When it became clear that I would have to return to work when baby was just 6 months old, I won’t lie, I panicked. It was January, baby was coming up 4 months old and refused bottles. He’s a breast only boy. Not only that, but there’s a childcare shortage in our area & we would’ve had to wait until August for a place in the baby room – that was after registering two months before baby was born. And before anyone starts on the “grandparents should look after baby whilst parents work” train, our parents all work themselves, and mine are 18,631.74 km away in NZ. A bit of a commute to babysit.
With hubby working from home we decided to take the plunge. After talking to my managers, I was able to work from home full time (our office also wasn’t set up for me to express milk for supply maintenance with its open plan, so this helped the work from home argument), so between us, and my husband’s mum popping in most afternoons, we managed. I won’t say we succeeded, but we managed.
Pretending that I, the writer, and you, the reader, are sitting having a coffee and discussing the things that helped us along our work from home with baby way, I have few a thoughts to share:
Set realistic expectations
Every day will be different. I started a little early & broke my lunch break up so that I could step away for 10 minutes here & there. “The dishes can wait” was never a more true statement. Pick your battles & give yourself grace.
Look up toys / activities for your little one’s age & development. Show them new toys / books / objects every few days. Don’t only rotate toys, but rotate where baby hangs out. Floor, couch, Moses basket, high chair etc., mix it up!
See above: set realistic expectations & you can only do what you can do. It probably warrants its own post, but we feed on demand at home, and slowly transitioned to solids & water during the day at nursery. Starting with one hour, then two or three hours until he was settled enough to stay four or five hours & learned to eat solids / drink water whilst at nursery. He eventually managed full days and I miss him like crazy now.
The downside? Baby reverse cycled his breast feeds, feeding a lot at night. Even now at a year old, he’s up every 2-4 hours for milk. Another reason I’m thankful for working from home; there have been days where dealing with sleep deprivation & the office would have been impossible & would’ve resulted in having to take sick days.
Embrace the contact nap
Use a nursing pillow under baby’s bottom, or a sling wrap. Prop baby up on your chest and get to those emails / video calls! Nothing quite like a sleeping fluffy head joining software feature planning meetings!
Easier said than done, but do it. Even if it’s just Granny taking baby out for a walk at 4pm whilst you finish up tasks for the day.
I’m always a fan of block or batch working. I planned to do emails or admin work whilst baby was awake, and meetings or calls during his nap time. Where I had important meetings or projects to do, the husband would take baby. We were as flexible as possible with our expectations & communicated what we needed. We might not have worked for the same company, but we treated each other as team mates during work hours to go & smash our workloads.
Use screens & music
This one obviously depends your baby’s temperament, but don’t be afraid to use whatever tools work. If popping a baby sensory YouTube video on helps everyone stay calm and get through 20 minutes of work concentration, why not use that tool?
These are my key tips for managing work at home with a 6 – 12 month old baby. As he grows & changes I’m sure our approach will change! That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned so far with parenting: be flexible. Babies change so incredibly quickly!
Have you worked from home with a baby? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below!