I have been working from home with a toddler since 2017. For most people, Covid 19 and the resulting work from home order sent parents into a tailspin. Even for people who work from home with older children, they’re used to being able to send that child off to school or daycare, even if it’s just for a few days a week. Me? Just when I thought I would be able to have some sort of home routine with my four year old (then three) year old, here it all comes crashing down.
She Started School
I even decided I was going to home-school, and tried my hand at it for a semester last year before deciding that as long as my business was flourishing, and our current situation (as a stand alone nuclear family) continued, it was neither fair to myself or Tibby to deprive her of the social values of attending school outside of home, while trying to be her full time care giver, teach her full time, blog, market for my business, complete projects and the whole nine yards. To make matters even more complex, Babe (Hubby) is in his final year of residency (which has been extended due to, you guessed it, COVID19), so his presence was predicted to be invariably less and less, until the final bell. So, what did we do? In January, we sent her off.
By the time March rolled around, we had established a fairly structured, though tiring routine that included drop offs each morning, pickups each evening and a six hour span daily for me to get to house-wifing, client visiting and projects. By this time, we were even almost getting used to the constant waves of illness that were a product of every weekend, as I scrambled to ply her full of vitamin C, fruits and water daily in a bid to help her fight off the constant colds and such. During this period, we had to take her to the paediatrician for the first time for being ill, and she encountered her first bout with antibiotics. Although my friends who are parents warned me, Hubby and I struggled with this part. As a sidebar, this terrifies me, thinking that whenever she starts school again, she is bound to start back at square one with integrating process of her immune system, when she hasn’t even so much as sniffled once since she stopped school.
It took a few weeks of feeling empty and missing her, but eventually, I began to enjoy my new found freedom during the days. I even enjoyed the days when Babe would be post-call from an overnight shift at the hospital and her joy when she got home and realised he would meet her at the car or the door; the way we had been meeting him for years when he came home from work since she was born.
Back to Basics
And then, less than three months in, just as she was comfortable in her new environment at school, her routine and making friends to interact and play with, Bam! Her world was changed and all of a sudden, school was no more. Now, she knows what it is like to be out daily, she asks about school, her friends and the aunties at school daily. We aren’t even going out to the supermarket with her, getting food, going to the beach, other activities she likes and she is doing her best to cope.
Actually Working from home with a toddler?
Now, I have projects and she has less to focus on. My kid refuses to take daily naps, and I’ve realised my day is far more productive if I don’t try to force it. Instead, a strict bedtime between 8 pm and 9 pm is all the routine I’ve managed to instil. And so, my energetic toddler is not trying to hear about boundaries when we have her cooped up this place, and we must do our best to get our work done, and still be attentive. Trying to structure a work from home routine with a four-year-old is not the easiest thing in the world to do, especially without external engagement and little internal help. Some days, it just doesn’t work.
She Runs Things
It might seem like the thing parent don’t want to admit, but there is that stage in life where the kids runs things, but you can’t quite let them know that. The things is, she is growing and learning everyday, but at the heart of it, she is still three years old. A baby. When she tries to tell a story really fast, it comes out gibberish, although she doesn’t seem to notice and expects us to fully understand. Sometimes this is my only reminder she is still very much a baby. There is a brewing sense of independence, but still, she needs to be watched every second of the day (unless she is sleeping, which she doesn’t). She still gets tired and throws tantrums instead of just taking a nap, she still has moments where the most important things is Mommy and Daddy’s attention, although she recognises there’s less of it to go around when we’re ‘busy’ or ‘working’. She has a sense of understanding with these terms.
Even so, Mommy being busy and Daddy being busy don’t quite mean the same thing to her. If I am asleep, usually before dawn when Babe is reading and/or studying and getting ready for work, he can be climbed on. As soon as Mommy is awake, I’m the preferred jungle gym.
I know we imagine picture-perfect schedule and time slots that are dutily followed, but the truth is, for me, this is what working from home with a toddler honestly looks like. Taking turns when Hubby is home and important meeting or classes come up, sharing our lack of a home office space, putting on PJ Masks and Barbie at all hours of the day and looking forward to 8 pm so I can put her to bed and get to wind down. On another note, the heat is so bad, it seems to be zapping everyone’s energy except hers.
I don’t know where she got whatever she’s on that keeps her energy that high and her limbs so strong, but I want some of it. This old body ain’t it!
Anyway, how has working from home with a toddler been for you? Do you have kids? How old are they? Let me know in the comments.
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