Raising kids is a challenge. Throw in a global pandemic, homeschooling, or working from home with a baby, and the difficulty rises to near-Olympic levels. Work-life balance is on nearly every list of work-from-home challenges, and it’s for good reason. Part of that balance is ensuring you’re devoting adequate time to both of your jobs: parent and provider.
Here are seven quick tips for working from home with a baby so you can manage your work-from-home life while caring for that little one that will keep you from pulling your hair out:
1. Organize, organize, organize!
One of the most important things you can do to stay calm throughout the day is to plan ahead. Having a schedule with your children — especially when you have work to do — is key to keeping your head above the proverbial water. If you know you have a meeting every day at 2 p.m., guess what? That’s the baby’s naptime now. Knowing what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and having a careful itinerary is key.
2. Manage your time wisely
Along the same lines as the importance of organization, managing your time should become a focal point. Structure will help you keep up with the demands of work and childcare, especially as the child gets older.
3. Take time for yourself
While you’re managing everyone else’s time, don’t forget to schedule in some quality minutes for yourself. Self-care is hugely important, especially in today’s fast-paced, demanding environment, and even if we weren’t experiencing a global pandemic, taking that extra moment to breathe is critical for our mental stability.
According to a recent study, 9.8 million working mums are experiencing burnout, and you don’t want to be one of them. Even though you’re meticulously planning activities and scheduling meetings around feedings and naps, you also need to take a step back sometimes and be flexible, especially when it comes to giving yourself some slack.
4. Don’t waste a nap
When you’re working from home with a baby and putting the little one down for an afternoon snooze, use that time to get some work done, whether it be tidying the house or sending emails. If your child has a predictable sleep routine, that time is an opportunity to make scheduled phone calls or devote critical brain cycles to an important project. Even just quiet time can give you a chance to get a good 20 or 30 minutes of work done.
Something else you don’t want to waste: pumping time. If you are a breastfeeding mum, you can answer emails and do work while you’re pumping, as well. You should get a hands-free pump so that you can read reports or take phone calls during these extra minutes.
5. Maintain your space
Keeping your home decluttered may be easier said than done, but there has been plenty of research to suggest that a clean, clutter-free environment can contribute to lower stress levels. When the things around us are disorganized, we have a hard time focusing, which leads to frustration. Keeping negative energy out and holding positive vibes in could be as simple as opening windows, freshening the space, and putting away any errant objects lying around.
6. Invest in the right equipment
You need the right tools for the job — and this doesn’t mean just a crib and a computer. An office playmat, for instance, could be a great place for your baby to hang out while you are on video calls or the phone — within your line of sight, but not within the camera’s viewpoint.
You should also seriously consider products like over-the-chest carriers that you can carry your child around in while you’re working around the house. Something like a bouncing seat that you can rock with your foot could do wonders for your productivity levels, too, because you don’t have to expend too much thought on keeping the baby happy while working.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
One of the most important things to recognize is that sometimes, we can’t do it all alone. If you have a partner, you should communicate clearly and often with them about your needs, and both of you should be willing to step up and bear the load for the other. For instance, if you have an important deadline coming up, make sure your partner knows so that they can pick up the mantle for the day, and vice versa.
You’re not alone!
No doubt, when the pandemic is behind us, we will all breathe easier. But for now, we can use this time to learn the skills necessary to thrive and achieve success as a parent working from home with a baby. And something to remember: You’re not alone. There are millions of mums doing this with you.
Janice Russell believes the only way to survive parenthood is to find the humor in it. She created Parenting Disasters so that parents would have a go-to resource whenever they needed a laugh, but also to show parents they aren’t alone. She wants every frazzled parent out there to remember that for every kid stuck in a toilet, there’s another one out there somewhere who’s just graced their parents’ walls with some Sharpie artwork!