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Working from home with a toddler is fantastic. Right up to the point where you need to get stuff done. Then, well then it’s a nightmare.

I am a digital designer for an American company and I work from home in South Africa. This is truly a dream come true for me and I absolutely love what I do and who I do it for, however, I learned very quickly even when I was freelancing. Working from home with a baby or toddler is more stressful and exhausting than anything I have ever done. So I had to make a plan.

FINDING MY BALANCE

For my own sanity, I needed to set up a schedule to keep my work anxiety and mom guilt under control. Before setting up this schedule, I realised that I was only half being a mom to my son and half an employee to my company. That simply didn’t work so I came up with this. It’s not perfect in any way. Is there even a “perfect” work-life balance for a mom? This works for us for now and I thought I would share,

I wake up at 5 am, Grab my computer and catch up on messages from my team, check my tasks and prioritise what needs to be done first and what needs to most concentration,  My brain is still warming up so I cant tackle big projects at this time but I can plan my day. Around 6 am little dude wakes up. The morning’s productivity is very dependant on his mood. If he is happy and playful I play with him. Usually, like his mom, he needs a few minutes to adjust to the day. Well, then I break the big Mom no-no. I put him next to me in the bed with Daniel Tiger or Justin time or the likes. In all honesty, this happens 80% of the mornings. It works for us. don’t judge.

BREAKFAST TIME

I then get back to work. I work on smaller tasks that I know I can finish in the hour that we are still in bed. This means by 7 am-ish I have managed 2 hours of productive work time, 6 to go. 

7 am its time for tea and breakfast. Netflix gets put off with some tears and a “NO mamma NO”. We deal with that and go downstairs. Around 8:30 am I log in and manage a few smaller tasks that I can get done while Little dude plays behind me. from 8:30 to 12:00 it’s me trying to work but really trying not to dismiss Little dude and if he needs me to play with him I get up and play. I try not to be too worried if work things get left in this time. I’m ready to give him all the attention he needs, this is not productive work time,

CRUNCH TIME

At 12:00 pm is nap time. Now my work and focus can really kick in. I make a cup of tea, sit down and get cracking. I look at the most important job on my to-do list I made in the morning and I get going. I have 2 hours, some lucky days 3 to get as much done as I possibly can.

When dude wakes up at 2 pm he usually needs some time again to join the world. I bring him downstairs join him on the couch and he plays with a car or dinosaur and I wrap up whatever I need to so that no one is waiting for me. 3 more hours done 3 to go.

3 pm to 5 pm. Again I’m online but my focus is my son. We go outside play or build lego whatever is needed.

Hubby(back up) comes home at 5 pm. A few nights a week I have meetings with the US team. Little dude and dad catch up in that time.

EVENING ROUTINE

Little dude goes to bed somewhere between 7 pm and 8 pm and depending on meetings or deadlines either dad or I put him to bed. Then from 7 pm till 10 pm, I finish up the days work. Some days later some days earlier. Its all relative to the day, Littles dudes mood, workload, deadlines but this is roughly how I stay sane with working from home with a toddler.

THE BREAKDOWN

5 am – 7 am: Work time

7:00 am – 8:30: Little dude time

8:30 am – 12:00 pm: Little dude time and work time

12 pm – 3 pm: Focused work time

3 pm – 5 pm: Little dude time

5 pm – 7/8 pm: Depends on the day

7/8 pm – 10 pm: Focused work time

GRATEFUL

Being flexible with my time is something I’m very fortunate to have. This is largely due to the fact that I work with a great team some who are also, work from home mothers and we all try and accommodate each other as much as possible. Family and work deadlines are both important to me so I try each day to find the balance.

This is the time schedule I have come up with when little dude is home. Obviously, it’s not 100% like this all the time somedays I need to make a deadline sooner and little dude needs to go to his grandparents. I also send him to daycare so that I can be even more focused and ensure I deliver. He is at an age that he is LOVING  his little friends and learns so much. I have NO mom guilt about sending him to school. I don’t know if any work and childcare schedule is perfect or if a balanced one even exists but each day comes with a new challenge and I am just grateful that I get to manage my time and my family this way.

I love being a working mom. I’m fortunate to love what I do and I don’t feel bad for wanting to work or sending my son to daycare. I’m extremely proud of what I do and I hope this will be clear to the little dude as he grows up.  I know I am privileged in having my office be at home. I’m thankful that I get to work out a schedule that works for me. for now, not perfect but its mine.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Stay at home moms how do you structure your days? When do you find time for yourself? I’m in awe of stay at home moms who have their kids with them 24/7.

Working out of the home moms how do you feel about daycare? Do you work because you have too or want to?

Moms, that work in the home, are you self employed or work for a company? Are you able to be flexible with your time? How do you manage it all?

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