There’s a lot of advice out there for how to work from home with a baby, and a lot of it is unhelpful. I’ve seen articles that tell you to dress up like you’re going to work so you feel more professional. This makes no sense because if you’re doing any type of childcare, then your nice clothes are going to get quickly ruined. You need practical tips that are going to help you get through each day. As someone who works from home with a baby, I’ve compiled my best ones.
Be open to working anywhere
Odds are, you won’t be able to do childcare and work in a traditional home office-style setting. Personally, I work sitting on my couch half the time. This may not be great for your back, but being flexible with your workspace makes working from home easier.
This is probably a given for most of you, but if you’re working from a desktop, it might be time to switch to a laptop. A desktop ties you to one place, whereas you can constantly move around with a laptop. This means that if your baby is on a playmat in their room or if they’re chilling in the playpen in the living room, you can follow them. Invest in a light laptop if you can.
Have the necessary apps on your phone
Having all the work apps on your phone can be extremely helpful when you need to do baby care tasks but want to stay connected. For example, Slack, Google Drive, and Asana all have apps. These apps let me keep track of work things when I’m away from my computer.
However, I would also highly recommend shutting off the notifications for any work apps over the weekend or whenever you’re not working. This helps keep them out of mind when you should be focusing on fun time and relaxation.
Rotate your baby between activities
Younger babies can be easier. When my baby was very young, I used to just let him sleep on my chest while I typed away. Or you can put them in a baby lounger next to you, and they might just chill out and eat their hands. As long as they don’t fall asleep in the baby lounger, they’re fine.
If they’re a little older, then I recommend just rotating them between activities. This is when it is helpful to have a laptop and have things like baby activity chairs. Put them in the activity chair for fifteen minutes, put them in the jumper for fifteen minutes, put them in a vibrating bouncer for fifteen minutes, and then put them on the ground with some baby toys for fifteen minutes. Babies get bored faster than you would think. So, prepare some areas and activities for them, and just rotate them.
Take advantage of nap time
This may seem obvious, but if you need to work from home with a baby, do your best to take advantage of nap times. If you’ve got an older baby, they have a set schedule, which should make things easier. Younger babies don’t have a set schedule, but they do sleep more often. Either way, there are some prime windows of opportunity during which you can get some great work done.
Use your baby carrier
A baby carrier can be extremely useful. If you’re physically able, you can put your baby in the carrier and work standing up. You can even gently rock back and forth to lull them to sleep and keep them content while you type and make calls. This is also great if you’re balancing work with household tasks as well because there are some things you can get done while they’re in the carrier.
Try and get flexibility with your hours
This can be SO helpful if you’re working from home with a baby, but it’s not always possible. However, if you work for yourself or your boss is open to it, try and work odd hours. This can mean working really early or later in the day depending on your help and your baby’s schedule.
So, my husband stays up late with my son to do the last feeding while I get up early and do the first feeding. Luckily, after his first feeding, my son usually falls back asleep for a bit. So, I get some work done in those early morning hours. If I need to, I’ll also get some stuff done after my husband gets out of work and takes over childcare.
Figure out a schedule that works best for you and your child, and remember that the schedule might need to shift with their age. You can check out my sample schedule for a general idea.
Take breaks and have dedicated baby time
Taking some time for you and your baby is so important. So, this tip really falls into two parts: taking breaks from both work and childcare, so you can practice some self-care, and taking some time to just hang out and focus on your baby so they can get the attention they need.
Even if it’s just fifteen minutes or the time it takes you to shower, self-care when you’re working from home with a baby is so crucial. You need to take care of yourself and your needs, too. Then, when you are taking that break, do your best to focus on your needs. Don’t think about anyone else’s for that short period of time.
Babies also need that dedicated attention. For instance, young babies need ample tummy time, and that should always be heavily supervised. Plus, it’s just fun to sit with your baby for a while and make faces at them and talk to them. It’s good for them to interact with you. After all, if they’re home with you, you might as well take advantage of all the joy that comes with that.
Have realistic expectations
It helps to have some realistic expectations for yourself. You’re working, and you cannot be expected to do housework at the same time. So, don’t feel bad if you’re not spending time putting away the laundry when you need to send an email. You can always split the chores with your partner after you both get out of work. The only things you might need to do are chores that make your day with baby more functional. These are things like washing bottles or throwing in a load of laundry that might not get put away yet.
When it comes to how to work from home with a baby, flexibility and being kind to yourself are key. I’m not going to lie to you. Working from home with a baby is difficult. It’s easier if you have a partner or helper who can take care of some of the household tasks or handle childcare when they’re not working. But even then, it’s difficult. Just give yourself a break and manage what you can.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).