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Kids are annoying. They’re tiny reminders that we are getting older by the day. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want them around. In fact, we go to great lengths to keep them close. We even want to work from home just so they’re near us.
And because of that, we’re faced with a challenge: how can we work from home with a toddler and actually get work done?
In this article I’ll show you how to do it. Ready to get going?
Safety Before Anything Else
I want to begin by talking about safety. Little ones LOVE to explore. In things, on things, even up things. Anywhere a cat can go, the kiddies can go. And because you need to get some work done you can’t always have both eyes on them so being proactive in keeping them out of harm’s way will make it a little easier on you.
Here are my safety tips:
#1 When working, lock the doors so they can’t sneak out. And I’m not saying that in a weird, hostage-taking kind of way. I just know that kids have itchy fingers that want to turn door handles. As an alternative, these these knob covers will keep the munchkins from escaping. Oh, and let’s not forget to cover the stove knobs, too.
(To be totally transparent, those two links are affiliate links. I can buy a cup of coffee with commission I earn if you buy the knob covers. Here’s my full disclosure)
#2 Make sure furniture won’t topple on top of them because THEY WILL CLIMB. These wall straps are great anchors I use for my tv’s (another affiliate link).
#3 Snacks can be chokey. It’s easy to give your little one a snack and go about your work, thinking all’s good in snackey-land. Not so fast…
- Grapes can be choke hazards. Not only are they the size of a child’s windpipe, the skins can be sticky. Cut grapes length wise so they go down easily. Slicing them only makes shorter windpipe sized hazards.
- Hot dogs, like grapes, should be cut lengthwise. And in small pieces.
- Popcorn and Whole Nuts are no-no’s. How many times have you had a hunk of nut stuck in your throat or a popcorn kernel sitting on the back of your tongue? Yucky feeling, huh?
- Meat is a yummy source of protein but can be tough on little ones with only a few teeth. Cut it up into teeny-tiny pieces so it goes down easily
- Same with cheese.
- Lollipops and Marshmallows suck for toddlers. A stick sticking out of their mouth can quickly turn into a stick lodged in their wind pipe. And a big wad of fluffy marshmallow goo expanding in their windpipe? No thanks!
By the way, do you know CPR ?
Ok, now let’s get down to it.
Here’s How To Work From Home With A Toddler.
Make Them An Important Part Of Your Day
Some days will be tougher than others but you need to hold tight to the bigger vision of what comes with working from home with kids. The benefits can’t be beat. Put down your phone and stop working for a little while, I promise you won’t regret it.
Let Kids Be Kids
Sometimes I like to just let my little one be who he is – a kid. Mashing cookies to smithereens, pouring cups of sand on his head while exclaiming “it’s waining!”, and curling up in the dog bed, with Spider the schnauzer, gives me an easy 30 minutes of work time.
Take Time To Enjoy The Little Things
The priceless moments of hearing the baby talk to himself when he wakes up from his nap. Exploring in the back yard. Swimming lessons. Take time to enjoy the little things.
Occupy Their Mind
Little minds are such wonderful things. Those sponges soak up all they can and still have enough room in there to garner a response to the occasional“why?”. So why not let them share your office space with you? Here’s how to do it:
Let Them Help…At Least Let Them Think They’re Helping
This is my favorite tip because it allows for some special bonding time. I like to set up a spot in my office – usually on the floor – where my son can practice his scribbles. We call it “helping mommy with work”. You’d be surprised how much you can get done when junior is exercising his brain and “helping” you work.
Create Independent Activities
Little ones are their own individuals. They loooove their new-found independence. And, as parents, we need to encourage that. Right? So give them activities they can do on their own (keeping them within ears length, or course). Coloring is so much fun. Puzzles are too. My fav: rotate toys so there is something new in their toy bin.
Have A Job That Fits
It’s no secret that toddlers have short attention spans. Which kind of sucks when you’re on a roll trying to hit your goal. So what do you do? You try to work on their schedule. So when people tell me to “work when they nap…”, or “work before they get up…” I quietly scoff.
Because there is a little thing called life. And everything that comes with it. Like taking care of the house, aging parents, even your other school age children.
But there is a solution. You can work a job that fits you. Like these:
A “Background Noise Is OK” Job
Believe it or not, there really are some remote jobs where background noise is ok. You can fake it and get a special noise-canceling headphone set to give the impression there is no ambient activity. Or you can get a job where background noise is really is no problem. Content writing, marketing, search engine evaluation, chat/email customer support, and transcription are some of the best job choices for a noisy home.
Take a look at these companies:
- Lionbridge and Leapforce are well known for hiring people to evaluate search engines.
- Automattic frequently hires Customer Happiness Gurus to help their customers via email and chat.
- Invision App often hires marketers to work remotely.
- Rev and GMR always seem to be hiring transcriptionists, translators and captioners with little or no experience.
Work The Odd Shift
Ya, I know. Night is for sleeping, which is a little something that doesn’t come easily with toddlers. But, if you’re up to it, an evening or night shift job makes it possible to work from home with young ones.
Check out these companies:
Rev is a fantastic company if you wan to do captioning or transcription. And you don’t need previous experience.
From their hiring page:
Work from home. Work wherever you want.
Everything is done online. Work flexible hours. Work as much or as little as you want,
whenever you want. Choose freely. Choose which projects you want to work on.
We have a wide variety available.
Amazon Virtual Customer Service is a reputable company that sometimes has virtual jobs in many states across the USA. I see some of these jobs for late-afternoon shifts.
Uhaul frequently has Customer Care job openings with very flexible schedules. Take a look at their work from home program video.
American Express is a company that has been hiring home workers to help customers all hours of the day or night.
From their careers page:
At American Express, we value work-life balance, just as you do. We recognize the need for flexibility in the way we work—in particular, the ability to work from home and sometimes part-time. That’s why we offer a variety of arrangements that meet your needs while providing challenging, purposeful work. Named one of the top 20 companies for remote jobs, we offer virtual positions across Customer Service, Travel and Lifestyle, Sales, Human Resources and more. To find a position that fits both your lifestyle and your career goals, check out the virtual work opportunities at American Express.
Have A Flex Job
Working in bursts can be a life saver for your sanity. Kids tend to rule the schedule with their necessities so being able to float around the house, packing in an hour of work here and there when they let you, might be the best you can do.
Having a job with a ton of flexibility is a must. Take a look at these part-time, work at home jobs. If you want something with more hours, but flexible hours, here are some great options:
- Blog writing is a fantastic job for flexibility. You can write whenever the mood strikes. Here is a little write-up I did about writing for money.
- Community management jobs are (almost) always available with ModSquad.
- Teach English as a second language through Cambly.
- Academic tutors are needed with K12, Chegg and Magoosh.
Use Outside Help
There may be days when you realize you can’t do it all. And that’s OK. Mommy duties and excess work can be a real drain on you so having a break from either – even if for a few hours a week – can be a life saver.
Here are a few ideas:
Think About Child Care
This one blocks me up a little because I know child care is not in the financial cards for a lot of you. But if you can swing it – even for a few hours a week – do it. If you can’t afford it, maybe you have a friend who can watch the tykes for a bit? I like the idea of a toddler swap – one day a week you and another mommy arrange for one of you to have both (or all) of the kids for a day. Maybe you have a sweet niece who will help you out (hint, hint). Whatever you can do to have a few hours of unobstructed work time will be well worth it.
Outsource Your Work
Back when I started doing website management (circa 2007), one of my clients wanted a special element added to their website. Something I didn’t know how to do nor have the time to learn how to do it. Through the magic of online outsourcing platforms, I was able to hire someone to do it for me. And at a very reasonable price. I used Elance (which is now Upwork) to find this freelancer, whose skills and talents I scrutinized.
And dare I say…having someone do your housekeeping or cooking every once in a while is a decadent life saver.
Be Flexible Because Schedules and Boundaries Don’t Always Work
Schedules suck. Not because they’re rigid timetables, because they don’t always work. We all know that kids rarely stick to a schedule. And boundaries? Ha ! Toddlers can’t tell time so how can we expect them to give us “just 5 minutes…”?
So what can you do?
Don’t Sweat it. There’s Always Tomorrow
Try to have a work schedule but add a lot of flex to it knowing everything will be turned upside down at some point. Make a list of what work related things you want to do today, crossing off the items as you complete them. Tomorrow, look at that list and tackle what you didn’t get to yesterday and add new things to do later.
Communications And Kids: It Can Work
Do you do conference or video calls? Kind of hard to do with the kiddies running around in the background, right? This is where the imaginary boundaries “rule” comes in handy. Even though I like to plan these calls during nap time, I know that isn’t always possible, so I like to play a little game. It goes like this: When mommy is wearing her red glasses, let’s see how long you can be quiet. Ready? Go!
What Else Can You Do To Make Working From Home With Toddlers Easier?
I covered just about all I know on how to work effectively with kids under foot. I’d really love to know what tips and personal experience you have so other work at homers can fell good about working remotely with the little ones.