Ultimate guide to working from home with a toddler

The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home With a Toddler

Working from home while caring for a lively toddler or newborn baby is like juggling with one hand tied behind your back. It's a challenge that requires thoughtful planning, a dash of creativity, and realistic expectations, and you can still fail on some days; that's the hard truth. I've been there; it's tough, but so are you, and I've got your back! Here are some great tips to help you navigate this journey in the best way possible as a work-from-home parent.

Set a Flexible Work Schedule

Creating a structured yet flexible work schedule is the cornerstone of balancing work and parenting. Allocate specific blocks of time for focused work, nap time, and quality moments with your little one. This way, you can make the most of your available hours without feeling overwhelmed.

Creating a flexible work schedule in blocks is an effective way to structure your day. It allows you to allocate specific periods of time to different tasks, making sure you make the most of your work hours and quality time with your little one. Here's an example below, but there will be some days when, no matter what, it won't go to plan. On those days, take a step back and go with the flow; otherwise, you will find yourself worked up and stressed, putting you both in a bad place.

Below is an example of my flexible schedule although this changed the older Eliza got and on some days I had to throw it out the window as I was fighting the tide. On other days it worked like a charm and all those tasks got ticked of the list! The key is reading your child and knowing them and working with them rather than trying to get them to fit into your schedule. Once they get older it does get easier but those first years before school can be tough for all us working mums.

Morning Block: Kickstart Your Day

Early Rise (6:00 AM – 7:00 AM)

  • Start your day before your toddler wakes up. This quiet time provides a calm environment for focused work tasks and a hot cup of uninterrupted coffee. I admit I was not a morning person; however, once I got into a routine, I found it the best time of day when I had the house to myself and could get through a large chunk of work.

Morning Work Block (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

  • Dive into your most critical tasks. Tackle work emails, engage in brainstorming sessions, or work on projects that require your full attention.

Mid-Morning Transition: Shift to Toddler Time

Transition Time (9:00 AM – 9:30 AM)

  • Create a gentle transition from your schedule of work mode to quality time with your toddler. Set the stage with a special song, cuddles, or a quick activity.

Toddler-Centered Block: Quality Moments

Toddler Playtime (9:30 AM – 11:30 AM)

  • Engage in activities with your little one. Explore imaginative play, read books, or get creative with art projects. This is their dedicated time. It's tough when you know you have tasks to complete, but ensure you are 100% present; it makes a huge difference for you both.

Nap Time Oasis: Uninterrupted Focus

Nap Time (11:30 AM – 1:30 PM)

  • This is your golden opportunity for deep, uninterrupted work. Tackle projects that demand total concentration for the hardest parts or schedule important meetings.

Lunch Break and Transition: Nourish and Reconnect

Lunch and Transition (1:30 PM – 2:00 PM)

  • Share meal times with your toddler. Use this time to reconnect and prepare for the afternoon.

Afternoon Work Block: Productivity Revival

Afternoon Work (2:00 PM – 4:00 PM)

  • Address tasks that require focused attention. This is a productive window to accomplish important milestones, get much work off your to-do list, and handle that vital work call.

Evening Transition: Blend Work and Family Time

Transition Time (4:00 PM – 4:30 PM)

  • Ease the transition from work to family time. Engage in a quick bonding activity to signal the parenting shifts from working mom to play time mom.

Family-Centred Block: Cherish Every Moment

Family Time (4:30 PM – 6:30 PM)

  • Plan activities that the whole family can enjoy. It could be a walk, playtime at the park, or a creative project together.

Dinner and Wind-Down: Family Rituals

Dinner and Wind-Down (6:30 PM – 7:30 PM)

  • Share a family meal at the kitchen table and engage in calming activities to wind down for the evening.

Evening Block: Wrap Up and Reflect

Evening Work (7:30 PM – 8:30 PM)

  • Address any remaining tasks, review your to-do list, and prepare for the next day. Keep it light and focused.

Bedtime Routine: Sweet Dreams

Bedtime Routine (8:30 PM – 9:00 PM)

  • Establish a calming bedtime routine for your toddler. This helps them transition into a restful night's sleep.

Me-Time: Unwind and Recharge

Me-Time (9:00 PM – 10:00 PM)

  • Dedicate some time for self-care. Reading, bathing, or unwinding is crucial for your well-being.

Reflect and Prepare: Set Intentions for Tomorrow

Reflection and Preparation (10:00 PM – 10:30 PM)

  • Take a moment to reflect on the day, jot down any insights, and prepare a to-do list for tomorrow.

By structuring your day into blocks, you can optimize your productivity and create meaningful moments with your little one. Remember, flexibility is key, and adjusting as needed is okay. Find what works best for you and your family, and embrace the beautiful rhythm of work and parenthood!

Utilize Nap Time: A Golden Opportunity

Ah, the sacred nap time! This is your golden ticket to uninterrupted work. Prioritize those important tasks during these quiet moments when you have more uninterrupted extended periods. It's incredible how much you can accomplish when the house is blissfully peaceful, and no one asks for a snack or Coco melon! Make sure to get your critical tasks done during these periods.

Designate a Dedicated Work Space

A designated work area sets the tone for productivity and is always a good idea. Carve out a quiet corner or establish a home office. This helps you focus and signals to your toddler that when you're in that space, you're in work mode; this can also work for any family member. It's tough working from home when everyone can expect to interrupt you or drop additional chores on you!

Rotate Toys for Independent Play

Variety is the spice of life, even for toddlers! Keep their interest piqued by rotating their toys and activities; toy rotation can be a great way to engage your toddler for more extended periods of play. This simple trick makes familiar toys seem fresh and exciting, fostering independent space and giving you some precious work time.

Screen Time: A Tool, Not a Crutch

While we aim to limit screen time, let's face it – sometimes it's a sanity-saver. Consider educational apps or age-appropriate shows like Bluey or Coco Melon to provide you with pockets of focused work time. Moderation is essential, but so is your sanity!

Prioritize Important Phone Calls

When that important call comes in, seize the moment. Use nap time or even pop your baby into a baby carrier and walk and talk to make those calls or participate in video conferences. Remember the mute button for those unexpected short-notice background noises.

Plan Quality Time: A Win-Win

Setting aside time for special moments with undivided attention for your child is a win-win. Engage in activities like board games or create sensory bins depending on their age. Not only does this nurture your bond, but it also reassures your little ones that they are a priority.

Connect With Other Work-At-Home Parents

Finding solidarity with fellow work-at-home parents can be a game-changer. Share tips, lean on each other for support, and exchange strategies for managing work and childcare responsibilities with your home mom's schedule. Together, we're a force!

Consider Hiring Help or Virtual Assistants

Sometimes, a little extra support goes a long way. Consider hiring a part-time nanny or utilizing virtual assistants to handle non-core tasks; chat GDPT can be a godsend for reports and emails. This allows you to focus on your primary work responsibilities with greater ease.

Embrace the Mighty To-Do List

A well-organized to-do list is a superpower. Break down your workload into manageable chunks of time and watch those tasks get ticked off. It's a tangible way to see your progress with your main goals and stay on top of your game.

Adapt to Your Child's Needs: Flexibility Is Key

Life with a toddler is wonderfully unpredictable. Be open to adjusting your work schedule based on their routines and needs. Flexibility is your secret weapon for a harmonious work-from-home setup.

Create a Safe and Engaging Play Space

Designate an area where your toddler can play safely while you work nearby. Whether it's a play corner in the living room or an activity center, this safe space allows you to watch them while focusing on your tasks. Soft plays when they are old enough can be great to keep them entertained while you work and keep your eye on them; if you go with a friend who understands you need to get some work done, this can be a great way to get through a task list.

Worst Case Night Time Working

When I had a lot on or found myself just not achieving anything through the day due to a demanding toddler. Go with this, back up your work, and give them some full-on attention and time. I found on these occasions that it's better to go with it rather than get stressed; once they fell asleep, I would sit in bed with my laptop or stay downstairs while everyone was asleep and get an excellent 4-hour shift uninterrupted.

Maximize Family Time: Cherish Every Moment

When work is done, it's all about family. Plan activities that you can all enjoy together. Whether it's a simple picnic or a creative project, these moments of togetherness are the heart of your work-life balance. It can be challenging when you have a mounting to-do list, but you can always catch up when they are sound asleep on those days when it all goes wrong.

I know the wonderful world of working from home while juggling the joys of parenthood is tough. Trust me, I've been there, and it's a beautiful, chaotic dance! 

Remember, finding that perfect balance is a journey, not a race. It's okay to take it one step at a time and take steps back and forward. Set those realistic expectations, and be kind to yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor is your perfectly balanced routine.

Patience is your best friend on this adventure. There will be days when it feels like you're juggling a thousand things and dropping them all. But guess what? You're not alone. We've all been there, and it's all part of the beautiful mess that is motherhood. Take a deep breath, sip that cup of tea, and know that tomorrow is a brand new day.

Yes, there will be days when it all feels like a grand puzzle falling apart. You'll question if you're nailing the work-from-home game or if you're acing this whole parenting thing. It's okay, take a deep breath, gather your strength, and know that you're doing an amazing job.

When the world seems to be against you, and your toddler is on a mission to test your limits, remember, these days are like shooting stars – rare and fleeting. Once you find your groove, your little one will become your partner in this beautiful dance of life. They'll pick up on your cues, and together, you'll create a rhythm that's uniquely yours.

So, dear Mama, embrace this journey with open arms. It's messy, it's magical, and it's all yours. You've got this! Sending you all the love and positive vibes on this incredible adventure! 

With warmth and cheer love,

Abbie from MMB Magazine

P.S. Share your own tips and stories in the comments below! Let's support each other on this amazing journey! 

This article was originally published and syndicated on Motherhood Truth in collaboration with MMB Magazine

Author: Abbie – MMB Magazine

Expertise: Corporate Recruiting, Business Management


Abbie is a passionate advocate for working moms, having spent over two decades navigating the dynamic world of recruitment matching talent with opportunity. For the past six years, she's served as a cornerstone at MMB Magazine, an online haven for working mums, dedicated to advising women through the complexities of career and motherhood. Through her blog, she empowers moms worldwide, providing career tips and parenting hacks, sharing wisdom gained over the years along with the experts.

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