5 amazing tips on working from home with a toddler (you can do it!)

I’ll admit, I pictured working from home with a toddler to be much easier.

In the weeks leading up to me leaving my corporate gig to build my own content creation business, I had these grandiose visions of me plucking away at my laptop, warm coffee in-handand jazz music playing softly in the background while my son, Owen, sat at my feet playing with Legos or putting together a puzzle.

In my mind, all was peaceful and quiet. 

For some reason, I just thought there would be this mutual understanding between me and my otherwise-completely-illogical toddler that he would let Daddy get work done for a few hours and then we’d both be able to enjoy a work-free afternoon together. 

For all you snickering parents reading this right now - I know how ridiculous it sounds in retrospect.

My dreams of a dedicated 4-hour work block in the morning were quickly shattered by the piercing screams of an 18-month-old demanding more peanut butter for his banana. I realized quickly that the set-up I had imagined - with Legos and jazz and focused work time - was just that: imaginary. 

Of course, the goal in leaving my corporate job was to spend more quality time with my son. But the fact remained I still needed to work. 

So, I did what any entrepreneur faced with an unavoidable roadblock to their business would do: I pivoted.

Not by switching up my product or business model, but by completely revamping my workflow to adapt to an unconventional work environment. And now, two months into things, I’m here to share some good news:

It’s absolutely possible to work from home with a toddler.   


Whether you plan to work remote in a corporate gig or join the growing contingent workforce, you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home while still actually getting work done.

So, to help you get there (and avoid my early mistakes), I put together these 5 tips for how to work from home with a toddler. 

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

1. Treat naptime like a sacred ritual

I’m fortunate enough to have a wife that also works from home, so together we’re able to tag team taking care of our son while also giving each other opportunities to get work done throughout the day. 

And while that often translates to one of us hanging out with Owen while the other plugs away at work, our son’s afternoon nap is the one time each day where both of us can do what Cal Newport calls “deep work”: 

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits.”

Whether you’re a solo-work-from-home-parent or doing it with a partner, this blocked time makes a huge difference in your productivity each day.

Here’s a look at the daily schedule I try to follow:

 

That 2:00pm - 4:00pm writing block is when Owen naps and often the most important part of my workday. 

After he goes down, I leave my phone in the other room, plug in headphones and listen to this playlist on Spotify while I focus only on deep work tasks. That means no email, no administrative work like invoicing, no dilly-dallying on social media. Just two hours of focused writing.

And the results are tremendous: I’m typically able to double my output during these focused deep work periods. 

Now of course, there are plenty of days where Owen doesn’t go down for a nap until 3:00pm or when he only naps for an hour instead of two. There’s at least one day every couple of weeks where he doesn’t nap at all. 

And that’s where you need to remain flexible. 

As a general rule, I try to make sure I am never relying on that nap period for important deadlines. 

If something absolutely needs to be turned in by close of business on a Tuesday, I make sure it’s complete before I go to bed Monday night. That way, I’m never in a position where I need to tell a client my work I’m missing a deadline because my toddler wouldn’t go down for his nap today. 

Naptime makes a big difference in my productivity every day, but it’s not quite enough to squeeze in all the work I need to get done. 

Which leads to my second tip for you: 

2. Choose between being a morning person or a night owl

Here’s the hard truth I learned: you can’t be both. (And if you try, you’ll burn yourself out in the first week.) 

Prior to making the leap to working for myself, I was always an early riser. But as you can see from my schedule above, I’ve adopted a nighttime work schedule recently for a few key reasons:

1. Better alignment with my clients’ schedules.


Part of the motivation for launching my new content creation career was the opportunity for location independence. I’m currently based in Hvar Town, Croatia, but spent the first two months of my new career in Paris and Berlin.