A Montreal mom’s self-isolation experience: working from home with a toddler, social-distancing and self-quarantining, during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak.

When Self-Isolating and Working from Home: Wake Up at Your Usual Time

My alarm’s set for 7am. Before my son wakes up, I shower, get dressed and make breakfast. This helps Henry and I set-up for the day.

Also, let’s be realistic; a hungry and unchanged toddler makes for a stressful, unproductive morning.


photo of a bed with a grey, plush, buttoned headboard with white bedding. The alarm clock on the bedside table reads 6:25am. The wall is wood horizontal floorboards

The mornings are when I power through emails and set up my tasks for the day. It’s easier to do this when both our needs are met first.

Our typical breakfasts consist of cereal, toast, porridge and pancakes.

Make Self-Isolation Simpler by Setting an Agenda

I try to mimic a typical day at daycare. My son has a pre-installed routine, why not take advantage of that?

This typically means:

  1. Breakfast at a set time
  2. An organized day, full of rotating activities
  3. A proper lunchtime
  4. A scheduled nap

Ask your child’s daycare for their itinerary, and see how much of it can be replicated at home.

Working from Home and Breakfast with a Toddler

My son wakes up later, (usually around 8am), so I log on to work after my shower, and get as much done as I can.

a group photo of multiple parents working alongside their children

Henry’s not a morning person, so when he does wake up, there’s a 30 – 60 minute window where I can expect some extra quiet time, while he eats his breakfast.

Get your Toddler to Video Call Your Family During the Coronavirus

Family is key during this outbreak. We should all be making a deliberate effort to stay in contact with our loved ones. 21st century technology enables us to video call one another. I’m taking advantage of that in this crisis.

photo of a mother and her two toddlers self isolating whilst video calling family

Around mid-morning, Henry FaceTime’s his grandparents. Although they cannot physically play with him, they interact with him through the phone. He takes them (via the phone) for rides around the house in his toy car, and they help him navigate his sticker books. Meanwhile, I knuckle-down on work, in the background.

I can honestly say that he enjoys this, so much. Our babies are growing up in a digital world. To them, Grandad, on the phone, is just the same as grandad popping round for tea.

Enforce Nap Time – It’s Your Time to Power Through Work-Related Tasks

Before 2pm, I check Henry’s following needs are met:

  1. He’s fed
  2. He’s watered
  3. His diaper is fresh
  4. He’s burnt loads of energy

I time my lunch-break, cunningly. The first half is spent munching on food together, the second is changing diapers, turning the lights down, and reading him a book.

If I’m honest, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes he has a tantrum, and refuses to sleep. My son isn’t one of those kids who falls asleep randomly. He needs coaxing, soothing, setting the mood.

Sometimes, when he does nap, I get 2 hours of solid silence to steam through tasks. I’ll keep pushing for this schedule; kids still need their nap-time to recuperate, and to grow at this age.

Another benefit to this: it’ll make everyone’s life easier when our toddlers go back to daycare.

The Self-Isolating, Working from Home Afternoon

Here’s where the true isolation begins: your toddler is sleeping soundly, it’s finally just you, the computer, and your tasks.

At this point in my day, I often feel a slump. So, I make myself a caffeinated coffee. Most people have their coffee in the morning, but it works best for me to have it around 3pm.

It’s also important for me to switch things up. My productivity diminishes when I sit in the same spot for too long. I get backaches, and boredom.

At this point in my day, I usually leave my desk and continue working from my sofa, the kitchen island, or even my bed.

Working away from your workstation, boosts motivation and inspiration. It certainly works for me, it did for these guys too.

Remember to Wrap-up Your Day

I’ve noticed it’s hard to switch-off entirely when you work from home, but it’s paramount that you pay attention to the hours you’ve worked.

One of the best benefits to working from home is having more time to spend with our babies. I’ve noticed that Henry wakes up after 2 hours, which lines up with the end of my working day.

With the usual commute vanquished, I have more time and energy to be there for him when he wakes up.

I often feel guilty that I’m missing precious time with my son. Therefore, I’m conscious of the silver lining in all of this; more time with our children.

I seize the opportunity the second he wakes up; I log-off work, and log-in to total motherhood.

I Want to Hear From You and Your Experiences about Working from Home

What’s your experience working from home? I’d like to hear advice from fellow parents about coping with a toddler. We are not alone in this. Leave a comment below!

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