Photo Credit: Pexels
Right now, more parents than ever before are figuring out how to juggle working from home while taking care of their kids. There’s a certain level of independence and self-reliance you can expect from older children, but parents of babies and toddlers have their work cut out for them.
This can sometimes be uniquely tough on dads since workplaces are more accustomed to working with moms on this front. However, fathers today take a more active role in parenthood than ever before, and you need the tools to thrive in this challenging environment.
Here’s a look at how to manage working remotely with a toddler or baby at home, presented by The Online Review.
Keep Your Workspace Organized
The nature of parenting while working from home means jumping in and out of tasks relatively often. If your desk is a mess, you’ll have a far harder time getting back into your workflow than if it’s organized and ready to go. Before you wrap up at the end of the day, take a few minutes to make sure your desk is tidy and organized so things don’t get out of hand.
Keeping your desk neat isn’t just a good productivity tool, however — it can also be a powerful form of self-care. A messy desk sends stress signals to your brain, making you feel like you must be overrun with work, even when you’re not. Keeping your space neat — as well as adding touches to boost positive energy, such as a scented candle or house plant — can help regulate mood and keep you happy and productive while working.
In addition to physical organization, you need to practice good digital organization as well. Make sure all of your files are in places where you can find them at a moment’s notice; that way, you’re not scrambling to find what you need moments before a call or meeting. Also, keep the number of files you have to a minimum by merging them together whenever possible. For example, if you frequently send PDFs when emailing clients or co-workers, merge them using online tools that combine PDFs into one file. That way, you keep the amount of digital clutter you have to an absolute minimum.
Ask for Flexibility
The odds are you won’t be able to work an uninterrupted 9–5 schedule while caring for a small child at home. It’s not that it’s impossible, but it’s very tricky — especially if you’re a single parent or your partner also has to work during the day. That’s why it’s a good call to talk to your manager and see if you can make your schedule a bit more flexible until you can access childcare.
Although you may feel a little bit out of your depth asking for flexibility at work to care for your little one, know that you’re far from alone right now. As more and more parents have to juggle working from home without childcare, companies are becoming flexible to adapt. Ask your employer if you can start your workday earlier (or later) in order to make up for having to step away throughout the day. You probably won’t be the first (or last) person to make a similar request right now.
Build Up Independent Play
Babies and toddlers aren’t able to do long independent play sessions, but they can play alone for a bit. You can start working on independent play as early as five months, although babies that age won’t be able to handle more than a few minutes on their own before they get fussy and bored. Set your little one up with a favorite toy and then step back. Supervise them, but allow them to explore the toy (or the floor, their feet — whatever catches their attention) on their own.
Some kiddos take to independent play right away, and some resist it — don’t worry, if your baby needs your attention, they’ll let you know. Commit to giving them some independent playtime every day, and the amount of time they’re comfortable playing solo will start to increase. In time, you can build up significant chunks of independent playtime — meaning you have more windows to knock out emails, check in with tasks, and handle those micro to-do items you collect throughout the day.
This is a challenging time for parents, but the right techniques can make it a little easier. Remember to ask for help, focus on organization, and help your child develop independence and confidence during this time. There will be stress, but there is a silver lining — the chance to see your little one through this amazing, exciting stage.