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Our lives changed when we found out less than a month apart that Charlie’s daycare was closing and that we had another baby on the way. I am incredibly lucky to have been awarded a fellowship from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The fellowship has enabled me to work creative hours from home while spending quality time with Charlie and resting this tired pregnant body. While I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, there are moments when I wish I was back in the hospital managing feeds or TPN instead of negotiating with an emotional toddler. As we are diving into summer I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources, activities and supplies for working from home with a toddler – my hope is that these will be useful whether you need to get through an hour long conference call or just desperately want to finish your cup of coffee while hot without microwaving it. (Note: this post contains affiliate links for which I may receive a stipend from should you purchase from here.)
Being home with Charlie has been so wonderful, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the experience. I find that blocking our time and having periods throughout the day when I can do more adult work while he can just be a kid helps both of us to be happy. I also find little chores throughout the house that he can help with as he’s very interested in independence, and it will be great to have a handful of jobs he can ‘own’ especially when baby comes. The other life saver for me is naptime – Charlie still naps for at least 90 minutes per day, some days I get super lucky and it’s 2.5 hours. During naptime I have a variety of tasks I can tackle: I call any client referrals I’ve received, some meal prep, I let rest myself a bit, any focused work I need to get done like blog posts or social media scheduling or fellowship work. I hate to be working and have him just watching TV so I try to avoid this as much as possible.
Transitioning from the hustle and bustle of working out of the home was equal parts refreshing and stressful. I would give in to my temptation to rest or just watch a movie because my body was so tired between this pregnancy and working so hard in so many jobs for several years. But when I gave in I found Charlie and I were both out of sorts and it took us several days to get back on track. Having a routine has been a game-changer. He thrives with the predictability and I’m able to count on getting several of my family responsibilities completed. Some days are different if I’ve picked up hospital shifts or I have appointments in the morning or if it is a bad pregnancy day, but for the most part we do the same things in the same order each day. For example – we help get dad out of the house (coffee, lunch, water, hugs & kisses), then we feed the dogs (making sure I get them their supplements and Cody’s medicines), then we take the dogs for a walk and eat breakfast. Some mornings we have breakfast on our walk if we are particularly hungry or we are running late – on these days it’s usually a muffin or toast and a fruit-veggie loaded smoothie for each of us. Then we fill the bird feeder and water our flowers and garden.
This site has totally changed my approach to play and learning. I have no clue how I first came across Days with Grey but I am forever grateful. There are so many wonderful activities to choose from and once you get some patterns and base language down you can mix things up for endless combinations. Some of Charlie’s favorite activities include: go find it, treasure map, color words parking lot, fill the empty space and spider.
Getting out of the house, while not my favorite thing, has been helpful for both of us. I treat each outing as a way to practice either an academic goal or a life skill. Some weeks I shift our grocery trip to midweek so Charlie can practice selecting items and navigating the store with a cart at Trader Joe’s. Some weeks we go for a lunch or breakfast date to a restaurant where we can practice seeing different foods, ordering from a menu, waiting patiently for food to arrive, etc. Some of our field trips are more what you would expect – visiting the zoo, the children’s museum, or the aquarium maybe the farmers market and the park.
Sensory play is like early science exposure. He gets to practice cause and effect with loads of different toodles and mediums. If you’re unfamiliar with sensory bins or are curious where to start here are some awesome posts. Once you have some staple supplies you can get really creative with these and throw a sensory bin together in a quick few minutes. Don’t forget about temperature too — experiencing cold, slightly warm and room temperature all count as exposure. Something to remember with sensory play is you need to be pretty close and not focusing on another task to intently. You may need to jump in and redirect so I find these are best when you’re doing things like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher or other small house projects.
In the dead of summer this is hard, it’s so hot but being cooped up inside makes us both crazy. But even an hour outside early in the morning before the sun is scorching makes a huge difference in our moods. I make a point of having this outside time be pretty free and unstructured so he can just roam and explore – maybe build a sandman or drive on his tractor. Sometimes he just wants to sweep or give his cozy coupe and wagon a carwash, or splash around with his water table. I basically count it all as fair game and then plan for a shower and clean clothes after.
Art definitely counts as another form of sensory play, there are so many different mediums and ways to create new masterpieces. Spending time to create with him has been a lot of fun, though a little stressful – his love of mixing colors of play-doh and paints goes against my love of order. Some of our go to supplies for art projects include: play-doh and a fun kit, watercolor paints, paper and brushes, multi-tool kit.
I have a handful of games for us to play together that have been helpful for changing up our days. The games work on his matching, physicality, letters, numbers and spatial reasoning. I have been really interested in Montessori education for him so this book was also helpful in determining what activities may be beneficial. Some of our favorite games include: don’t break the ice, wood letters, wood numbers, and a variety of matching games from the dollar section at Target.
Having a solid plan for meals has absolutely made our lives easier. Be sure to grab our plan along with some amazing tips for a family who cooks, eats and thrives together – here. What else would you like to know about working from home with toddlers?? Maybe more about how we avoid using grub hub every day or eating the same meals? Or maybe you work from home and have some awesome tips to share – comment below so we can all learn!
Want to learn more tips for making feeding your family easier? Grab my latest book, Blissful Meals Holiday Guide today!