Working from home might have working parents feeling torn in a million directions. Trying to perform your best at work, while caring for your little one at home all day can be challenging. If you feel like you don’t know where to put your attention, try these strategies for separating home-life and work-life within the house.

Closed-door policy

If you live with your child’s second guardian, have support from family, friends, or nanny or your toddler can be left to their own devices in a safe environment, you may able to steal some time to yourself behind a closed door. Talk to your family about what your closed door means; I’m busy, I’m in a meeting, I’m taking a break. Sometimes you need time and space to focus, so shutting the door to the world can help you kick goals at work.

Of course, your little one may need you during this time. Let them know if they come and knock on your door, you will answer them, but explain to them the difference between needing urgent help, and things that can wait until later. Consider asking your partner or support person to knock out a different beat if they need you, so you know who’s on the other side.

You may not have a room to which you can close the door for work. If you’re working in a shared space, try introducing a ‘headphones on’ policy, or some similar indication that you’d prefer not to be interrupted. Maybe place a big toy on the desk like your (friendly) ‘bouncer’ so your child can see that you’re busy.

Separate spaces

To the extent possible, try to keep business separate from pleasure. Avoid working from your bedroom if you can. Your bedroom may be your only ‘private’ space where you can really relax, so mixing this space with work can make it harder to unwind and sleep.

With a toddler to watch out for, you may need to be flexible as to where your ‘desk’ for the day is. Ideally, you will have an ‘office space, whether it’s a spare room or the kitchen table, that you can use specifically for work. Being in a particular context can trigger a certain state of mind, i.e. desk=work.

Be present

Being present in the moment might improve your headspace. Being present at work can be challenging if your child needs you – as a parent, their needs are usually your priority. Try communicating to your colleagues or superiors about your child’s needs and how you can get your work done around this.

When you’re in parent mode, do your best to turn off work mode, although it might be challenging to switch off one or the other.

While you are working, try to give your child tasks or games to do. Free-play may not always hold their attention for as long as you’d like, so giving them a puzzle, or an exercise video, or something else that might hold their attention could help you get some solid work in.

Prioritize and persist

You can’t do everything at once! Appreciate that working from home might be very new for your family. As long as you’re keeping your little one happy and healthy, and communicating with your workplace or clients, and doing your job, you can afford to cut yourself some slack. If you’re doing your best, that’s the best you can do (and your best might look different with each day).

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