I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work from home. Sometimes it feels like the best of both worlds, but sometimes it feels like the ultimate lose-lose situation. When you work from home with a baby, it can feel like the ultimate tug-of-war between your job and your child(ren), both vying for your complete and full attention.
When I first began working again after maternity leave, I had a really hard time navigating working from home with an infant in the house. I know finding true “balance” is damn near impossible, but I was really struggling when my sleepy newborn suddenly turned into a needy 3 month old. Most days would be consumed with frequent feedings and erratic naps, leaving little time to sit down and work. I ended those days frantically working for hours after the kids had finally gone to bed, resentful towards my husband who got to work in peace at his office.
Working from home with a baby in the house presents its own set of unique challenges. It took some time, a little research, and a bit of experimentation to find a routine that allowed me to focus on work without ignoring my baby.
If you’re considering a work-from-home position, or you’ve already got one, and you’re struggling to get sh*t done with a baby in the house, I want to help. Below I’m sharing 15 tips and strategies that helped me focus on work while keeping my tiny human alive.
15 Tips For Working From Home With A Baby
1. Get used to working in relatively short increments.
Most babies take several short naps (30 minutes to an hour) throughout the day. To avoid the frustrations of unfinished business, plan for tasks that fit within the time constraints of your baby’s average nap. Save complicated or time-consuming tasks for when you know you’ll more uninterrupted time, like after the kids have gone to sleep.
2. Wake up early or go to bed late.
Depending upon whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, consider waking up before the kids or staying up after everyone else has gone to bed. Many work-from-home moms find they do their best work while their family sleeps. It’s not easy to give up precious shuteye, but it may be worth it to work distraction-free and be able to focus on baby during the day.
3. Work while baby naps.
This is an obvious one, but even I sometimes find myself not making the best use of nap time. Resist the urge to clean or do laundry. Every multitasking mom knows you can clean while baby is awake. Take advantage of the quiet and get to work.
4. Work while baby eats.
This works really well for breastfeeding moms. I try to complete simple 10 – 15 minute tasks while my son is breastfeeding. Typically I’ll work on social media posts or go through emails during feedings.
5. Get on a routine.
Babies thrive on routine, and it turns out, so do work from home moms. A routine will allow you to plan out your day and better account for work time and baby time. If you know when baby takes his naps (and ideally for how long) you can plan for tasks that need your undivided attention.
(Here are 5 tips for a better family morning routine.)
6. Take your phone calls on the go.
When working from home with a baby, taking phone calls can be challenging. While baby is awake, it’s easy to get distracted. And who wants to risk waking a napping baby? No thanks. Instead, utilize the time you spend in the car to make phone calls if appropriate and only if you have handsfree. Of course, not all calls will be suitable for the car.
7. Wear your baby.
If your baby is being particularly needy or isn’t the best napper when not being held, it can be really hard to get anything done. Soothe a needy baby by wearing him in a baby carrier. This will allow you to hold baby close while leaving your hands free to work.
8. Pretend you’re in an office.
Working from home with a baby may not feel very professional, but it can be. Get dressed and ready for the day (yes, leggings count), keep the TV off, and keep your workspace tidy. Taking your work-from-home job seriously can help you stay focused.
9. Avoid distractions.
If you’ve got a solid hour to work while baby naps, avoid distractions so you can really focus. Stay off social media, put your phone on silent, and resist the urge to look at your inbox.
(Learn how to have a healthier relationship with social media.)
10. Try talk to text.
As a busy mom, you may not always have your hands free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get some work done. Try using a talk to text feature or a talk-to-text app to jot down thoughts, transcribe emails, or even write blog posts while you’re busy doing other things. Talk to text might just be the answer to your multitasking needs.
11. Work on your cellphone.
You can do practically anything on a smartphone these days. Download apps that can help you get work done when you can’t be at your computer. Make sure your email accounts are set up on your phone, download the app for your website or blogging platform, and sync your calendar to your phone.
12. Ask for help when you need it.
When you work from home with a baby in the house, there are likely going to be occasions in which you will need help. Maybe you have an important hour-long conference call, or perhaps you need to meet with a client in person. Ask for help from your partner, a family member, or trusted friend when you’re in a pinch. If your support system is lacking, consider hiring an experienced nanny. (Side note: branch out and try to find some genuine mom friends. We all need a support system.) It’s incredibly helpful to have someone you can trust to watch baby for an hour while you get the important stuff done.
(Click here to find out why you NEED to ask for help as a new mom.)
13. Keep a running to-do list.
As a working mom, our brains are on overload. We are constantly trying to keep track of all things work AND all things family. Let’s face it, mom brain is a thing. Things get even more muddled when you’re work time and family time are intertwined, aka when you’re working from home with a baby. I keep a running to-do list on my desk. Not only do I get an unhealthy amount of satisfaction from crossing items off said list, but it keeps me from forgetting what I was working on or what needs to be done next when my son decides to cut his nap short.
14. Be transparent with coworkers and clients.
I was able to eliminate the anxiety I felt about working from home with a baby by being honest and open with the people I was working with. I made sure coworkers and clients knew that I was having a baby, I’d need X amount of time off, and when I returned to my work, I’d have a newborn in the house. Setting those expectations upfront plays a crucial role in a healthy working relationship and takes quite a bit of stress off the working mom.
15. Be flexible.
When you’re working from home with a baby, sometimes you’re going to have to just wing it. Babies can be unpredictable, and no matter how stringent your baby feeding/sleeping schedule is, you will experience “off” days. Whether it’s teething, a cold, or the oh-so-fun sleep regressions, baby won’t always be able to cooperate and let you work. It’s times like these when you need to take a step back and remember that ultimately, work comes second. Go ahead and set that automatic out of office reply and cuddle your baby a little longer.
I know how overwhelming working from home with little ones in the house can feel sometimes. It’s wonderful and stressful all at the same time. It’s not easy being a mom in general – working, stay at home, or working from home. Do the best you can and know that you are a badass. Keep it up and keep kicking ass, mama.