Working at home with a baby

Working from home….imagine baby tucked into a sling or crib, while mom types away at a keyboard, leads a teleconference or assembles products. You might wonder if working from home really turns out to be so ideal or if it’s just a pipedream.

I’ve been working from home since before I had kids. But working from home with a baby is not the same as when it was me, my latte and I. Still, I’ve managed whiplash, renovations, a move, more renovations, a second pregnancy and a second baby. And I’m still happily working from home. Here’s how:

  • Look for tradeoffs. I chose not to use a nanny or daycare, but I hired a weekly housecleaning service, signed on for grocery delivery and bought a robotic vacuum. Some work from home parents swear by meal preparation services.
  • Be patient. Once your baby settles into a nap schedule, you will have more time for yourself. You may have two to three hours during the day and another two to four in the evening, depending on bedtime for you and baby. My first baby didn’t nap much at all, mind you, so it just depends on your baby.
  • Let baby sleep beside your office. When my babies were tiny, they napped in a bassinet near my workspace. I kept all diaper supplies, a few changes of clothes and other things handy.
  • Be realistic. If you have a tiny baby who has not yet settled into a regular nap schedule, it can be hard to find time to work. You may want to spend any “spare” time resting. If it’s critical for you to work, consider getting help – whether that’s a nanny, housecleaner, grocery delivery, meal preparation or a local high school student who plays with the baby while you take a nap.
  • Take a look at childcare options. Some parents work from home without ever turning to childcare providers, whereas others have dedicated in-home care. Work from home parents can choose from a variety of options. This might mean that a grandparent or friend looks after the baby for an hour or two. For others, a nanny or babysitter provides in-home care. Some parents rely on full- or part-time daycare. In my case, I’ve worked out an arrangement where my husband uses his flex time to cover me during occasional business meetings and critical phone calls – he makes up the time at night. I also make use of a preschool-aged program where I can drop off my older son for a couple of hours twice a week.
  • Allow someone else to reinvent the wheel. Rather than investing hours in building your own business, consider telecommuting for an employer, accepting subcontracted work from an established business or purchasing a franchise.

Above all else, do what works for you and your family. There are as many ways to work from home as there are people working from home. Trust yourself to know what makes sense for you.

For help in working out what kind of business would suit you as a parent, take a look at my Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur for Moms workbook.

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Tony says:

I would get a lot less done if my daughter was home every day. I work from a home office, but also send her to daycare. She gets the development and socialization there and I can enjoy the fun time we spend together. If she was home all day, the only time I would get work done is from 1-3 and after 9PM, which is a lot less than I do today. Conference calls would be a nightmare… I do have my other “kid” with me though.

Roxy is an English Mastiff and keeps me company during the day. Sometimes I have to nudge her when her snoring gets too loud and I’m on a conference call. :)

Andrea says:

It’s really important that parents choose options that allow for rest. Sometimes, we have a tendency to forget that.

melanie says:

How much I can work from home has changed as my children have grown. When I had my first son, it was very doable to work from home because he napped and around the time he stopped napping, he began preschool 2.5 hours in the mornings.

I am now the mom of a preschooler and a toddler. I recently enrolled my daughter in part-time care 2 days a week because I was finding myself working too late at night to get things done. She is loving it and I feel more balanced. I’m thankful to be home with her and my son the rest of the week.