I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to work from home while taking care of my daughter. My office is my living room. Sometimes my bathroom. Maybe standing up in my kitchen. But probably never at my desk.
Here are my not-so-serious (but maybe I’m being serious) tips for working from home with a baby.
- Grab an insulated coffee mug. Grab it 14 times with the intention of drinking the coffee inside. At 1pm when you finally take your first sip, the coffee might still be lukewarm. Score!
- Familiarize yourself with the mute button on your phone. All conference calls will be scheduled when your baby doesn’t need to eat (nothing shuts them up like a boob or bottle in their face, amiright?!) and is uninterested in every toy ever made. So, she is probably screaming and/or adorably but loudly babbling the entire time you are on the phone. The. Entire. Time. Click that glorious mute button early and often.
- Have a blazer on hand for video calls. Related to #2. Thank goodness I rarely (rarely) have to show my face to colleagues or clients but just in case, a blazer or cardigan covers a multitude of sins. By sins I mean spit up and the breakfast I spilled all over myself trying to eat said breakfast, breastfeed and type an email at the same time. Don’t worry about makeup or hair, just hope the connection is fuzzy (because it usually is). A bad connection is like good lighting, it evens everything out and makes you look well rested.
- Invest in a hands-free headset. Also related to #2. You do not have an extra hand to hold your phone, nor do you want to tangle yourself and your baby up in the cords of your ratty old headphones. Bonus: You will look really cool (read: Horrible and not cool at all.) with that blue-tooth thingy hanging out of your ear.
- Also invest in a wrap or baby carrier. As you may know, wearing your baby has many awesome benefits. The biggest benefit is that your baby might be happy for two seconds back-to-back and you will have two hands available to you at the same time. You heard me right, big spender. TWO hands. Take advantage of this embarrassment of riches and finally finish that three sentence email you’ve been trying to write for 4 hours.
- Keep books and toys within arms reach. So, everywhere. Try to make sure there is least one baby toy or book on every surface and in every drawer, box or bin in your house so you can be ready to distract your babe on a moment’s notice. Basically it should look like a baby store exploded in every room. Oh, you’ve already completed this step? Look at you, you little over achiever.
- Learn to eat everything with one hand. Using both hands at the same time is a thing of the past. Soup is definitely out of the question. So is eating anything at all, quite possibly.
- Nap time is go time. It’s a sprint, not a marathon, folks. You probably selfishly used valuable nap minutes to pee, eat and start a load of laundry. You now have approximately 42 minutes left to reply to 67 emails. Go go go!
- Toss your clock. There are no “business hours” here. There are just hours. Some of them might be for business. 9-5? Pfft. There are 24 perfectly good hours in every day. Use them….Actually, use most of them to sleep and hang out with your baby. Use a few of them to work.
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I just wish I could find a job working from home. I have tried and looked but no luck. I feel like my children are suffering and getting the short end of the stick because I don’t see them as often. I don’t put them on the bus and I’m not there when they get off in the evening. And I’m always so tired so I rarely feel like playing with them or anything. Makes me feel so guilty. 🙁
I know this is meant to be funny – and it is funny! But as a business owner who used to employ project managers at an agency… I just don’t think it works to work from home with small children. Someone gets the bad end of the deal – your company, your clients, and/or your child.
Not criticizing at all, I just think it’s best to find childcare. Even if that is a full time mothers helper that keeps your child quiet and away during work hours.
This is after having a close friend who was my PM tell me after each meeting that she was “unable” to take notes and hoped I had. I am leading the presentation and my screen is on Go To Meeting at the office, I was counting on her to take notes as she had done for me the past 4 years… That is when my stance changed.
Then I had my own and tried to run a business at home with a baby. A business where clients call and so forth (not quietly mailing packages or something where you could juggle a baby – or posting on social media all day, you could for that too). Tried a nanny, mothers helper, daycare, montessori, and drop in childcare places. The only fair solution was really to get the kid out of the house or get me in the office.
Much love to all the mothers reading.
For all the women that want to do this, an honest question:
If you were the boss, would you pay an employee to do what you are doing – the mom and workerbee juggle?
Hey Nicole – Thanks for your comments! Yes, I stripped out a LOT of the (pretty boring) reality of my work-from-home life to make this an easy-to-read, funny post. I’m thinking that #10 on this list should be: “Hire someone to help.” I am in the process of hiring a mothers helper and think it will definitely change my work day.
I’m still learning to balance for sure but the truth is that my “work product” has changed a lot because of my new circumstances. Also important: I work part-part time and I rarely have to be on calls or video chats. Rarely. I am also really honest with the people I work with and set realistic expectations from the moment I “returned” to work when my daughter was a few months old. My situation might be unique (and certainly lucky) in that my colleagues and clients know I don’t have a lot of bandwidth now, that I sometimes don’t have a quick turnaround on emails and they know I sometimes I’m working at 5am or 10pm. Overall my clients and colleagues still like working with me and my work output hasn’t suffered. I know that it will all continue to evolve and perhaps eventually, like you, I will determine that getting out of the house is the only way to keep my work quality high.
10. Redesigning your desk so it accommodates a rocking chair
11. Bed breakfast tray w short legs for working from bed
Those are great additions, Juliana!