Working From Home… With a Baby

posted by Andrea | 12/15/2011

Since I’ve worked almost exclusively from home for the past couple of years, I’ve gotten very good at balancing home life with work life, and I’ve developed a really good routine. I’ve also become acustom to being at home, ALONE, with lots of uninterrupted time to focus and “get stuff done”!

I often got asked “how do you do it all?” and one of my answers to that question was that I didn’t have children yet!

So when we brought Nora home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day, my ultra productive schedule pretty much flew out the window — and boy did I have a rude awakening to what life is like working from home with a new baby!

Yes, I did take a couple weeks off from my blog and virtual assistant work, but I still had cleaning, laundry, meals, grocery shopping and other house work to do — and I quickly found that it could take all day to accomplish what I had previously finished by 10:00am!

Obviously things are still so new right now, and I’m confident it will get easier as time goes on, but it sure has been a challenge to find my “new routine” and create any sort of structure for my days.

Just when I think we have any sort of schedule down, the next day will be 100% different and I won’t even get half the things crossed off my list.

Just when I think Nora is asleep, she’ll start screaming and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing to tend to her.

Just when I think I have something figured out, it changes and we’re back to “square one”!

That said, there are three things I’ve been doing that have helped me to continue being somewhat productive — even with a newborn at home.

1. I do as much as I can while she’s sleeping.

Yes, I know what most of you are thinking — I should “sleep when the baby sleeps” — but what you don’t know is that I am almost 100% incapable of taking naps… ever! Even if I’m really tired, I’ll simply lay there and think of everything else I need to do, so instead, I use nap time to get stuff done.

Right now, Nora takes 2 naps each day — usually around 3 hours each. I use this time for laundry, house work, making dinner, holiday baking, emails, and my virtual assistant work.

I try to use the time after she goes to bed {usually around 8:00 but this is different every night} to work on my own blog while Dave does school work. Since neither of us can nap during the day, we try to be in bed by 10:00 every night — but as many of you know, that’s not always possible with a newborn either :)

2. I take any help I can get.

At first, I felt bad asking for or accepting help from anyone — but I got over that once I realized there was a line-up of people just dying to spend time with Nora. I’ve even had people offer to just come sit at our house while she’s sleeping so I could have a bit of free time to run errands and work on the computer without being interrupted.

We’ve also been fortunate to have  several friends and family members bring us meals and baked goods. I always feel like I have so much more time if I don’t have to think about or plan dinner for a night, and it’s been fun to try some new recipes too!

Even though I’m normally a very independent person, I realized that I’m a lot better off if I just let people help… especially since they really want to!

3. I let more go.

Even before Nora was born, I knew this would be a big adjustment. I also knew I would have to scale back and even quit some of my many commitments – I just didn’t know what ones I was going to quit.

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve definitely let a good amount of house work go, I’ve purchased LOTS of gifts cards for Christmas gifts, I wrapped every Christmas gift in a bag with tissue paper {nothing fancy here!}, I’m using meals and snacks from our freezer, I’m checking my email less, and I’ve decided to quit writing almost all my monthly contributor posts for other websites.

I’ve also really scaled back on the amount of errands I run each week. No more going to multiple stores to get every single deal. I get as much as I can at Meijer and then maybe I’ll get back out at night when Dave is home to run a few more errands.

 

These three things have helped me to feel somewhat productive even while caring for Nora each day. And for those of you who are so worried that I’m not taking the time to enjoy my sweet babe, just rest assured that I am. Dave and I spend as much time with her as we can while she’s awake — and then we do as much as we can while she’s sleeping :)

Also, if you have any other suggestions or productivity tips that work for you… please feel free to share them with me!

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11 comments

  1. Milehimama

    12/15/2011

    I work at home, and I have 9 children (my youngest baby was born in February). We homeschool, too, so the children are always here. I’m lucky now that my older kids (my oldest is 13) can help me out a bit with the little ones- it’s not unusual for my 10 yo to create a game that includes the toddlers giving me some peace!

    Somethings that helped me:

    Set up a nursing/feeding station (for me that’s on the couch). I purchased a little laptop table at Ikea and I use nursing time to check through my email, make lists, or do online reading. I can navigate these things with one finger. (Though to be honest, I’m a pro at typing while nursing, which you can’t do with a newborn but you can do with an older baby.)

    Lists. Jot things down and what works for *my* brain is to organize it by time. i.e., tasks that take 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. So writing that 500 word keyword SEO article is under 30-60 minutes, but printing a PayPal receipt for my hard files is 5 minutes. That way if baby is happy but awake, I can quickly squeeze in a 5 minute task, but I won’t even try to tackle the 30 minute list unless I know she’s sound asleep or my husband is home.

    I list errands in order of importance, including shopping. So I’ll put the store with the best deals first, the store with the next best savings second, etc. I try to go out and about just once a week and do as much as I can- but this priority list saves me if we go out and the baby just decides she needs to nurse every 5 minutes or is suddenly too cranky or whatever. I can cut my losses and get home.

    And then with the house- I am definitely NOT a housekeeping guru. Things around here are “good enough”, and usually multitasked. And yes, that means doing a quick wipedown of the toilet when I go in to use the bathroom (seriously, 30 seconds. Spritz the seat, use TP to wipe the seat, rim, base, flush it all away.) Use the bathroom, wash hands, do a quick 30 second “tidy up” of the bathroom sink. One pot meals.

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  2. Teri Bennett

    12/15/2011

    When my friend died and my number of children doubled overnight, I found this service called Amazon moms. You can schedule automatic delivery of diapers, wipes, formula, etc to your door each month. The deal they gave me wasn’t much of a difference from the deals I got when clipping coupons and it was super convenient because it always seems like they delivered right when I was almost out.

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  3. Megan Camp

    12/15/2011

    As a mom of two little ones, I can attest to the fact that it takes MUCH longer to do things with little ones. I liked your comment about it taking you all day to finish things that you used to have done by 10:00. So true! I’m glad you’re figuring it all out. The schedule thing doesn’t seem to get much easier as they get older. I just have to work around it. I’m primarily a stay-at-home mom but I sew, make soap, built my daughter a wooden dollhouse and do many other things that my friends are always amazed I accomplished. I almost always work on these things while my kids are napping or in bed. I don’t like to waste time and am almost always doing something unless I’m asleep.
    I have found as my kids have gotten older (nearly 4, 1) that I can accomplish things like canning by inviting my friends to come over and having them bring their kids. It’s controlled chaos as the kids play and sometimes need assistance. My friends and I can then get more done by working together in the canning process and our kids are occupied. Sounds like you’re doing a great job!! Having kids means you can’t accomplish as much as you might have otherwise, but you can definitely still do a lot!

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  4. sarah

    12/15/2011

    Oh Andrea it sounds like you have slipped into your new role gracefully! One of those annoying things parents who are further down the parenting road say is “this too shall pass” the crazy thing is that its sooooo true. Some days everything falls into place some days just don’t. continue to be flexible and have a plan B :)
    Keep Going!
    She’s beautiful!
    Sarah

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  5. Suzanne

    12/16/2011

    It IS hard, isn’t it? Or should I just say soooo different?
    Like you, I used that naptime when I was on maternity leave to clean, blog with all the great photos I was taking, and just take in the fact we had a child all of a sudden.

    Finding routines for me (my son is 4) has really been the key to helping me feel sane and organized. Like you too, I can still only get maybe half of what I want accomplished during the weekends (I work full-time away from home) and still spend quality time with my family. I’ve realized I need to be easier on myself and not expect so much from myself, though some days that’s pretty hard!

    I mostly missed having time to myself. I used to carve some of that into my day before going to work, to read or journal or blog and slowly enjoy a cup of coffee. I can’t do that anymore. Instead, my “alone” time is as little as enjoying a shower alone or going grocery shopping alone.

    Another comment above talked about lists. I find I couldn’t live without them. Taking care of another person seems to take over half of my brain capacity to remember things, so I try to write down anything and everything I need to remember, from sending a specific bill, card, or even taking meat out of the freezer. If I don’t, it just simply doesn’t happen.

    I’m so happy for your family, Andrea!

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  6. Emily

    12/16/2011

    Love hearing how you’re doing with that sweet baby! My girls are 3 and 5 and with every stage I felt our schedule change (and I’m sure we’ll be thrown upside down with baby arrives in May). Now we’ve started homeschooling and I’m finding less is more. It’s ok to say no to activities and make decisions based on your family needs, not what everyone else says you need. Something we moms tend to learn this the hard way ;) I once heard a mom say “if your schedule is filled with good things, you don’t leave room for the great” which of course includes nurturing those sweet little kiddos. You are an awesome mom Andrea!! Love this post!!

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  7. Lisa

    12/19/2011

    Hi Andrea,
    I love hearing about how you are working on balancing everything. I remember before my first baby was born, people tried to warn me…”Oh, they take more time than you think!” and “Get stuff done now, because when your baby is born, things will be upside down for awhile!” I thought, “Sure, but that’s MOST people…I’ll be different!” Ha! I was in for a shocker, that’s for sure.
    I now have 4 kids, and I’ve learned a lot along the way! Two of the biggest helps to me are still using my calendar and making my lists. You have already established good habits in both of those areas, so keep it up! Even if you don’t check off everything on your list, you will be able to look back at it and see that you DID get a FEW things done…as well as the most important thing, which takes the most time: taking care of the baby! Not only that, but “brain dumping” is especially helpful when you are sleep-deprived!
    Another tip that will help you: If you can get up even 30 minutes before your baby wakes up (which, at this stage, might be a little hard to predict, but it will get easier!), you will start your day on a much calmer note. Those few moments of peace (some combination of workout, shower, and devotions) make me much more ready to cheerfully greet those 4 little faces when they wake up. Not only does it save my sanity, but it saves me time as well…I find that if I get ready for the day (shower, hair, makeup) before my kids are up, it takes me about 1/2 the amount of time that it does if I wait until they are awake. No interuptions!
    Enjoy the learning process…even the seasoned moms are still learning!

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  8. Crystal

    01/14/2012

    Hey Momma!
    I just found your site yesterday and I’m obsessed!! I have 2 little guys and am a stay at home mommy too (no working for pay :) ). We are a lot alike in that I totally live by a list also!! It would totally frustrate me when our babies cried all day and I got nothing done from my to-do list….some days I didn’t even brush my teeth!! So I slowly learned that in order to adore and not resent my children, I made a “DONE” list instead. When I thought about all the things I actually did do, it made my future “to do’s” more realistic!! I stayed home from teaching to be a mommy and thought it would soooooooo much easier….but there were days I would have PAID to be back in a classroom!! LOVING your site!!!!! Thanks for sharing…congratulations….the days may be long but the years are short!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Crystal,
    Funny you should mention a “DONE list” — because I actually blogged about that a couple months ago. I frequently take a few moments to make done lists for myself… and that has really helped me a lot during these last few weeks. Great minds must think alike!!

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  9. Monique

    03/22/2012

    I too work from home. I have four children, two of whom are in school all day. My youngest is 17 months old, and a way for me to get more things done is to wear him in a carrier. I used to do this to soothe him and to keep him near, but now I do it to keep him out of things while I clean! I save chores like vacuuming and mopping for when I am going to wear him, it is great exercise too, especially as they get heavier.

    I also agree that lists are essential. I use the Cozi Planner on the iPad to keep track of my appointments, to do lists and shopping lists. It is also available online, so you can access it from any computer.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Monique, I’ve tried a few different wraps/slings — but she’s just too squirmy right now! The only time those work is when she’s sleeping — and then I’d rather just put her in the crib.

    Maybe when she gets a little older she’ll like the carriers more… hopefully :)

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