Working from home’s not new to me. As a freelancer, clothing-optional has always been my default work attire and the home office has always been my stomping ground. But what I didn’t anticipate upon coming back from maternity leave were the rigors of juggling a baby while trying to meet deadlines — without a nanny or daycare.
The tale is not a new one. In the age of COVID, parents everywhere are battling the impossible expectation that someone can be both a full-time worker and a full-time parent. Some bosses are understanding. And for those who run their own show, many a client is understanding too.
But the truth is…Weddings. Funerals. Pandemics. Deadlines have no hold button for the tragedies of life. While the level of understanding has undoubtedly skyrocketed, not meeting deadlines can still means losing income. Losing dollars that buy formula, diapers, and coffee. And wine. Let’s not forget the wine.
As a new baby momma, I face different challenges than those with toddlers or tweens or teens. I’m sleep training while editing press releases and introducing solids while developing Instagram stories.
It’s taken some creativity, a lot of coffee, and some fabulous tips from fellow mommas — but I’ve cobbled together a collection of solid strategies for how to work from home while raising a baby. So pull on your leggings. Grab your coffee. We’re doing this thing.
1. Give yourself grace.
‘The biggest thing I would say to other moms is to give yourself grace. A lot of women I have been speaking with are so hard on themselves. It makes me so sad. Such hardworking and giving women.’
— Kaila lives in the Olympia area. The wife of a police officer and a full-time nurse, she is also a momma to two adorable boys and a health and fitness coach.
2. Use platforms that work on multiple devices.
Hands down, this is the biggest game-changer for me. I use Google Docs, but there are a variety of platforms that work on your laptop and your phone. The reality is, sometimes you get trapped under a sleeping baby or stuck feeding for what seems like hours. Arming yourself with these digital tools lets you maximize minutes that would have otherwise been lost.
3. Ask for help!
WFH the jobs never end — career and taking care of babe. Asking for help has been a huge work in progress for me!
— Jessica N. is a social media guru who specializes in using Instagram to make your business thrive. And, she does so while balancing a brand new babe with her hubby.
4. Be transparent.
Make no mistake about it, if you’re taking phone calls or hopping on video chats, people will hear, and maybe see, your baby. Don’t try and pretend like you’re not a new mom trying to make it all happen. Be upfront about needing to feed or burp or change a diaper. Anyone with kids remembers. And, they’ll likely coo over the sound of your baby fussing.
5. Wear your baby.
Wraps, carriers, slings — it doesn’t matter how you do it. Pick the most comfortable setup because sometimes (SOO much of the time) your babe just wants to be held. And baby wearing frees up your hands.
6. Put your nap time to use.
It’s easy as a new mom to mentally zonk out when your baby finally falls asleep. Sometimes that mental break is essential, but don’t make a habit of it. As a freelancing baby momma, you need to utilize those nap times as much as possible. I keep a list of mentally taxing to-dos on my desk so I know precisely what to tackle when I’m baby-free.
7. Establish expectations with your partner.
‘Have a team meeting w your partner to figure out work schedules and new responsibilities and expectations. Because women often default to taking on childcare and domestic duties without even realizing it.’
— Hilary P. lives in the Seattle area with her husband and their deliciously cute little girl. Their house has been practicing social distancing since Hilary’s school closed in March, when she and her husband transitioned to sharing a home office.
8. Try dictating ideas.
This can be ideal if you’re brainstorming. Turn on a voice recorder. (I use the free version of the AudioMemos app.) Then brainstorm with your baby, who naturally will think nearly everything you say is interesting — as long as you’re making eye contact.
9. Move your office outside.
I don’t know what it is about fresh air, but I’ve found it to be an amazing baby-calmer. When weather permits, I’ll often move outside with my laptop and a baby swing. (Or a play mat. Or a Skip Hop.) The happiness doesn’t last forever, but I’ve gotten up to 45-minutes of solid work in using this technique.
10. Save menial tasks for late at night.
We all have menial tasks. Those things that have to be done, but don’t take oodles of mental energy. Don’t waste your prime mental time on these. Save them for that space between when the baby goes down and you go down.
11. Enjoy your baby.
This one can be the hardest for me when I’m feeling the pressure to do all the things for all the people. But the more I’ve forced myself to stop and really enjoy my baby girl, the more productive I’ve been when I do work. The giggles during a diaper change. The smile that spreads like wildflowers when I touch my nose to hers. These are the moments I’ll never get back. The memories I want to hold forever.
“Be in the moment with your kids. Don’t half ass being with them. They can feel it — when you are there physically, but not mentally — and this can make them act out. You may resent the time it takes going through the motion of playing, but take the time to really play or really talk when you are with them. Put the phone down and out of the picture.”
— Kara N. lives on San Juan Island with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. Her husband is a painter and Kara is a florist, specializing in living jewelry.
Prep Dinner in the Morning
This might seem odd but I try to prep dinner after breakfast. If the whole day goes to pot at least I feel like dinner can be a success!
Lisette Wolter Mckinley is one of my favorite travel writers and photographers in the Seattle area, and not because she contributes to my magazine, explore:NW. She and her husband live in the Seattle area, with their two adorable children.
Let Your Little Work Along Side You
I set my mini me up beside me, like me. I give him his own chair, ‘laptop’ or toy, sippy and snacks while I work. He likes to be close and do what I do, so it works out perfectly! (At least for the most part!)
Mckayla, a fellow content creator with a name I love as much as my own (haha), is ROCKING the working mom life. I’ve long loved her ability to juggle it all and I can’t wait to use her tip for myself!