How to work from home with a toddler

Working from home with a child or children can be difficult, exhausting, inspiring and exhilarating! It all depends on how you manage it and of course what type of work you do. Being in charge of my calendar means that on the days I work from home I schedule calls at certain times when I’m least likely to have a toddler at my feet.

Whether you work from home full time, work for yourself, or your employer allows you to work from home, it’s all about being organised. I certainly don’t have it all worked out, but I am learning, and as time moves along so is Eva.

Eva doing her 'work'
Eva doing her ‘work’

She understands that when mummy is in the office on the computer she is working, and she also knows that I have an open door policy.

Here is what I’ve learnt over the past twelve months of working from home.

  • Your child will cry at the most inopportune time – usually during a phone call. Be open with those on the other end of the line that you are home with your child, as most people will understand and appreciate your honesty. I often say to clients, lawyers, real estate agents or whoever I’m on the phone to “I’m working from home today so I apologise now if you hear the nabber of my toddler in the background” This usually gets a giggle and the other person won’t be surprised if you suddenly have to put the phone down.
  • Be productive during the ‘quiet’ time. Eva still sleeps for around two to three hours of an afternoon (I might cry when she eventually drops this sleep), and during those hours I am more productive than the rest of the week! I also know that she loves to watch Doc McStuffins at 8am so here I am sitting at my desk hammering out this blog post before the show finishes at 8.30!
  • Use technology to your advantage. This is a topic that seems to elicit strong opinions from parents around the world, and people feel differently about this. We allow Eva to have an iPad and I give this to her at times during the day whilst I’m working. She is extremely proficient with it (she’s actually taught us a few things – I never knew you could switch between apps using four fingers) and we’ve downloaded a number of educational apps that she loves to play with it.
  • Try not to make your child hate your work. If Eva comes into the office whilst I’m on the computer I will stop what I’m doing and pay her some attention. Usually all she wants is some acknowledgement or a quick cuddle. The two minutes to look at a toy or have a little chat will be shorter than arguing with a toddler to let mummy finish her work.
  • Stop feeling guilty! Whatever your reasons are for working, own them and accept them. We put so much pressure on ourselves as it is; we need to stop the mummy guilt.

Do you work from home? What tips or advice do you have for other working parents?


Venturing Out of the House With a Newborn

As I sit here at the cafe at David Jones amongst the designer women’s wear, I’m reminded of how much department stores can be a refuge for new mums. In the half hour I’ve been here working on my laptop enjoying my coffee and almond croissant (you must try one) I’ve seen at least four prams go past pushed by mums with a relaxed smile and a sleeping newborn.
I remember how hard it was, in those first few weeks after having a baby, to get out of the house. The preparation required to leave the house usually outweighed any requirement to go out.
Our first time taking Eva out was to a specialist appointment when she was a couple of weeks old. We allowed so much extra drive time in case we needed to pull over and change a nappy, and I expressed enough milk to feed her for three days! I was so nervous about breast feeding in public as I found it so difficult. When we finally found a park and made our way to the appointment we realised she needed an urgent nappy change and panic ensued. Where do we change her? Do we put her on the grass in the park?
My anxiety only increased when I asked at a cafe if they had anywhere to change a baby and they told me I could do it on the toilet floor!
We made it to the appointment and thankfully they had a baby change table. This seems trivial now but it was a sweat inducing drama at the time.
Shopping with Eva at eight weeks old
Shopping with Eva at eight weeks old

When Eva was eight weeks old I took her on a shopping trip to Highpoint, as I needed an outfit for an upcoming party and none of my pre-prenancy clothes were fitting me yet. This was my first adventure on my own with Eva and I was both nervous and excited. A few stops on the drive to find her dummy but we arrived safely and content. That is, until I discovered that I had not brought any bottles with me. I was no longer breastfeeding (that’s another story) and I would pre-fill sterilised bottles with boiled water and then add the baby formula as she needed it. On this particular day I had forgotten the bottles. I knew she would be needing a feed within half an hour, and the drive home was one hour so I had no chance of getting home in time. I went into the centre and to the first pharmacy I saw. In between tears I explained my dilemma to the sales assistant. She assured me that it was ok, took me to the baby section where the same brand of bottle was stocked and pointed me in the direction of the parents room where I could wash, sterilise and fill Eva’s bottle. Coincidentally, I walked past that same pharmacy only last week and had a little chuckle to myself as I remembered this event.

To the women pushing their prams through David Jones, well done! I know the effort it took you to get out of the house. I promise you, it gets easier.