Working from home is a game-changer for a lot of parents.
Working from home is a game-changer for a lot of parents. It cuts out the commute time, reduces childcare costs and means that you can be there for your child during the week. However, while it is certainly great for a work-life balance, it also means that you have to juggle working while also caring for a child, the hardest age group being toddlers. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to make it a lot easier.
1. Set up a specific area to work in
Whether it’s in a specific home office or just a space in the living room, make sure you have a designated area to work in. Your toddler will then associate this area as your ‘working’ time and be able to differentiate when you’re ‘working’ and when you’re not. It also means you won’t leave any work-related notes or files around the home that will get lost of scribbled on.
2. Start early
If you can try to get up an hour or two before your toddler. This way you can squeeze in a bulk load of work or clear some deadlines before they even get up. It will also give you a chance to fit in some play time during the day if you’ve already done a couple of hours before the day has even started.
3. Work late
If getting up early is not an option – some toddlers get up at 6 am meaning you would have to get up before the birds – consider working late, after they have gone to bed. This way you can free up more of your day to spend time with them before getting some work done after they have gone down for the night.
4. Naps are key
If your little one hasn’t grown out of their naps just yet, establish a routine whereby their nap coincides with the busiest part of your day. Use this time to make phone calls or get through a bulk load of emails.
5. Have set work hours
Whether you are getting up early to do a couple of hours, staying up late or working a normal 9 -5, make sure you have set working hours. Time can literally get away from you when you’re working and it’s important you finish after you’ve done your eight or so hours.
6. Have set lunch breaks
It’s easy to forget about lunch when you are working at home, but it should be a time when you and your toddler sit down together without the distraction of work.
7. Schedule in breaks
By breaks we mean time with your toddler. Instead of taking a full hour lunch break why not break your day by fitting in 10 minutes of play with your toddler every 60 or so minutes.
8. Don’t expect every day to go the same
No matter how much planning you do, don’t expect your day to go the same way every day. Toddlers, no matter how much of routine you have, are unpredictable. One day they could be happy playing by themselves, the other they won’t leave your side. In these instances, don’t get stressed. Have a sit-down and simply re-plan your day.
9. Have stimulating toys available
Don’t just plonk your tot down in front of the TV or device for a few hours' peace. Set up a special play area for them, near enough to where you’re working, and fill it with books, puzzles, jigsaws, cars, dolls and toys that will stimulate your child’s brain and keep them happy and entertained. And finally, if possible, do sign them up for a playgroup for even a few hours a day. Under the ECCE scheme, children are entitled to attend pre-school, Montessori, creche or playgroup for three hours a day, five days a week for 38 weeks of the year for free. The scheme covers two full academic years.