Productivity Tips for Work-at-Home Parents with an Only Child

The following post is from Prerna of The Mom Writes:

“Mama, please come and play cars with me,” I can hear my toddler call out as I gear up for a session of copywriting. Does it mean that I don’t go and play with my baby girl or does it mean that I go and leave my deadline-based work hanging in the air?

Actually, neither.

I do both. I get her over to where I’m working, usually our dining table, and spread her cars around on the floor and then, she happily vrooms around while I type.

However, sometimes it isn’t so easy.

Sometimes my daughter — who is an only child and, hence, usually has either me or her dad as playmates — wants us to sit and play with her right in the middle of a busy workday. Not practical, huh?

So we’ve found ways to get work done without neglecting our daughter.

Here are some productivity tips for work-at-home parents with an only child:

{While I’m writing from my experience with an only child, I believe one can easily adapt these for work-at-home parents with multiple kids. If you are one, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.}

1. Adapt Your Work Routine

The first thing we did when both my husband and I moved to a work-at-home arrangement was to create and adapt our work schedule and routine so that at any given time, one of us was available for our toddler.

As a morning person, I wake up early and clock in a solid 2 hours before I need to wake her up for play school. Maybe you, like my husband, work best at night, so make yourself that cuppa java and get down to work as soon as your toddler gets into bed.

Find your best “quiet” time and then, try to get as much work packed into it as you can.

2. Have a Workday Routine for Your Toddler

Routines aren’t just for adults; preschoolers benefit from them too. A routine creates predictability so that a child knows what to expect next.

We have a workday routine that runs from Monday to Friday for our toddler. It looks something like this

  • Wake Up
  • Breakfast
  • Play school
  • Lunch
  • Naptime
  • Park or Play date
  • Indoor Play or Craft
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime

So, during the week, I work before she wakes up, while she’s at play school and then, again, when she naps. Once she wakes up from her nap, I’m there for her to be with her.

It takes time to establish a routine, and you may have to deviate a bit day-to-day. But that’s okay. As far as possible, keep a structure and flow to the day so that your toddler knows what’s going on.

3. Provide Plenty of Play Opportunity

Only kids don’t have siblings to hang around with at home. As a result, on days when there is no play school or play date, they can get clingy. Rainy days, sick days, holidays are just some of those occasions.

Those are the times when you need to create play or entertainment opportunities. Some ways we do that is:

  • Keep a hidden stash of toys, and pull them out to let your toddler play with some “new” toys.
  • Invite a friend over and let both the kids play together. Perfect for rainy days!
  • Pop in an educational DVD. Program them for 30 to 45 minutes. Ideal for an uninterrupted session to write a post.
  • Take a break from work and spend some time playing with your preschooler. It could be just 15 minutes but it will give you a break, a fresh mind and your toddler would love having your undivided attention.
  • Create a play station near your work station. Sometimes a toddler just needs to know you’re around and is okay if you’re not actively playing with them.
  • Encourage quiet and imaginative play. Our toddler loves playing with cars and can easily spend an hour at a stretch parking her collection of cars, driving them around on the bed or floor and then, getting them fuelled at her imaginary fuel station.

4. Involve Your Only Child

Preschooler-aged kids are generally very good with understanding the concept of “work”. By explaining to your only child that you have to work, you’ll make working at home easier for yourself and your little one.

Read books that talk about jobs and work. Let her see what you do. And gently explain how your work brings in the money that buys toys or candy or food.

5. Get Support

Finally, and most importantly, get support. If you have a home-based business, you have your hands full. Outsource or delegate activities that aren’t critical to either your business’s growth or your family’s happiness.

For me, it was cleaning the house. It took way too much time  and energy everyday. Time and energy that I could easily spend at work or playing with my daughter. So, I hired help. It freed up my time magically while leaving me with extra energy to devote to my daughter or our business.

Totally worth every penny.

Look around you and see what you can delegate or outsource affordably and easily. Administrative tasks and household chores are usually the best ones to outsource but maybe you could consider getting a mother’s helper for your toddler.

You can also get support from friends and family members. I am blessed to have my husband working at home with me and his support is invaluable and lets me pursue SO much more than if I had to do it alone.

Support is vital when you’re a work-at-home parent, and Mandi puts it beautifully in her eBook, “There’s nothing wrong with asking for or hiring help, whatever that may look like for your circumstance.”

How do you stay productive with an only child in tow?

Prerna Malik is a mom, a wife, a writer and woman who believes in being postively productive, parenting with love and creating a home that invites you to put your feet up and relax. Find her sharing her journey and experiences with productivity and parenting at The Mom Writes.