There are many people working from home with toddler, and they have been managing their work life balance beautifully. As a young parent, you probably feel overwhelmed with the challenges that a baby or a toddler presents.
But believe me, with a little patience, practice and planning (and lots of love), you can conquer all parenting battles with ease.
There may be unexpected situations with the baby at home and at your workplace also, and you may be struggling with both. You are not alone there. Most of your colleagues have also gone through those times, when they had to work with baby in their lap, so take it as a new normal to work from home with a toddler in arms.
That is why we reached out to 20 Parents and Child Specialists and asked a simple question:
“If you are working from home with a baby or a toddler, how would you manage your work effectively?”
I wanted to know the best working from home tips with a toddler which I must have and ignore the rest what I can live without.
As an average person or mom, I had been working when my baby was just one month old, and I took a sabbatical when my kids were a few years’ older.
That’s why I believe that these tips are not only for the people who are doing some “money earning work” but these tips are as much useful for a stay-at-home mom or a parent; because staying at home has its own unique challenges.
When you are at home and not exactly “working” in commercial terms, you still have all the pressure to look after the house and the baby.
That’s why we decided to reach out to other stay-at-home moms seeking their best advice. At the end of the day, here are the results:
1. Keep Life Simple - Work Life and Home
It seems easy to say this. But most parents we contacted agreed that an organized and well-planned day helped them manage baby and work better.
A regular morning routine helped. Now, when you are working from home, you may be tempted to sleep till late or binge watch your favorite movies. Whereas, this plan seems exciting for a few days, but if you have to have a happy and healthy working life with your toddler at home, you need to follow a more consistent and sustainable routine.
That routine may differ as per your family needs, but one thing is certain – it is a daily practice and you have to keep improvising on yourself each day.
The most important things in your life must be your priorities. For example, your health and habits, your toddler’s health and routine (that is building her habits), which includes sleep and play time.
To make your parenting life enjoyable add some spice to it.
A routine sounds very boring, slow-pace day’s work, while life with a toddler is hyper active and energetic. That’s why, keep your energy high and include a lot of giggles, laughs, jokes and small playthings in-between your work breaks, to create bond with your baby.
2. No Need to Win Every Battle
Reading “How-to” tips is one thing and practicing them in the real life seems another. But you can easily manage work from home with your toddler, if you don’t loose your sanity and energy.
It’s important that you stop being the all essential warrior of every battle at home and workplace.
There may be colleagues trying to outdo you, or try to show off; or you may have a partner, who simply does not step in to help you with child care.
It does happen and it may happen with you sometimes. But you keep yourself cool and collected. It may be difficult but if you write your priorities and look the bigger picture rather than immediate troubles; there would surely be some solutions.
If you are sorted, you will find that you make better choices to engage your toddler to focus on your work, rather than fighting with your partner.
In short, keep your ambitions and your expectations in check. You may need to live for the moment rather than plan five years ahead. Anyways, Covid19 has taught all of us that planning does not work anymore (at least not for five years).
Some things are beyond your control and you have to simply enjoy, forget, forgive or move on with certain situations.
You have to decide if your time with your toddler, while working from home is an enjoyable fun time or a frustrating battle.
3. Find Your "Baby Support System"
Raising a child is not a one-person job, it is a community effort and believe it. I have seen many parents, particularly mothers losing themselves to depression, while trying to fulfill every need of their toddler.
It is right that you gave birth to your baby and you hold yourself responsible for her needs. But you are not the only and sole responsible person for her upbringing.
Pitch in willing grandparents, sisters, relatives, friends, neighbors, neighbors’ kids and everybody reliable, that you can think of, to share their time with your toddler, while you work from home. That is how most smart working parents bring up their babies and that’s how I also taught some social behavior to my kids.
And one more thing, when you are bringing up a toddler, not only you need physical energy, but you also need mental strength.
When in need and doubt, you may reach to mom groups, child specialists, online parenting community etc. for advice and parenting tips.
4.Have a Babysitter to Look After Your Baby
While you are working from home, it becomes easier to manager your toddler, but if you have a challenging work life; it would be a good idea to hire a part time or a full time baby sitter to take care and spend time with your baby.
This way you can multitask to optimize your productivity. While you supervise from your work desk, the babysitter can feed, read, clean and play with the baby. During this time, you can finish your projects or plan for some crucial working hours of the day.
5.Adjust Your Work Schedule Around Toddler’s Routine
I have experienced after working from home for a few days, you create a rapport with your toddler’s schedule and it would become much easier to manage her.
Because anyways, kids sleep 13 to 14 hours daily and sometimes more, then they spend 3-4 hours minimum in playing and rest of the time eating and visiting the washroom etc.
Babies sleep soundly for long hours and that is the best time to get most productive work done.
According to that, you can create your work schedule around your baby’s routine and work happily.
6. Regulate Online Games and Cartoons
It seems convenient for you to allow your toddler TV binge watching, while you finish your office project.
While you are happy with this arrangement and your baby will never complaint “Too Much TV,” health department is certainly not agreeing with you.
Dr. Hulse said most parents keep their children engaged using a device of some kind while working or feeding them. “This is a wrong practice as the child won’t relish what he or she’s eating.
This, coupled with inadequate sleep time and sedentary behavior, is paving the way for childhood obesity and related diseases later in life.
Recognizing the need to check this, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued guidelines stating that children under five must spend less time viewing screens or being restrained in prams and seats. It said they spend more time playing and should get better quality sleep.
For one-year-olds, at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) daily, if they are not yet mobile is essential.
Any sort of screen time is not recommended until the age of 2; not more than an hour of it for toddlers aged 2-5
Physical activity for at least three hours is must for those aged under five and above one year of age.
Kids should have 14-17 hours (0-3 months of age), 12-16 hours (4-11 months), 11-14 hours (1 to 2 years), 10-13 hours (3 to 4 years) of quality sleep,
Dr. Soans, who asserted that the need of the hour is “Replacing prolonged, controlled or sedentary display time with more active play, while making sure young kids get good quality sleep, is vital.
Physical activity several times a day for toddlers, especially through interactive play that is floor-based will enhance their overall growth. The time on the screen for toddlers should be limited to one hour under adult supervision.
7.Spend More Time with Your Baby, While Working
Spending more time with your baby does not mean that you stop your hands and your work. There are smarter ways to spend time together.
For instance, you can be freed up a bit in the kitchen and at your table, while the baby is with you in her babysitting chair or a baby rocker.
If you wish to start using a seat and if your baby isn’t quite at that point, think about buying a model that is reclining. These can be utilized in the upright position so as she grows, you will get a lot of use from it.
Whether you go for a chair that is normal or a reclining, be certain you check out all your options. You want one that’s durable and sturdy enough for at least two decades of
The high chair acts as a chair with a view as dad or mom prepares dinner, or work on their office desk. It may also work out well for those minutes with eating your dinner with another when you are feeding your baby.
Make sure that the seat is positioned in a manner that baby can see you and feel a part of your being, but not in reach of items on the table that’s sharp or hot.
Chairs with wheels are convenient if you want to multitask while the baby eats and is alone. Be careful to try the locking mechanism on the wheels out, and know how to do it.
8. Set up a Play Area for Your Toddler
Setting up a play area for your baby should be your number Two priority. Number One should be their sleep routine and sleeping bed.
Toddlers are hyper active, full of energy, jumping bags. If you forget to regulate their energy in the right direction, they will sap all your energy. Before they drive you crazy, it’s wise that you set up their toys and toy station to keep them excited into self-play.
I remember I used to bring both my toddlers to work with a portable playard, so that they could play, while I finished my work. Even one of my colleagues used to bring his 2-year-old daughter with him to office. And he used to set up a play area for her, to keep her engaged the whole day.
Even after playing, she used to sleep in one part of that playard comfortably.
You can even set up a ball pit or buy different type of toys. There are many ABC’S, shapes, numbers, colors, etc.in soft material for toddlers.
9. Set up a Work Time for Your Toddler
If you show your baby that work is important and give her importance while she tries to imitate you, you’ll be surprised that she becomes calmer while you work.
I set up a reading time with my six months’ old baby and while reading, I used to make a few pauses to ask her questions about the story and continue to read.
After sometime, I used to leave her on her own and used to focus on my work. That time, she used to simply try to figure things out on her own rather than disturbing me.
You can buy them educational toys and let them discover them. If you don’t have a board yet, get one and let their creativity evolve.
There are flashcards with the alphabet, words, colors, animals, numbers, body parts, etc. and these play a learning game and then, let them go through them and step in until you ask them and they have learned the material.
10. Set up an Activity Section in Your Home
When you are working from home with a toddler around, you have to devise creative ways to keep them engaged. Almost all toddlers love to play House Games or Tent Games.
There are many tent ideas for toddlers that you can set up and let them play for hours, while you continue your work from home project.
You can even make a dress up section in one corner of your room and let them use their imagination to play roles.
11. Set up an “Office” area and Work There.
When your toddler watches you working, he develops respect for you and your “office.” At this age, she understands that it is some serious business that mom or dad are into; and gradually she plays on her own when she sees you working on your own.
While you may be conscious at this level about setting your home office perfectly well and give a small corner to your toddler to play and sleep.
But I must say that your colleagues are as human as you. They have also gone through the pangs of parenthood just like you are having. Therefore, you don’t need to feel shy and hide your toddler behind the curtains, while you work serious office work.
This is the time, when you can introduce an integral part of your life, that is your baby, to your office guys and let your people know that your baby is your partner, while you work from home.
12. Keep Parenting and Work-Life Separate
Till now, we were talking about coordinating your work life balance with your toddler, but now you must understand the borderline between the two.
You may have the liberty to use loud voice and pass strict orders to your team members, but your tone may scare your baby.
Be aware that the behavior you show over the zoom meetings and phone calls may be appropriate in your work settings, but your toddler may interpret them differently. A child needs love and care, to understand things.
A working from home does not necessarily means an earning parent, but work-life balance is as much important for a stay at home parent. It is crucial to have a work-life balance for you to keep your sanity and your wellbeing intact.
It is so that your work is important for you (even if it is house chores), and your baby is even more important for you. Hence, you reach to every possible solution that can make your parenting life simpler and happier.
Plan your most busy work times around their most busy independent playtime, and use this time to the maximum use.
Take help from each and every member of your family in sharing the responsibility of running the home, and raising the baby.
Working from home does not mean working non-stop 24×7. You deserve sleep, exercise, playtime and relaxation. Set up a sustainable routine for yourself and for your toddler.
Make sure your toddler takes his night sleep and day naps regularly on time. His sleep area should be set up as per his comfort and liking.
And most importantly, never underestimate his / her, playing needs. Playtime for a toddler is not a pastime but a time to develop emotionally, mentally and physically. When you are working from home with your toddler, make sure they feel the security and comfort of being around you.