The following article is a guest post by Janice Russell, creator of Parenting Disasters. Janice believes the only way to survive parenthood is to find the humor in it. She created Parenting Disasters so that parents would have a go-to resource whenever they needed a laugh, but also to show parents they aren’t alone.
Balancing parenthood with a career is tough enough already. But now, countless parents are at home with their work and their kids, and to be honest, things aren’t always running smoothly. Fortunately, we have plenty of tips to share with other working parents who are juggling professional responsibilities plus babies or toddlers (or both). Here’s your survival guide to remote work with young kids underfoot.
1. Start an Early Routine
Every frazzled mom knows that a perfectly set schedule is only a dream after their baby arrives. But there are ways to get your kids on a routine that can help you shape your days and set aside time for work.
Ease transitions with your newborn
Even newborns have habits, and once you learn your infant’s, it’s easier to outline a routine that works for your family. Keep track of your tot’s sleeping, eating, and wake times so you can organize your day around theirs. It won’t be set in stone but working up to more regular nap times and feedings is beneficial for everyone.
Get active with toddlers
Toddlers are often unpredictable, of course. Setting a routine for your rambunctious two-year-old may seem like a beautiful dream. But by adding a few specific items to your daily regimen, you might be able to skew the odds in your favor. Namely, wearing your tot down for a regular, longer nap time might be the way to go.
Try these ideas for a wear-down that will have them snoozing in no time:
- Designate a jumping area to get the wiggles out – probably not the couch, but possibly a mini trampoline, cushion, or even a yoga mat.
- Create an obstacle course (away from your workstation) that involves gross motor challenges like running, climbing, kicking, and more.
- Host a dance party – it probably won’t last longer than ten minutes, tops, before your toddler gets worn out.
The same tricks apply for bedtime but avoid getting your child super-riled up directly before their nightly rituals begin, notes Fatherly. Otherwise, you may be in for a long night.
2. Nurture Your Newborn
Apart from some crying (because all babies do it!), having your newborn or younger infant at home while you work may be easier than wrangling a toddler. Whether you’re a new or experienced mom of a young baby, consider these tips for bonding with your little one while getting things done work-wise.
Wear your baby
Keeping your tot close to your heart – literally – can aid in bonding, notes Motherly, and it’s easier than you might think. You can find all kinds of wraps, carriers, and slings that will work for safely snuggling your baby while keeping your hands free. Be sure to choose a carrier based on your child’s age – slings are often considered unsafe for newborns as the positioning isn’t ideal. Then, you can work while your little one hangs out.
Break for feeding time
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, make sure to step away from your work for snack time with your infant. Removing distractions is great for your relationship with your baby, and you need a break from work, too!
Make a safe office space
For older babies or infants who prefer not to be in arms, you might need to do some baby-proofing in your work area. Ideally, you’ll already have an office spot set up, so adding a playpen, baby gate, or another infant corral will allow your little one to stay safe while remaining near you.
If you have a partner who also works at home, schedule your days so that you trade off spending time with your kiddo and sharing the responsibility. After all, your baby needs time with both of you – plus, it’s only fair that each parent handles an equal number of dirty diapers!
3. Have a Backup Plan
Recognizing that there will undoubtedly be some tough days ahead might feel frustrating. But being realistic about your work-at-home life is a necessity, and so is having a backup plan. Consider these tips for keeping chaos from breaking out.
Plan 1: Go for a walk
Even in pandemic conditions, going for a walk is still a safe and healthy activity. Getting outdoors is crazy beneficial for kids of all ages, and parents can use the fresh air, too. If all else fails – and you just can’t concentrate on work – pack up and head out for at least a short walk.
Plan 2: Break out the media
If they’re being honest, all parents have relied on the media to placate their children at some point. The thing is, there’s a difference between ‘mindless’ TV and some smarter alternatives.
Want some ‘smarter’ programming for your toddler? Consider these options:
- Sesame Street – free to watch on YouTube and on PBS.
- Super Why! – also a PBS program that explores early literacy.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – a Mister Rogers spinoff with catchy songs toddlers love (and parents tolerate).
- Wild Kratts – an excellent educational show for kids who love animals.
Media can also refer to storybooks, though – you can find all manner of audiobooks and even interactive picture books for digital downloads. Plus, they may be free through your local library with the Hoopla app.
Plan 3: Quiet time activities
You do need a bit of prep for this backup plan but keeping some quiet time activities as a surprise distraction could get you the peace you need to hold that video conference.
Here are a few ideas to get you started with busy boxes or bags for toddlers:
- Make a felt board with shapes, animals, or anything else you can think of. Felt is mess-free and sticks to itself, so little ones can use their imaginations in open-ended play.
- Create a pom-pom sorting kit with containers that match the colors of the pom-poms. Provide kitchen tongs, spoons, or other utensils to transfer the poms for even more small motor practice.
- Fill (and tape shut) baggies with various goopy, runny, and squishy liquids, plus fun additions like glitter, small toys, and other treasures to find.
4. Calm Your Living Space
If clutter and disorganization seem to be increasing daily, it’s time to nip this in the bud. An organized, clean and clutter-free home goes a long way toward lowering stress levels for everyone.
To help you get started, consider these tips:
- Focus on the areas where you need the most organization, whether it’s the house or your family’s routine.
- Clean your home from top to bottom, dust, open drapes and look for other ways to remove anything that contributes to negative energy.
- Prepare an easy cleanup plan for your little ones so they learn to put away their toys after they’re done playing.
- Incorporate an easy routine that helps you keep your home clean and organized.
Being a working parent has never been easy, but working from home presents new and unique challenges. With these strategies for survival, you’ll have an easier time navigating this new normal – and you might find that staying home is more enjoyable than you thought.
Photo via Pexels
Thank you for these awesome tips Janice! ❤
If you enjoyed reading this post, head over to Parenting Disasters to explore more of Janice’s writing. She wants every frazzled parent out there to remember that for every kid stuck in a toilet, there’s another one out there somewhere who’s just graced their parents’ walls with some Sharpie artwork!