10 Tips For Working From Home (With A Toddler)


10 Tips For Working From Home (With A Toddler)I’ve been working from home for a while. I used to have a pretty good system in place. I worked around my older kids’ school schedules, and it worked well for everyone. But now I have an extra coworker who is with me every day: my toddler. I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home and spend so much time with him, but as he has gotten older and more mobile, my job has gotten more challenging. Through trial and error — and somewhat out of desperation — I discovered a few ways to make the most of the situation.

Here are 10 tips for working from home with a toddler:

  1. Make a list. Keeping a list of everything that needs to be done not only helps me stay on task but saves me the mental energy of figuring out what to do each day. I physically write down my list on paper so I can cross things off as I do them. When I start to feel discouraged, I can look down and see that I have, in fact, accomplished something.
  2. Embrace block scheduling. Even though I have some flexibility in my work schedule, I still have meetings and deadlines. I recently started block scheduling to make the most of the times that are productive. There are blocks for writing, catching up on emails, meals, going outside, driving the other kids around, and other tasks. The schedule helps me prioritize my day and identify gaps where I could be more efficient with my time.
  3. Wake up early. This one is so hard because I’m tired and it’s winter and there are so many reasons to stay in bed, but I have found that getting up early (like 5am) and immediately going to my computer to work for an hour makes a huge impact on the rest of my day. When I say going straight to the computer, I mean I walk to the computer in my pajamas and work for an hour on a task that requires full concentration. I think more clearly in the morning, so I need to get up early to do this. For some people, working at night is better. The key is to work with your natural rhythm and determine the best time for productivity.
  4. Get dressed for the day. Other than that early morning hour, I try to avoid working in my pajamas. Getting dressed is better for my productivity and mental health. I also have video meetings and I need to look presentable. I like to have a capsule wardrobe for each season, so I can easily choose clothes and lay them out the night before. (I still wear leggings almost every day. Let’s not get too crazy!)
  5. Create a toddler-proof workspace. My home office is also the playroom. I have a standing desk and work area but the rest of the room is set up for my toddler with books, toys, kid-sized furniture, and anything else that can safely keep him busy. When he’s awake and I’m working, he can explore and play to his heart’s content, and I can still keep an eye on him.
  6. Find a great (toddler) playlist. “Party Like a Preschooler” is not my preferred work soundtrack, but it keeps my toddler happy long enough for me to finish some tasks for work, so I am here for it.
  7. Rotate toys. Rotating toys has helped keep my toddler more content. When he starts to get cranky and I need to finish an email or a time-sensitive task, I hand him a new toy to keep him happy long enough to finish what I need to do.
  8. Go outside. It’s important for everyone to take breaks and get away from their desk throughout the workday. With a toddler, I really don’t have a choice. When he gets restless, we head outside for a few minutes. I give him my undivided attention and we both get some fresh air. Even 10 to 15 minutes makes a big difference in both our moods!
  9. Change it up. Sometimes I need to work on my laptop in my toddler’s room or other areas of the house. It’s not my preference when I could be at my desk with my larger monitor and keyboard, but if it helps me finish more work and keeps my little coworker happy, it’s still a win.
  10. Avoid distractions. This is a big one I have really had to work on. Of course, my child will need my attention, but this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about social media, household chores, making a grocery list, remembering in the middle of the workday that I need to fill out an online form for a child, etc. These small tasks can really add up and steal precious productive time, so I must work hard at staying on task as much as possible.

Working from home with a toddler is not easy, but it can be done. I have learned to keep my expectations realistic and not to beat myself up when I can’t be as productive as I would like to be. No, I’m not at the top of my game, but this season is temporary.

Before I know it, my toddler will be headed off to school with his siblings and I will miss having my coworker around.

Are you a work from home mom? I would love to hear your tips!


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