Working from Home with a Newborn

newborn baby held by mother

I knew when my daughter was born that I had to be home with her. In one regard, I am lucky. My career as a writer and editor gives me the option to work almost anywhere. Yet I know for some of you moms out there, it’s not quite so easy. Sure, you may be able to work from home. But there are still deadlines, meetings, and all the other details that go into a workday. Even from home.

When I set out to cut the office cord, I knew changes were coming. Because I was working remote, I was responsible for all my own prep work. Sure, for those meetings involving the rest of the office staff, I could count on their support. But as my career transitioned into becoming self-employed, those luxuries faded fast.

All things considered, it was the best choice by far. For me, however, preparation and time management became critical in setting about my daily business.

Block Out Baby Time

First, I had to remember how I arrived here. She was in my arms smiling up at me. Within a couple of months, I knew her feeding and nap schedule. Now, not every baby will be quite so predictable. Trust me I know. Our daughter was born premature and the first two months were a blur. For any new parent, getting into a routine will be a challenge. But trust in your mothering instincts and it will happen.

Once we had a set schedule for feedings and naps, I blocked some of those hours out. No phone calls or meetings during feeding times. I reserved nap times for informal phone calls and meetings, if necessary.

Now, I realize that part of the benefit of working from home is removing the daycare expense from the budget. I tried, but with mixed results. On occasion I would need to dress in business attire for a video conference with no distractions. So for two days a week I hired a babysitter for three hours. If there was a meeting cancelled or rescheduled, the sitter would still come and I used that time to plow forward with my work.

When you do block out times, let your clients and co-workers know. Put it in your email signature. They’ll appreciate it. Further, they won’t be surprised if you don’t respond to their email right away.

Reshuffle the Work Day

With my daughter at home, an eight hour work day was out of the question. Typically I could get two to three hours of time in here and there. The other two to three hours? Usually I made those up in the evenings when my husband was home. Occasionally I would fill in the gaps on weekends. Even with these changes I still found more time in my daily routine and had weekends pretty much set aside for family life.

Living on the East Coast and working in the evenings actually created opportunities. It made me more available to clients on the West Coast. Sometimes reshuffling your hours actually works in your favor!

Go Hands Free

Moms, I’m not just talking about those blue tooth devices. My daughter’s first two months were a challenge. I was constantly attending to her because of a medical condition. There were times she just wouldn’t sleep. My response was to keep her close in a wrap. Tight to my chest, I knew she was secure. Believe it or not, I was able to complete a novel with her held close to me. It’s cool to think that I have two book babies!

Okay, I will make one tech recommendation. Go hands free wherever possible. Get the most out of your phone and laptop. Consider speech-enabled software. Dictate those emails and correspondence when your hands are busy with baby. I know that we can’t always get away from emails, even in our blocked-out times, and these devices make it so much easier.

Speaking of tech, make sure to invest in a quality baby monitor. Once your newborn is sleeping in her crib, it’s a must. I really enjoyed the video stream that my monitor provided. Believe it or not, the piece of mind it affords can really increase your productivity. I know it did for me.

Call for Back-Up

Dads, we know you work all day. But … so do we! Seriously though, I know most men are ready to fill in at the end of the day. It is easier with a newborn. And it gives daddy and baby beautiful alone time to bond. For me those hours were some of my most productive. It takes effort mapping out a schedule. We did it, and in the end, our relationship was all the better for it.

Neither of us could have continued in our professions without the support of the other. Sure, there were sacrifices on both sides. We realized early on that our neatly laid plans wouldn’t be easy to execute. Always remain flexible. What baby wants, baby gets!

Ease Into It

It’s hard to know when you bring your newborn home what you’ll encounter. Some babies are easier than others. Always be ready to make adjustments. At first, you may need to cut back hours. That’s okay! When I came home I realized that freelancing would be a better option. I was having a tough time meeting the requirements of my former position. But the support of my employer was amazing. When I left that office, they became one of my clients. It was a win-win for both of us.

That’s why I always emphasize to work-at-home moms the importance of maintaining a level of professionalism that exceeds that expected of you in the office. It may not seem fair, but it does pay off.

Certainly, making the move to work from home was not easy in the beginning. It took some time to get my income close to where it was before our daughter was born. Today, I’m watching her grow. And she gets to see her mom, a successful businesswoman, making her own way in the world.

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