When I first started working at home, my daughter was 9 months old and she took a big, long nap each afternoon, which gave me two uninterrupted hours to work each day.
But as she got older, her naps shortened and eventually disappeared. This left me wondering when and how was I going to work at home now that she wasn’t napping.
After exploring several options, I decided to enroll her in a mother’s day out program two days a week. This arrangement works well for me, but during holidays and summer break, I’m left scrambling for other arrangements.
Through trial and error, and suggestions from other work at home moms, I discovered a few ways to successfully work at home with toddlers.
1. Paid Caregivers: For most moms, hiring a nanny is just too expensive, but there are other more affordable options out there. I suggest looking for a college student, neighbor or member of your local church who is looking to make a little extra money. Even if they come for a just couple hours, twice a week this will give you some time to completely focus on your business, while your toddler is in good hands.
2. Toddler Swap: Do you know another well-trusted mom who also works at home? Make an agreement to do a toddler swap. Take turns watching each other’s children while the other gets some work done. Not only does this give you some additional time to work, but your child will love having new playmates.
3. Activity Kits: Plan ahead and create various activity kits to occupy your toddler when you need to get some work done. Play dough, arts and craft supplies, dress-up clothes, books, educational DVD’s and train sets are just a few ideas to get you started. Check out Woo Jr for some more ideas on how to keep your toddler entertained.
4. Undivided Attention: Have you ever tried to get a project done and your child just keeps pulling at your pant leg wanting attention? This is when you know it’s time to take a break and give your child the undivided attention that they need and deserve. Get down on their level and do what they want to do. You’ll find that after a session of focused play and communication that they’ll be content and happy to play on their own again while you answer some emails.
5. Family: If you have an important project that needs your full attention, recruit a family member to help take some of the responsibility off your hands. Whether its grandparents or getting your significant other to take some time off work, utilizing family members can be a life saver and they’ll get to enjoy some quality one-on-one time with your child.
6. The Daddy Factor: Find some activities that your spouse loves to do and have them share that passion with your children. For my husband, its golf and remote control cars, and now he shares these activities with our daughter. Remember to save these activities solely for your spouse and your children, and then use that time to work while they share in some special daddy time together.
7. Slow Down: You probably first started working at home so that you could spend more quality time with your loved ones. So why are you trying to climb to the top so quickly? Slow down and temporarily scale back on your business activities, there will be time enough to grow in the future when your children are older. Remember they are only young once.
With a little flexibility and creativity, you can be a successful at-home mom and entrepreneur – even with toddlers in tow.
What tips do you have for working at home with toddlers?