Tips for Working from Home With a Toddler

Working from home can get tricky when a toddler is in the mix

More moms (and dads) are ditching the commute for work-from-home job opportunities. For many, working from home gives parents the best of both worlds – the ability to be available to their young children while still bringing in a paycheck.

But having your home be your office can cause problems – particularly if your toddler is home with you during work hours. In fact, attempting to be available to work when your toddler is around might be more difficult than any other stage – your little one needs near constant attention, but unlike an infant, your toddler is mobile. But it can be done: Here are seven tips for working from home with toddlers. 

Get up early... really early.

work from home mom
Credit: Ariel Skelley

The best way to work when your toddler is around is by getting as much done when they aren't. This means setting an alarm an hour or two before they are up for the day. If you do your best thinking in the morning, tackle your largest projects sans distractions during this time. But if you're not a morning person, getting up early can still be useful. Have a cup of coffee and use this time to organize yourself, respond to quick email requests, and plan out the rest of your work day. 

Encourage independent play.

Independent play is important for toddler development and should be encouraged. For working parents, independent play can give mom or dad some much needed time to get work done. Busy bags are a great way to entice your toddler to play by herself. They're exactly what they sound like: bags of simple activities designed to keep toddlers busy.

Hire a babysitter or mother's helper.

Sometimes, if you want to work from home successfully, hiring help is a must. It depends on your situation, but all kinds of arrangements exist -- from a full-day nanny to a mother's helper that comes for a few hours a few times a week -- and setting up a regular routine with a sitter can help ensure you have dedicated time each week to get your work done. 

Swap sitting services with another mom.

Know another work-from-home in your neighborhood? Setting up a babysitting swap is a win-win-win! A swap basically means that one mom takes both kids for a few hours so the other mom can work, and then the other mom returns the favor. In addition to getting some much needed time alone to put your nose to the grindstone, your kids get a fun playdate. Bonus: It's free! 

Take advantage of nap time.

When you're a work-from-home parent, enforcing a nap time each day is not only important for your little one's health and development, it's critical for you. If you can, encourage a long nap -- two to three hours for most toddlers is not too much time to nap in the afternoon. Keep nap times consistent so that your toddler is has a regular routine. 

Give your toddler undivided attention.

Working from home has obvious benefits for many parents, but it's not always easy. Leaving work behind physically is not possible, and it can be tough to let it go mentally as well. But if your toddler is trying to get your attention, chances are, he's not going to stop until he succeeds. Put your to-do list aside, log off the computer, and give your toddler the attention he needs and deserves. Set boundaries and make sure there are plenty of work-free times throughout the day. After all, the biggest perk of working from home is spending time with your toddler -- so make sure you take advantage of it. 

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