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Working from home can be challenging, especially if you have a toddler.  If your toddler is a little tornado, it is easy to feel defeated. I know that I have felt that way more than once.  

I know that it can be done.  Plenty of moms with toddlers do it every day.  This prompted me to come up with some strategies that would work with my own toddler.  I am sharing those with you today! 

How to work from home with a toddler

Working from home with a toddler can feel like an impossible task! With work piling up, it’s hard to focus on work when your little one needs attention. But don’t worry! It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to keep toddlers engaged and busy while you work from home. Here are some tips for working from home with a toddler:

1. Establish a routine.

Having a routine helps your little one understand what to expect and when which can help provide structure to their day while giving you time to work. It’s also important to have some downtime (programmed in) for play and relaxation so they don’t get too frustrated or overwhelmed. A set routine will help you set expectations around work hours. This will make a big difference in your productivity.

This might include a morning routine, designated screen time, nap time, and work time. If you have to show up to video calls, which are a very common part of remote jobs, you may need to schedule important tasks during your child’s nap. There is nothing like being interrupted during an important conference call to remind you how important it is to create a daily routine. This may mean that you only have two hours in the afternoon for work tasks.

Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that you need to set an hour by hour schedule. Not going to an actual office can make working a little more difficult to concentrate, but it is so worth it!

Create a morning routine.

It is super important to start the day off with some quick wins like getting dressed, making your bed, starting a load of laundry, and unloading the dishwasher. This is something that you can do with your toddler awake. You get bonus points for doing it before they wake up. Sometimes they get up at 6 am and don’t give you a chance. Show up to your motherhood like it’s your job, and your work from home job or business like it is too.

Creating a morning routine starts your day out with some structure. It will feel more like a typical workday than if you stay in pajamas all day. Working at home with a toddler makes your day unpredictable but adding routine will give you a sense of normalcy. 

As a part of your routine, determine your meals for the day and set out any frozen food to thaw that morning. Having a weekly or monthly meal plan works best. If you haven’t established that habit yet, at least plan your meals in the morning. If you have a set work schedule, this will help you get a jump start on your day.

Make quiet time a part of your day

If your toddler suddenly goes on a nap strike, have quiet time instead. They can play quietly in a corner or their room. This can be for 30 minutes or an hour, maybe longer. That’s up to you. They may end up taking a nap. You never know! 

A favorite DVD or a Netflix show is also an option. This way everyone in the house is occupied, either with work, a quiet activity, or a nap. Take advantage of this time to work on tasks that require concentration and a quiet environment. It’s harder to set boundaries with a toddler, but this will help you manage.

You can also make a separate box of activities for each day and rotate through them.

Quiet Time Ideas

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones

Quiet Time Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

5 Brain-Boosting Busy Boxes for Toddlers

Favorite Activities

Water Wow! Coloring Pads

Minnie Mouse Wooden Dress Up Playset

PicassoTiles Set

Lego Duplo Classic Set

Leap Frog Letter Factory

2. Schedule playtime.

Give yourself designated work times and make sure to work during those times so your toddler doesn’t feel the need to interrupt you by constantly asking for attention. Then, plan fun activities that your child can do while you work, like coloring books, puzzles, painting, and even simple kitchen activities like mixing ingredients together.

This is a time when you give them undivided attention. This is a way to squeeze in more quality time with your child, but also it will help encourage independent play because they have had that one on one time with you.

3. Make working from home fun and interactive.

Use the time you have with your little one to work on projects together. These could be anything from simple art activities to more educational workbooks that teach about shapes, colors, or letters. You can also work on puzzles together or read books side by side while you work.

My secret weapon is something called a morning basket. This is something that is commonly found in homeschooling, but can be adapted for a baby or a toddler too.

Fill a basket with workbooks, flashcards, puzzles, art supplies, board games, and any other activities that you think your little one may find interesting. Then work on it together for about 10-15 minutes each day. You can also include a book to read aloud or music to listen to.

Morning basket favorites for babies and toddlers:

Rectangular Storage Basket

Children’s Book of Virtues

Beginners Bible

My Big Word Book

Five Minute Stories

Alphabet Flash Cards

Leap Frog Fridge Phonics

Why does this work? It gives your child that one on one attention that they crave. Many times our children act out to get our attention. This activity will fill their bucket. They will be so much more cooperative and independent for the rest of the day. Your morning basket time will be something that they come to expect and ask for.

We have even had morning basket time during the summer when they are on a break from school. If you’re reading aloud or playing an audiobook, use something like Lego or Play-Doh to keep your kids occupied while they are listening.

If you have to work while your child is awake, you can always put them in a baby carrier or high chair to buy yourself a little time.

4. Try a babysitting swap.

If you have another parent who also works from home and a toddler, consider trying a babysitting swap. You can take shifts at each other’s houses so your child has something to do while the other one gets work done in peace! Many parents may have a family member that can help out if they don’t have a friend to swap with. When I lived closer to my parents, my mom would keep my kids for at least one day every week, and it was so nice! This would give me a solid block of time to work without distractions.

Having childcare, even if it’s only for a few hours a week, will help you get into work mode, and will make a huge difference in your work focus. This would be a great time to make phone calls while your kids are occupied.

5. Take breaks.

Don’t forget to give yourself and your toddler a break now and then – work will still be there when you’re done! You can take quick walks around the block, go for a bike ride, or just have some fun outdoors.

If you feel like you are not a morning person, getting outside and moving is a great way to get things started and spend time with your kids. If you’re at home with a baby or little kids in general, it may feel like you have cabin fever. Spending time outdoors can put you in a better mood and help you sleep better at night. This is just one example of something you can do to boost your mood.

With these work from home tips, you’ll be able to keep your little one happy and occupied while you work from home. Good luck!

Conclusion

Remember your motivation for working from home.

Perspective is an important thing to have in your work at home journey. Remember why you want to work at home. Being their mom is the most important thing you can be.

Motherhood is hard. Working is hard. Doing both at the same time is even harder sometimes. The rewards are great. Who has ever said at the end of their life that they regretted spending time with their children? 

You can do it! You are the best mom for your children!

If you’re looking for more tips for the work from home parent, check out our blog for more great tips.

Have work at home tips you’d like to share with us?  Please leave them in the comments below!

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