Having the opportunity to work from home with your children is a wonderful thing for a lot of reasons. Especially since 2020, that is the goal for a lot of parents, both for safety and financial reasons. But, it can be difficult to get anything done with a toddler running around. Whether part time or full time, there are some practical things you can do to make it a little less stressful.
If possible, try to change up the location of where you’re working throughout the day. Toddlers can get restless when staying in one area for too long, so try to mix it up. For example, spend some time in your office if you have one, and later move to the living room or kitchen/dining. By having different activities in different parts of the house for your child, you can make the day go by a little faster and keep them from getting bored for too long. If for some reason your child will be in a safe area, like their room, where you can’t directly see them, set up a baby monitor so you can keep an eye on them while they play independently. This way, you know they’re safe and don’t have to get up every five minutes to check on them.
A great location to move to while your working, is outside! Whether permitting, try to plan even just an hour around the best part of the day to bring your work outside and let your little one play. For example, during the summer in the south, the morning hours are the coolest. So we sit outside in the shade so I can work, and my son plays right there in his water table. A sand box, kiddie pool, or just a kitchen container with water and toys can keep toddlers busy for a good chunk of time. Getting in some outdoor time every day will put everyone in a good mood and help tire out the kiddos.
It can be hard to think of things for your toddler to do every day to keep them entertained. Here are some ideas that take minimal time, effort and money to get you started:
- Toy rotations: This doesn’t mean you have to go buy a bunch of new toys. Just go through the toys your child has and separate them into 2 or 3 groups. Get a few containers or boxes out and store the groups separately in a closet or somewhere your kiddo won’t get into them. Then through the week, rotate which box your child can play with until they get bored. Then switch to another box after a day or two. This keeps things fresh and will make them want to play with toys they may not have played with in forever! It also helps to keep things simple so your toddler can really use their imagination. Blocks are always a good option for open ended play. My toddler loves these magnet tiles and Duplo LEGOS; they keep him busy all day long.
- Crafts: Most toddlers love to make things! Make a station with coloring books, crayons, pencils, chalk and a chalkboard, or even paint if you’re feeling brave. Even if money is tight, going to the dollar store and buying pipe cleaners and Pom poms are simple things that are so much fun for toddlers. Playdoh is one of our favorites too; it’s cheap and the possibilities for making things are endless!
- Stick to a routine: Try to keep nap time consistent every day. Nap time can be such a relief and a nice break when your working from home. If your toddler is getting to the age of dropping their nap, try to have them still take quiet time looking at books in their bed, so you can get a break.
- Screen time: This area can be controversial, but a limited amount of screen time can be a life saver when you need to make phone calls or get on a meeting. I love the PBS Kids apps for watching shows and playing games. They are great, free and safe options for little ones.
- Snack time: Plan ahead for the day by making a snack box with everything your toddler can snack on that day so you don’t have to think about it. Pre-portion out snacks, like crackers or sliced fruit into bags, so you can grab and go and not have to spend time prepping food every time they ask for a snack.
Don’t forget to take breaks often to give your toddler your undivided attention and to enjoy that precious time together!