My daughter was only seven months old when I first switched from my office job to a freelance writing position.
It seemed so easy at the time.
Creating a work-life balance is HARD work under any circumstances. When you’re working from home with kids, however, it’s a completely different ballgame.
In our post-pandemic world, work-from-home opportunities are more widely available. While there are tons of mental benefits from remote positions, it’s hard to ignore the trials of managing parenthood and your work schedules simultaneously.
Whether you’ve got a baby at home or a school-aged child, remaining successful in your career at home takes a whole lot of effort and ingenuity.
When I envisioned my work-from-home life, I imagined writing during naps, answering emails during tummy time, and making calls while I nursed. Somedays, this worked out fine.
On other days, I barely had enough time to put a few words together during the day, let alone write an entire article.
Sure, we made it through and eventually got into a routine, but having some tools and tricks initially might’ve made the process much smoother.
Lucky for you, we’re here to help.
If you’d like to improve your remote work experience, please stick around. We’ve got everything you need to know to make working from home with babies and little ones a LOT easier.
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Stress-Free Solutions for Working from Home with a Baby
When trying to do remote work with babies, the best tip for success is to use your time wisely. Let’s face it; you can’t just explain to your six-month-old that mommy has a conference call on her laptop, and can they please just *not cry* for a moment?
While there’s no denying that working at home with a baby is a challenge, it’s not impossible.
Use the tips below to structure your work day effectively:
1. Take Advantage of Nap Time
You know that phrase, “Sleep while the baby sleeps?” When working from home with infants, you might have to rework that concept and “WORK while the baby sleeps.”
Nap time is likely your best option for uninterrupted work time during the day. Find a way to prioritize your most important tasks for nap time, but also keep in mind that your baby might not nap, or might nap for a shorter time than normal.
It’s important to manage your expectations for nap time so that you’re not stressed when all your work doesn’t get crammed into a two-hour window like you’d expected it to.
2. Consider Babywearing During Certain Work Activities
3. Ask Your Boss About Flexible Scheduling Opportunities
Not all remote positions provide total flexibility. Often, there are still set working hours throughout the day.
Since it takes some time to create routines with babies, asking for a flexible schedule can be helpful. Instead of working 9-5, you could start a few hours early while your baby’s still asleep, or you work into the evening after they go to bed.
If it’s an option for your family, you could also ask to drop down to part-time hours until you’re more settled in your role as a parent.
4. Consider Childcare
There’s no denying the fact that childcare is expensive. As a result, placing little ones in daycare or hiring a nanny or babysitter isn’t an excellent option for many families.
But if there is a feasible childcare option that fits into your family’s budget, it’s worth looking into.
Take our family, for example. I struggled to make a full-time work-from-home position work while taking care of our daughter. As much as I hated asking for help, I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
Thank goodness for the grandparents. They were able to step in a couple of mornings a week so that I could have a few uninterrupted work hours during the day. Not everyone has this option, but if you have a friend or family who could step in at a regular time once or twice a week, it’s a game-changer.
And please don’t be shy or ashamed to ask family or friends to lend a hand for a few hours here and there. Many parents think that because a child is theirs that they HAVE to be with them every waking moment of the day. Not true, my friend. Not true.
Another option is hiring a babysitter or daycare to help a few days a week. This way, you still get to spend plenty of time with your little one but also have the time to get your job done.
Many working parents choose to share a babysitter or nanny, too. If you have friends with young children, this can be a great option!
5. Work Hard During Short Periods of Time
When there’s a baby at home, you can kiss the concept of sitting at your desk for hours on end goodbye. Instead of relying on large time blocks to finish your work, break your job into smaller tasks you can do in shorter time increments.
I love the Pomodoro method for this. Basically, the Pomodoro method is a proven time-management strategy that says that short bursts of hard work are great for the brain as long as they are followed by a break! For example, work without interruption for 20 minutes and then take a 5-minute break to change a diaper.
To help implement the Pomodoro method, many people use a kitchen timer or a timer cube. Turn your timer cube (I have a cute yellow one) to the side with the number of minutes on it that you have, and it will go off when it’s time to take a break!
This concentrated burst of focus is great for people who don’t have stretches of hours to focus (ahem, us parents!).
Is Working from Home with a Newborn Possible?
In a perfect world, all of us would have a baby and then receive a year of maternity leave.
But that’s not the case for every family (unless you live in Canada where maternity leave is ONE FULL YEAR if you’re working full time).
If you need to return to work sooner rather than later, you’re probably wondering if working at home with your newborn is an option.
Short answer: anything is possible…but it might be tricky.
For a successful remote working experience with a newborn, your best option is to find support wherever possible. Whether it’s bringing in a family member or tag-teaming with your partner or another new mama, try to carve out small bits of time to focus on work.
One good thing is that newborns sleep A LOT. Take advantage of those naps to get some work done. Remember, though, your postpartum body is going through a lot after childbirth. Take time to rest, recover, and practice self-care during those early weeks after childbirth, too.
Keep Your Cool When You’re Working from Home with a Toddler
Ahh, toddlers – what adorable, funny, creative, and challenging creatures they are.
As children enter toddlerdom, they’re no longer immobile humans satisfied with sleeping half the day. They are active, explorative, and, of course, moving…all the time, which means that they require constant supervision because you never know what they’re about to put in their adorable little mouths.
Plus, they require frequent feedings (my children can’t be the only ones requesting snacks at 10-minute intervals!) and have many questions and concerns that must be addressed with lightning-fast speed or else a meltdown will surely occur.
Add a pile of work to this tornado of toddler activity, and things get real. Fear not, the tips below will help you manage working from home with a toddler.
1. Start Your Morning Routine As Soon as You Can
When we barely get enough sleep as it is, the thought of getting up earlier sounds f*cking deranged if I’m being honest. But hear me out: starting your day a little bit earlier can make a world of difference.
Many successful people believe that getting up early is the secret to success, so much so that Entrepeuner.com wrote an article about it! You can knock several items off your to-do list during uninterrupted quiet time in the mornings.
Prioritizing yourself and your work in the hour or so before your toddler begins their reign sets a strong foundation for your day. Well, that and a bucket full of coffee.
2. Encourage Toddler Independent Play
Our kids love playing with us, and as much as we enjoy playing with them, it’s not practical for us to spend our days doing nothing but satisfying their playtime needs.
That’s where encouraging toddler independence comes in.
Find some quiet activities or toys your little one loves and offer suggestions for independent play. Like anything else, the more they practice this skill, the better they’ll get at it.
While I sometimes feel guilty about encouraging my kids to play by themselves, I always remember the benefits of independent play, including:
- Increased Creativity
- Improved Problem-Solving Skills
- Enhanced Patience
- More Confidence
3. Set Clear Boundaries
Whether you’re sitting in a home office or parked at the kitchen table, your little ones need to understand the importance of your work.
Let them know you’re not trying to be mean or ignore them, but when Mommy or Daddy is doing something for their job, they have to stay focused and on task.
Setting clear boundaries and expectations can be helpful for all of you. Try working in the same space in your home so that your toddler will know that when you are in the office or at the kitchen table with your laptop, you are not as accessible to them.
Another trick for setting boundaries is to set a timer. Use the timer cube we mentioned earlier, or your Alexa or Siri, to set an alarm to help your toddler understand that when the alarm goes off, you can fix a snack or play with them.
4. Take Regular Breaks for Quality Time
When our girls are out of school, they get frustrated by us working from home. To them, it feels like we’re just ignoring them and spending all of our time working. To “fix this,” we take many breaks throughout the day.
Whether going out for an activity or taking a few minutes for a game, setting aside time to give them your complete focus will provide the extra attention they crave.
Just like you’ve set boundaries for when you work, set boundaries for when you are available to your children without work in the picture.
5. Don’t Stress Too Much About Screen Time
Okay, at this point, we know it’s not good for our kids to sit around on their devices all day staring at a screen.
HOWEVER, desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.
Don’t give yourself a hard time if you have to utilize screen time during your work day. Trust me when I say your little one will not be scarred for life because you let them watch some educational TV shows for kids.
6. Ask a Friend to Swap Babysitting Services
Do you have another friend who’s a work-from-home parent? If so, why not see if you can help each other out?
A friend of ours just started a new remote work position. She’s worried about what that will look like during the summer this year when the kids are out of school.
Neither of us can spend a small fortune on camps or nannies, so we’ve decided to do some kid-swapping instead. Once or twice a week, I’ll take her kids for the day and vice versa.
That way, we both get time to focus on our jobs, knowing our kids are still well cared for and entertained.
Scheduling is Key When Working from Home with School-Age Kids
You might be thinking, why would a work-from-home position still be challenging once the kids are in school? While that’s a valid observation, there’s something else you need to know – parenting doesn’t stop once your children start school.
Sure, they’re usually gone for several hours during the day, but what about breaks, sick days, commutes, and after-school activities?
Scheduling is a crucial part of working from home with school-age children. Check out the tips below for ideas.
1. Create To-Do Lists
The Harvard Business Review wrote an article in January of 2022 about the effectiveness of to-do lists on productivity. By writing out a list of tasks, you’ll maintain a sense of awareness about what you have to get done.
I don’t know about you, but when I don’t have a list of jobs in front of me, I waste too much time trying to figure out what I should be doing.
To-do lists let us move through specific tasks and speed up our overall working experience. Grab your timer cube and get started!
2. Become a Multitasking Ninja
Just because you’re sitting in the school pick-up line or waiting on the bleachers during baseball practice doesn’t mean you can’t still get your work done.
Bring your laptop or cell phone to answer emails or finish projects while you’re on the go with your kiddos. And try not to worry too much about answering emails while you’re at a soccer game. Your children need to know that you’re the kind of mom who is present for them but who also has other priorities besides them. It’s all about balance!
3. Schedule Camps Early
From summer camp to vacation bible school, there are many options for kids out of school during breaks.
The problem is that many other parents are trying to book the same types of camps and activities!
If you know that your child will go to camp during winter, spring, or summer break, do your research early. Figure out which programs they’re interested in and book them as soon as they become available. Trust me on this one.
4. Coordinate with Coworkers
You’re not the only employee at your job dealing with getting kids to and from school. Try to create good relationships with a couple of colleagues, so you can all help each other with different tasks when things pop up with your children.
Bonus Tip: Go Easy on Yourself
As with any working scenario, you will have good days and bad when working from home with kids. Things will happen, problems will occur, and some days will be less productive than others.
You are not a machine. Do your best but remember that you can’t be perfect all the time. If you have an off day where your baby is screaming for hours, and your older kids end up in the urgent care clinic, there’s a good chance you won’t finish everything. Try again tomorrow.
Being a work-from-home parent is more challenging than some people might think. It’s actually pretty f*cking hard. At the end of the day, you’re juggling work and children, and that’s NOT easy.
We’re proud of you for doing what you need to do to keep you and your family afloat!
Are you trying to figure out how working from home with kids will work for your family? What’s helped you?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.