Working from home while caring for your baby or toddler is a balancing act and while there is no recipe for perfection, you can maximize your time to be more effective. Working from home doesn't have to be a trade off, you can do both!
Start by setting expectations for yourself. If you're expecting yourself to get as much work done as before when you were working from your office, it's time to lower those expectations (and then lower them again). While you can work from home successfully, it's going to look and feel a lot different than before. If you set your expectations too high, you could be setting yourself up for failure and no one likes the shameful feeling of guilt for not meeting your own standards.
After your expectations are dialed in, set realistic expectations with everyone else; that includes your partner, your boss/coworkers and even your children. Let your partner know that there are going to be times when you're going to need extra support. Remember to be super clear (your partner isn't a mind reader) with what you need from them.
Let your boss or coworkers know what they can expect. It's okay to be forthcoming and let them know there might be a crying baby or impatient toddler making noise in the background. Or that you might be working outside of normal business hours. Do set the expectation for when you'll be responding to emails, available for meetings and meeting your deadlines.
And set expectations with your children. While this is definitely harder to do with younger babies, you'd be surprised what toddlers can understand. Explain to them that you'll be working, get them their own pretend laptop and let them "work" alongside you. Toddlers love to be just like mommy!
No one is saying that you need to lower your expectations, it's all about shifting them so that you can get your work done and not feel guilty about it. If your baby is being extra fussy and you're having trouble making a deadline, talk to your boss about it or ask a coworker for extra help. You'd be surprised at how understanding people are. Most everyone is in this same boat, so try not to beat yourself up about it.
Accept unpredictability and learn to embrace it!
"Unpredictability is beauty of life. Struggle makes it interesting and worth living." - Bhaskar Sharma
It's okay to stop working and savor the moment with your little one. Take a break to play with your baby, build a block tower and then watch them laugh as you knock it down. Play a game of peek-a-boo. Read a story. Run around outside with your toddler.
Instead of waiting fighting for the perfect moment to work, embrace the interruptions and take a break. After play time, you'll come back to work time feeling energized and be able to focus better. It's about working smarter, not harder. You won't be a hero if you're burnt out.
Of course we would all love to limit screen time, even for ourselves, but sometimes it's just not realistic. While we don't recommend propping your baby up to watch 5 hours of TV so you can get work done, don't feel too guilty if you need to take advantage of technology to get some work done.
Feel better about screen time by downloading some educational or creative apps. You can also set timers that limit screen time so you won't have to worry about the full day passing by. Remember to take it easy on yourself.
If you can work while your baby naps, that's a great way to get in some uninterrupted thinking time. And there's also a window after nap time where babies and toddlers are easily entertained (i.e. fresh off their nap and happy). Take advantage of this window and set up a safe space for them to play alone so you can continue to get work done. Once they've started to get a little fussy, pause your work and come back to it later. Focus on enjoying the moment with your baby, work will always be waiting.
And don't forget to use Happi Tummi to help calm and soothe fussy babies. It's also a great way to relax your toddlers before nap time. When your toddler is calm, you'll have the chance to get more work done -- calm toddler + happy mommy = win win!
So tell us, what tips do you have for moms working from home? What's your secret for feeling accomplished?