Not too long ago I wrote a post about How to Work From Home With a Baby in Real Life. While that has some challenges let me preface this post by saying… working from home with a toddler is harder. Like way harder!
But don’t click away and feel discouraged. Moms, you have an advantage now. If you are working from home with a toddler, like I am, you probably have multiple roles and tasks to juggle. Mom life, housekeeping and chores, food prep, and work tasks.
Mom brain is a real thing and our focus can seem very scattered these days especially when working from home with a toddler. But your advantage is that you have become better at juggling multiple tasks. You are a bit more seasoned as a mom now. The different growth stages of our little ones can seem so fast it’s like a whirlwind. But we do learn more and more as we go.
As a more seasoned mom, you learn what you can and cannot get done and when. It’s all about creating a plan that works for you and your little one. The right tasks at the right time while also learning to be flexible. Children have unpredictable moods and days just like we do.
Which brings us to that word, you know the word the Type A person like myself loves and the more free-spirited among us despise…starts with an “S”. Yes it’s a schedule.
In this post, we will talk about tips for working from home with a toddler:
- A workable schedule
- Creating the right environment
- Preparing ahead
- Setting yourself up for success
Create Your Working From Home With A Toddler Schedule
Listen, a schedule does not have to be rigid. Again, toddlers can make your days unpredictable- hello meltdowns and teething and all the things. Today I caught our little one using her sand bucket to dip water out of the toilet.
But you cannot have a free for all either or nothing will get done.
In my SAHM WFHM schedule guide I walk you through a system called SOAR and the “S” stands for schedule. In that guide, I share a flexible block schedule. I did not use a time schedule with the blocks based on hours when our daughter was a baby. I found having loose blocks worked best. Now that she is a toddler I can be more predictable with times. I know she will nap at 9:30 am for an hour to an hour and a half and then have a second nap in the afternoon. Still some days this can change if she is extra tired or more energized and some toddlers do move to one longer nap a day. Every child is different so create your schedule around your child and day but have one.
Children actually thrive on a schedule because it brings more calm. They know what to expect. When I was teaching preschool I was taught transitions. Transition periods are important for children, how you move from one activity to another. During transition times I get down at our daughter’s level. I talk to her and do hugs and kisses and work to be present and let the tasks go while we play. It’s hard but I try.
Think about it, even as adults we need transitions. We need time to decompress between activities and switch our brains. As work-from-home mommas, it is a lot of back and forth from toddler care to housework to computer and office work.
I have found transition times to be great times for fun and connection. My toddler is my priority. Not my work so I want to be very intentional about giving her focused attention throughout the day. It also improves her behavior and helps her feel fueled up for those times when I do need her to get involved in some independent play.
How do you figure out a work-from-home toddler and mom schedule that works?
Start with a brain release. Write down the things you need to do every day working from home with a toddler. Including chores and toddler care, household tasks, and work tasks. Also, think about your goals and the little actions you need to take daily to meet those goals. Include those tasks too. Personally, I want to get back into some short daily workouts.
Once you have your tasks you can create your block schedule. A block is simply a section where you have a theme. For example, during your toddler’s nap time, you can have a work block. Be specific about the tasks you will do during that time. Do you need to write, do you need to make phone calls, or create social media graphics? Write it down otherwise, you will sit down in your work area and waste valuable time because you’re not sure what you need to be doing.
Figure out other needed blocks in your day, chores, food prep, etc.
The Mom Brain Switching
You are going to have a lot of brain-switching when working from home with a toddler and all the mom tasks. But if you can eliminate some of that through your weekly schedule it can be game-changing.
Though I may do some home tasks and some business tasks every weekday, I’ve found it works better for me to have days in the week that are more focused on home and days that are more focused on business. I like Mondays for errands and home catch-up because starting the week can be hard. By Wednesday I am in a better flow so I like that day for more intense business tasks like content writing. On more home intense days I will water plants, clean out the fridge, do laundry, and do yard work. Those days I keep work tasks to things like emails and creating Pins for Pinterest. On more work intense days I will write, edit, and schedule content. Then keep household tasks to just picking up and light cleaning.
Depending on your work-from-home job, a schedule like this may not be possible but it’s worth considering. Think about how your weeks typically go and your energy levels.
Here’s an overview of how my current day/week is planned to go with a 17-month-old.
As you can see I used to have Mondays and Tuesdays for writing content. Now I’m finding Wednesdays are better so I need to update that schedule. Be flexible and change as needed.
We just moved so we’ve been off but this is what I’m working on getting back to.
Adjust As Needed. Be Flexible
I’m currently not working on client projects but if I take some on I will need to adjust this. When im working in the home office during her naps I keep a baby monitor on my desk where I can see her. It gives me more peace of mind so I can focus.
Sometimes she wakes up and looks at a book or plays just herself for a few more minutes giving me more time. I can see her and watch her playing so I know she is safe. And it’s so cute. Gives her peaceful quiet time to herself to get woke up.
During the housework blocks, I try to involve our daughter as much as I can letting her help with dishes and food prep and even cleaning. She has her own little duster and broom. I don’t force it if she doesn’t want to participate but usually she enjoys it and it’s time together that I can teach her.
We spend time outside every day too. This is a great way to clear your mind and transition into the next thing. Even if it is cold and rainy we try to still step outside for a bit.
Create the Right Environment
I’m so big on the space around me being peaceful. I love a peaceful home. I used to spend my time even as a teenager moving my room around every few months to feel fresh and productive again.
Having an organized and clean space makes everything so much easier. It doesn’t have to be fancy or HGTV worthy but it does need to work for you.
The house we just moved into is a small one-story house but the rooms are pretty spacious. I was excited when I saw one of the rooms had this little enclave. We turned that into a shared office and set up the enclave as our daughter’s playroom with my desk where I can look in. I then added her corral panels, highly recommended, so she has her own yes space. A “yes space” is a Montessori concept where a child has their own space that feels safe and secure with things just for them. I can watch her there while I work on tasks that don’t take as much focus like emails.
Think of ways to set up a safe space for your toddler to play while you work close by. It is also helpful to have some safe activities for your child to do when you need to work. You can save the activities for those times and rotate them so they feel like they are getting something new and special and don’t get as bored.
Prepare Your Items and List Ahead. YOU NEED A PLAN!
Picture this, you finally got that toddler down for a nap. You even have your favorite warm drink steaming in a mug right by you in your workspace. You turn on your computer and up comes a Facebook notification and you respond. Then you check your email and it reminds you about a subscription you forgot to check on. Then you jump into your project management system to see what you need to do. Oh, wait… you don’t have a project management system.
You continue scrolling and oh is that your toddler awake already?!
That is how things tend to go when we don’t have a plan. Nap time can feel really short if you don’t know what you need to do. And not getting things done can make you feel stressed and resentful when your little one wakes up and you don’t want that. You want to feel accomplished and be able to focus on that precious time with your child knowing you did what you needed to do.
This is why it is so important to have a purpose for that focused nap/work block.
Keep a running list of what you need to do. Whether you use an online project management system like Notion or Clickup, a printable planner, or just a notebook, make a list each day of what you need to do the following day and block out the distractions.
Also, make sure you have all the resources ready that you need and your devices charged. Fail- My mouse battery went dead while I was writing this post. It was nap time so I continued writing this from my phone. A momma has to do what she has to do! But we can try to be prepared.
When you get opportunities to work you want to be able to get as much done as you can. My family was so kind to help me with a new computer. My computer was so old it was slowing me down like a lot. I spent all my time while our daughter napped trying to get pages to load instead of getting things done. I can get a lot more done now.
If you can’t afford new equipment, I couldn’t without help, just do the best you can and try to keep your systems clean, up to date, and as fast as they can be. I have worked from a tablet, phone, old laptop, etc. Moms just have to make it work sometimes. But having your equipment running smoothly can definitely help.
Set Yourself Up for Work-From-Home Mom Success
We’re by the mountains and going through a cold snap right now and sometimes I just want to stay in my warm sweats. There are days I do and I’m ok with that. But I have to say there is something about getting dressed for the day and getting ready that makes you feel more powerful and productive. My mom just bought me some of those thermal leggings that look sheer. I threw a little dress top over them and a warm vest today. Still comfy and warm but feeling more put together than I would have if I had stayed in my hoodie all day.
Combing and styling your hair and putting on some moisturizer and lip gloss with a comfy but cute outfit can change the way you feel and only takes a few minutes.
What’s Your Work-From-Home State?
Changing your physical state can truly change your mood. If you are feeling grumpy and sluggish a quick workout can do the trick to help you feel energized and empowered again. Get your toddler involved and have fun and be silly together.
You could also try some power poses. It may sound a little woo woo but it really does work. Try standing with your hands on your hips and shoulders back. Straighten your posture for a couple of minutes while taking some deep breaths. Then put your hand over your heart and think about why you do what you do and some things you are grateful for. Reconnect to your heart and purpose. It is what makes you powerful as a mom.
As with a quick workout, focusing on proper nutrition throughout the day is so important. Even more, if you are breastfeeding because that can be extra draining. Working from home with a toddler, I will be the first to admit that grabbing a sugary treat is so tempting. I have to stay on top of preparing ahead. Otherwise, I get into a bad cycle of grabbing foods with little nutritional value. But your fuel does matter for your mood and brain. We can help our bodies feel good and help our brains be more alert by what we do and consume.
For more see this post What To Do When Mothering A Baby Just Feels Too Hard. It applies to toddler moms too!
If Anyone Said It Would Be Easy…
I’m not going to lie mommas, this is hard. Working from home with a toddler is hard. Motherhood is the hardest job you can ever have but there is so much grace available from our heavenly Father if we ask. Wisdom too.
You can do all the preparing, scheduling, charging, and dressing, and there will still be days when things just don’t work. Days when tasks are left undone. Days your toddler is a moody mess and days when you are too. It’s ok. Accept the grace and start again. A bad day does not mean a bad life and does not mean you are a bad mom.
I have years of experience working from home and with children, the two things separately, but I’m a “new-ish” mom so I’m still learning too. I hope these tips help you and if you have a tip to share let me know in the comments. Please share this post with other mommas and spread the love.
This is our village. I don’t want any mommas struggling alone, losing hope.
You’ve got this momma!
May your work-from-home with a toddler life be blessed.