I’ve worked from home since 2014 and during those years, I’ve learned several important things that helped me work from home with a toddler (or two).
Everyone has their reasons doing this and since work from home moms with toddlers make up 32% of all employed women in 2021, it’s no wonder the appeal to stay home and find a way to make money from home is a hot topic.
The Great Resignation peaked in September 2021 and 4.4 million Americans choose a new way to work – work from home.
But, the challenges of working from home with a toddler is a real concern for many moms.
They don’t want to resort to screen time to babysit their kids, and they don’t want to work 60 hours a week at home without having time to do chores or just being productive at home.
I know I didn’t want those things when I decided to work from home.
And when they were each a baby, it was a struggle to work part-time even.
But, I’m glad I did what I did!
I’m glad I decided to turn my stay at home mom life into a work from home mom life!
If you want to work from home with a toddler or with a baby, it is possible.
I’m proof that you can work from home and have happy children!
Sure, my home wasn’t organized and even a little messy, but who cares?
My toddlers were happy, and I was able to work from home and still be a happy mom too!
Realistically, you just have to let go of the perfect Instagram home, and create a schedule and routine that works for your toddler – mess ‘n all!
So, if you want to know how to work from home with a toddler, let’s look at how to create a stay at home mom schedule you’ll keep, and find ways to entertain your toddler and how to work from home with a baby.
Stay at Home Mom Schedule
A big part on how to work from home with a small toddler is to create that schedule so that everything works like clockwork.
When my twins were younger I put them on a strict schedule.
Now look –
I know there are other moms that go with the wind and let the child decide what to do in a day, but not me.
I couldn’t have my twins gang up on me! I wouldn’t survive!
So, having a schedule – a stay at home mom schedule – gave me my sanity back.
I could point to the schedule and say, “oh it looks like it’s time for mommy to work!” or whatever I put in the schedule for that day.
When creating your own schedule, make sure to think about:
- What times will you work?
- What can your child do during that time?
- How will you handle meals and snacks?
- What about nap time?
- How will you handle playtime?
- What independent activities can my toddler do?
By locking in those times throughout your day, you can create a solid and doable stay at home mom schedule so you can work from home with a toddler.
I knew for me at 1pm was nap time. I could bank on getting at least 2 hours of uninterrupted time for my work from home job.
How to Work from Home With a Toddler
Has this happened to you yet?
You’re trying to get some work done from home, but your toddler is having none of it.
She’s running around, making noise, and generally not letting you concentrate.
It seems like there’s no way you’ll be able to get anything done with her around.
If your toddler just won’t have it, there are ways you can help her get on the schedule, know when to be quiet and know when it’s time for mom to work and for her to play.
Working from home with kids isn’t impossible (and you don’t need screen time either).
If you look at my little collage of a typically work from home day with my toddlers, I have music on (on the TV) and my twins dance or dress up (or read) during this time.
It may look like a free-for-all, but trust me, it was highly calculated and curated for a time of fun and a time to get some work done for my job.
So, once you have an iron-clad schedule, here are fifteen ways to work from home with a toddler.
Later, I will share six ways to work from home with a baby.
1. Dress for the Day
One way to make it easier to work from home with a toddler is to actually put on professional-looking clothes.
I know this is a tall order, especially with a toddler that may have a tendency to spit up on you or just have messy hands when hugging you.
But hear me out.
Dressing up for the day will help you stay in work mode and that will make you more productive.
Science reveals that when you wake up with a routine of brushing your teeth and dressing for the day, you’ll have better mental clarity, which translates to a more productive work day at home.
While it’s still okay to wear yoga pants and a sweatshirt, dressing in a more professional manner can help you focus on your work.
Here are some tips for comfortable but professional looking clothes when working from home.
- Choose clothing that is comfortable and not too tight. You’ll want to be able to move easily and not be uncomfortable all day. I love these faux work pants.
- Wear layers so you can adjust your temperature as needed.
- Consider wearing neutral colors so you can easily mix and match what you wear. I wear neutral camisoles under my sweaters or hoodies throughout the day.
- Opt for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and wool. They are breathable and will help keep you comfortable all day.
- Avoid clothing with logos or words on them as they may not be professional looking.
2. Play with Your Toddler Before You Work
A simple way to help your toddler get on a schedule is to play with her before you start work.
Plus, this gives you the much needed feeling of being present when you start feeling mom guilt for working at home too much (and this may happen).
What I did early one was the play, stay, walk away approach.
What this means was I helped set up a play activity that I knew they could play on their own.
For example, setting up an elaborate tea party with blankets, stuffies and all!
I would sit and play tea party with my toddlers and as they became more enveloped in feeding themselves play food or feeding their stuffies I would “walk away.”
This just meant scooching over a bit and focussing on my work for the day.
Sometimes that backfired.
One time, my twins looked up and started crying because I left.
This broke my heart and I decided to continue to play with them for another 15 minutes.
Mama, you HAVE to give yourself grace and even if you do remote working and have to “clock in” or some companies track your time on the computer, your kids are your top and #1 priority.
If your toddler or baby isn’t happy, you can’t work.
Other blog posts you read about how to work from home with a toddler aren’t going to tell you this!
This is a realistic expectation of working from home.
Every day will be different.
3. Have a Dedicated Home Office to Work from Home
When you’re working from home, it’s important to have a dedicated space to work in – for the most part!
If you work from home with a baby then make sure to check point #17 because a home office isn’t the answer!
A workspace will help you stay focused on your work then if you worked on the couch.
A set workspace will also help your child know that when mommy is in her office, she is working and should not be disturbed.
This will take years to learn so don’t expect a baby or toddler to learn this!
Here are some tips for creating a home office when working from home with a toddler.
- Make sure the space is child-proofed. Move any dangerous objects or materials out of reach.
- Choose a room in your house that is quiet and has minimal distractions. I used my primary bedroom to work for the first three years.
- Decorate your home office in a way that helps you stay focused. Maybe choose a bright color to help you wake up, or choose soothing colors to help you relax.
- Set up a desk and chair that is comfortable for you to sit in for long periods of time.
- Having a set of blue light blocking glasses can help for long hours at the computer.
4. Create a Routine
When you’re working from home with a small toddler, it’s important to have a routine for both you and your child.
This will help keep everyone calm and organized, and help reinforce your stay at home mom schedule.
Routines are things that you find you do every day or during a set time.
For example, breakfast was always at 7 am and cleaning up the dishes at 730 am.
I built a routine of cleaning the dishes, wiping up the counters and throwing a load of laundry in BEFORE I started work.
Here are a few tips for creating a routine when working from home with a toddler:
- Establish a specific time each day for you to start working. This will help your child know when it’s time for mommy to work and when it’s time for her to play.
- Create a break schedule. Maybe you’ll work for an hour and then take a 10-minute break. Or maybe you’ll work for two hours and then take a 30-minute break. Figure out what works best for you and stick to it.
- Let your child know when it’s time for her to stop playing and come eat lunch or take a nap. This will help her know what is expected of her during those times.
- Have a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your child. This will help her get into a routine and know what is expected of her each day.
It’s a good idea to build “good things” into your routine and schedule.
I always went to the park once I nap time was over and I needed to take a break from work.
I would get the wagon and walk to the park and get some sunshine and my toddlers had fun playing and socializing.
It was times like those that made me see the WHY of working from home.
I chose this path so that I could go to the park any time of the day, so that I could play tea party with my twins, so that I could have a purpose in my day that wasn’t just being a mom but a writer for a business or a teacher for another new blogger.
That was why I wanted to work from home.
5. Start with The Difficult Work
When setting up the tasks for work, look at the most difficult projects and do them first.
This way, you’ll get them out of the way and you won’t feel as stressed when they come up.
It will also show your child that mommy is hardworking and can handle a lot!
Here are a few tips for tackling difficult work tasks:
- Take breaks every hour to move around and stretch. This will help keep you productive during your work time.
- Get organized. Make a list of what you need to do and put it somewhere where you can see it. This will help reduce the amount of stress you feel while working.
- Use a distraction-free writing program. This will help you focus on the task at hand and not get sidetracked. Ulysses is a free distraction free writing app for iOS and Mac.
6. Have a Plan for When Your Child Needs You
There may be times when your toddler will need you and you’ll have to drop everything and attend to her.
This may mean putting your work on hold for a little while, or it may mean working during her naps or bedtime.
When this happens, try to stay calm and don’t get frustrated. Just do your best to make up the work you missed as soon as possible.
Being flexible is your new middle name, mama!
Go with the flow became my mantra when I first started working from home.
Here are a few tips for dealing with toddler emergencies:
- Make a list of people you can call for help. This could be your spouse, a friend, or a family member.
- Create a list of go-to activities that will keep your child occupied. This could be things like watching cartoons, playing with blocks, or reading stories.
- Have a backup plan for when you can’t be there. This could be something like enrolling your child in daycare, hiring a babysitter, or using a video baby monitor.
7. Create Several Play Stations to Rotate Every Day or Week
Toddlers are constantly learning and exploring, so it’s important to have several play stations set up that they can rotate through.
This will keep them interested and entertained, and it will help them learn new things.
Here are a few ideas for play stations
- Arts and crafts – have construction paper, tub of crayons, coloring pages, and stickers.
- building blocks/lego – set up a lego stations with building booklets
- Sensory table – have a bin of shaving cream and spoons/cups or have a bin of macaroni, spoons/cups. This is only safe if your toddler doesn’t put things in their mouths. My toddlers never did!
- Cars and Trains – get the ramps and tracks out and throw in little people for your toddler to make a city!
When setting up your play stations, try to have a variety of activities that will interest your child and ones that they can do themselves.
This way, they won’t get bored with the same thing day after day.
8. Batch Your Work
If you have a lot of work to do, try batching it.
This means doing all of the similar tasks together. For instance, if you’re writing a bunch of articles, try to do all of them at once.
Or if you’re doing a bunch of phone calls, try to do them all in one sitting. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed.
I relied on batching my work a lot when I had toddlers.
I would even extend this idea to the days of the week.
So, for Mondays, I would make all my pin graphics, then on Tuesday, I would write my emails, then Wednesday I would outline my client articles, Thursdays I would write the rough draft and Fridays I would edit and fix my articles so I could turn them in on the following Monday!
9. Time Yourself
Alexa of Single Moms Income shared a fabulous trick to instantly double her productivity as a work from home mom.
It was to track what she did in her day.
She would have a start time and do her work and when she was done, note the time.
She was able to do a week’s worth of work that morning!
10. Let Alexa Read to Your Toddler
Did you know you can ask your Alexa to read to your toddler?
There are hundreds of books to choose from:
To enable this feature, make sure you have Amazon for Kids device (like an Echo).
11. Work in Spurts
When you work from home with a toddler, you are going to have to work in chunks or spurts.
Maybe you’ll work for two hours and then take a 30-minute break.
Or work 30 minutes and then take an hour break before you work for 2 hours during your toddler’s nap.
Figure out what works best for you and stick to it. This will help you stay productive and avoid getting overwhelmed.
12. Keep Your Phone At a Distance
Distraction with social media and FOMO is real, mama!
Learn to not go on social when you work (unless it’s part of your job of course).
Part of my work online is to be on social.
I’m growing my brand on Youtube and Instagram.
I also have a Facebook group of mom bloggers that I manage and help.
If you don’t have to be on social, then keep your phone away!
It’s too easy to check your email, and then check the latest Tik Tok trends and before you know it, 20 minutes have passed!
13. Make Use of Broken or Old Tech
We have a lot of laptops and keyboards from the years of working from home (my husband also works from home).
Well, instead of getting rid of old tech, I give it to my toddlers!
As soon as my son got an old keyboard, he was so proud of himself and felt like mommy – with a tie and all!
And, my daughter? She enjoyed being a mini Youtuber!
Giving them access to tech allowed me to work for hours!
14. Encourage Kids Working
When your toddler sees you work from home, guess what?
She will want to work too!
You should encourage your kids to have a job!
Of course, depending on their age, as toddlers their job can be doing their chores or feeding the family pet.
As they grow, you can add more responsibility until they can do a job such as a paper route or walk the neighborhood dogs.
15. Let Go of Any Guilt You May Feel About Working from Home
It can be tough to focus on your work and your child, but remember that you’re doing what’s best for them.
You’re providing them with a stable home and you’re able to stay home with them when they’re sick or need you.
Don’t feel guilty about working from home; you’re doing a great job!
How to Work from Home With a Baby
You’re working from home with your baby, and you’re finding it a bit harder than usual to stay focused.
Your baby is constantly needing your attention, and it’s tough to get anything done.
You’ve been trying to work for the past two hours, but you’ve only managed to do a few tasks. You feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
No matter what you do, you don’t know how to entertain a newborn!
It’s totally normal to find it harder to work when you have a baby around. Babies are a lot of work, and they need constant attention. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still work from home. You just need to be prepared for the challenge and have some tips to help you out.
Working from home with baby just means a little ingenuity!
16. Use a Bouncer or Play Pen
Make sure of your bounder, high chair or play pen when you work from home.
Build this into your schedule so that your baby anticipates they will be playing in their bouncer, or Jolly Jumper.
17. Work in Different Parts of the House
While I love my home office, when my twins were babies, I had to work where I could!
This meant I would work on the playroom floor, in the kitchen, bathroom or even outside.
I enjoyed working outside as I could get the the little pool out and my babies would enjoy playing in the water.
As a mom who works from home with a baby, you gotta be flexible!
18. Get a Babysitter
In University, I was the babysitter for a mom who was working on her masters thesis.
She had her office on the top floor and I would play with her baby down in the living room.
I would go to her house two days a week.
While I understand you want to save as much money as possible when you first work from home, sometimes just getting some relief one or two days a week can really help improve your productivity and spirits.
19. Find the Messiest Activity
Sometimes the messiest activities are the ones where your baby can spend hours doing!
For me, that’s was water play!
You may find that feathers or scarves are what will entertain your baby for a good chunk of time!
Have fun exploring!
20. Don’t Sacrifice Nap Times
You may want to take a break when your baby has their nap time or even do the chores, but try not to do this!
This is the PERFECT time to get your work done!
You have to work when your baby is sleeping. This was how I was able to land freelance work and make my first $1k part-time in only a couple of months of starting working from home.
Even if child doesn’t sleep, still give him quiet time in crib. Teach your baby it’s quiet time during nap time so that you can continue to work.
21. Wear Your Baby
If all else fails, wear your baby!
I did this frequently and my son or daughter would just sleep while I typed away!
Work from Home With a Toddler
I hope you found this list helpful!
This is a realistic look at working from home with toddlers or a baby.
Please pin me!
Tell me in the comments what you do to work from home with a toddler!
I’d love to hear your suggestions!