Being a parent requires some juggling anyway. Being a work at home parent requires a bit more. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done though. I’ve learned some great tricks along the way that help me work at home and care for my toddler.
Take advantage of naptime. This is the number one rule for every work at home mom. Every day I’m tempted to use naptime to clean up, or read a book, or even take a nap myself. I don’t often do that though because naptime is prime work time. I make sure that my toddler gets plenty of energy out before she goes down for a nap so that she’ll be ready to sleep for a few hours. We’re still in the twice a day naptime routine and as long as that holds out I can block out two uninterrupted work times during the day.
Focus, focus, focus. I’m easily distracted. I can’t focus on work when there is anything else going on. For me, that means I have to close all other browser windows (who can work with a little blinking message from Facebook), get my older kids focused on something quiet, and just work.
Work efficiently. Clearly the quickest way to get a job done is to do it as fast as you can. I know my work time is limited while I have a toddler in the house so I’ve gotten into the habit of working as quickly as I can. That doesn’t mean quality has to suffer. Work quickly then block out some time to go over your work later in the day when you know you won’t be distracted. Since you already have the bulk of the work done, you should be able to finish up the details in a short period of time.
Use a mother’s helper. I’m lucky to have a very responsible 10 year old who loves his little sister. He’s often more than willing to earn a few dollars by babysitting and it’s great experience for him later on (his future wife is going to LOVE me). If you don’t have an older sibling who can help out, consider hiring a younger teen to come in once a week to entertain your toddler while you work. A lot of the time younger girls are the ones who are the most excited to babysit and since you’ll be home, you don’t have to worry about whether or not she’ll know what to do in an emergency.
Give yourself a break. I work best when I’m well rested and am not overly stressed and some days that just doesn’t happen. I try and work ahead so that if I have a day when I’m not at my best I can give myself a break and recharge. When I do that, the quality of my work is a lot better and I find that I can be much more efficient.
Do you work at home with a toddler or young child? What are your tips for getting everything done?