I know I’m not the only one just absolutely smashing it at working at home with 2 toddlers, right?!
That was a joke.
I’m struggling over here. It’s really a guessing game everyday on whether or not my sanity will uphold. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help get me out of “survival mode”. They’re not perfect, but they’re better than nothing. I’ve learned that having a game plan is still valid, even if you never get to use it.
But why am I even working at home with toddlers? Daycare, woman!
I know, I know. And my kids were in daycare, but I took them out due to COVID concerns. I just had this gut feeling that I needed to take them out and be careful. We have all been staying home and keeping to ourselves. My husband goes to the office, because he has to. Other than that, we are pretty isolated.
It does suck mentally sometimes to deal with both work and kids, but it’s given me more peace than the fear of something happening to them. Although, now I am feeling a bit more comfortable sending them back. Who knows, I may have them enrolled again before the end of the year?!
Now that you know my story, let’s get on to the good stuff…
1. PBS Kids Shows and Games
If your kids are old enough, set them up with some PBS shows or games on their tablet. We all grew up watching PBS at some point. Now it’s time to bestow the fun and experience onto your kids. The great thing about this is it requires minimum supervision. They’re just sitting their watching some educational shows or playing learning games.
Try not to feel bad about screen time; at least it’s positive stimulation and not mindless YouTube toy unboxing videos.
2. Plan Your Meetings Around Nap Time
If you know you’ll need an interruption-free meeting block, see if you can schedule it during nap time. Keeping regular meetings during this time block can also make it easier for your colleagues. They will know you’re available around that time and makes scheduling meetings easier.
If you’re lucky to have a very flexible work group, volunteer to be the one to put something on the calendar. This way, you’re more in control of when the meetings are and can do what works for you.
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3. Stick To A Schedule For Food And Playtime
Schedules make the world go ’round, and kids love them. They won’t flat out say “mommy, I love schedules”. But they are the best creatures of habit on the planet. If you can wake up around the same time each day, have lunch and snack time consistently, you’re more likely to be able to find little nuggets of work and meeting time.
An example schedule:
- 6:30am Wake-up. Brew coffee. Change diapers. Get camera ready if you have a video meeting today.
- 7:00am Breakfast for the kids. If you’re not hungry, use the time for getting work done.
- 8:00am Planned kid activities.
- 9:30am Morning snack for the kids. Again, great time to work while they’re eating.
- 12:00pm Lunch time. Prep for upcoming meetings or make sure you eat if you’re hungry.
- 1:00pm Nap time. They may sleep anywhere from 1-2.5 hours. Make the most of this time!
- 3:00pm Afternoon snack. Take a breather for yourself, you’re almost through the day.
- 4:00pm Wrap up your work while the kids are distracted with something.
Throughout the day, be sure to take breaks and interact with your kids. Being flexible with where you work is really helpful. Take your laptop to the table while they eat or sit in their room while they play. If you don’t have to be in a meeting, it’s a great opportunity to work and interact with your kids at the same time.
4. Work Outside
Take your laptop where the wifi goes! You can sit on your front porch or at a table in your backyard while the kids play. Plus, it’ll be good for you to get outside and have some fresh air. Being caged inside the house at all hours of the day isn’t good for anyone’s mental health.
Bring some snacks and outdoor toys. Let the kids play while you smash out some work. Being in a different environment may even spark your creativity and ultimately make you more productive. You can thank your kids for that!
5. Make Dollar Tree Activity Baskets
Head to your local Dollar Tree and ball out with $20. Seriously. Buy a storage baskets for each kid and fill it with fun activities like puzzles, activity books, coloring pages, etc. Throw in some colored pencils or crayons, chalk, and little toys. Buy extra supplies to be able to refill the baskets whenever you need to!
6. Air Mattress & A Movie
Queue up your kid’s favorite movie and inflate your air mattress. Watching their favorite movie on a blow up mattress just ups the experience for kids. I can bribe my kids with this any day of the week. They love it! If you don’t have an air mattress, you can just take their mattress off the bed.
Set up pillows, get them snacks, and voila- you now have 2 hours of work time. Be sure to have drinks nearby to limit your back and forth running around.
7. Print Activity & Coloring Pages
If you have a printer at home, you can print some activities for the kids. Here are some popular and free ideas:
- Free Worksheets and Printables for Kids – Worksheets and printables that help children practice key skills. Download, print & watch your kids learn today!
- Free Printable Activities for Kids – Kids of all ages will love these free, printable activities that include mazes, hidden pictures, connect the dots, and color by numbers.
- 50 Totally Free Printable Activities for Kids | MommyPoppins – From mazes, printable coloring pages, and paper dolls to craft instructions and STEM-inspired fun, these screen-free activities provide hours of fun.
- Free Printables for All Ages | Scholastic – Explore free printables for all ages that cover subjects like reading, writing, math and science. card-image. Collection. Reading Printables for All Ages.
If you’re going to go this route, be sure to have enough paper and ink on hand. I have an HP Instant Ink account and love it. I never run out of ink for any of my random printing projects.
8. Use Kid-Friendly Timers To Set Expectations
I recently discovered that if I tell my daughter to tell Alexa to set a timer for x amount of minutes, she will actually leave me alone until the timer goes off. I feel like a genius for figuring this out! If you already knew this, don’t rain on my parade, haha.
If you’re unsure how your kid will react to this, try out a short timer like 15 minutes. Have your kid set the timer if possible. The independence of them being able to do it adds to their fun. After the timer goes off, keep your word and do whatever it was you told them to wait for. Repeat this as often as necessary, although use caution. If you’re constantly just having them set timers with little in return on their part, they might just give up on them altogether.
9. Be Honest With Your Employer
Let your manager know that you are currently caring for your kids while you work. If you don’t think it’ll go over well, you might have to take a different approach. But being honest about your current work situation may be a huge benefit to you. It’s not for pity from your manager and teammates, but moreso an understanding of why can never make that 10:00am meetings or constantly say “sorry, one moment everyone”.
This can especially be helpful if you have video meetings that you can turn into audio-only meetings with your manager’s approval. Being able to run around and tend to the kids without being fixed in front of the screen is priceless.
10. Take Walking Meetings
A way to kill 2 spiders with 1 stone (that’s how the saying goes right?) is to have a walking meeting. If you are scheduled for a typical audio-only meeting, you can take your kids for a stroll while doing the meeting.
What is a walking meeting? Walking meetings are just what they seem, a meeting you host while walking or moving. Similar to the traditional meeting, a walking meeting serves as a time and space to inform, collaborate, discuss, and plan along with a few added benefits.
Click Here to check out this article on some tips for virtual walking meetings!
Diapers Wait For No One
At the end of the day, you ultimately just have to do what works for you. A lot of us have been working remote the past 2 years. We have found some things that work and things that definitely don’t work. Have you been working at home with your little ones? Leave me a comment and tell me about it! Share your story with the Daily Mama community!