Working from home can be great but challenging. Add a newborn into the mix, and that takes it to an entirely new level. Before having a baby, the house was quiet. It was an environment suited for productivity. I could work anywhere in the house, eat whenever I wanted, and sleep when I was tired. Basically, I could structure my day however I wanted. But when my daughter was born, everything about working from home changed.
Newborns require a lot of attention. Not only that, but you also get attached to them really quick. You want to see them all the time, play with them, and so on. So, how can you manage working from home at the same time? Here are some tips that help me get through my day as a parent.
Early to Rise
I usually get up early, along with the baby. She’s an early riser. This allows us to spend some time together before the work day. I miss her less during the work day while I’m trying to focus. I also find that waking up early leads to a more productive day.
Consider Your Environment
I have dedicated office space in my house for those times when I need some quiet, but I also find it important to move around the house and work in different settings. The change of scenery gives me a boost of energy, and helps me get more work done. One thing to keep in mind when working outside of your dedicated office office when you have a baby, is to try and avoid working in the baby’s spaces, like the play room, as they can be very distracting. The places that work for me other than my office space are the dining room, on the couch in the family room, and every now and then in bed. I’ve tried the play room a couple of times, and it never works out. Half the time I end up playing with her, or watching her play. The other half of the time, she usually tries to climb on my laptop and push all the keys on my keyboard.
Keep a Routine
Routines are very important. Not just for the baby, but for me. My routines help me stay focused during the day, and help me plan my day better. For example, after I get up in the morning, I make sure to always have a bite of breakfast and play with the baby. I like to keep lunch around the same time each day, when the baby is awake. This way, I can get some time in with her. Planning quality time with her in advance helps minimize distractions when I’m actually working.
Find Time to Sleep
Getting enough sleep with a newborn is hard, but starts to get better after a few months. Sleep is key to having a productive work day. Since my baby has been born, I’ve shifted from being a night owl to an early bird. Since she is up so early everyday, the only way for me to get enough sleep is to forego my night owl ways and get to sleep earlier. On nights when I go to bed too late, I definitely struggle the next day. Having been a night owl most of my life, this was a jarring change at first, but it sort of happened on its own. Babies can be exhausting. You’re chasing them around, keeping them out of trouble, and so on. Because of this, I started getting tired much earlier in the day than before, which helped me adjust my sleep schedule to an earlier bedtime. I also heavily rely on caffeine in diet soda and tea.
Tune it Out (Usually)
Things tend to be pretty chaotic with a baby in the house. I know mine is. When my daughter and wife are having fun in the playroom, it’s not usually quiet. My daughter likes to babble and bang her toys together. A lot of her toys make noise and sing songs. She screams and cries when she’s upset. Sometimes my wife needs help for a few minutes, and I have to take the baby. If you want to see chaos, try writing code while an infant is swatting at the keyboard! Sometimes you just have to be able to tune it out. This is a practiced skill for me. It’s not easy in the beginning. But, as you settle into the parenting life, it gets easier as you’re more comfortable being away from the baby.
Find the Proper Care
We tried getting a nanny for a nanny share with our neighbors while my wife worked out of the house. This initially worked, but we discovered how hard it is to find and keep good, reliable care. In a nine month span, we had three nannies. It became too inconsistent for us, and for the baby. It also got to the point where it was getting impossible to find anyone, especially someone who could watch two infants at the same time. In the end, we decided the nanny route wasn’t for us, for the time being. Instead, my wife decided to stay home and be the nanny for our nanny share with the neighbors.
If you can, find some time to walk during the day. Nothing helps reset my mind like a nice stroll outside. I like to take the baby with me, as she loves it too, and we get some time together. When I’m working on a problem and I’ve been stuck for a bit, I will often take my walk at that time. And more times than not, the solution is much more clear when I get back.
For me, it’s all about creating routines and consistency. Having a repeatable plan for the day helps me get my work done, and get it done right. Self care is also important if you want to be at your best. When it comes to having a baby in the house, give these tips a try, and see if they work for you. Experiment with different routines and find what works best for you.