Now that I'm about 4 months in to my work from home role, I thought I'd post about some things that have helped me figure out how to not only work from home, but do so while watching a baby. Norah was about 6 months old when I started, and she's now closing on on 11 months. I know as she grows and changes, my day will look a little differently, but these tips work for us for now.
Keep you work station available.
As much as I wanted to (and still may) deck out a desk area for myself in our office nook in the master bedroom, it just isn’t the smartest way for me to work. Our main floor living/dining/kitchen area is where we spend most of our time. It is much easier for me to bang out 30 minutes or an hour of work if I can just hop on my computer at the island and send emails while the baby plays, or work at the table while she eats. Dragging all her toys in our room, or all my work supplies downstairs 5 times a day was just too limiting.
Be realistic with your expectations. To your employer, and your self.
Be honest in regards to what you can do in a day. I spent weeks beating myself up because I would stress constantly about working an hour or two less than I had committed to. I finally talked with my employer about my need for flexibility while things are so crazy schedule wise in my household. Luckily for me she was very understanding, and appreciated my honesty. This also led me to enjoying my work more, since I wasn’t so stressed about it.
Don’t assume nap time is the best time to work.
While I do get some work done at this time, I also still need those 100% kid free moments to do things that are too dangerous or annoying to do while a keeping a baby busy. I also still enjoy using nap time to have a few silent minutes to myself to think, rest, plan for the day, etc. I also make sure to schedule my work hours around other activities that are important to me that we fit in, like library story time.
Know when your most motivated and productive time of the day is.
When I first started working from home, I was very relaxed about what I accomplished during the day, because I assumed I would finish up what I needed to after N went to bed. She’s lights out by 7:30, still leaving my plenty of time to work before my usual bed time of 10 or 11. What I didn’t take into account was that in that few hour span I also usually finished making and eating the “grown up” dinner if we didn’t get to it before, cleaning, chores, time with my husband, and sometimes time with friends too. My brain was so ragged and ready to relax by the time even half of these things are done, it just isn’t realistic for me to expect to get more than an hour (max) of work done in the evenings.
I am a morning person. I’m much better off waking up early to get a jump on my day than trying to squeeze a bunch of thing into the evening hours. If you’re a night owl, the opposite is true. Don’t expect to rise super early and work if you know you’re a 10 times snooze hitter.
Give yourself a break.
It's hard being two people at once. Be gracious to your mom self and your employee self, and know that your best is enough!
What do you do to stay focussed and productive with little ones running around?