Do you remember being so sad and stressed at the thought of your maternity leave ending and having to send your baby to daycare? You started crunching the numbers seeing if it were remotely possible for you to stay home a little longer or maybe not go back to work at all.
What about when that dreadful day finally arrived and you felt the warm tears sliding down your cheeks and blurring your vision as you tried to undo the car seat straps knowing you could no longer delay the inevitable. It was time to hand your little baby over to someone else, maybe even a perfect stranger, and hope you’d left enough breast milk and that someone would hold your baby throughout the day and not let him or her cry too long.
On that day, just like the days leading up to it, you wished for nothing more than to be able to stay at home with your baby. Oh, how wonderful it would be if you could just work from home!
Does this sound familiar?
Now, fast forward.
Congratulations, your wish has been granted; you get to work from home! But you’re not enjoying it as much as you thought you would. You’ve tried everything, but you can’t seem to manage to keep your child entertained, stay on top of your work obligations, and keep you and your house from falling apart. You need HELP! And no, paying someone else to come into your home and watch your kids is not an option.
You just want to know how to work from home with kids and be successful.
Sound about right?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and it can be done. So, today I want to give you five tips to get work done at home with a baby or toddler.
Just to give you some context, my day job can’t be done from home, but I do manage to run a business working at home as a single mom to a 3-year-old. I say this to let you know I truly do get it, I’m doing it.
Let’s get started!
How to work from home without childcare
1. Be realistic and remain flexible
Working from home is not the same as working at the office. For starters, you don’t usually take your baby to work and you and your husband typically work in different places. But at home, that’s not the case. EVERYONE is there with you.
Want to know a little secret?
Your other coworkers are dealing with the same thing. Even if they don’t have small children, they are still having to adjust to working from home. So cut yourself some slack and see what changes you can make to make things easier on you.
Is it possible to start your workday a little earlier than normal? That way you can take advantage of the time that the rest of the house is asleep and get your more daunting tasks done. Another option is to do the attention consuming tasks after your little one’s bedtime. This way you’re less likely to make mistakes.
When you have the opportunity to set the time for Zoom meetings, try to schedule them during nap time. You’ll be able to focus on what you’re doing and know that there are fewer chances of interruptions.
Don’t forget to be upfront and honest with your bosses. Let them know what you’re capable of doing in your current environment and how you intend to get everything done.
You don’t have to be afraid to pull out the mom card. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get your work done or that you’re asking for special favors. It just means you’ll have to be more creative than your counterparts and may have to get the bulk of your work done after hours.
2. Create a routine
Remember having mom home but working is new to your kids too. It’s hard for them to understand that mom has something to do besides focus on them. The best way to circumvent this is to create a routine.
According to Kaplan, routines give infants and toddlers a sense of security and stability. With everything else in their world changing, they are depending on you for some form of normalcy. That’s where your routine comes in.
Yes, you have to work. But if you think about it, your workday has a routine to it as well. You can use that when creating your working from home routine.
Divide your workday into three parts and in each part give yourself two 15-minute breaks where you give your baby or toddler your undivided attention. Be consistent!
There will be parts of your routine where kids will have to be independent. Make those times theme based. For example, after they eat breakfast, they will have an independent story time where they use their VTech® Touch and Teach Word Book™ to work on letters and words.
As you incorporate your routine and remain consistent with it, you’ll find you’re able to be more productive as your child requires less of your attention. He or she knows what’s coming next each part of the day and is mentally anticipating it.
3. Dedicate a space for your little one
Is there a room in your home that can be turned into a playroom? What about a small space in another room that can be dedicated to holding items for your baby?
Sometimes this can be created by temporarily removing your coffee table and allowing your baby or toddler to have open access to the center of your family room.
With a baby, another option could be placing all of his or her toys on a large blanket where he or she has open access.
The goal here is to allow your child freedom to have fun and move around, this way he or she is less likely to cry out for you and more likely to want to explore the environment.
Whether you chose an entire room or a small area, you want to make sure the space is safe. Remove anything that could be harmful and don’t leave your baby unattended on high surfaces.
4. Create your workspace close to your child
This may seem like you’re asking for trouble but sometimes little ones, toddlers specifically, just want to see that you are close by. Being able to lay eyes on you comforts them. They don’t have to be interacting with you at all but when they look up from what they are doing, seeing mom’s face allows them to keep going. If they don’t see you, that’s when they are more likely to get up and search for you.
With toddlers, it’s best if one of your spaces is enclosed. They just do better with physical boundaries. Try to give them an actual room to play in and create your workspace in an open area within eyesight. Even then, be sure to have a monitor in place.
On the other hand, try to be in the same room as your baby. It’ll give you both peace of mind.
5. Invest in educational toys
Many moms fear that the only way to truly survive working from home with little ones is to give in to screen time. Yes, it’s important that little ones are able to entertain themselves so that you can focus on your meetings and your deadlines, but screen time isn’t the only way to accomplish this.
My favorite way to keep my daughter occupied while I’m working from home is with educational devices. I don’t feel guilty about completing the work before me because she’s having fun and learning at the same time! She even tells me that she’s at work too!
Don’t worry, I’m going to share with you our favorites. They can be used to capture the attention of both babies and toddlers.
Learning toys for 1-year-olds
1. VTech® Chomp & Count Dino™
We love this product because it introduces shapes, numbers, and food recognition. Your 1-year-old may not get everything it’s trying to teach him or her initially, but the repetitive play will definitely get the ball rolling. What’s going to capture your 1-year-old’s attention from the start is the brightly colored play pieces and the ability to pull the dinosaur around the room.
Once little ones tire from feeding the dinosaur and taking it on walks, they’ll get a kick out of hitting the buttons and dancing to the short songs.
As a parent you’ll love it because clean-up is a breeze. The dinosaur has a built-in compartment that can store the eight play pieces.
This dinosaur will be a part of your family way past your child’s first birthday. My 3-year-old still gets a kick out of feeding the dinosaur and taking him on walks. She also loves saying the color and name of the food items and having the dinosaur confirm it for her.
2. VTech® Ultimate Alphabet Activity Cube™
This has so many different parts, your tiny tot will be entertained for hours. Your child will be introduced to letters of the alphabet, shapes, colors, animal names and sounds, numbers, and counting. The list just goes on! He or she will also get five different types of entertainment with each side of the cube.
Get this, not only are children passively and actively learning but they’ll also be working on fine motor and gross motor skills too!
Before I forget, you don’t have to wait until your child turns one to bring this out. You can start using it as early as nine months!
There is truly something in this for every age group which makes this another item I can’t keep my 3-year-old away from. Every time she plays with it, she discovers something else she can do. Right now, her favorite thing to do is stack the letter cubes to make words.
This is another learning product that comes with storage so no mess to worry about!
3. VTech® Touch and Teach Word Book™
Ready for your little ones to start talking non-stop? That’s exactly what will happen once they start playing with this! So what is this exactly?
It’s an interactive book that teaches little ones the words for different food items, common things found in the home, articles of clothing, toys, and zoo animals. They will be exposed to more than 100 words, really broadening their vocabulary.
The best part is as they grow, the book will grow with them. You can change the mode to fit children’s current level or set it a little ahead to challenge them a bit. They have the option to identify words, learn which letters certain words begin with, or play songs.
It’s been fun watching my daughter progress through it and see how much she’s retained.
Learning toys for toddlers and preschoolers
1. VTech® Explore & Write Activity Desk™
I originally purchased this for my daughter when she was 2-years-old and it was one of her favorite Christmas gifts. She and I were both amazed at all of the things she could do with it: identify parts of the body, play music, recognize colors and fruits, as well as work on number recognition and writing.
It took us until this week to discover we were missing out on another feature of the activity desk, using it as an easel! The desk transforms very easily into an easel with a chalkboard providing even more hours of fun.
Now at 3-years-old, she loves the activity desk because it makes her feel like she’s at work like mommy. Her favorite thing to do is use the “dial a friend” mode so she can pretend she is having her work meetings too.
This desk is a must have if you’re working from home with a toddler. My daughter is learning so much and having fun at the same time. Now she’s begging me for more learning pages!
2. VTech® Drill & Learn Toolbox™
When we aren’t watching one of my daughter’s favorite shows, our T.V. stays on the Property Brothers. This toolbox comes in handy when she’s in her playroom trying to imitate one of the twins. It has toy versions of everything you can expect to find in a real toolbox from the hammer and nail down to the drill and drill bits.
At this age kids are all about role play. This learning toy gives them the opportunity to do just that while keeping them happy and occupied while you work. I never knew we had so many things that needed fixing!
3. VTech® Helping Heroes Fire Truck Station™
My toddler is obsessed with fire trucks, but we’ve never been able to find one big enough for her to truly enjoy until we came across this one. The VTech® Helping Heroes Fire Truck Station™ is actually two items in one. It’s a fire truck but it also becomes a fire station. The sound effects are very realistic (don’t worry it’s not too loud) and with its different modes, she’s thoroughly entertained. All I’ve been hearing since she’s gotten it is “I’m coming to the rescue!”. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.
The fire station also comes with two Firefighters, Fiona and Frankie. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Frankie had skin that looked like mine. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.
Can you work from home and look after a child?
You’ve been wanting nothing more than to be home with your baby since the day you laid eyes on each other. Now you’ve finally gotten that chance. It’s scary, it’s foreign, and it’s been a struggle so far.
Just like becoming a mom was a transition, so is becoming a work from home mom. Now you know exactly what you need to do to pull this off and start living your dream. Head on over to VTech® and invest in your child’s education and your sanity! You’ve got this!!!
Keyona is a Mom, Nurse Anesthetist, and the author of the blog ProfessionalMomma.com. She helps working moms integrate their work life with their home life allowing them the opportunity to be the best mom and woman they can be. By simplifying motherhood, she helps working moms have it all.