How Working Moms Can Stay Productive With Toddlers At Home
By: Andrea De La Torre
Andrea De La Torre is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Answers. She is a baby sleep consultant and mom of 3. She is certified through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting and offers fellow parents all her tips and tricks on her Instagram, through virtual consults, and through her ebooks. She has worked with tens of thousands of moms to help them understand their unique baby’s sleep needs and help them feel better rested. She speaks 5 languages, including toddler speak, where she can translate any ‘eeeh’ and ‘aah’ into real requests. In a previous life, she was a teacher.
Stay off Instagram
First, you need to know this: I am an entrepreneur running a sleep consulting business from home. I have two toddler boys at home and just welcomed my third child earlier this year. I have a decent following on Instagram, so me saying this is huge, but mamas – let’s take a break!
Okay, okay, I know I basically live my life on Instagram but a little while back I took a break and called it a “phone cleanse” and y’all – it was magical. What a great productivity tip! Stop scrolling IG mindlessly and either get to work or focus on family. It was refreshing.
The pandemic entrepreneur life was slowly burning me out so the week off was so, so needed. Instagram can make you feel like crap, less than, and like everyone else’s life is perfect – their babies sleep and they wore mascara and eyeliner while they birthed their baby – and the mascara didn’t even run. So if your feed is full of babies hitting milestones early, perfectly matched beach photos where the kids are all in expensive smocks you can’t afford and otherwise an endless photo dump of perfect – maybe take a break.
I came back refreshed and ready to take on the trolls once again (and p.s. – I always try to keep it real on my Instagram and offer a loving, inclusive and supportive virtual village).
Ask for help
This phase of life is tough for me. Raising three kids is tough. Having a baby and going through the newborn phase during a pandemic is tough. Having baby number three and going through the newborn phase during a pandemic with two toddlers is tough. Waking every few hours, or even knowing I could wake every few hours is stressful. Even with the cutest baby smiles and giggles and all the love I have for them – it’s hard.
Oh – and then I have to remember to run my business, be a boss, be a sister and be a wife and daughter in addition to being a mom. So I ask for help. I get help. I’m not one of those moms who wants to do it all on her own. I recognize that is not productive.
So I ask for help. Seriously. We have family nearby where we live (within walking distance!) and having extra adults around is helpful. We also have a sitter. Even though we work from home (ok, sometimes I work from a coffee shop to escape the madness of the tiny humans), we have a babysitter that comes. Otherwise, this would be impossible. I let my husband know when I need extra help. I call my sister. I call the babysitter. I lean on my village.
Find the balance
Just like with baby sleep, what it comes down to for me is finding balance. Between providing the best sleep for my baby but also living life (not stressing about a nap if we’re out and about enjoying the day). Between working as hard as I can but also knowing when it’s time to take a step back. Work-life balance is everywhere these days – how to get it, how to implement it, how to talk to your boss about it. In our home, we work on prioritizing rest as much as we can and knowing when we need to take a break and step back. This may look like only prioritizing one 10-minute nap, but still prioritizing it if it’s what we need to be a better employee/boss/mom/wife.
At the end of the day, know you are a good mom
I take pride in knowing that when I’m working, it doesn’t make me a bad mom. And when I’m not working, it doesn’t make me a bad boss or entrepreneur. The mom guilt can be so real. I feel guilty when my sister takes my kids to the park so I can work on the business. But then I remind myself I’m allowed to take breaks for both. And – when I do – I’m likely more present for both. I remind myself that I am what my baby needs and my best is enough. That even on the hard days and the days my baby isn’t sleeping through the night, I am enough.
I remind myself that my success as a mother relies on purely being a mother who loves by worrying, by loving, by being a good example, and always trying to be the best for my child.
Get enough sleep
I’m not just talking about the baby… I’m talking about you. If mom and dad are both exhausted, emotions can spin out of control, fights at home can happen (especially being confined to the four walls) and it may seem like there’s no end in sight. But if mom and dad are both well-rested, everything seems a little easier. Those work emails are easier to answer. I don’t lose my temper as quickly when the toddler acts out.
This is one reason I did sleep training with my children. I want them to know that sleep is important and we all get moody without it and that we need to prioritize it. If I am well-rested, I am a better mom, partner, boss, and sister. So instead of scrolling IG hours after my kids go to bed, tonight I’m signing off – goodnight!