Last week I unexpectedly had my 8 year old at home with me. I work from home so It was a work day for me so I had things I needed to get done. We muddled along fine, with him doing some Lego and watching a movie. The experience made me think about how different it was to when I was working from home with a toddler.
Toddlers are Very Distracting
“Mummy, look at this leaf I’ve found”, “Mummy, can I have a snack?” “Mummy, I can’t reach my blocks” “Mummy, look at this bogey I’ve just picked”. Between showing you everything they’ve done (including the things you’d definitely rather not see) and their physical inability to do things for themselves, it seems impossible to work undisturbed for more than about two minutes at a time.
Everything Seems to be Sticky
Even though I was always strict about where food was eaten, when I was working from home with a toddler everything seemed to be coated in some kind of sticky/slimy/greasy food stuff. If I could identify the food stuff, and not have to worry about it being something even less pleasant, that was a good day.
The Emergency Siren of “I Need a Wee”
Potty training is stressful at the best of times. You have to be ever alert for signs that they need the toilet and when you see those signs it’s Go, Go, Go, weather you’re in the middle of an email or on the phone to a potential client.
They Want to “Help”
As part of running Nearly New Sales I have to make up the 100 goodie bags that I give out at each sale. This involves creating 100 piles of leaflets to go in each bag. I stupidly thought this was something that my toddler could help with. NEVER. AGAIN. It was chaos. Think of those scenes in films where someone comes in to a lot of cash and starts throwing it around. It was like that only with a sticky toddler and leaflets.
The Guilt of Working from Home with a Toddler
I try to get my work done when the children aren’t around (for both my sanity and theirs) but with the best will in the world, some of it has to be done when they are home. This can lead to lots of guilt when you need to make a phone call and they want to show you the tower they’ve just built. The thing to focus on is that when you work from home, they’ll have to wait 10 minutes to show you the tower. If you were out at work, they’d have to wait all day.
While having older children has its challenges (during the holidays in particular), I really don’t miss working from home with a toddler! If you’re still doing it, here are some practical tips to help you work from home with a toddler.
A version of this post first appeared on Business for Mums