Working From Home, with Baby
Whether you are a working mom, a stay at home mom, or a mom who works from home, all are full-time jobs. With the recent global health shift we are all adjusting to staying inside, our little ones being home with us, and trying to work. It’s a big adjustment; it can feel like uncharted waters and overwhelming. Adding in some routine, structure and balance can be a huge help. Here are some tips to help during this time.
Make a list
When I have too many thoughts and “to do’s” in my head, I feel anxious and stressed. When I can jot down my list of things to do and prioritize them, I can decrease that stress and focus on action. I always separate my list into my mom to dos and work to dos. As I complete tasks throughout the day, I can better balance being at home with my son while still being productive. Get those thoughts out of your head and onto some paper. There are also great apps, like AnyList and Trello (two of my favorite apps for lists and projects to keep me organized).
Create a schedule vs. strict structure
I suggest focusing on natural awake windows for your baby versus a strict schedule. For every age, there is a natural awake window. This is the time between waking and their next sleep. This helps to prevent over-tiredness which can cause sleep resistance and disrupted sleep. Here are some general awake windows by age to help you plan your child’s nap schedule and your day.
- Newborns – 45-60 minutes awake (4-5 naps)
- 2-3 Months – 1:15-1:30 minutes awake (4 naps)
- 3-4 Months – 1:30 to 1:45 minutes awake (4 naps)
- 5-6 Months – 2-2:30 minutes awake (3-2 naps)
- 6-12 Months – 2:30-3 hours awake (2 naps)
- Bedtime – early bedtime is key! The optimal window being 6-7/7:30 pm
Maximizing naptime & working around your child’s sleep
I can’t emphasize this enough. When our babies or toddlers are awake, it is a constant back and forth of mom duty and work duty. Once they are sleeping, the countdown begins to get everything done; work, eat, pump, shower, or simply take a break and go to the bathroom. I’m sure you’ve seen the meme “nap time is the new happy hour”, it’s so true. For me, my son is on a one nap a day schedule, which means that I have 2-2.5 hours in the middle of the day to be productive. It’s also my time for rest and housework because, let’s be clear, getting things done with a baby or a toddler awake is not always realistic.
Here is how I maximize my time throughout the day:
- Even when working from home, I keep a morning routine. Just like children crave consistency and routines, it is helpful for us as well. When we make a shift to working at home, it’s far too easy to stay in our pajamas. I like to get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and change my clothes (even if that means yoga pants). I can then make some tea and get the day started.
- Wake before the kids. I often will wake up before my son to take advantage of the quiet time. I reserve my mornings for email support. I then reserve nap time for projects, conference calls, and eating lunch.
- Now, if your child is on a multi-nap schedule, then I recommend dedicating each nap to a different to dos. i.e. nap 1-emails, nap 2-laundry, nap 3-work/projects, etc.
- Have a nap routine – before your child is going down for their nap, do a quick routine with them (5-10 minutes max). A diaper check or change, read a book, swaddle or sleep sack (depending on their age), and down in their bassinet or crib. Adding in a quick routine also helps them get ready for sleep.
- Short naps. If you are in the middle of working and notice your child has just woken from a short nap (i.e. 30-45 minutes), I recommend giving them 15 minutes before getting them up, this will help give them an opportunity to put themselves back to sleep and lengthen their nap and will also give you an opportunity to wrap up what you are working on.
- Bedtime. My evenings are my most productive time of the day. The house is quiet, my son is sleeping and I can focus on me time, additional work, dinner and enjoying time with my husband. Working from home while doing mom life can make for long days, so it’s important to take some time to decompress.
Be present & engaged
Remember that there will always be work to do and there will always be mom duties, but don’t forget to enjoy even the ordinary moments with your child. They are only little once. I know it is cliché, but it’s true. My son does not like when my husband and I are both on our phones or computer; he begins to act out. We make an effort to be present and engaged with him. So, when working from home, it’s also a good idea to maximize awake time, with play and fun. Playtime can be tummy time, sensory fun, activities, going for a walk, putting on some music, dancing, etc. Work when they sleep and be present and engaged when they are awake as best you can.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be supermom. Come the end of the day, the house may have messes, you may not have gotten everything you wanted to get done workwise but give yourself a break and get some sleep too!
Anne Del Valle is a mother and a Certified Infant & Toddler WeeSleep Sleep Consultant, She is passionate about helping children and families get the sleep they need and deserve. She loves being a support system for parents. Her approach is customized, empathetic, guided, educated, and effective. She offers a free 15 minute sleep consultation: https://www.wee-sleep.com/anne-del-valle/