As some of you may have noticed, I have a big gap in my blog this year. I had a baby in February and took related time off. Even after I returned to work, I needed some time to adjust before I got the blog rolling again.
The good thing about my work is that I can do it from nearly anywhere. (As I write this, I’m sitting in a brewery.) Naturally, I figured once I had my baby I could work from home and stay with her most of the time, saving some money on childcare.
Some people said to me, “You can’t work from home with a baby.” I scoffed. Surely I could. I don’t work for a corporation that expects me on demand with last-minute deadlines. I can schedule things as I like and I’d find a way to make it work.
Now that I’ve had one, I see why they said that. I’m still not agreeing that you can’t work from home with a baby. But it is difficult. I will say it depends greatly on what type of work you do. Those who need to focus for long periods of time or need to hop on conference calls might have to find another way. It’s also best if the work isn’t completely full-time.
Plus, while some babies fall into a nice, predictable nap schedule, others are fussy. Some need constant entertainment. Some take forever to eat and then spit up afterward. If your baby can’t chill alone in the activity gym or rock ‘n play for more than two minutes, working from home is going to be nearly impossible.
Still, for many women, working from home is the only way. Childcare is expensive. So here are my strategies for making it work:
- If you can, hire part-time help. (Or talk to your generous mother-in-law into babysitting one day a week.) Well, duh. Of course it’s easier to work if someone else is watching your child. Still, it’s a great way to have at least some focused time, even if you can only afford a few hours a week. I hired a part-time nanny so that I could get out of the house. This forced me to dress like an adult and gave me a set block of hours to schedule meetings and calls and focus on the really challenging work.
- Organize your work. Organize it first by what you MUST get done today. Then divide that into quick tasks versus longer ones. When you have five minutes, do one of the quick tasks. Use naps or her quiet alert time for projects.
- Forget the housework. It’s easy to take five minutes and toss in a load of laundry or tackle the pile of dishes. Don’t. When you have five minutes, use it. The household chores can wait until your partner returns home.
- Tag team. Speaking of your partner, if he or she can work from home sometimes, it can be a big help. If he/she is willing and the work is flexible enough, you can take turns each hour watching the baby versus working.
And most important of all:
5. Be flexible. Some days, I get a lot of work done. Other days, I barely do anything.
- That means being flexible about when I work: I often work in the evening, at 6 a.m. or on weekends.
- It also means being flexible about how I work. I don’t mind typing away while my child is wedged on a boppy, breastfeeding. That’s a great time to do something that may require a few minutes (though it’s hell on your lower back from hunching over). You may find me doing Internet research while sitting on the floor next to my baby while she’s doing tummy time.
WFH moms: What would you add to this list?