Working from home has its benefits, but it also leads to a new set of challenges. Many parents choose to work from home while taking care of their children. This is an excellent choice, as it saves on childcare and allows parents to spend more with their young children. However, it does make juggling tasks in a day much more tiring. So here are some tips on balancing working from home with looking after a small child.
Scheduling Is Key
The first thing you need to do is break down all of your workday tasks into levels based on how much concentration they require. Those needing the most focus should be done at a time when you can rely on few distractions and basic admin tasks are completed when your attention is split.
If there’s more than one caregiver in the home, take shifts in child care. Create clear boundaries, so that you can rely on these hours for focused tasks. If you’re working from home alone, consider hiring a babysitter for a short period every day to carve this time out for yourself. There are also great day care centers where you can let your little one learn and grow while also giving yourself a few hours to get your high-focus assignments completed.
Take Advantage of Sleep and Play Time
Newborns sleep in 2-4 hour shifts across the day. While it isn’t foolproof, try to create your workday routine around your baby’s sleep pattern so that you can benefit from working uninterrupted. Similarly, designate a consistent nap time for toddlers and stick to it. With this routine, you can create a time to tackle difficult work tasks in the middle of the day.
When they aren’t asleep, plan activities for your baby or toddler that require low supervision. Invest in a playpen and baby bouncer so that your child can happily play or watch a movie while you work nearby. If you have an older toddler, take advantage of the fact that they love to mimic your behavior. Set up a workstation for them and give them tasks to complete while you work too. Make sure to praise and reward their good behavior when you work together.
You may feel like you’re not doing enough with your child, but what’s important is doing the most with the time you have. Invite your child to help with tasks like putting together snacks or throwing away old documents, and use the time before bedtime to connect. It may be reassuring to know that those end of day check-ins actually have a huge impact on your child’s well being and your bond together.
Take Your Own Breaks
One of the worst things you can do for your productivity is depriving yourself of breaks. You will start to power down if you don’t cut yourself some slack. If you feel overwhelmed, take a short break to do something you enjoy. If you feel sleepy, which will happen a lot in the sleep-deprived life of a new parent, take a power nap. You’ll complete more in the long run as your productivity rate shoots up after resting.
Also, take the time to set your home up as a low stress environment. Although that may sound impossible when juggling work and a small child, you also know that reducing stress is imperative to keeping your sanity. Simply adding some baby-safe plants and nature-themed artwork can lower anxiety and increase your mood. And fill your kitchen with healthy snacks that won’t weigh you down like high sugar and salt processed foods. Any little steps you can take will help you to find your balance and your joy as a busy new parent.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
Working from home requires dedication and discipline – but don’t work so hard that you start to neglect self-care. Especially for hard-working moms, self-care is essential, whether that means a relaxing bath or spa day or giving yourself permission to upgrade your maternity wardrobe for some added comfort and style. Besides, self-care helps you replenish those same energies you’ll be devoting to your work and family, so in the long run, it’s a smart investment!
Use Online Tools
Recording notes, using speech-to-text software, and communicating by video or voice notes can all be incredibly helpful as you are nursing, soothing, or cradling your baby. Though your hands are busy, the sophisticated dictation software available today can help you still get work done.
If you are freelancing, avail yourself of the many free business tools online that can ease your daily workload. For instance, a free invoice generator will help you create professional invoices for your clients that suit your brand and include your logo. This ensures that you collect payments quickly and accurately.
There’s so much to learn about parenting, and you may feel like you haven’t found your groove yet. The truth is, the only consistent thing about parenting is that everything will change, so give yourself a break. Take help when you need it, whether it’s a neighborhood daycare or a friend dropping off a healthy meal, and enjoy the time you have with your little one.