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Life with littles can be overwhelming! Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are curious, active, and full of love.
While you know this season won’t last forever, it’s hard to see through to the other side.
If you’re struggling to find time to start a business or make time to work from home with young kids, here are some ideas to try.
Work in a Central Area
Unless you have someone to help you watch your kids while you work, moms with only littles aren’t going to be able to go in an office and shut the door while the kids fend for themselves.
You must set up your workspace in a central area, so you can keep an eye on your kids while you work.
Ideally, you’ll make this space where your kids can’t escape. That way you don’t have to worry about them quietly sneaking off and getting into trouble while you’re busy writing in the quiet.
You can use a combination of:
- Baby gates
- Closed doors
- Infant seats
to help keep your kids in the area. But, don’t plan on just leaving them in a high chair or something for a long period of time. Use common sense and change their position and area often.
A baby could have tummy time for a while. Then go into a swing. After eating and snuggling, they could sit in their car seat by your feet so you can gently rock them while you work.
A wrap sling also helps with a baby.
Toddlers can rotate from high chairs with toys, to a larger playpen, to freely playing in the room.
Don’t have anything breakable in your work area. You don’t want to tempt your kids, or have to spend tons of time redirecting them. Make your space as kid-friendly as you can.
Fill Their Cups Early
When I was in college preparing to be a teacher, I was introduced to the concept of a child’s love cup. The idea is that you need to pour into their cups so they are grounded, knowing that they are loved.
When a child’s cup is empty, they tend to act up. They decide that negative attention is better than none at all.
So, keep their cups from getting empty.
I like to focus on filling my children’s cups early in the day. We have a lot more snuggling and chatting and playing together earlier in the day.
By the time quiet time and free play time rolls around, they are filled up with love. They’re much more willing to play on their own than on days when I don’t start it with lots of time together.
If you can get your toddler and baby napping at the same time each afternoon (since my toddlers were definitely past the two naps a day stage), it’ll give you some time to focus.
Some toddlers refuse to nap. I get it! If that’s the case, set your little one in a play pen or other safe place with some age appropriate toys and a couple of board books, and have them stay there for 5 minutes to start learning how to self-entertain. Set the timer, so you have a definite end time. Then snuggle and move on with your day.
Slowly increase the time, five minutes every few days. Try to get up to thirty minutes. While it’s not a ton of time, you can use this wisely to get your brainstorming done and outline a blog post or something.
Sibling Play Time
Teach your kids to play together. I have a dedicated 30 minutes a day to sibling play time.
With littles, here are some ideas of what they can do together:
- Build with large blocks
- Play dressup
- Turn a box into something
- Train tracks
Open ended activities, interesting enough to hold the interest of both children is key.
And as an added bonus, your kids will grow closer when they spend time purposefully playing each day.
Have Your Toddler Help with Chores
The sooner you can get your kids to help you with chores and cooking, the better!
It won’t be a lot of help right now, honestly it won’t be.
But, little ones are usually super eager to help. This is a time investment that will pay off hugely. Get a squirt bottle of water and some rags, and let your toddler “wash” the walls while you do a few minutes of work.
Over time, teach more skills and ensure your toddler is picking up toys as a start to actually being helpful.
Separate some Toys
Have a few toys that you only pull out while you’re working. They’ll be novel to your child even if they aren’t new, because they’re limited. Look for ones that are engaging and safe, so you don’t have to worry about choking or anything. You could even go as far as having a toy for Monday, some blocks for Tuesday, special crayons and coloring book for Wednesday, etc. so there’s always something fun.
Start with five minutes of alone play if your toddler isn’t used to it. There may be some tears, but five minutes of alone time won’t hurt your child. It’s the start of getting you out of the “entertainer” role, at least for part of the day.
Again, you’ll want to increase this time as your toddler adapts to playing alone. If you get thirty minutes here and thirty minutes at “quiet time”, it’s an hour a day for work.
Have five minutes? Make a list of everything you can do during that time. It could be as simple as:
- Make a social media post
- Like an influencer on social media
- Research a supplier or possible client for contact info
- Start drafting an email pitch
- Browse one site for job openings
- Make a list of five skills you have that are marketable
- Bookmark a blog post on starting a career you’re interested in
- Reserving self-improvement/entrepreneurial books at the library
Sit down and brainstorm as many things as possible that will help you get to where you want to be that don’t actually take that much time. Then see how many you can cross off each day.
Have a similar list for 10 and 15 minute chunks of time, and you’ll never have to wonder “what should I be doing now?” by premaking the decisions, you’ll free up brain power.
Here’s a post with 100 things you can do in just a few minutes. There’s a handy printable PDF you can download as well!
Spend time outside each day to let your kids blow off energy. Give them space to explore and see what they do. They may get muddy and need a bath, but they will learn a lot and be ready for quiet play when you go back in.
Have a Family Friendly Business
There are jobs you can’t do as a WAHM with young kids. You aren’t going to be able to work in a call center, or do anything where you need absolute quiet or a distraction free workplace.
So don’t even apply for those!
Start your own family friendly business.
I recommend ones that are easy to do in chunks throughout the day, like:
Match your business with your lifestyle so you don’t get discouraged.
Take as many decisions off your plate as you possibly can by premaking decisions. This will keep your brain from feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out all of the small things.
Make a meal plan and shopping list.
Figure out a cleaning schedule.
Get rid of stuff you don’t use or need.
The goal is to minimize how many decisions you have to make each day, so your brain can spend time thinking about business and opportunities.
Put the Kids to Bed Early
Babies are hard to schedule, but if possible, put your toddler to bed early. My younger crew goes to bed by 7:30 each night. This gives me time before it’s super late, to focus on my business. Even if I just work for an hour, it adds up. Most nights I can work for two, and still have time with my husband to decompress before bed.
I was worried an early bedtime would mean early waking, but they almost always sleep a full ten or twelve hours. I’ve found that ensuring they get enough sleep actually helps us to have better days. Win win!
Remember Littles Grow, and You Won’t Be Working from Home with Young Kids Forever
This is a hard stage. And, you may only be able to work 2-3 hours a day right now. But, if you focus on setting a foundation of self-entertainment and helpfulness for your kids, they will continue that as they grow.
Stop being their primary entertainer, and let them develop their creativity through independent or sibling-based play.
And you’ll be able to devote more time to working as your littles grow. It goes by quickly! Pretty soon you won’t be working from home with young kids. You’ll be working from home with teens, or with an empty nest.
This mindset can help get you through the difficult days!
Know a mama in the trenches with littles trying to get a business off the ground? Please share this post with her!
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.