Balancing babies and toddlers with remote work can feel overwhelming even in the best circumstances and it's easy to feel like you're failing on all fronts. Don't give in to negative thoughts, though. Instead, take the time to set yourself and your children up for success using this guide.
1. Make Your Own Space
Without an area specifically set aside for your use, it can be difficult for both you and your family to appreciate you are working and not available for family business. If you have a home office, simply shutting the door can help achieve a distraction-free space, but for many, workspaces must be carved from an already-packed home.
Although room dividers won’t help with eliminating noise distractions, the visual cue they provide indicates to your family you are busy and to your brain that it's work time. Noise-eliminating headphones, however, can help minimize the interruptions of household sounds.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Along with visual cues, your family and brain can both benefit from a schedule. Knowing what is expected at any particular time of day will help everyone accommodate your professional needs.
If you're responsible for caring for your children while you work, the schedule you make will likely depend on their needs. Schedule more intense work sessions and meeting times around naptimes or right after mealtimes when children are more likely to be satisfied and calm.
Schedule time for them to have access to you. If they know they can count on spending one-on-one time with you at a certain time each day, they'll be less likely to try and interrupt the time you have set aside for work.
3. Get Creative for Your Kids
Keeping babies and toddlers busy while you work can be difficult and you don’t want to have them in front of a screen all day. Find some age-appropriate play ideas that require minimal supervision. Babies can usually do well in a bouncer, swing, or on a playmat for periods of a half-hour or more with their movement and child-safe accessories keeping them occupied. Toddlers can be a little more difficult to manage, but play yards can be a great way of containing them and providing them with safe play opportunities.
Variety will be the key to keeping your kids appropriately occupied and safe. Don’t expect them to maintain any one task for too long as that will increase the likelihood of behavior problems as they become bored and run out of steam.
4. Don’t Neglect Your Needs
Having both work and your family demanding your time and attention in the home can be a lot for anyone to handle. Mental Health America recommends scheduling time each week to regain your balance, even if it’s just slipping away for a long, hot bath and a good book.
One benefit of working from home is you may have more flexibility with your wardrobe than you would in the office. Take advantage of this by purchasing parent-friendly clothing such as soft dresses that have nursing panels to make it easier for you to nurse and pump when necessary. Because you’ll also be interacting with your tiny children while you work, skip out on anything that is dry-cleaned only during this time and opt for clothing that can be easily cleaned.
Working from home with babies and toddlers doesn't have to be a trial. Make smart choices that acknowledge the needs of your, your children, and your job, and rest easy knowing you have done your best.