Author Topic: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy  (Read 1855 times)

maisymouser

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« on: March 18, 2020, 01:22:52 PM »
Our situation is that DH and I are both WFH full-time. We pulled our 18-month old son out of daycare; we live with a 60+ year old and it felt like the right call to make for a lot of reasons. But... I AM GOING TO GO INSANE. We are on the side of minimizing screen time, which I will admit requires that we give a lot more attention to the boy. Right now we're each getting an hour or two of work done and switching off. I stay upstairs with the bedroom door closed while I work but it's still tough...

I'm determined to make this work. DH has been supportive but I have a hard time focusing while hearing the whining, crying, running, screaming. I wonder if he's missing out on playing with friends. I haven't been a SAHM since maternity leave and this is tough.

Suggestions/tips? Activities we should try out that comply with social distancing?

Freedomin5

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2575
  • Location: China
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2020, 02:43:19 PM »
Can he go out into the backyard with an adult supervising? Scooter on the sidewalk?

 If it’s cold where you live, bundle him up well.

IsThisAGoodUsername

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
  • Location: USA
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 04:18:12 PM »
Are there any nearby parks? You can still enjoy being outside in nature and taking walks (or stroller-ing) if the weather is nice enough.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11903
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 04:21:31 PM »
In a similar boat as you.  Wishing you luck. We’ve spent a lot of time going for walks and short hikes, plus indoor activities when the weather isn’t nice. Today was playing with bowls filled with ice and water in the bathroom (because it can get wet).
No idea what the next rainy day will bring. One day at a time.

maisymouser

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 05:54:53 PM »
Fantastic idea, the bowls with rice. We have a bunch of white rice we never wanted to eat and this is the perfect way to use it!

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 15253
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2020, 06:19:09 PM »
It's hard.  Our kid is 6, and he can definitely be a handful.

We're doing a system where we switch control.  He's mine in the morning, my wife's in the afternoon.  That way at least we get half a day's worth of uninterrupted work.

We came up with a schedule of stuff for him to do broken up by the hour . . . school work from some books that we bought for him when this all started, quiet reading, play time, and two half hour periods of screen time each day.  We also do 'recesses' with walks outdoors for 15 minutes - once in the morning, once in the evening . . . then go for a 45 minute walk/bike ride with him after work.  Yes, we do social distancing while out, and we are careful about shoes/hand washing when we come back in.

So far this keeps him busy enough and getting enough exercise that he's not constantly in our hair . . . but he's still in our hair pretty regularly.  It is much more stressful trying to look after a kid while working from home than working at the office.  We kinda expected that going in.  Ugh.  Not going to end any time soon either.

tawyer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 168
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • JFDI
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2020, 08:31:03 PM »
Dang @maisymouser my heart goes out to you: I cannot imagine trying to do this when DS was 18 months!

We're following similar structure of switching off parental responsibility every 2-3 hours. Although he no longer naps he can at least do "quiet time" for two hours by himself in his room in the afternoon. Basically switching activity every 45 minutes keeps things from getting old for us and tends to tire him out more.

I think the only solution to the crying/running is to get outside. In our city exercise outside is fine. Parks are a bit problematic so I ride him somewhere off the beaten path during quiet times of day.

We also had a videoconference with one of his friends, which went well enough that I'm thinking of including it in our daily schedule.

Aelias

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 391
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2020, 03:48:33 AM »
Yup.  Right there with you.

My husband and I are home with our 7yo, 4yo, and 5 month old and trying to work from home.  It's early days, and we're managing, but it's rough.

We're doing a lot of the stuff that other folks here are doing -- trying to stick to a daily schedule, encouraging educational activities, trying to get some outside time when we can.  In some ways, I think 18 mos is a really hard age for a quarantine, because they're old enough to be mobile (unlike our baby who will just sweetly sleep on a shoulder while you work) but not old enough to be independent.

A couple things to consider:
-Hours shift:  This may be something unique to our family, but I'm a morning person and my husband's a night person.  So, I've been getting some quiet time in in the early morning (4-7) and he gets it at night (9-12). 
-Daily check in: My husband and I check in in the mornings and evenings to see when we have calls, and I put blocks on my calendar when he has a call, and he does likewise for me.  This is to try to make sure there's at least one responsive adult available at all times. Have to say, this doesn't always work.  Sometimes someone schedules an urgent call over one of our blocks which leads me to . .
-Screen time:  Yeah, we're leaning on screen time with the boys more than we otherwise would.  But we're trying to split it between "fun" screen time (cartoons) and "learning" screen time.  Khan Academy Kids has a good app for 2-7 that's free.  I stupidly decided to pay for a subscription to ABC Mouse--it was stupid because their site is totally overwhelmed and crashy during normal hours.  So, ABC Mouse for off-hours only.  We're also enjoying Story Time Online, where actors read picture books.  Today, we're going to try out Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems -- a livestreamed drawing lesson at 1PM.  I want to learn to draw Piggy!
-Music:  Having different kinds of music playing in the background has been helpful for setting the tone of whatever we're trying to do.  Free time can have more active music.  Non-screen learning time is generally instrumental classical or jazz.
-Indoor Active Time:  Getting outdoors is very good for all involved when it's possible.  But we've had some crummy weather days lately, so when we do, we have indoor active time.  Dance Parties.  Simon Says.  Yoga. Timed races up and down the stairs.
-Clean Up Time: Set aside at least 30 mins a day to keep your space neat and tidy, and involve your kiddo to the extent you can. You're going to be spending a lot of time there, so the toy situation needs to be under control.
-Virtual Playdate:  Honestly, at the toddler stage, it's mostly an excuse to talk to other parents over skype.  But you can let your kiddo wave at the camera! Our kids are old enough to interact with the other kids which is fun.  It does tend to make them kinda crazy (something about seeing themselves in the camera makes them extra loud and active)

And most importantly!
-Be Kind to Yourself and Each Other: Honestly, this makes me feel really grateful for the good baseline relationships I have with my husband and my kids.  All the little things that would sometimes bug me--I don't care about right now.  It's clear we're all doing the best we can in a really difficult situation, and we all need each other's help and understanding.  I also really emphasize being articulate about feelings and apologizing when you screw up--and you will screw up!--even with small kids, "Sweetie, I'm sorry I yelled.  I felt frustrated because was trying to concentrate on work, and that's hard when you're playing with that noisy toy.  But that doesn't make it ok for me to yell.  You forgive me?"

In the immortal words of Red Green*,"Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

*"The Red Green Show" was a very silly Canadian comedy where Red Green, a handyman who lives in the woods and spends a lot of time in his Lodge with his geeky nephew, Harold, teaches you how to fix stuff (lots of duct tape!).  Think parody "This Old House."  If you need some good, senseless giggles, there is a TON of Red Green on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUXPuYZ4DEQ&list=PLYA1dURVg2KxVhXX-y0viKQi4HoiDSqCs

bthewalls

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 190
  • Location: ireland/northern ireland
  • gods own prototype....
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2020, 03:17:03 PM »
suggest increasing screen time to 8 hours a day.....you can work and mind kids...needs must and detox them after it passes

YttriumNitrate

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 886
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2020, 07:11:33 AM »
Ear plugs. Get some good ear plugs. I have a 1 and 4 year old in the house, and have been working from home for the last 6-months or so. Kids are loud and distracting, there's no getting around that. I use Pelator's H7.

strongmag

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2020, 09:05:37 AM »
Agree with earplugs or over-ear headphones (not earbuds) with some classical music playing to drown out the noise while you're taking your "work shift"

bthewalls

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 190
  • Location: ireland/northern ireland
  • gods own prototype....
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2020, 11:36:33 AM »
fuck it guys....stop working and play wit the kids....?

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6473
  • Location: Norway
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2020, 11:51:58 AM »
Our situation is that DH and I are both WFH full-time. We pulled our 18-month old son out of daycare; we live with a 60+ year old and it felt like the right call to make for a lot of reasons. But... I AM GOING TO GO INSANE. We are on the side of minimizing screen time, which I will admit requires that we give a lot more attention to the boy. Right now we're each getting an hour or two of work done and switching off. I stay upstairs with the bedroom door closed while I work but it's still tough...

I'm determined to make this work. DH has been supportive but I have a hard time focusing while hearing the whining, crying, running, screaming. I wonder if he's missing out on playing with friends. I haven't been a SAHM since maternity leave and this is tough.

Suggestions/tips? Activities we should try out that comply with social distancing?

Can the 60+ year old look after the kid some hours, like outside in a park

moneysense

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2020, 08:06:23 PM »
Almost exact same situation as you, OP. Our son is 19 months old and high energy. We've relaxed our screen time rules and even then, he only sits quietly and watches for maaaaaybe a solid 20 minutes before he declares he's done watching anything, so that hasn't been much help.

I'm not working my standard 8 hours in row, but it's cobbled together throughout the day and seems to be working for now.

I've been able to read/reply to emails before he wakes up (which is usually between 6:00-7:00am), schedule conference calls/Zoom meetings during nap time (usually 12:00-2:00pm), and crank out the hard stuff after bedtime (which is between 7:00-7:15pm). During the times he's awake, I let him play/color near me in the office or my husband is able to take him outside to play both in the morning and evening, but yes, can still hear the running, crying, whining, etc.

Some activities we've been trying:
--washing toys in the sink, he likes to play with the bubbles
--practicing scooping with measuring cups and cotton balls out of a muffin pan
--bought some colored popsicle sticks and some plastic Easter eggs; he likes to put them in a container and then dump them out and then repeat
--helping with chores: laundry, emptying dishwasher, putting away groceries, picking things up (he's at the stage where he loves to be helpful and I hope it never ends!)

I also recently googled "toddler activities" and "toddler curriculum" and found some good ideas.

Good luck!

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11903
  • Location: Just south of Canada
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2020, 05:52:06 AM »
We started baking with our 19 month old. 
It went... surprisingly well.  Made yogurt cake, which is about a simple as they come and hard to screw up, and fun to eat afterward.

The key seems to be prepping and knowing that some of the ingredients will get spilled.  Cleared off our center island and had her ‘measure’ out a scoop of each of the ingredients and then helped her ‘stir’.  She loved it. 
Couldn’t turn our back during this process but we all had fun.

Also:  I have rolls of that brown paper you cover floors with when painting (we’re doing a live-in remodel) and I taped it to the floor of our play room with painters tape.  That gave us a HUGE surface we could draw on with crayons and pencils.  Kept her occupied for a good hour, though towards the end she was more interested in peeling at the tape holding the paper down than anything else.


Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1673
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2020, 06:43:11 AM »
In theory, one of you can claim Paid FMLA for childcare starting April 2, as long as your employer isn't exempt. I wouldn't inform them of your plan just yet though, or even hint to your employer that you're having difficulty, because there is a high likelihood that you'd get laid off so they can avoid paying you for 12 weeks of paid leave.

FrenchToast

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2020, 12:25:50 PM »
Am I missing something, my understanding has always been that FMLA is UNpaid leave? Essentially 12 weeks for which your job is protected but you are not paid & not working.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4094
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2020, 01:10:07 PM »
Am I missing something, my understanding has always been that FMLA is UNpaid leave? Essentially 12 weeks for which your job is protected but you are not paid & not working.

New law JUST passed. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Pennycounter

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2020, 01:18:12 PM »
Am I missing something, my understanding has always been that FMLA is UNpaid leave? Essentially 12 weeks for which your job is protected but you are not paid & not working.

New law JUST passed. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

OMG OMG. Please, yes! I'm about to take a leave of absence because it's just too much working full time from home plus having two younger children.
To the person who said just hang out with your kids, my work has gotten so much more type a and competitive since people are working from home and we know that there's only so much work to go around. This normally wouldn't bother me, and I'm also a big fan of delegation but with all the other stresses, this is really making me feel crappy.

FrenchToast

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2020, 01:30:45 PM »
Am I missing something, my understanding has always been that FMLA is UNpaid leave? Essentially 12 weeks for which your job is protected but you are not paid & not working.

New law JUST passed. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Thanks! I guess I was missing something :)

tawyer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 168
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • JFDI
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2020, 02:12:17 PM »
So we just need to not get laid off before April 2 to qualify for EFMLA. Hang in there everyone!

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1673
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2020, 02:28:29 PM »
So we just need to not get laid off before April 2 to qualify for EFMLA. Hang in there everyone!

It only reliably covers employers with between 50-500 employees.

Employers with over 500 employees aren't covered. Under the assumption that they already offer paid leave - which seems like an odd assumption, but that's the way the government went.

Employers with under 50 employees have the option to apply for an exemption, which most would qualify for. Many may be ignorant of this possibility though and will neglect to apply (especially since we have no formal process with which to apply for an exemption). So it's still worth trying. The exemption only exists for the childcare interruption pay. There is no exemption if an employee is actually sick with COVID-19 or has a family member sick with COVID-19 - they have to be offered paid leave.

Does not come into effect until April 2. Schools have closed in my state. The day after EFMLA passed was probably the #1 layoff date to date, as employers feared their entire workforces would claim EFMLA. You really don't want to let your employer know you plan to claim this.

RFAAOATB

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 628
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2020, 08:29:07 PM »
We got thrust into almost the same situation.  2 work from home parents, a live in grandpa, and a high energy toddler.  Grandpa takes the kid outside or to the store for a few hours in the morning and then it’s nap time after lunch.  Our work shifts are offset by 90 minutes so we can trade off the beginning and end of the day.  If she can watch her tablet quietly we let her stay in the room with us, otherwise one of the three adults has to occupy her in another room.

Luz

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2020, 01:31:13 PM »
It's all about optimizing. What is your toddler's sleep schedule? And how many hours per week do you put in? Between night and nap, mine is asleep 12.5 hours. I sleep 7.5, so that gives me 5 hours right there.
Add in tag teaming with your partner (say one of you takes before nap and the other after nap) and you both get another 5-6 hours to get in the rest of work + a chore and a little personal care time. If you work 40 hours, but spread it over 7 days, you increase your chore and "me" time..
I find that if I give my toddler my undivided attention in the morning, ( read books, roam around outside, etc) she's much more independent the rest of the day.
Most toddlers also thrive on structure because they like the sense of control. We do the same rhythm everyday. It prevents most tantrums and a good amount of whining (though both are par for the course at this age).
Independent playtime is one of my favorite parenting hacks (buys you another hour, once established) as is refraining from entertaining them so they learn to entertain themselves. Also not letting the crying or whining influence my follow through. Crying and whining increase quite a bit if they know it sways your response.

maisymouser

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2020, 07:23:37 PM »
Interesting note about EFMLA. We won't qualify for a number of reasons but I hope it points someone on the forum in the right direction if they need it.

I made 'rainbow rice' today with white rice that we were going to throw out since we only eat brown & basmati. So glad we hung onto it- what a cheap and fun activity. I brought in the kiddo for the prep work. I also cut a slit in the top of an empty oatmeal canister to slide poker chips and cards into. Funny enough, he gets really agitated about things getting 'stuck' in it temporarily and it turned out to be a dud of a toy for us. But it's an easy one that I bet would be a hit for most toddlers.

Re: sleep, I like to sleep nearly as much as my kid since COVID (9+ hours, something must be wrong with me). And I don't want to sacrifice that since it's been the biggest 'good thing' that has happened since I started WFH. That said, I haven't tried doing undivided attention in the morning and seeing how that affects his interest in being independent. Sounds like an experiment for this weekend!

When our 60-something-year-old housemate returns (she is self-quarantining at our unrented-for-this-month second property just in case) she will be helping a couple hours during each weekday in return for some of the FSA money we aren't able to spend on daycare. I am feeling very lucky that she's a great housemate, person, and is great with kids.

This whole thing has really emphasized how I feel about a lack of community in US society. We are not designed to raise kid(s) with just 1-2 people full-time, regardless of working situation.

Luz

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2020, 01:38:20 PM »
Interesting note about EFMLA. We won't qualify for a number of reasons but I hope it points someone on the forum in the right direction if they need it.

I made 'rainbow rice' today with white rice that we were going to throw out since we only eat brown & basmati. So glad we hung onto it- what a cheap and fun activity. I brought in the kiddo for the prep work. I also cut a slit in the top of an empty oatmeal canister to slide poker chips and cards into. Funny enough, he gets really agitated about things getting 'stuck' in it temporarily and it turned out to be a dud of a toy for us. But it's an easy one that I bet would be a hit for most toddlers.

Re: sleep, I like to sleep nearly as much as my kid since COVID (9+ hours, something must be wrong with me). And I don't want to sacrifice that since it's been the biggest 'good thing' that has happened since I started WFH. That said, I haven't tried doing undivided attention in the morning and seeing how that affects his interest in being independent. Sounds like an experiment for this weekend!

When our 60-something-year-old housemate returns (she is self-quarantining at our unrented-for-this-month second property just in case) she will be helping a couple hours during each weekday in return for some of the FSA money we aren't able to spend on daycare. I am feeling very lucky that she's a great housemate, person, and is great with kids.

This whole thing has really emphasized how I feel about a lack of community in US society. We are not designed to raise kid(s) with just 1-2 people full-time, regardless of working situation.

I recently read that getting enough sleep is the most important thing you can do for your parenting. Nothing wrong with 9+ hours!

lhamo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 135
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2020, 02:37:43 PM »
I haven't done this yet, as it has been mostly rainy this week, but when the weather clears I plan to volunteer to weed neighbors yards through my Buy Nothing group.  If you focus on one or two types of weed -- here the shotgun is going crazy -- it should be pretty easy to recognize even for a little kid.  An hour or two of weed brigade duty around the neighborhood might be a good way to consume some extra energy.

If you have a bit of outdoor space, it is a good time in many parts of the country to be starting vegetable seedlings -- another task that even little kids can help with.  If you don't have much room to grow your own garden you can always share with neighbors who do, or people who have allotment plots.

Noise cancelling headphones are probably worth investing in for those trying to work in spaces they are sharing with others.

calimom

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1061
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Working from home during COVID- toddler may drive me crazy
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2020, 06:50:59 PM »
Interesting note about EFMLA. We won't qualify for a number of reasons but I hope it points someone on the forum in the right direction if they need it.

I made 'rainbow rice' today with white rice that we were going to throw out since we only eat brown & basmati. So glad we hung onto it- what a cheap and fun activity. I brought in the kiddo for the prep work. I also cut a slit in the top of an empty oatmeal canister to slide poker chips and cards into. Funny enough, he gets really agitated about things getting 'stuck' in it temporarily and it turned out to be a dud of a toy for us. But it's an easy one that I bet would be a hit for most toddlers.

Re: sleep, I like to sleep nearly as much as my kid since COVID (9+ hours, something must be wrong with me). And I don't want to sacrifice that since it's been the biggest 'good thing' that has happened since I started WFH. That said, I haven't tried doing undivided attention in the morning and seeing how that affects his interest in being independent. Sounds like an experiment for this weekend!

When our 60-something-year-old housemate returns (she is self-quarantining at our unrented-for-this-month second property just in case) she will be helping a couple hours during each weekday in return for some of the FSA money we aren't able to spend on daycare. I am feeling very lucky that she's a great housemate, person, and is great with kids.

This whole thing has really emphasized how I feel about a lack of community in US society. We are not designed to raise kid(s) with just 1-2 people full-time, regardless of working situation.

I'm grateful for the village I've had while raising my kids. Relatives,  neighbors, children's friends'  families, etc. Not always perfect but helpful.

My 13 year old is helping out a neighbor family while school is closed.  The mom is  WFH and the dad is a first responder. My DD  goes over on days  it's not raining to occupy the two little boys. It's all outdoors, they run off steam and DD sets up obstacle courses and  easy things we  looked  up  on the Jack Capon website for motor play. Hardest part is maintaining social distancing; the youngest loves her and wants hugs, etc. So  far it's working. She had a similar gig with them last summer.  2 hours and the mom gets a fair amount of uninterrupted work time. DD gets $20 a day Venmo'd. It's good for her, good for the mom and good for me (lol).