For many women, after they have a baby their focus naturally shifts onto their child. The long working hours and late night partying that preceded motherhood are often consigned to another era, at least temporarily. Other women see out their maternity leave and can’t wait to get back behind the office desk and start dishing out orders again. It’s horses for courses, what works for one mum, won’t tick all the boxes for another.
But one trend that is gathering pace in these digitally connected times is the mum who chooses to continue working from home after the birth of her kids. Whether it’s returning as a telecommuter to her old job or setting up a new enterprise, mothers with toddlers are increasingly blurring the lines between work and home life with great success.
There are many behaviours, routines and techniques you can adopt in your daily work pattern to accommodate toddlers and ensure that neither child or work is neglected. Read on for some useful strategies…
Customise your office
Let’s assume you are a lucky mum and have an office space dedicated to your work. If you don’t, the same principles apply, they will just need adapting to the kitchen table office or corner of the bedroom office.
You need peace and calm to focus on work, so prepare a section of the room as a play area for your child. Rotating access to favourite toys is an effective way of keeping toddlers interested at play time – the more absorbed and engaged your child is, the less they will demand from you.
It is important that your child can see where you are so they don’t get anxious. The balance between being accessible and available is a tough one and something all mums struggle with.
Make the office space safe for your child regarding cables, plugs etc and ensure furniture is stable. A toddler close by is great motivation for keeping your desk clear and your outbox empty at the end of the working day.
If you are taking conference calls or video links, ensure a professional looking backdrop to your conversations. A background of laundry racks festooned with drying nappies, whilst understandable, unfortunately may not play so well in some quarters. A book case, neutral painted wall or curtain all make fine backdrops for video calls.
Keeping it regular
A firm daily routine will help you and your toddler to negotiate the tricky work from home challenge. Get up at the same time every day and have regular breaks to play and interact with your child in another room or outdoors.
Mums in London benefit from the extra support given by nanny services. For client appointments, meeting deadlines or simply to give you a clear run at a few hours of solid number-crunching or paperwork, for finding a nanny agency London is a great place to be. The way nanny services are provided has been totally revolutionised by the internet and it is possible to hire childcare on an hourly basis. Fully vetted, well trained and experienced childcare professionals can be in your home looking after your child while you work. Forget the commitment and expense of having a full time, live-in Mary Poppins like the rich and famous can afford, the new flexibility of modern nannying means you tailor childcare to your exact needs. Going to a conference for a couple of nights? Working late? Children’s party clashing with a meeting? Double-booked a play date in the park with a client pitch in the city? If you want to find a nanny agency London has a wide range of providers, from the starched apron brigade to the more relaxed and modern nanny-on-call digital version. Take your pick and buy yourself some breathing space.
Multi task mum
Parenthood brings out the multi-tasking gene in all parents and you will need to adapt this useful skill to your new work regime. There will be times when you can take your child to the park and they can run around and let off steam whilst you check your emails on your phone. Involving your child in domestic chores such as loading the washing machine and hoovering are other ways of getting through essential tasks whilst spending time together.
Working from home isn’t the easy option, but with spiralling full-time childcare costs, the increase in single parents and the rise in economic confidence and entrepreneurial ambition, it’s something that looks set to continue.
If you want to make working from home alongside toddlers a success, try using some of these approaches and problem-solving techniques – you may be surprised at the progress you make.