With COVID, working from home with young kids has been an ongoing challenge for many. Parents don’t want to send their kids to daycare or school, or hire babysitters and risk the family contracting the virus. Without any childcare help, how can you manage your work, your children, and the household? Most importantly, how do you stay on top of everything that needs to get done without losing your mind?
Here are tips on how to be productive and work from home with very young kids.
Make your kids more independent
This means setting up routines for them including independent activities depending on how old your child is. If you have a baby, this is likely not as possible. You can wear your baby in a wrap or carrier so you’re hands-free to do other tasks. If you have a 1-2 year old, here’s a list of activities for 1 year old babies at home. There are both developmental and sensory activities on this list. You can choose the activities that work with your situation best. While your child might not be entirely independent (you’ll still have to keep a close eye on him or her), with your child working on an activity, you’ll likely be able to be hands-free.
Reconsider your stance on screen time
While experts say you should limit screen time under the age of 2, you have to do what you have to do. Screen time can be an excellent babysitter when you’re in a jam. You’re not a bad parent for giving your child more screen time than you’d like. At the same time, it’s probably not a good idea to solely rely on the TV or tablet to entertain your child. Use your judgment and find that balance.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish in this new situation
With babies and toddlers, you have limited time to work. Keep your to do list realistic – only a few things each day. That way you know you can accomplish it. Prioritize what you need to get done. Be open with your boss. Of course, some bosses are more understanding than others. It’s best to be open about how productive you can realistically be. He or she will find out eventually anyways. If you can rearrange what needs to get done now, all the better.
Adapt your hours
With young children, you have to work around their daily schedule and bed time. This might mean working late at night or early in the morning. Or if you have a partner that has a flexible schedule, have your partner watch the kids while you get some work done and then switch. It’s easier and probably better for your kids to adapt to your kid’s schedule than switching their schedule around.
Your young kids understand more than they can communicate. If you need quiet time, tell them you need it and explain why. They might not understand you the first time, but just keep on saying it and be firm and consistent. They’ll eventually understand. While they will likely not stay quiet for long, at least you’ll get a little bit of time.
Ask your other family members for help
Ask grandparents, aunts and uncles, or close friends for help. While you want to be careful with expanding your circle of interaction so as not to risk spreading the virus, you still need a break. While you might question how cautious the staff at your local daycare or the babysitters down the street have been when it comes to the virus, you can likely trust your close friends and family about where they’ve been and how they’ve quarantined.