Working from home can be amazing. Many moms choose it so they can stay home with their kids while they’re little, yet still bring in some needed family income.
The rewards are many, but the two that stand out tend to be, 1) quality time with the kids, and 2) no childcare expenses. But there are some serious challenges, as well.
If you have a baby, they may demand more of your attention when they’re awake, but ultimately allow you to get more done since they nap several times a day.
Toddlers are different. They’ve started to stay awake for longer periods of time, have seemingly endless founts of energy, and have zero respect for boundaries. Working from home with a toddler can be like taking a test in school with a marching band playing in the room. Blocking out the sound of your toddler singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” 15 times in a row – and actually being able to produce quality work – is a very real skill.
So how does one work from home with a toddler running around? Since I actually do this, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that have helped me to entertain my son while I’m working from home. I hope they can help you, too!
1 | Construction play
With so many toys on the market, it may seem overwhelming for parents to find toys that both entertain and educate. A lot of the time my toddler wants me to play with him, and while I don’t mind that at other times, it’s obviously not what I want to do when I’m trying to get work done.
I’ve found the best toys to have out for him while I’m working are construction play or building toys such as Legos, wooden blocks, or K’nex education sets. Construction play is great for toddlers because it helps with hand-eye coordination, motor skills, spatial skills, and can even be incorporated into pretend play. In my experience, these types of toys have the longest staying power and allow me to get the most work done over an extended period of time.
2 | Interactive, educational apps and websites
Not all technology is detrimental to young children, and for the toddler over two years of age educational apps and websites can be extremely entertaining for lengthy periods of time. There are so many to choose from that you will need to do some research on what interests your child, but my son loves ABC Mouse.
3 | Bring your work outside
This is my go-to whenever I’m on a deadline and the boy is demanding my attention. Something about being outside instantly calms him and he could spend an hour or more exploring the great outdoors. We have a large back patio, so it doesn’t even matter the weather, as long as he can smell the fresh air, he’s happy. This change in scenery guarantees me some much needed work time, and I get some fresh air too. Win-win.
4 | Healthy snacks and mealtimes
What is it about boys and food? They can eat all day. This both drives me crazy and helps get work done. If I set out a healthy meal for my son, I buy myself an uninterrupted 30 to 60 minutes of work time. He just sits there munching happily away.
5 | Random bath time
Another brilliant idea that occurred unexpectedly was random bath time. My son wanted to take a bath at an atypical hour of the day, say 9 a.m. (we usually do baths at night), and my first instinct was, “No way.”
He probably melted down and so I gave in, huffy and irritated – until I realized that I could sit at the door of the bathroom watching him, and work at the same time. Whaaaa, amazing! I now feel like such a good mom because my toddler is like the cleanest kid in town. With three baths a day, he practically glows. Try toys such as bath paint or crayons to really hold their attention.
6 | A good old pile of books
I often set a stack next to my son while I’m working and this keeps him occupied for a while. Books are an easy clean-up option, too, so when he gets bored, I just stack the pile back up and move on to something else. He enjoys looking at the pictures and pretending to read the stories.
7 | Homemade games
Sometimes, when I’m really desperate, I’ll set up a simple ball or ring toss game, pillow fort, or obstacle course. I’ll give the game an impressive-sounding name like “Lightning Toss” and his eyes get huge as he bounces up and down with the excitement. I get some work done, he feels like something special is happening. I guess, in a way, it is.