Working from Home… With Toddlers

I have had five toddlers living in my home over the years.  Some were calm, choosing to play quietly in a corner for hours on end while I worked and planned my business.  Some were active, mischievous, and required lots of patience and supervision, keeping from doing much until the wee hours of the night.

And then there was this last one.. my now 18-month-old Marcus.  He officially changed the rules of being a 1099 Mom with a toddler at home.

I can imagine that for most Moms, there is at least one “high-needs” kid in the household.  Working from home with one in your care, however, takes a delicate balance of being attentive and not allowing yourself to be completely run over.  It also takes a lot of help.

Here are my real-life tips for working at home with a toddler underfoot:

1.  Beat boredom.  The number one reason most toddlers melt down, bug you, or cry is that they have nothing to do.  Sure, there is a bucketful of toys within reach, but they’ve likely played with them a million time.  They need focus, new playthings, and stimulation that falls outside of their normal experiences.  My favorite way to keep a toddler entertained is to grab 5 random (but safe) objects from around the house for them to play with.  Good ones include a wire whisk, a tennis ball, an old magazine, and a pretty scarf.  You’d be surprised at how having unique playthings can take the edge off.

2. Enlist help.  My 13-year-old gets saddled with baby care daily.  She doesn’t usually mind, provided it doesn’t cut into her homeschool study time, checking Facebook, or her chores.  I also have activities that are sanctioned for supervision by my 8-year-old son.  We schedule these times into the day to let everyone know that “Mommy is working” and that they can handle anything that doesn’t involve an emergency.  My husband, of course, does a good amount of holding, playing, and singing, as well.

3.  Don’t fight the fights.  If you have found your toddler especially unruly while you try to type an email or finish an article, you may just have to let it go until it’s a better time.  I find that I lose a lot of productivity by trying to multitask child care with working; when I give in, take 15 minutes to rock and sing to my baby, then come back and work with 100% focus, it usually takes much less time (and I make fewer typos in my work.)

4.  Know your seasons.  The best way to ensure that work and toddler-raising can co-exist peacefully is to really be in tune with your body.  I don’t mean this in a hokey way, but rather to let you know that we all have “on” times and “off” times.  I hate getting up early, but I know that I do my best work before 11 am.  I find that when the kids are in bed (after 9pm), I’m usually to tired to do anything coherently.  This challenges me to make sure that the toddler in the house is entertained during my peak hours so I can do more with less time.  I don’t even try to do much during the late evening (we rock, cuddle, and sing, instead.)

Do you have an under-3 in the house?  Are you running an at-home business? We’d love to hear your challenges or tips for keeping everything going smoothly.


  1. I have two little ones - one just turned 4 and one about to turn 3. Needless to say, our days are busy ones! Working from home earning a full-time blogging income adds an additional challenge, but I have found that as long as I make a plan and stick as closely as I can to it, things can run pretty smoothly.

    A couple of things that I've found helpful are:
    -Teach the kiddos to help out around the house, too. Even as little as they are, they can help with picking up and with things like emptying the dishwasher, clearing the table, laundry, etc..
    -Help them learn to play - either by themselves or together. I put a lot of time and teaching into helping our little ones learn to work through their issues and share their toys. It's fun to see them actually doing the things I've been teaching now!
    -Plan ahead - with everything. As much as possible, with meals, with cleaning, with appointments, with my blogging, I have a plan for the week ahead, the day ahead, etc. This is a HUGE help!
    -Keep blogging/working hours. I do my best NOT to be working when my kids are awake and make sure I schedule my work accordingly.

    Great post - thanks so much for writing and letting the rest of us know we're not alone in the challenges of working at home with little ones!

  2. wow! Yours are really close together, aren't they! I agree so much with the points you shared in your comment: having the kids help is crucial to keeping a household running. It is also very nice that you can work around your kids' schedule. I'm not quite at that point yet, but I'm trying.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing :)

  3. Great post--really well written and encouraging. I have 5 children that I am homeschooling: 15, 13, 11, 5 and 3. I seem to be at my absoulute busiest and yet get nothing done:)Always behind and overworked. On top of that I have a small blog and am starting up a Tupperware business. When my kids were all under 10 I gave them my full attention and then put them to bed early and got everything else done. It doesnt work that way now with teens and a lot more laundry, shopping meals etc. I stick to a schedule, cut out everything non-essential or amazing and delegate delegate delegate:)

  4. Thanks, Kathy! It's nice to see that you have kids in almost every age group, too! It's difficult to work from home and homeschool, but embracing technology really helps. We do quite a bit with online courses (when we are not doing Charlotte Mason method.) Appreciate the comment, and keep up the good work!

  5. Well said! I homeschool and have 4 children - ages 8, 5, 2, and 1 and to say they keep me on my toes is an understatement. Somedays I don't get anything done on my blog to-do list.
    The best thing I've learned is to keep my priorities straight - the kids have to come first. Remembering that helps. Of course we all say that, but for me sometimes I end up doing blog stuff when I really need to just shut the computer and tend to the kids. So it's my little reminder.
    And I've also learned not to check email when my toddlers are around - it seems I always end up with a PR rep that's got all these requests and I'm trying to gather everything and someone's screaming and yanking on my sleeve. NOT worth it! So I wait til they're napping or asleep for the night.
    Oh and a blogging schedule has been great. Ever since I started that a couple weeks ago, I've been much less stressed out!
    I came over from Blogelina - I'm glad I found your blog! Always great to "meet" another homeschooling mama! :)

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Erika! I love Blogelina, so I'm flattered to have been mentioned. Keep up the great job of homeschooling and working.. it's tough, but so worth it!

  7. I found you through Blogelina. Love your site! I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old. I do blogging, social media work (brand ambassador) and bookkeeping. I am busy! Trying to balance it all. I will definitely take from these tips!

  8. Thanks, Nikki! It's amazing hearing how many mothers are making a living with their little ones underfoot all day. We appreciate you stopping by, and bless you for having those tiny ones near you while you work :)

  9. I love this post! In fact I pinned it to my Blogging board for other moms to find.

    Right now, I have four little ones under five at home (no twins), so this is something I deal with on a daily basis. I love Busy Bags for my three older kids, plus they all love to entertain the baby. I'm also trying more and more to not be on the computer when they are awake.

  10. Wow! Four under 5! That is so mind-boggling! Mine are getting over that age (except for my baby), so they are helping out a bunch more now. I had a Busy Bag with my oldest when she was a baby, but forgot about them. I will have to look into one for the toddler. Thanks for commenting!


This site uses affiliate links, and some content may be sponsored. For more info, including privacy policy, see our full site terms.
Powered by Blogger.