It is hard isn’t it?!
Like so hard.
But if I can do it, many other mummy’s and daddy’s are doing it too. So here is a quick guide to how to basically keep your sh** together in order to do get through the working day with your child.
The most important thing to remember though is you are only human and can do what you can. So do not feel guilty or give yourself a hard time, it is not your fault. You know your child comes first and it should always be like that.
1. Write out/type up your work to do list for the next day at the end of the day
I have found doing this at the end of the day instead of the next day, in the morning (like most of us do) works so well. This is because in the morning you have your emails that have pinged through at 9am and some from the night or couple hours before so even just email checking takes up time and energy. Not only that it just so also happens to be the time your toddler basically may not have finished their breakfast and your toddler may happen to decide to cling to you demanding cuddles as well as attention (speaking from experience hehe). So basically you do not have that added pressure of writing/typing out your to do list and going through what to do today any more.
Doing this at the end of the day means
- you can look at what you have completed and what you have not so you can work out what to prioritise the next day
- taking your time to evaluate how your working day went with your toddler and figuring out how to make tomorrow better
- your toddler is winding down which naturally puts you at ease in putting together what you must do for the next day
2. Utilise and maximise your lunch breaks
Just because you are working from home does not mean you are not entitled to your 1 hour break because you are. The difference is here you will use your lunch break with your toddler instead for yourself.
- Plan your toddler’s lunch at the same time so that way you are cooking it and supervising while he/she eats it or you are helping feed them.
- Bath. Many toddler’s sleeping patterns with quarantine has changed. My daughter has days where she naps in the day and does not. When she does not nap, getting work done is harder so giving them a bath helps them to nap. Also for many of us mummy’s and daddy’s at the end of our working day we just want to cook dinner, feed dinner, spend time with with our little one before bed so with bath done in the day no need for bath before bed.
- Doing an activity with them. Whether it be art and crafts oriented, watching cartoons, singing/dancing or playing a game it is important to exclusively give them some time. You also feel better as a parent as you have not just spent the whole day telling them that “mummy is working”.
3. Arrange meetings as best as you can around your toddler
I know this is not easy but it makes all the difference as it gives you piece of mind. It is stressful when your toddler is screaming in the background while you are in a meeting or decides that they want to cling to you.
- Understand when in the day your toddler can be left alone with an activity. For my daughter I aim to arrange my meetings from 10am – 2pm because it just so happens she does not need me so much. I think after breakfast and after lunch helps her.
- Does your toddler have a good, solid sleeping routine? If so… use that to your advantage.
- Do not forget your partners and if you have older children or even relatives i.e. your parents! Utilise and use them. Most toddlers prefer mummy (that is the case for me) but if your partner is home whether it be they are on furlough or also working from home let them know the times you have your meetings so they can keep toddler with them too. As much as our kids love us mummies, they also love spending time away from us with other people they are used to. My daughter does love spending time with her baba and will willingly just go to him and when she does ahhh it is bliss.
4. Be prepared to make up time after working hours to catch up/complete certain tasks
Sometimes it is not possible to solely working in your working hours because your toddler does not understand that mummy/daddy work 9am -5pm/5.30pm. This is out of your control unfortunately. As much as you do not want this to happen sometimes you cannot predict it. The following may well happen or has already happened to you
- Your lunch break was a bit longer then intended because of your toddler.
- Your toddler has been demanding your attention pretty much the whole day so it has basically been difficult trying to stay at your laptop without your screaming/crying toddler wanting mummy.
- Nap time may have being extra hard because your toddler has refused it point blank so you may have had to use more time in trying to put your toddler to sleep.
Obviously, it is important for you, that your partner or your older children and also relatives are on hand to offer help and support so the above may never be an occurrence for you or may be the above happens rarely but for some of us, including me who has my husband at home (who not going to lie can be very unhelpful at times but lets not get into that haha)
Anyway is the above does happen the best advice I will give is, do not stress or feel unprofessional or guilty. The fact that you have felt like this or do just shows your work ethic is important to you and the fact that you take your job seriously. But one thing I have realised is that these moments with your toddler flash by and you will never get them back which is why they are precious! Give time to your toddler. Happy toddler is happy you.
- Keep a note of how many hours in the working day you may have lost so you can make those exact hours up after working hours.
- You do not want to work until ridiculous hours so allocate time to only complete a set number of tasks only so that once those tasks are done you log off.
- If you plan to do work on the weekend, plan this because you also need to spend time with your toddler and family but also you need time to yourself so I would recommend if you wake up early to again only complete certain tasks.
- Keep your line manager in the loop so they know how your day/week has been going. Line managers are there to a) offer support b) make sure that you are okay c) know that you are able to comfortably get your work. Many line managers will be able to relate to your struggle which is perfect where as some may not full understand but they are not in a position to judge. Your line manager will know exactly how you are and will want to know how you are getting on at home
This is not ideal and I do not recommend this is something you have to do or should be doing, your line manager will most definitely not advise you do this. But this is simply a mechanism to stay organised and in control.
- Catching up on work missed during the day outside of working hours means no back log for the next day.
- Completing tasks that you should have completed during the day outside of working hours with out your toddler disturbing you can be very productive but also you are not left feeling stressed for the next day.
5. Have activities for your toddler ready so that they can stay busy while you work
With lock down and with toddlers seeing their mum’s everyday, that independence they were learning at day care/nursery may have disappeared. This is definitely something I have noticed with my toddler. She has seemed to want me more and more this is not ideal for any working mummy.
- Arts and craft based activities are great. As my toddler is under 3 years old, the thing I encourage her to do is colour and draw. Though she much prefers to do this with me and if your toddler is the same, stay with them while you work so you can intermittently jump in and join to keep them focused.
- If you have garden space, use it! With this sun out, my daughter has been out in the garden with her toys, actively playing with water – oh she loves water.
- Tablets and iPads are a god send! Whether it be they are watching something on YouTube, Netflix or simply playing a game that helps develop their skills, the use of a tablet or an iPad really does keep toddlers busy. As much as you may not have wanted to be that parent that relies on this, when you work from home it helps a great deal. I certainly did not want to be that mum that keeps my daughter busy with it but honestly many times I am working away, she is sitting next to me watching a cartoon or listening to a nursery rhyme on the tablet.
You are doing an amazing job and do not forget it.
Many of your colleagues without children or those with older children will not be able to relate to your current situation and that is okay if they do not.
But your colleagues will try their best to understand and that is the beauty about working in a team.
I would strongly advise on the following
- have your children join in on certain meetings, especially your team catch ups. Getting your toddler involved in your work life gets them to know who your colleagues are. But also it is a great way for your colleagues to get to know your toddler. They will naturally ask about how your child is and have developed a bond with them. It is really nice to see.
- talk to your colleagues about how your day went with your toddler. Having them hear about how you got your 3 reports, 4 meetings and other keys tasks completed all with a toddler is not only impressive but hard so unless you share with your colleagues how you got this done they will never truly understand.
- ask for help if things are getting on top of you and you are feeling overwhelmed. Just as much as you would want to support your colleagues, they will want to do the same. They key thing to remember is that you are part of a team and team work is important. Your colleagues will know that your day to day, working at home with your toddler is not the easiest so if that means you have some tasks that you perhaps need help completing then let them know.
and there you have it!
Peace and love
The Soul Tamer x