It’s been a little more than one year since I wrote my “How to work from home with a new baby in 10 easy steps” post. So now I’m baaaaack! With a toddler. And some new top-notch definitely very serious and very un-funny advice. I am grateful for my current working situation but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. After years of hard work for them pre-baby, I’m glad that my company has allowed me to continue working part time and remotely. I’m not sure if this will always be the best situation for my family, but it is good for us at the moment.
Since my last post … surprise! Some things have changed. And by “surprise!” I mean “duh.” The difference between a 4-6 month old and an 18 month old is … a lot. My daughter can walk now. And talk. Though she speaks a dialect I can’t quite identify.
So, our dynamic has changed considerably, but I still work remotely and mostly from home. How do I do it?! Not very elegantly sometimes. …And other times I kick a**.
Here’s my top advice:
- Work when your baby sleeps
When my daughter naps, my laptop comes out. Simple as that. Dishes may not get worked on, but emails sure do. Sometimes I work when she’s awake and entertained with books or toys. This works on occasion, but other times results in a screaming child trying to tear away the keys on my keyboard.
- Work when your baby and your partner sleeps
I weirdly enjoy the silence and quiet of nighttime to get work done. I’ll sit with my computer and enjoy the vast expanse of time ahead of me. But, only sometimes. If I rely on this option too often, my brain turns to mush and I’m no help to anyone, anywhere.
- Hire someone to help you
This is the real advice. Whether you find a daycare or hire someone to come to your house, you need some time when your child is taken care of by someone other than yourself.
- Try to keep a schedule
This has been my biggest change and perhaps its specific to my situation. I am not working full time so I was splitting my hours between each weekday. It was difficult to find childcare and, quite frankly, mental space to complete my work so I was relying on #1 and #2 way too often. By consolidating my hours, I’ve made things more manageable. I’m very grateful to have a boss who carefully considered the new schedule I presented to her and accepted it.
- Have backups
If you have friends and family who are willing to watch your child for an hour or more, by all means ask them. When I unexpectedly have a conference call or meeting on what is supposed to be a day off, I ask for help to cover the random hours.
- Be prepared when everything (still) crumbles
Sometimes things still converge in the most awkward and obnoxious ways. It happens. It comes with the territory of having a job where you are providing a service to someone other than yourself. Hopefully it doesn’t happen too often. One time I even dropped off my daughter at my husband’s office during his lunch hour while I sat in the car (hacking into his building’s WiFi, natch) and had an emergency call with a client. It was not ideal and I was stressed out but we all survived.
- Draw lines in the sand, even if just for yourself
If you’re like me, working remotely/from home can feel that you can’t ever fully “shut off.” I don’t leave my office at 5 o’clock and shut the door. My office is in my home. Staring at me. Glaring at me sometimes. It can be really hard, but unless I’m up against an important deadline, I try to block off time very clearly. I do not check emails on my days off. I will check my phone on occasion for text messages that my colleagues know to send if they need something when I’m not “in.” It was difficult to be diligent at first, but now I’m getting the hang of it.
- Drink water, eat healthy snacks. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
When I have uninterrupted time to work – because I am paying someone else to take care of my daughter or some other reason – I can sometimes get “swallowed up” by my tasks. Hours can fly by and the time pressure of knowing I only have a certain amount of time to get things done can make me feel like even a bathroom break is not a priority. Ugly truth! I try to keep a full water bottle and healthy snacks close by since I don’t often feel I can take breaks. I wasn’t necessarily great at taking breaks when I worked in an office either, but I’m simply horrendous at it now. When I eat full meals and hydrate, I feel so much better and more equipped to handle my job, and being a mom. And being myself.
- Keep your headset close and your colleagues closer
Oh, you know I still love my
beautifulnerdy headset. And I am grateful for supportive colleagues who help me stick to my schedule and are wonderful to collaborate with. I find that the more open and straightforward I am, the easier it is to get things done.
- Get out of the house
When I can, I work from a local coffee shop. The change in scenery is helpful and refreshing.
- Write lists, or follow some kind of a system of outstanding items for your home and job
Use Trello or Asana if you like online tools, use a bullet journal, use those digital sticky notes on your computer, use stickys in real life. But probably don’t use stickys in real life because a strong wind … or a FREAKING TODDLER can blow that whole house down. Whatever you use, try not to rely solely on your memory to keep tasks straight. Things are bound to fall through the cracks and cause stress. Make all the lists. Keep all the sanity. Or, like, most of the sanity.