4 Parents Share How They Survive WFH With Toddlers

Here's what other parents are doing.
Man trading on his computer from his home office while taking care of his little son.
ArtistGNDphotography via Getty Images
Man trading on his computer from his home office while taking care of his little son.

For some of us, there can be instances where your kids are at home the same time as when you’re working. This can be either if they’re off sick or if you don’t have childcare available on certain days.

Working from home with a toddler can seem like an extreme sport. They’re demanding little humans who often want to smother you with love at the wrong moments – like when you’re about to sign on to a meeting.

Then to top it off, sometimes their big feelings can turn into tantrums during an important work call. Though it can seem difficult, here are some ways people have found a way to make it work as best they can.

How can I work from home with a toddler? Here’s what parents say

1. ‘Organisation is key’

Adam Bennett who is the Head of Marketing at Digitalid says that working from home with toddlers is definitely challenging and as a manager, a lot of his time is taken up on team’s calls.

There are three things that helped Adam while working with a toddler.

Firstly, call planning — Adam says he tries to ensure that his important calls are between 1-3pm which is usually nap time and means less disruption. It doesn’t always go to plan so you need to make sure you have a good set of noise-cancelling headphones.

Secondly he advises to work in an open-plan space: “I’ve found this to work better than being in an office and going back and forth. My little one has been able to play around me and doesn’t require me to be watching their every move 24/7.”

Lastly he says to be patient. Working from home with toddlers often means interruptions and unexpected challenges and we’re all tying our best, so Adam advises to stay patient!

2. ‘Wake up before your toddler’

Mum-of-one, Shaheera Anwar, has a four-year-old toddler who doesn’t go to school yet. She explains she’s been working from home since her son was born.

“I currently have a four-year-old who does not go to school yet. My son was born during peak-COVID and jobs that I’ve had or taken since then, have mostly been work from home. Thankfully, my current work arrangement allows the same flexibility, but despite that, balancing a full-time job alongside caring for a toddler is undeniably demanding,” she says.

One strategy that she says has proven somewhat effective is waking up at least two hours before her toddler.

She says that the early start allows her to mentally prepare for the day ahead and enjoy a peaceful breakfast without interruptions.

Shaheera explains: “I use this time to outline my tasks for the day and get challenging work tasks completed before my child wakes up. After his morning dressing and brushing routine, I involve him in making breakfast. This contributes to that parental bond, which I feel is essential.

“After breakfast, I encourage independent play with toys, starting off by playing them with him and then occasionally stepping in to rotate to a new set of toys. If I want to keep him occupied for longer, I take out the big guns — activities like painting, play dough or puzzles. While I try to limit screen time, it becomes a necessary tool during important meetings, with age-appropriate games allowed on the iPad. No YouTube. Not even YouTube kids.”

She concludes that in her experience, key strategies to work at home with a toddler include regularly rotating toys to maintain interest, engaging in creative activities and utilising screen time strategically during meetings.

3. ‘Communicating with work is key’

Caroline Marshall, Founder of Upsource and mum-of-two who is also the host of Bump to Business Owner says communication is key.

She says parenting a toddler is a full-time job but there are three things she does when she has to WFH with a little one.

  • Communicate — so the team know if they need you they can expect a delayed response, or contact on Whatsapp if urgent.
  • Boundaries — no meetings or calls on Wednesdays unless urgent (the day she has her toddler at home).
  • Manage expectations of what she can achieve on her business and parenting.

4. ‘Don’t be ashamed to ask for help’

Self employed business owner Emma Stokes says for her there are some advantages of working from home as she can take on more freelance work.

“I have a 14-month old who has only just started childcare (1 day per week!) with the hope of slowly increasing in the next few months. I also have a 4-year-old who is now at school, so I had to learn quite quickly since having children on how to juggle the load.

“Being a freelancer during the pandemic also allowed me to work in various freelance jobs whilst still being on maternity leave,” she says.

Over the years, Emma says she’s learnt a few tips and tricks to help with the juggle of being a working-from-home parent, and running online businesses around the kids.

“Full time childcare isn’t always affordable or accessible, so I’m not ashamed to ask for help from family members if they can come over and support me when I have a big project on,” says Emma.

She also recommends having a designated workspace that allows her to focus and minimise distractions. Alongside this she has firm boundaries which enables her to establish a routine.

“I leverage nap time by scheduling important tasks. I embrace the flexibility of my job, which allows me to shift my work schedule as needed to accommodate the school runs/children’s needs. I’m a huge advocate for screen time, usually educational, as it allows me to tackle work tasks while they are distracted,” she comments.

Most importantly, she communicates with her clients that she is a parent that works from home, so she sets clear expectations from the start.

The bottom line is, if you are working from home with a toddler, don’t be too hard on yourself! Try to stay as organised as you can and communicate clearly with your colleagues or clients.