If you work from home and have a toddler, you know that you have to work in short periods because at least some child care is needed. Even though they’re too young to come up with independent play activities, this is the time to encourage independent play. Learning to amuse and occupy ourselves is an important skill to learn for adulthood. Here are a few ideas to help you keep your little one busy while being able to achieve your working goals.
Work according to your toddler’s rhythms
The secret to accomplishing your work and making sure your toddler is happy is to know your child’s natural routine and plan according to their rhythms. Generally, you need to consider the following:
- When your child gets hungry and how they behave when hungry.
- How long your toddler can play on their own before they need you to join in.
- How long activities occupy and entertain your child. This will allow you to have the next activity ready and waiting.
- What makes your toddler fall asleep, both peacefully or when they’re fussing.
Remember that toddlers get tired easily, so plan to work when they’re asleep. Toddlers also have a short attention span, so expect to have to find something else for them to do when they’re tired of what they’re playing with. If you work while your toddler is awake, make sure it’s something that can be interrupted without causing too many problems. Also, as your child grows, their routine will change. Prepare to be adaptable.
Make sure their space is stimulating and safe
It’s worth taking the time to create a secure space for your child so that independent play will be encouraged. If you aren’t certain the space is safe, you’ll constantly hang around and the child will expect you to pay attention to them. If you work on a laptop, you will be able to work close to your child’s safe zone. If not, childproof your office or work area and keep a stash of toys in there to rotate.
The more prepared you are, the better. Keep everything you’re going to need close by — diapers, an extra set of clothes and snacks. This will mean less time hunting for things and more time working. Watch your child for signs that their routine is changing and be prepared to adapt yours. Their needs will change over time, and the good news is that when they’re a bit older, they will be able to engage in independent play for longer periods at a time.
The truth is that when you work from home with a toddler, it is very much up to you to adapt your life and routine to suit the child and their routine and habits. By making use of these tips, you will be encouraging a lifelong capacity for self-amusement and independence.