Wondering if it’s possible to care for a baby and work from home? Discover how to work from home with a baby and still get the job done.
“I love working from home,” my friend said. “I avoid the commute, I’m more focused, and all our meetings are virtual.”
Her secret? She doesn’t have kids.
Working from home is perfect for the many who can set their own schedules and work uninterrupted all hours of the day.
But for parents of young kids—especially those with a baby at home—working from home is, let’s just say, a bit of a juggle.
I certainly understand the struggle of working from home with a baby in tow. After I gave birth to my eldest, I went back to work on a part-time schedule, including working two days from home.
The job—and my personality—suited remote working. But caring for an infant while keeping up at work added an extra layer of complexity.
You see, I worked from home without childcare. I didn’t have a nanny or family member to play with the baby while I was on the computer. Nor did I sign up for daycare where I could drop him off even for a few hours.
Nope—it was just me and him. Trying to concentrate when you hear your baby awake from his nap, crying in the next room, isn’t exactly easy.
Still, the benefits of working from home played out well and balanced my needs at the time. I was able to save money on childcare, make income and earn benefits, and spend time with my baby. I also performed so well that I even got a promotion despite my flexible and remote schedule.
How to work from home with a baby
The ease of working from home with a baby does rely on the type of job you have, your self-discipline and the ability to manage your own workload. You’ll also have better luck if you have another adult you can tag team with and take turns.
I’ll even go a step further and say not all kids are conducive for parents to work from home.
My eldest happened to have a knack for focusing on activities for long stretches of time. I knew I could show him something interesting, whether books or puzzles or a new toy, and I wouldn’t hear from him for 45 minutes to an hour. Some kids need more attention or are more active.
But if you’ve got the right factors in place and want to know how to work from home with a baby, here are a few helpful tips:
1. Focus on results, not hours
When discussing expectations with your employer, focus on results. You may not be at your desk during the usual 9-to-5, so make sure you’re keeping up with your workload.
Now that you’re working from home with a baby, you may need to find pockets of time like during naps, early mornings, evenings and weekends. Yes, you want to be as available as possible during business hours, but completing work and meeting deadlines are your main priorities.
It’s less about clocking in the hours as meeting your deadlines and completing tasks.
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2. Schedule deep work during uninterrupted time
If you have a project that needs your full concentration, save it for a time when you won’t get interrupted (or are less likely to be pulled away). Treat these periods as though you’re away from home and allow for emergency breaks only.
This may mean blocking out specific work-time in your schedule when your spouse or another adult is available to be with the baby.
Another idea is to work early mornings before everyone is awake, or late at night after the baby has gone to bed. These blocks of uninterrupted time are perfect for important, high-concentration tasks. Save lighter or repetitive work for moments when your baby can self-entertain, such as right after feedings.
3. Practice focused productivity
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With your new work-at-home schedule, productivity and time management are even more crucial. One of my favorite books on the topic is The One Thing by Gary Keller, a fantastic guide on making the most of your time. You’ll learn the methods and systems to improve your workflow without sacrificing quality.
The perk of working at home with a baby? Your limited time will actually force you to concentrate. After all, when you know you only have a few hours of uninterrupted time a day, you’ll avoid distractions and useless “time wasting” tasks.
The right productivity tools will help you stay laser-focused and get as much completed as possible in a short amount of time.
4. Be picky with meetings
I’ve never been a fan of meetings, even when I worked in an office. We’ve all sat through hour-long meetings that should have finished within ten minutes.
Working from home, unfortunately, won’t mean the end of meetings. But with virtual meetings making a rise, they just might be more effective. You’re able to pop in and out of a meeting, allowing you to get back to work right away.
But which meetings should you even attend? Avoid time-wasting meetings by finding alternative ways to communicate. For instance, if someone wants to schedule a virtual meeting with you, offer to resolve the issue by email or a phone call first.
If you do need to attend a meeting, keep your time frame tight to prevent it from running too long. Having an agenda will keep everyone on the same page and let everyone know whether you’re starting to run too long.
5. Stock up on “emergency entertainment”
Even with the best planning and time-blocking skills, you’ll still find yourself needing to work while the baby is awake. For these moments, stash away a few high-value favorite toys and activities and encourage independent play.
While the youngest infants aren’t soothed by much outside of mom’s arms, older infants may enjoy a bouncy chair, a swing or a baby gym. Rotate toys to keep her engaged without having to buy new ones. Bring out her favorite toys and entertainment when you need to focus or hop on a call.
Or at best, do repetitive work tasks during those times she’s awake so interruptions aren’t as costly.
Working from home with a baby is no easy task. You feel guilty for working when your baby is playing alone. Yet you feel compelled to check your work email when you’re supposed to be spending time with her. You’re also on-call, whether with work or your baby.
Still, it’s possible.
Focus on results instead of hours. Schedule tasks during uninterrupted time, and improve productivity and time management.
Be picky with meetings, and rely more on email or even a quick phone call. And keep emergency entertainment on hand for those moments when you need to focus while your baby is awake.
I also want to end with this important tip: don’t let one stress the other.
Don’t get impatient with your baby because work is piling on the pressure. At the same time, remind yourself it’s okay to dedicate a weekend morning to work because doing so allowed you to be with your baby the day before.
Hopefully you’ll find an arrangement that fits your needs. Balancing working from home with a baby is possible—even if you’re in the middle of a project and hear the dreaded cry signaling nap time is over.
Get more tips:
- 6 Surprising Ways to Balance Work and Family
- Flexible Work Arrangements You Can Actually Do
- The “How Do You Do It” Working Moms Guide
- Don’t Do These 8 Things When Hiring a Nanny
- Top 16 Books for Working Moms
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