cope working from home full-time building websites for businesses with my toddler in tow have helped you get some ideas on how you can best maximise your time as a work at home mum.
It’s not an easy gig when you have a toddler to contend with while you are running a business from home, but the flexibility of being able to work around your child’s schedule and spend quality time with them when they are little is definitely worth it.