Working from home can be challenging enough with chores and other distractions pulling you away from what you should be doing. When you have a baby at home as well, those distractions are ten-fold and many new mums can find the transition hard from working from home before a baby to balancing work with caring for a newborn.
Those around you will be happy to share “helpful” advice on how you can balance the 2, for example, sleep when the baby sleeps so that you don't get too tired, but when you are responsible for your own business that advice doesn't really help you to get the work done. In fact, to the contrary; whilst the baby is napping is the best time to get your important work done!
Set your own schedule...
New mums who work from home tend to think that they categorically need to separate work from their home life in order to continue being productive, but that really isn't the case. Make your to do list but organise it by the amount of effort required to complete each task, this way you can plan in important calls or work which needs your maximum concentration for a time when you know you are at your sharpest. On the opposite end of the scale, plan in mundane or mindless tasks for the end of the day when your patience is weaning and you are getting tired.
There may be tasks that you can combine with your daily routine as well; proofreading a contract or reading through a proposal while in the bath, or answering emails while you're waiting for dinner to cook. Be careful that you don't over-cram into your day though, you don't want to end up working non-stop and having no down time for yourself.
Did you leave your 9-5 to work 9-5? That's what you have to remind yourself, because working from home gives you that flexibility and you need to remember that when you have a newborn at home your schedule will need to be even more flexible than usual because their needs are unpredictable. If one day you don't get as many hours in as you'd like, then draw a line under it. The next day your baby might be more settled or you might feel more motivated and you can get more done. It's important not to be too critical on yourself, especially when it's your own business and you feel that you're torn between your two responsibilities. Your business wasn't built in a day, and it won't fall apart if you can't give 100% for one day either.
When the child is younger, you may get away with a play-pen, bouncer, or swing in the same room as you to keep them entertained for a little while while you work. But this entertainment will only last so long before they want to be back in your arms again. A good work around for this is getting hold of a decent baby carrier. That way you can strap the baby in close to you so they feel secure and comforted, and this can buy you a couple of hours of peace to work while they nap against you.
Keep them monitored
There will be times when having the baby in the same room is just too much distraction, or times when the baby needs to be put down for a nap. The best way to keep an eye on them without having to check their cot every 5 minutes is a baby monitor. There are loads of good monitors on the market these days; some offer 2 way sound so that you can reassure the baby with your voice, there are video transmitters so you can see them without having to leave your desk, and there are even some which let you play music to them or start a light show to help soothe them to sleep. All without you having to leave your work – a lifesaver if you're in the middle of something really important!
Share the load
If you have a partner at home or family close by then don't be too proud to ask for help. If you have a deadline that you really need to meet, then ask if someone can mind the baby for an hour to help you out. If your partner works from home as well then this can really work to your advantage as you can swap the baby duties every hour or so and let the other work.
You can also get a childminder or babysitter to come round a few hours of week to give you a bit of respite, and when the baby gets a little older they can be introduced to a nursery. Not only is it great for you to have a bit of space and peace and quiet, but it's great for the baby to socialise from an early age and learn how to be around other people; this independence will help you out on the days that you have them at home with you.
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