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Entertaining a child and striving for productivity, is it possible?

  • I have three children, ages 14, 10 and 3. Working from home is possible Monday through Friday as far as the older ones are concerned because they are in school. But trying to work with the three year-old is harder. He is in preschool for three half days every week. When he is home I don't want to park him in front of the television all day, nor do I want to work in the wee hours of the morning. It is a daily struggle.

    How do you cope?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Heather C. on 3rd September 2007
  • I must admit that I am in a completely different boat than you I won't be able to give advice. I have a three month old. She is in the "hold me all the time" stage and so I'm trying to become adept at typing with one hand (we'll see how I end up doing). I'm also trying to drum up business for myself....that seems to be the trouble for me. By the time that I get a moment to actually think about business I am soooo tired that I can barely string two words together...otherwise i have an infant hanging over my shoulder. A baby sling helps, but my daughter is very demanding about wanting to be moved around a lot and see different sights.

    Does anyone have a tiny baby at home? What are your strategies?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 10th September 2007
  • My girls are almost 3 and 16 months and I've been there, mamajama, and am great with the one hand type! They are older now and they can entertain each other but you know that only lasts so long. It's a constant struggle every day and I still don't feel like I've got it figured out. My best advice, some I admittedly don't always follow, is SCHEDULE. I've had to remind myself that I can only check my email once an hour instead of constantly. If I absolutely have to deal with something I need to have back-up entertainment (and coloring or paint or play dough still don't work when the little one is involved) so it comes down to musicals or baby Einstein. Something I save for once a month, when I know I have to talk to a client or be very engrossed with what I'm doing, is take out a bin of toys I put away a month or so ago. I have several of them hidden away. At the end of the day a new assortment of toys gets stashed away and comes out in a month.

    Also, I've decided that I need "me" time during the day and not just when the girls are in bed. So even though the oldest doesn't nap she gets quiet time in her room and I always try to lie down. If I manage a ten minute nap then I'm excited. I almost always work for a couple of hours at night and if I've had the nap then I don't dread those late nights. It means I slack some days on housecleaning or exercise but I'm still trying to figure out how to juggle it all and can only pat myself on the back at the end of the day.

    If you figure out how to score new clients while entertaining your wee one, please pass it on!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 10th September 2007
  • I only work at home 1 day a week with my 20month old...I'd love to do more but I don't think it's feasible. It was definitely easier when he was younger, now he wants my attention much more and is going through a very clingy stage (always wants to be with me). Unfortunately he does get to watch much more TV on the day I work from home, but I try to balance it out the rest of the week. I don't let that bug me anymore. Until this week I had a babysitter come over after she got out of school for at least 3hrs. That plus naptime guaranteed some uninteruppted work worked great. This is our first week without the babysitter...she left for college. I think I'll need to try to find someone new or work off hours (real early AM and at night).
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by JennS on 10th September 2007
  • Hi,

    I have a very active 18 month old. I find it very difficult to work at home w/ her. She likes to destroy the office. When my hubby is home/off shift he tries to help me . My daughter still takes a 3 hour nap from 10am-1pm. that is when I get the majority of my work done.

    and in the evening after she is sleeping.

    When she was younger I used to breast feed while working. I felt like it was never going to end. But I think it gets easier????? who know. everyday has it challenges!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 21st September 2007
  • A 3 hour nap?!!? You lucky goose. It does get easier with the one. She'll see you working and want to "work" too at some point so you'll be able to set her up with her own "office" that will keep her entertained for at least 2 minutes at a time several times a day.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 21st September 2007
  • I guess you just have to get good at getting a lot done in very short spurts...Is that how it works?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 22nd September 2007
  • Heather, I understand your struggle and not wanting to park your son in front of the television. I have a ten month old and get a lot of work done during her two naps (although those have been changing lately) but when she is up I hate sticking her somewhere to play while I do work even though sometimes I have to. Part of my reason for working from home was to be able to be with her - doesn't it defeat the purpose to be focused on work when she is up? But if I don't keep up with my work, will working from home no longer be a possibility? Argh, such a juggling act.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mommy powers on 27th September 2007
  • It´s hard. I started working at home when my firstborn was 13 months old and it took a while to get into the swing of things. We had just figured everything out when I had my second son. Now I try to work with a 21 month old and a 4 month old and it is literally impossible some days!

    My best tips for babies: A sling never worked with my boys, they want to see new stuff, so I put my little one in his bouncy chair and stick him outside in the shade. He kicks and laughs to himself and I can see him from the computer. I also give him different clothing to play with, at 3-6 months, they really enjoy rubbing different fabrics between their fingers and tasting them, just switch in a new piece of clothing every five minutes or so.

    For 1 year and up: This age tends to want to spend a lot of time with Mommy. While it´s sweet, it means it´s hard to get much work done! My son loves cars, so I keep an extra supply of new ones (from the dollar store) on hand and when I am up against a deadline, I break out a new one. He´ll spend quite a while driving it around the bed.

    Another idea for older kids is to let them get messy. They seem to be happy if you leave them with a bucket of mud or cornstarch and water! Also, bubbles are good because you can blow a few, then type a bit, blow more, type a bit, etc.

    Sometimes my older son sits on my lap and colors while I do things that only require using the mouse, not the keyboard. That way, I just move the keyboard out of the way and he can color in front of me while I mouse around.

    Most of all, I think you have to be flexible! It´s not easy working from home with little ones, but it is rewarding! And all too soon, we´ll be able to work in complete peace and quiet and be yearning for some sticky hands on the keyboard.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Genesis on 6th October 2007

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