WFH - Baby Mama Edition

In our “new normal,” most of us are still getting used to working from home, which—until now—sounded way easier than it is! At first, the prospect of staying home 24/7 presented the theoretical chance to sneak in some much-needed family time during and around work hours while maybe tackling that to-do list you’d been avoiding, or maybe even take up a new hobby, right? Well, as many of us have discovered, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, anticipated “family time” is just swapping workspaces throughout the day, that to-do list just keeps growing, and all of the new hobbies with the anticipated free time? The paints and the books and the garden tools have yet to be touched. After a few weeks into such a complete shift, we are still getting our routine and rhythm down—we are still learning how to maintain our day job in an environment that suggests and sometimes demands “home life.”

That’s especially true for those of us who have children who are now at home with us, and I, personally, have now been working from home with my one-year-old daughter for just over a month. As you can probably imagine, I’ve had to learn quickly how to be productive on the clock while at the same time giving my baby the attention she needs. 

Here are five tips that have worked for me, and I hope they can help you and your little one too!

Prepare Your Home: 

  • Designate an office or defined workspace in your home. Don’t work in bed or in other places you often relax. Instead, find a place where it’s easy to “leave” work at the end of your day—it’s not the same as a commute home, but it’s something.

  • If you have small children, your workspace should obviously be near where they will be spending most of the day while still allowing you to focus. Like most babies, my daughter loves to be held or sit on my lap, but when I’m sitting in my designated work area, I try not to hold her there. If she needs consoling or extra attention, I usually hold her or play with her elsewhere—the rest of the house is her playground, after all.

Prepare Yourself:

  • Prepare for the next day before going to bed. Although it can feel daunting at the end of a busy day, this prep time goes a long way in making your tomorrow sail as smoothly as possible. 

  • For me, that means planning for both baby and I, including food and clothing—I prepare baby bottles for the entire day and lay out an outfit the night before, so when it’s time for breakfast and a change, it’s simple and effortless.

Get on a Schedule and Daily Routine:

  • Have a target time to both start and end your day and stick to them to maintain that illusion of separation between work and home.

  • Set alarms for everything, not just to wake up—that includes bottles/meals, meetings, and even naps for the kids if necessary. Even though times can fluctuate from day to day, having reminders helps make sure the important things don’t get overlooked. 

  • Schedule breaksI spend mine with my baby girl, and we eat, play, or even go outside for some fresh air. 

Activate Work-Mode:

  • Find something that makes you feel energized and AWAKE. It can be a shower, doing your makeup, listening to a podcast, brushing your teeth, a morning workout or meditation—anything that gives your day a boost. 

  • Despite no longer having to go anywhere, try to still be ready for the day. For you and your kids, changing our clothes helps shift our mindset, even though we are staying home. That doesn’t mean you have to go all out, either—loungewear is perfect, just don’t stay in something that was slept in the night before.

Prioritize Daily Work To-Do List:

  • Create a whiteboard or visual display of the order of which tasks you want to accomplish for the day. While at home, it’s easy to turn on the T.V. or a noisy toy while we try to get work done, but I have found it helpful to determine which action items can be completed with background noise, and which actually need quiet or more attention. 

  • If you have them, use baby’s nap times as a power-hour to attack the priorities on your list, but when they’re awake, carve out time to play and interact with your little one. It’s not much different from stepping outside briefly at the office for a small reprieve, but it can be more fun!

Though our home lives remain individual, we are all dealing with similar things as a community, both personally and professionally. Despite the big changes to our usual routines, some things stay the same—like the fact that every day is different, no matter the preparation or what the calendar says. It’s important to remember that though things may not always go as planned, that’s okay—there’s always tomorrow!

About the Author

Alicia Soo Yee

Alicia Soo Yee is a Business Development Specialist with Schellman & Company.

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