*This is a guest post written by Melissa Warren.
Are you a new work-at-home mom struggling to find the time to work and take care of your baby? Has your baby been getting in the way of your work time more lately?
Maybe your baby used to be fine playing on his own while you worked at home, but now that he’s a little older, he wants you to play with him. He could be experiencing separation anxiety and all of a sudden want your full attention all the time.
Sleep regressions can be a major factor in extra time going to your little one, instead of your work. Regressions can affect your baby’s naps, making them later than normal because your baby takes longer to fall asleep (or skips the nap altogether), and it can affect night-time sleep in the same way. This results in you having to take more time to help them fall asleep, which takes away more of your work time.
It can feel very frustrating and overwhelming when you have deadlines to meet, but can’t get the time you need to complete your work because your baby will not go to sleep or stay asleep or can’t let you out of their sight without screeching and chasing after you.
Babies change their schedules so often in their first few years, we have to try to keep up and adjust as best as we can.
Thankfully, there are ways to get through these many changes. In this post, I’ll give you all my best tips and tricks for working at home with your baby, so you can actually get things done.
5 Top Tips for Working at Home with a Baby
Being a work-at-home mom isn’t easy. Use these 5 top tips to help you stay on top of your work when you’re at home with your baby.
1. Make Lists
Make lists of EVERYTHING. Make a household to-do list, a work to-do list, and a list for any other to-do’s that you may have.
Lists help you see what you need to do, which helps you organize your day, week, and month with ease.
When you have a lot to do, it can often weigh down on your mind, making you feel like you have too much to do and too little time to do it. This ends up making you feel overwhelmed, which in turn, makes you unproductive because your mind is just too jumbled and busy thinking about everything that needs to be done.
This happened to me when my daughter was having sleep regressions and separation anxiety. Whenever I would finally be able to sit down and write, I wouldn’t get very far because I would be trying to do so many things at once in my mind and on my laptop, while stressing out about how I don’t have enough time for it all.
Listing all of your tasks will get them out of your head, to then be put in their proper place. This clears your mind to be able to focus on ONE thing at a time.
2. Have a Schedule
After you’ve made your lists, schedule when you will do everything. It’s also important to stick to these plans as much as possible during their set times.
Using a dry erase board is great for this! You can put a checkbox on the side of the to-do’s and put an “X” when you’ve completed that task. Doing this enables you to easily see what you need to do while making you feel accomplished, seeing what you’ve already done.
Always leave extra room at the bottom of a day in case there is something that you weren’t able to do, so you can add it to another day later in the week.
Having a schedule also keeps you focused on what you are doing at that moment, instead of trying to do dishes one second and work the next; jumping from task to task without finishing them.
Giving yourself time to do each thing that needs to be done will result in a feeling of being organized, which will bring peace and clarity to your work time.
3. Be Flexible
Babies often make us speed up where we’re too slow and slow down where we’re too fast.
Basically, with young children, you are on their schedule more often than they are on yours. So, it’s important to keep that in mind when you are planning your days.
Have an open mind on those “off” days. And also know that the hard days don’t last forever! Your baby will eventually sleep through the night and nap well and not have so much anxiety being in the other room from you.
You will be able to get much more work done at that point. Be flexible until then.
4. Lean on Your Partner
Communicate to your spouse or partner what you are doing and what you need.
Be sure to include him in your lists and plans, so that he can understand the weight of your responsibilities and fully support you. It can be a tough change to go from a SAHM or work outside of the home mom to a WAHM. You, your baby, and your husband will all need time to adjust to this change.
Also, make sure that you have enough time for him. Our guys can already feel like they’re on the back burner when it comes to the baby, and then you have to work on top of that. Always be sure you have that set time with him as well.
When he’s home, ask him to spend time with the baby so you can get some work done in the other room. You could even head to the library to be sure that you aren’t distracted while working. And when he’s at work, ask your mom, mother-in-law, sister, friend, etc. to babysit for a few hours so you can work in peace and quiet.
5. Try Not to Do Too Many Things at Once
I know, you’re a mom; how can you NOT do too many things at once?!?
Here’s what I mean:
When I would try to work while my daughter was awake, I would end up getting so frustrated when she wanted attention or would cry, because she was taking my focus away from what I was trying to do. This, in turn, took me away from her and also took me away from work, making it a lose-lose situation.
To keep this sort of thing from happening, you need to be fully present with whatever you are doing in that moment. If you are with your baby, be sure to give him your full attention. And in the same way, when you are working, give your work your full attention.
You may be able to do some small things while with your baby, like check emails or read/do research, but don’t do something that you can’t stop immediately if you need to tend to your baby.
What If I Need to Work When My Baby Is Awake?
In an ideal world, we would just work while our baby is sleeping. But, let’s be real, sometimes we’ve got crazy deadlines to meet and just have to make it happen sometimes.
If there’s a day that you have to work when your baby is awake, then try these tricks:
Spend Quality One-On-One Time with Your Baby First
Fill your baby’s “Mommy-time” cup and you might be surprised at what you are able to do while he plays independently.
I usually find that I can get on my laptop to check emails or do a little bit of work after I’ve sat down with my daughter and played with her for 10-20 minutes. Her cup feels full of mommy-time and she’s okay to play by herself for a while.
Work in Tiny Spurts
Try working in 10-20 minute spurts after you’ve spent quality time with your baby.
Ten to twenty minutes with baby, then 10-20 minutes working.
If your baby is having a bad day, is tired, or experiencing separation anxiety, you might still have to wait until he is asleep for a nap or bedtime. But it is possible to try and work up to this by being at your computer for only a few minutes and then increase the time bit by bit until you are at 20 minutes with him being okay.
Babies see time differently than we do. Time is much longer in their eyes, so a short time for us can seem like an eternity for them.
Keep it short and keep that time productive.
Go back to the first tip about lists, and make a list for things you can do in your short spurts of time.
Take a Deep Breath
Being a work-at-home mom is a tough job. Wearing two hats at once will always be very demanding, but it is definitely possible to do it and be successful at it.
Just remember to make lists of what you need to do, schedule your days, be flexible, communicate with your partner, and don’t do too much at once.
What About You?
What tip stood out the most for you? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments below and be sure to share this post with other work-at-home moms!
*This guest post was written by the talented, Melissa Warren.
Melissa started her blog, WorkingMamaBear.com, in late 2018. She focuses on encouraging mothers in the sometimes difficult journey of motherhood.
She found great wisdom and support from other moms when she was a new mom and desires to bring that same support and encouragement to other moms, especially new mamas. She and her partner, Alan, have one daughter, named Madison, who is 15 months old.