The arrival of a new baby brings many things: joy, tears, staying up late and getting up early. But when it comes to working at home with a new baby? Now that can bring a rush of emotions with frustration at the top of that list.
Babies do not come with instructions or agendas. When you’re trying to work from home and care for your new bundle of joy (and poop), it takes some planning to keep it all together.
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Don’t worry moms and dads, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you stay sane. Or maybe just keep a little saner during this time when the days are long but the years are short.
1. Give yourself time to adjust.
You won’t have it all figured out by the end of week one, week ten, or year 10. You’ll find rhythms and then the baby will destroy them with each growth spurt. It’s not the bearer of bad news, it just presents you with some logic. Give yourself grace first, and know that while establishing routines is important, understand that those routines will shift and change frequently.
2. Schedule your work hours in blocks.
One of the worst phrases someone can say to you after having a baby is “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Listen, Karen, nobody has time to sleep like a baby. We have jobs, chores, bills to pay, and TikToks to watch. Depending on the type of work you are doing from home and your employer’s rules, scheduling your own shifts can make a difficult job a bit easier.
Guaranteed, your newborn baby doesn’t care about deadlines, phone calls, or Teams meetings. Dividing your work schedule into short blocks helps give you some flexibility while your little one naps.
3. Ask for help.
You know when people say “call me if I can help you with anything”? Now is a good time to call and say “Hi, I need help with something.” And that may mean she needs someone to hold the baby for an hour or two or maybe some help cleaning bottles or washing dishes while she juggles the baby and her work from home. Calling a babysitter, grandparent, relative, neighbor, or friend doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It means that she knows how to delegate and ask for help when she desperately needs it.
4. Keep baby close and hands free.
Babies can be cornered quite easily. Those little kids? Not so much. When your baby is still in those early stages, a baby sling, bouncer, sling, or baby sling can be a new mom’s best friend. Make work tasks easier and keep your little one close, all at the same time!
5. Hire a babysitter.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all hire a babysitter? While this isn’t realistic for many of us, a babysitter might be a little more reasonable. It sounds like a no-brainer, but this isn’t necessarily an easy task for everyone. Caregivers are not always easy to find, and new parents may have a difficult time handing over their baby to just anyone. Seating services such as care.com either sittercity.com provide lists of caregivers available for just a couple of hours or even full days or nights.
Some doula and midwife services also offer overnight stays and care services to help new parents adjust to life with their newborn. Check what services are available in your area. Childcare can be expensive, but scheduling some uninterrupted work time might be just what you need to stay active. And if daycare isn’t necessarily an option, a nanny can be a much-needed perk.
6. Schedule some “me time.”
The baby is crying, the email is ringing, the smartphone vibrates with new text messages, the talking head on the TV chatters nonstop, and your sanity is taking a beating. Remember that you can’t be good to anyone, not even yourself, if you don’t have a chance to step away and focus on your own sanity. Just going for a walk, getting some fresh air, or scheduling that overdue spa day can be good for you and baby. Work-life balance may seem like a joke, but it doesn’t have to be.
7. Buy yourself some good headphones.
Need to take an important call but can’t juggle baby and hold the phone? It may sound silly, but simply buying yourself good headphones can make a world of difference. Bonus points if they cancel the noise. Remember, you are sharing a workplace with a baby. In this situation, your coworker is demanding and loud. Headphones are your friends.
8. Reset your space.
Distractions are everywhere when you have a baby and even more so if you have older children. Clutter, play area, breakfast dishes, a dirty diaper on the changing table. Put that little one in the baby swing (or bouncer, bassinet, or whatever is on the latest and greatest baby tech at the time you read this) and take a few minutes to cut out a few distractions for you can start your next turn a bit. easier. And if you can, it’s helpful to designate a workspace in your home, even if it’s just the little available corner of your kitchen counter.
Also, be sure to keep important work items in a designated space when not in use. Put your laptop on a charging station, put away your calendar and headphones, and minimize the risk of a spill disaster.
Whether you’re working for a company, self-employed or through a service, it’s important to communicate with the people who make sure you get paid. If you need to change your work schedule, be sure to communicate your daily schedule. Work-at-home parents CAN accomplish great things. But remember that communication is key and changes, delays or interruptions must be taken into account.
10. Post it.
Did you remember to call that provider yesterday? Schedule the marketing call? Email the invoice to the boss. From one mom to the next, don’t rely on your very fragile sleep-deprived memory to get you through the day. Post-it notes, Trello, Outlook… whatever you use, a work-from-home mom (or dad) should take notes and reminders and never rely on the “I’ll remember it tomorrow” attitude. Because you won’t. If you do, send me a message with your secrets.
11. Do not focus on what you are not achieving.
Are clothes piling up in the corner? Are older kids relying too much on screen time? Have you had fruit snacks at more than one meal this week? Have toys taken over your living room?
This sounds tremendously familiar to me. Now let’s add the demands of the job to the mix. Making a to-do list is great, but throw your expectations out the window. Focus on getting things done, cross them off your list, and when you can, prepare your to-do list for the next day. Your workday may be full or part-time, blocked hours or full days, but no matter what, you’re a working parent and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and focus on the negative. Focusing on what you are accomplishing in your work time helps build your confidence while you focus on loving and caring for your family.
12. Do not disturb is your friend, Doomscrolling is not.
If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media while your little one sleeps, checking Amazon or other sites for deals, or reading the 536 messages you missed in the friend group chat… you may want to consider turning on Do Not Disturb. on your phone for blocks of the day.
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Are you looking for a work from home opportunity? Look at this mail for more information on jobs you can do from home. And if you are pregnant and looking for remote work, this mail contains some great ideas to get you started on your search.
In conclusion, you can schedule and plan for just about anything when working at home with an infant, toddler, or child. However, those little ones have minds of their own and needs/desires that can wreck your schedule. The little tips listed in this post can help you approach your workday with an open mind as a parent and as an employee.