Working from home with infants or toddlers can be challenging. Feeling time-poor does not make you a bad parent or a bad employee – it makes you human. Here are some tips for saving time during your workday at home.
Cut down worry time
It is so easy to waste time worrying about how much time you’re wasting. Reserve your energy for solving problems at work or running around after your little one. Try to recognize when you’re being distracted by anxieties or concerns outside your control. Perhaps a mantra to snap you out of your worry-state could help – something like ‘this worry is not helpful, my family is better off if I leave it behind.’ This might be easier said than done!
Be realistic about what you’re capable of. You can’t do everything at once, so trying to might be wasting time and energy, too. Communicate with your employer and do your best to reach an understanding of how much you are expected to, and how much you can, achieve in each workday. If you didn’t tick off everything on your list today, don’t worry. Move on, log off, try again tomorrow.
Recognize when you’re losing steam. Sometimes even if you’re sitting at your desk, you may be wasting time aimlessly flicking between tabs instead of actually working, or maybe your mind is elsewhere, worrying if your child is hungry.
Taking breaks before you crash is a time saver in the long run. Taking short, frequent breaks might mean the time you do spend working will be more productive.
You might want to try giving yourself a quick break every 45 to 60 minutes where you stand up, take a deep breath, shake your legs out or get a cup of tea. Try to set aside some time throughout the day (you might even want to schedule these in) to see what your little one is up to. Try playing with them or having a tickle-fight to get some laughter in your day and relieve tension. You’ll likely be more effective when you return to your desk.
Use your evenings to care for yourself and save time for your future self. If you have time, pre-prepared snack kits, or healthy re-heatable meals for yourself throughout the day or do whatever you think might make life a bit easier. This means you only have to think about your little one’s meals as they get hungry, and you can just chuck something in the microwave when you’re ready for lunch.
You might want to try leaving activity stations around the house for your little one but make sure these are all safe and can be played within your absence.
Take it as it comes
Working from home might be unfamiliar territory. Your office space and family space have blended, so it’s normal to feel torn in a few directions. Prioritize and be flexible; be kind to yourself and don’t expect to be on top of everything, all at once, all the time.