How can you get work done with a toddler at home?
You need to get things done, but there’s a toddler or two at home constantly interrupting you.
What can you do?
As a mom who’s been working from home with kids for over three years, below are easy tips that have helped me keep toddlers busy so I can be productive, including:
- How to keep toddlers busy while you work
- Strategies to separate work and mom roles
- Daily routine and productivity tips to maximize work time
This post contains affiliate links. Read more info here.
STRATEGIES TO WORK FROM HOME WITH TODDLERS AROUND
You may already have plenty of toddler toys and activities but still aren’t getting any quiet work time.
If that’s the case, try these tips and strategies.
1. Work While Toddlers Sleep
This probably isn’t what you want to hear, but the truth is, the best uninterrupted work time if you have kids at home is when they are asleep!
Some chunks of work time can happen throughout the day while they play independently or someone else supervises, but the best work times are while they sleep:
- early mornings before they wake
- evenings after bedtime
- nap time
Even if you create the best schedule together, life happens. They’re hungry, playful, and needy toddlers. So take advantage of those quiet hours.
2. Communicate Expectations with Work
Depending on your work situation, talking with your work supervisors and co-workers can help everyone to understand you have kids at home too.
That may mean your child needs the computer for school from 9:00-10:00 AM, that you may have a toddler in the room during a conference call, or that your work will be done in the early morning or evening rather than mid-day.
The more you’re open about your situation, the better you can maneuver working from home with kids.
3. Communicate Expectations with Your Toddler
A one-year-old will have a hard time understanding, but as language develops rapidly at age two, talk with your toddler about it.
Let your toddler know you understand they need mom or dad for food, love, and lots of attention.
And explain that you get to work to help others and earn money for your family. In order for you to get the work done that you need to, you need some quiet, uninterrupted work time.
4. Create and Stick to a Routine
Create a daily routine for kids and parents at home that gets everyone’s needs met the best you can.
Keeping it consistent each day will teach them that yes, you need a chunk of time to work, but that you will be back to playing with them soon.
Don’t stress about keeping a schedule perfect down to the minute. Rather, keep it chunks of time that are predictable.
You can get your own printable and editable Daily Schedule in the Freebie Library!
5. Separate Kid Time vs Work Time
This is easier said than done, but the more you are intentional about separating kid time and work time the easier it gets.
Putting the phone and computer away to give your toddler undivided attention will help him feel important and loved. This is especially important if you have a clingy toddler.
It doesn’t have to be all day every day, but if your child never gets your calm, joyful, undivided attention, they will act out to let you know they need it.
6. Wear Earbuds
Some people can focus on work while hearing background noise. I’m not one of those people.
If you’re not either, keep a pair of earbuds near your work computer to block out truck noises and nursery rhymes.
Even though you can’t hear every noise, you can still keep an eye on them make sure they’re safe.
7. Give Your Kids Headphones
If the noise of music, books on CD, apps, or shows is bothering you while you work, give your kids some headphones.
There are a lot of options on Amazon. We have this Elecder pair and they’ve held up well for our toddlers.
8. Put Quiet Time in Your Daily Routine
If your toddler naps, that can be work time for you. However, if your toddler has stopped napping during the day, you can still put “Quiet Time” in your daily routine.
I’ve explained to our toddlers that this time after lunch is for everyone to “recharge our batteries,” so we can be happy, good listeners, and have energy to play all afternoon.
9. Avoid Hangry Toddlers with Snacks
Hangry toddlers will not cooperate and let you work. At least mine don’t.
But you also don’t want to be serving snacks all day long.
To solve this problem, you can stick to dedicated snack times in your daily routine or put out a bin of snacks for the day (once they’re gone, they’re done snacking).
Some snack ideas for toddlers ideas are:
- fruit and veggie pouches
- pre-cut fruit
- soft cooked veggies
- applesauce pouches
- goldfish crackers
- granola bars
- rice cakes
Also, note what foods kids eat before any behavior problems arise. We’ve discovered several food sensitivities and allergens by paying attention to the effects of food.
10. Do Chores as a Family
Start the expectation early that keeping the home clean and organized is a Family Job.
It’s easy for household chores to fall on mom’s shoulders. But if you’re working while home with the kids, rally a team to help keep the house tidy.
Our toddler and preschooler help with chores like:
- picking up toys
- putting folded clothes away
- folding washcloths
- putting clean forks and spoons away
- helping load and unload the washer/dryer
- making their bed
11. Help Toddlers Get Good Sleep
My final tip for working from home with toddlers is to help everyone get good sleep.
If you’re struggling to find enough sleep, you’re not alone. I’ve been there! Some things will naturally get better with time.
These tips and products have also helped us go from a sleep-deprived family to one that’s finally catching up on sleep:
- Ok to Wake! Alarm Clock – turns green so kids know when it’s Ok to get up. This is (finally) working really well for us! There’s one for nap time too!
- Bedtime routine with uplifting books
- Using a lamp for dimmer lighting before bed
- Weighted blanket – this one has a removable cover you can wash
- Diffuser with essential oils
- Blankie or stuffed animal
- Blackout curtains
- Give ideas about what they can do if they wake besides yell for you (e.g., say a prayer, sing a quiet song, tell a quiet story)
Toddlers will keep busy, be less clingy, and respect your need to work at home more willingly if they are well-rested. You’ll be more productive too!
12. Take Turns with the Kids
If this is an option for you, take turns with the kids. You may have a spouse who can work while you’re with the kids, and vise versa.
Also, when social distancing is not in place, ask neighbors, a friend, or grandparents to watch the toddlers for a couple hours.
Just make sure you get to work right away if you do get childcare help and don’t get distracted by social media or the laundry.
13. Know Your Top Work Priorities
Make a plan of your top 1-3 work priorities the night before. Then when you get some time to work, get right at a top priority and get work done.
Before you know it, your work time will be up and your toddler will need something. If you messed around checking your email or social media the whole time, you’ll be frustrated that you didn’t get anything productive done.
14. Rotate Toys and Books
Sometimes simply rotating toys, games, and books keeps things new and exciting. Pick a closet, unused room, or the lower level to store unused items.
Then when toys seem to go unused for a while, rotate something new in. It can be something brand new or something they just haven’t seen in a while.
15. Have A Variety of Learning, Creative, Active and Pretend Play Toys
Even if you don’t have hundreds of toys, a variety of toys that keep toddlers minds, hands, and bodies busy will help you get more work done.
Kids thrive with a variety of:
- books and games for learning
- ways to move their body
- tools to be creative
- ways to let their imaginations run wild and mimic the world around them
Some toys have been duds and end up donated, but we compiled a list of tried-and-true favorites for the toddlers in our home.
Time to Get Work Done With Toddlers Around
Give these tips to keep your toddlers busy while you work from home a try. They may not work the first time, but stick with it and soon it will become the new norm in your work-at-home journey.
Also, don’t forget to give yourself and your kids grace!
It’s totally normal to not be as productive with toddlers at home as you would be when you’re at at an office for eight hours.
This is a whole new world, so give lots of grace and embrace this unique phase of working from home while also raising your toddlers. You got this!