Here’s the thing about “managing a toddler” – it’s not really possible. Bringing out the iPad is of course an easy fix – but if you’re looking for some screen-free relief, read on!
These little bundles of joy aren’t rational miniature-sized humans. They’re barely out of baby-hood and controlled by their emotions and blood sugar levels (um, sounds like us, amiright?).
And so, it’s impossible to really reason with them, because they just don’t understand why mama can’t play with the puzzle or read the book NOW, and why can’t I say “HIIIII!!!” to all the people on the camera like when we call daddy at work?! And if I’m being completely honest – my kid doesn’t even understand what why means yet.
I’m giving you the rundown on my top 5 tricks for appearing professional on a video conference, while your kid tries for 45 minutes to derail your discussion and demand your attention as you whisper “I promise, we’ll play soon.”
Follow these tried and tested tips and I bet you’ll still want to keep that promise once the call is over.
1. Have exciting snacks ready
I don’t know about your kid, but when mine is hungry – she’s a cranky pants. Big whiny, hot tears run down her face at the slightest thing. Combined with little-to-no-nap and – DUCK AND COVER!
Make sure your little one has a full belly pre-meeting. Best bet to a happy kid, right? But since toddlers need to eat every 1.5-2 hours – be ready for a snack request right when it’s least convenient to your call.
Here’s the trick – have all her favorite snacks at the ready before you meeting starts. I like the kind that take a loooong time to eat. Keep them out of sight and whip them out, one at a time, when she runs up with complaint after question.
The key is in the prep:
- CUT those apples she wanted at breakfast but you intentionally withheld (a little sneaky, I know) so you’re not scrambling for a knife on camera. Dole them out slowly.
- Open the package of fruit & veggie snacks ahead of time – no-one wants a crinkly bag on the other line when they’re trying to listen to the point you’re making. Here are our faves: Nosh Gummy Stars Organic Fruit & Veggie Chews
- Go ahead and cave – bring out the big guns. We’re talking Pirate Booty, we’re talking ANOTHER bag of fruit snacks. No one will ever know. Really, I promise.
- Have some water, milk, or juice at the ready.
- DON’T FORGET the cleanup! Grab some wet paper towels, wipes or whatever your favorite cleaning product is. You’ll thank me when she tosses some peanut butter banana and it hits your keyboard. Did it just happen? You’re welcome.
2. (Temporarily) move your workspace
I am lucky enough to have a semi-designated workspace in my home – it’s our 8′ x 8′ laundry room / gym / dog room / utility closet / office and I love it. My little trouble maker knows that’s where Mama works and loves coming to visit me, but it’s not super child-proof with cords, ink cartridges, papers and electronics everywhere. If we’re home alone together and I need to take a call, closing the door or shutting the baby gate isn’t an option. She cries, screams, begs, runs off and gets into trouble. Out of sight and out of patience.
Moving your office not an option? Check out these suggestions for maximizing your workspace for ultimate efficiency (and mom’ing)
Consider taking your “office” with you on an adventure
Try the park, the dining room or breakfast nook, or even the back yard where she can play while you talk. Worried about everyone seeing you out of a “professional” environment? Welcome to Zoom. Zoom is a FREE video conferencing platform with real-time messaging and content sharing. Using their “Virtual Background” feature, now you can be anywhere, from anywhere. Check it out!
3. Bring out some new (quiet) toys or distractions
You don’t have to spend a fortune to find something shiny and new for your little one to distract themselves. Break out some crayons and paper, set up a fort in the morning before you dial in. Did the grandparents spoil LO rotten at the last holiday or birthday? Tuck some of those unopened toys away for a rainy day – like this one – and unveil them before your meeting. They’ll feel special, and you’ll feel triumphant.
4. Turn on some music!
My toddler is – I’ll admit – very into Disney movies. Very. BUT! She is almost as satisfied with a Disney movie soundtrack. Give it a try! Or put on some mellow baby tunes in the play area and throw on your noise cancelling headphones for your meeting. REMEMBER – make sure you always have eyes on your baby. Never leave them unattended or lose sight of their antics while you’ve got those noise cancelling buds in. It’s not worth the risk of harm to your child.
5. Warn your meeting participants that you may need to mute out for a minute
It’s going to happen. Little Ben’s favorite truck will get stuck on the wrong side of the gate, or sweet Annie is going to need a new diaper. After-all, $4!T happens!
IT IS OK.
I repeat, everything will be fine. Just make sure to mention at the beginning of your meeting that you’ve experienced some “spotty service” or “temperamental internet” and may need to mute out or dial back in if your call is dropped. They’ll believe you.
Just remember – you aren’t perfect. But you are most definitely a mad-woman multi-tasker with your favorite tyrant toddler client waiting for that promised play time. You got this, Mama! Now go play.