Soooo….. trying to work from home with a small and determined time sucking device attached to your hip is an exercise in frustration! However, as I need to meet statutory deadlines in my line of work, I have to do it. So here are the tools I employ to make it possible.
To begin with, I create more than one daytime play “area”. Otter has two play centers, one is an exersaucer, one is a jumper. He also has a play area right by my desk, with toys and books, and one in the living room (which I can see from my desk or work in with my laptop.) I call them ‘daytime’ areas because they are easily and quickly packed up and put out of the way in the evening when everyone is home and we need more space. That way, his area’s can interfere with walkways and other shared spaces, because he only uses them when no one but the two of us is home.
I begin my day with whichever play area he is happy in, then while he tools around in his space, I work.
When he begins to complain about his activity, I will scoop him up, cuddle a bit, nurse or play, and then set him in play area number two. Note: This is key! Do not simply pluck the baby up, and then plop them down in the next play zone without first responding to their plea for your attention. It will not work. They will not play. If you take the time to snuggle and play with them for a bit before moving on, you will be much more successful. Also, moving Oliver to another play area may at times take a rotation through all available play areas until we find one that makes him really happy. This might also take an offering of Goldfish or dried apples.
Once he is settled again, I sit down to work.
When he is no longer happy with my attention being focused on something other than him, I bring him over to my desk in his high chair and give him a snack while I work. I try and keep things that I can do while multi-tasking reserved for this time of day, so I can successfully work and play with him. When he begins to protest this set up, I will settle down with him for a solid block of snuggling, nursing, or playing, before trying it all again.
If this doesn’t work, I will bring out the big guns.
What are the big guns? Things he cannot otherwise have.
- A container of baby wipes. He rejoices in pulling wipe after wipe out of the convenient container and tossing them on the floor. When desperate for work time, I will clean the floor under his highchair really well, grab a lunch baggie, and set him in his chair with a container of wipes. He will while away my work time while happily removing a wipe, studying a wipe, and then discarding the wipe. When he tires of this activity, I will pick up all the wipes, plop them into the baggie, stuff that in my diaper bag for use on the go, and send him to a different activity.
- A remote control. He loves to use the remote control, he finds it to be the most magical of all tools in the house, next to keyboards. I will hand him an old remote with the batteries taken out and set him in his play area with it. This will usually buy me a long time to work, as he never gets to play with it unless I am desperate for work time. The same goes for an old cell phone.
- Television. When I absolutely am desperate for work time, I will place him in one of his living room play areas, give him a snack, and allow him to watch Little Bill, Little Bear, or the Sunny Side Up Show. All three make him smile and laugh. This will usually buy me about 30 minutes, or if I am really lucky, an hour.
- The front door. Our front door has a window in it that Otter can see out of. If I set up a cozy space near the door and place him in it, he will usually watch the outside world for a while.
- Kitchen tools. Handing him a series of baking pans and some spoons with set him a banging for a bit. (This only works if you can either work with noise, or wear ear plugs.)
The biggest key to carving out time in the day to work, is being aware that the time will not be contiguous. You will not get three straight hours to immerse yourself in something unless your child takes a long, and consistent nap. Mine does not.
Therefore, prepare to be interrupted, take the interruptions as opportunities to play for a bit and have a break. Make sure to fulfill your baby’s need for attention during those breaks, so that redirecting their attention to another center or toy is effective. If I don’t take the time in between each center to cuddle and coddle, he doesn’t play as long, or as cheerfully, and we both get cranky and frustrated!
So there you have it, my daytime work routine. I wanted to share it because it took me many months of tearful frustration to develop a method that would allow me to get in any real work during the day and I thought I might save someone else from some of that frustration by sharing my techniques.
Oh, there he goes, bidding for another cuddle break!! (Blogging counts as work too you know!)