How To Work From Home With A Toddler – Tips From A Mom Of Two!
Working at home with a toddler is NOT easy. If you’ve ever tried to do so you know it’s a difficult balance of prioritizing your children while trying to make progress on projects and goals that require time and focus. The two objectives are not easily paired. Toddlers are high demand and it can feel impossible to get anything done while tending to them all day. (It can feel impossible to even form an intelligent thought!)
I’m a stay at home mom and when I first started my blog I had just one infant who took long naps twice a day. I had A LOT of quiet time to sit down and write, think, learn, and plan. However, that infant quickly turned into a more energetic toddler, and just a few short months later we added another child to our family! As I sit here now we have two toddlers ages 1 and 3. They are a precious and draining duo that I wouldn’t trade for the world. However, I have had to adapt my working strategy substantially to prioritize their needs and still make progress toward some of my professional goals.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 9 of my tips for getting work done while at home with toddlers all day. Following these tips has helped me to build two blogs and bring in a consistent monthly income for our family (while prioritizing first the needs of my children)! They may not all work for you, your type of work, or the dynamics of your kids and family, but it’s my hope that something I share can help you to navigate your own journey of growing your goals with young kids in tow! The season is hard, but it’s also a beautiful one to be treasured.
9 Tips For Working From Home With A Toddler (Or Two!)
1. Use nap time!
My first and most productive tip is to use nap time to work – and save your tasks that need the most focus for nap time. I try to work during nap time daily and it is usually when I am able to get the most accomplished. During nap time I have the largest chunk of time to sit quietly and think through details or write. It’s when I try to do my most focused work.
Our oldest toddler is approaching 4 years old and is starting to not need as much sleep in the afternoons. However, I have her take books to bed for a period of time so I still have an afternoon break to refresh and get things accomplished. She often still falls asleep, but taking books assures that I have at least SOME time each afternoon to pound out some of my priorities.
2. Save mindless work for evenings when you’re relaxing.
I save as much of my tedious and administrative work as I can to work on in the evenings after the kids go to bed. If my husband and I are just casually watching tv, I make it my goal to work through these tasks while unwinding. When I’m working on tasks that are somewhat mindless and don’t require intense focus, I find that I can still enjoy relaxing and spending time with my husband while also getting things done.
For me, as a blogger, one of my biggest mindless tasks is creating Pinterest graphics and scheduling them. I very often work on this while enjoying a tv show in the evening.
3. Use apps to work on your phone.
If you’re like me, your cell phone is probably always on you. I’ve been able to make progress on some of my task items throughout the day just by using a few apps on my phone! I can edit photos or create graphic designs while riding in the car or squeeze in some post research while the kids are playing independently. For me, there is a fine line between staring at my phone all day and engaging with my children – but if you can exercise self-control not to be consumed by it, using your cell phone can be a great way to get work done in small windows of your day.
(A few of my favorite apps for working on my phone are Canva, Lightroom, and Google Analytics.)
4. Take a break when you are burned out.
This might seem counter-intuitive since the topic of this post is how to WORK from home with a toddler, but I have found that sometimes taking a break is the most productive thing I can do. If you are working from home with a toddler, you are bound to hit a wall of burnout at some point. Toddlers are exhausting and balancing work on top of parenting them is just A LOT.
If you hit a point of total burnout and lack of motivation for your work, the best thing you could do might be to take a break. Obviously your ability to do so depends on the type of work you are doing, but if you are able, taking a break can be just what you need to get back into a productive groove.
I’ve learned over time that hitting a season of burnout with my blog and life is simply that, a season. I’ve stepped away from my blog for weeks or even months at a time to let my brain reset and let go of the stress of my to-do list. When I’ve jumped back in it’s been with a renewed energy and focus that more than made up for the time that I took off. If you’re a blogger, taking a week or even a month off is not going to destroy all of your work. Take a long break and you’ll be surprised at the new excitement, energy, and focus that you’ll have for your work!
5. Use technology that loads fast.
As much as you can, I highly recommend using fast-loading technology as a mom working at home with a toddler. When you work at home with young children you have to be able to jump into and out of work mode quickly and often. If you have to wait a half-hour for your computer to boot up every time you have a window of opportunity to get something done, you are going to lose valuable productivity time.
I used to use my own cheap Dell computer for my work. It accommodated all of my needs, but it took a REALLY long time to load up. When I sat down at nap time to work I would often wait up to 30 minutes until my computer turned fully on and loaded all of my information. I became so frustrated with my lost productivity while waiting for it to turn on that I started using my husband’s Macbook instead – and what a difference it made! I simply had to open the computer and begin working.
Having efficient technology can make all the difference when you’re trying to work from home in little pieces of time.
6. Order your priorities and start at the top.
This tip may sound like an obvious suggestion, but I’ve found it to be especially important when working at home with toddlers. A toddler comes with a lot of unpredictability. One day a toddler may take a nice long quiet nap – or one day they may fight their nap tooth and nail and be out of their room repeatedly. One day they may go down to bed for the night happily – or one day they may scream and cry for hours at bedtime. You can never fully predict what your workday is going to look like with a toddler or how much time you will actually have to get things done.
I recommend prioritizing your task list so that you can get the most essential items done first with your time. That way, if you end up having a day with less time to work than anticipated, you will have at least completed the most critical items that you needed to for the day!
7. Get sleep and take care of yourself!
You may think that this goes without saying, but to be productive working at home with a toddler make sure you are making time to shower, exercise, and get good rest! These things can have a significant impact on your productivity. If you don’t get good sleep your brain may be foggy and you may not be able to focus clearly. You may also find that you lack the energy to get your work done when you are not circulating your blood on a regular basis with exercise! In addition, feeling like a frump can really hurt your confidence to assert yourself in your work or to learn and push forward toward your goals.
You will feel like a more energized, focused, and confident professional if you make sure to get good rest, exercise, and take care of your personal hygiene! It’s amazing the impact these things can have on your work and productivity.
I neglected taking care of myself for a couple of years after having my girls and it translated negatively into all of my life, including my energy and excitement toward my work goals. My mind was often foggy and depressed and I lacked the confidence to tackle new and challenging goals.
Take care of yourself and you will be surprised how much it affects your approach toward your work!
8. Don’t keep your work confined to one location in your home.
When it comes to working from home with toddlers, I highly recommend keeping your work as mobile as possible. I would LOVE to have an office in our home. (Someday I still hope that I will!) However, if all of your work HAS to get done in an office it’s going to be a lot harder to actually get it done during chaotic days with kids.
Offices are great for keeping yourself organized, storing supplies, and having somewhere to work when you really need to disconnect and focus. However, if you can accomplish a lot of your work on a laptop that can be used throughout your home you are far more likely to be able to chip away at work throughout your day.
9. Take evening or weekend work getaways.
Working on my blogs refreshes and energizes me. For me, they are an organized break from the chaos of my days with young kids and a way to exercise my brain that I enjoy. If your work drains you then this may not be a great tip to follow. However, if your work fuels you like mine does it can be extremely helpful to take periodic getaways to spend some time concentrating on your work away from home. (Local coffee shops or libraries are great options!)
My husband is great at trying to give me these times every now and then, and they go a long way toward my personal refreshment and the success of my work. On occasional evenings when he is able to be home with the kids I will go to the coffee shop, order a drink and/or treat, and pull out my laptop to work. I get a lot done and, as a bonus, I also come home feeling personally refreshed from the quiet time away!
Everyone’s work looks different. I know that not all of these tips will be helpful or apply to every mom trying to work from home with young kids. If you are burned out working from home with your toddler or are thinking about diving into doing some work from home with one, it’s simply my hope that these tips help you to find strategies that work for YOU.
These are just some of the ways that I have found to balance my professional goals with being a stay at home mom. As moms we balance A LOT, so give yourself some grace – and I hope that some of these tips help you to find your own balance and be productive!