Working from Home with a Toddler: A Battle for Attention

My son scribbles on my notepad while I am on a work conference call.

If there is one positive thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it’s more time with family. With the shelter in place order, everyone has to stay home–forcing more family time and home activities. For those who can work from home, like me, they are able to do so while caring for any kids they have. It is an unusual time when you can work from home while caring for your child.

I was excited to have more time with my son, as he was going to daycare before the COVID pandemic. But to say that working from home and caring for my son during the stay-at-home order has been a challenge for me is a huge understatement. I adore my son to pieces, and, actually, wanted to be a stay at home mom when he was born so that I could enjoy every part of his life. But since we need both incomes, working was the best option—even if we need to pay a hefty amount for daycare.

It is often the perception that working from home with your kids is the ideal scenario. It kind of is, but it depends how old the child is and how needy the child is as well. So how does someone manage to work a full day when there is a toddler doing everything in his power to get your attention, which impedes you from doing any work?

One of the many activities that I engage my son in during my work time.

In my case, I spend most of my workday having to play with my son, because he is not the type of child who plays on his own. My son is very social–at daycare and everywhere we goes. I also have to prepare his food and feed him a few times throughout the day, spend time trying to convince him that I need to change his diaper, and time to put him down for his nap. Sometimes he sleeps right away, sometimes it takes an hour.

I also have to watch him like a hawk to make sure that he does not hurt himself, eat Play Doh, put a paint brush in his mouth, and the list goes on. When I have conference calls, it is usually chaotic. Sometimes the person I am talking to has no idea—other times I just can’t hide it. I get multiple interruptions–taking my pen, pulling my earplugs, asking for more food, more milk, my attention, requesting to play with me…the list goes on. You don’t fight it because you won’t win.

I end my “work day” mentally and sometimes physically exhausted from trying to juggle working and being a parent. I have to wait until my husband gets home from work so that I can get to work–pulling in a lot of late nights and waking up with very little sleep. It is a vicious cycle. I start the week looking forward to Friday so that I can get a break.

I don’t blame my son. He is just being a kid. It is just an inconvenient situation that we have to get through so that we can help flatten the curve. Truly, we are blessed to have such a happy and outgoing little boy and to be able to be home safely with him.

I am without a doubt treasuring our time together. It is just a time with very little sleep.

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