How to Cope While Working From Home With a Baby or Toddler
Since the start of the pandemic, many of us have had to navigate the world of remote work for the first time. And as challenging as this transition is for everyone, it can be even trickier for parents, especially parents of babies and toddlers. Children in these very early stages need a ton of attention and hands-on care, and since childcare options are sparse — or often, unavailable — right now, many parents are forced to figure out how to provide this care while also working full-time.
Without the right strategies, this is absolutely unsustainable. We’ve come up with this article to help you manage this period without losing your mind. Here are some tips on how to tackle this task:
Find Cute, Comfortable Clothing
Remote workers and parents of young children both know how tempting it is to stay in your pajamas all day. However, this isn’t exactly a recipe for workplace success. Even if you don’t have to be on any video calls, pajamas tell your brain that it’s time to rest. As a result, it’s a lot harder to get yourself into a productive mindset and knock out your to-do list.
However, comfort is extremely important when caring for a child. If your little one is breastfeeding, you’ll need to be able to easily facilitate nursing without getting undressed. If they’re mobile, comfortable clothes make it easier to keep up with them without uncomfortable tightness or rubbing. Pick up a comfortable bra, plenty of loose tops (with nursing access, if needed), and fashionable bottoms that move with you. The right outfit will split the difference between professionalism and comfort: think couture loungewear.
Ask for Flexibility
One of your best tools when it comes to working from home while caring for kids is a flexible schedule. Talk to your supervisor about coming up with a schedule that suits your needs. For example, you might be able to start earlier in the day and leave sooner or work evenings after your child has gone to bed. This can be especially helpful if you also have a partner who is working from home. If you can both figure out a flexible routine, you can swap roles and keep both careers running smoothly while giving your little one the one-on-one time they need.
Encourage Independent Play
One legitimate silver lining of this time in your family’s life is the built-in incentive to encourage independent play. Parents are often stressed out about giving their little ones time to play on their own, but building up independent time is extremely good for your child. It teaches kids to trust themselves and explore the world around them on their own terms.
Once your child can hold their head up at tummy time, you can start letting them have a little bit of independent playtime. You still need to be present to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not in danger, but let yourself be hands-off, and, if your baby will tolerate it, out of their line of sight. Allow them to define their own fun and explore their toys and the world around them.
At first, they’ll only be able to handle small chunks of independent playtime, so cap it at five minutes. As they get older and more used to it, however, you can increase this time. With practice, they’ll be able to play independently nearby while you handle tasks at work, giving you both more freedom to navigate the world as needed. Follow your child’s cues while building up independent playtime, and remember that social needs fluctuate through stages — they will go back and forth between clingier and more independent phases, and that’s all perfectly normal.
Above all, while working from home with children, focus on self-care. Resolve to let go of anxiety-inducing habits such as scrolling through social media or turning to junk food when bored. Instead, swap these out for reading a book, meditating, or enjoying some joyful movement. This will allow you to more confidently handle the challenges — and enjoy the rewards — that this time brings.
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Photo Credit: Pexels
Written by: Janice Russell