Guest Editor: Brandy
This has been so hard! My daughter, Rosalie is 13 months old and her father is still working outside of the home so right now, it is just her and I every day during working hours. Every family, child, baby, employee, situation is unique there is no one size fits all solution to the situation many American’s are in right now. Most advice blogs I had read going into this about working at home with children were really unrealistic for me. I took what I could apply to my life and left the rest behind.
Set a schedule: The hardest part of week 1 home with a toddler was that her schedule was disrupted, as was mine. We had to re-establish a schedule for ourselves from scratch and that was a challenge. Now that our new schedule is in place we are both better set up for successful days.
Activities: My daughter is too young to be distracted by solo activities while I am working. It’s just not possible with a 13 month old. Every blog I read with tips talks about wonderful activities that just don’t work for her age. Instead of activities I have been rotating her toys every few days to keep her engaged and excited to play. Lot’s of puzzles and books. We take bubble breaks and have little dance parties throughout the day.
Screen time: I have always been a stickler about screen time up until now. My daughter is not all that interested in the TV but we have found some movies that hold her attention in small increments. She is loving Moana and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney+ right now. Based on the recommendation of a co-worker we have found some apps that are educational and age appropriate that she likes to play. Ya know, because the only things she is interested in during my working hours are my laptop and phone. When I have a meeting that I need her to stay quieter for I let her play the apps on an old iPad.
Quality Time: My daughter is missing the social interactions with her peers at daycare. As a result, she demands my attention while playing. This makes it really impossible for me to focus intently on my work while she plays. It would be unrealistic to expect a baby her age to play solo all day long. When I get down and really engage and play with her she is not only happier but she also naps more effectively as a result. So we really play hard together before nap time. It is really important to me and to her to have these interactions throughout the day where she gets my undivided attention since much of the day I am either focused on working or dividing my attention between work and her.
Naps: I am so lucky my daughter is still at an age where she can nap. She still needs 2 naps per day so I try my best to schedule meetings around times when I know she’ll be asleep. It’s not perfect every day but when it works it’s brilliant.
Work when the baby sleeps: If you’ve ever had a newborn you’ll remember the age old advice “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. As unrealistic as this advice was for me when my daughter was a newborn, I have re-surfaced and adjusted that advice for my current situation. I have been setting my alarm so I can wake up a few hours before my daughter wakes so I can get several hours of un-interrupted work time before she wakes. When she naps I have a few hours to really focus on my work then when she goes to sleep I sign on again to finish up my work day. Let’s be honest, it’s exhausting.
Snacks & Food: I have been batch cooking and prepping my daughters meals at the beginning of the week to minimize the time spent prepping her meals. While she eats I can get some work done, with a close eye on her as well. I may regret this later but I have been making sure to stock up on foods and snacks I know she enjoys and will eat without putting up a fight. Also, foods that are easy to clean up once the meals are done that way we can get right back to work or play.
- Gratitude: When all else fails I remember to practice gratitude after a long stressful day. I am so grateful for our family’s health, the fact that I am still working unlike many Americans during this time, the extra time I get to spend with my daughter every day. My daughter is at such a wonderful age where she is learning tons every day and given other circumstances I would likely be missing milestones like her first steps, new words and more! This challenging time will not last forever so for now, to get through it, we have to remember to take a step back and count our blessings.
Rosalie is still bald and toothless at 13 months but she rocks it well.
Good Luck Mamas!