It's been more than six weeks, and I'm finally getting into a rhythm at home. It's not perfect, I'm not getting much work done, yet, but every day it's a little easier. As such, I thought I should share some of my discoveries about working from home with a newborn.
Disclaimer: I'm a stay-at-home-mom first, and a writer second, which means I don't put in full-time working hours (I never have since quitting my corporate job). These are my experiences and observations. They won't apply to everyone. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to raising kids or caring for a newborn. Every parent should do what works for their family situation.
1. Don't even try to work more than a few minutes at a time for at least the first month...
Plan on having zero energy. Even when the baby is asleep, you won't have the brain power necessary to function above baseline survival. Follow your guilty pleasures. Binge watch Netflix shows, read romance novels, and sleep whenever possible.
Gilmore Girls. The entire series is available streaming on Netflix. I watched all five seasons from start to finish. It was fabulous.
2. Get Yourself a Baby Carrier...or three
Both of my girls did/do not like to nap in a crib. They want to be held and cuddled close. Very cute, but impractical if you're trying to get things done. Enter the world of the baby carrier.
Baby carriers are essential for the stay-at-home parent. They let you carry your child hands-free, giving you the ability to type with both hands. I tried the one-handed thing for awhile, but the typos were ludicrous. Now, Julia spends a good percentage of her day in one of the three options I have at home.
Maya Ring Sling: Best for ease of use and frequent ups and downs with a newborn. Worst for back pain if you're going to be walking around a lot or have a heavy baby.
Moby Wrap: Best for long-term baby wearing. It's a little complicated to set up, but once it's on, you can move around really easily, stand up or sit down without a problem, and it's great for both brand new babies and larger babies up to several months old.
ErgoBaby: Best for walking. Easy to use and comfortable, it's great for going shopping or taking a walk on one of your much needed breaks. Unfortunately, you'll need the newborn insert for the first several weeks, which gets really hot for both you and baby, especially here in Southern California. I loved it when my oldest got bigger, though.
You know how babies love white noise? I can't stand it. Instead, I turn on iTunes Radio in the background while I work. It drowns out the sound of typing, and Julia can sleep right through it.
My Recommendation: iTunes Radio, Hozier station. Okay, listen to what you like, but the Hozier station keeps a pretty good beat for when you're standing up and bouncing while typing, like I am right now...
4. Stay Flexible
You're gong to have to work during spare moments, here and there. There's no scheduling a newborn.
My Recommendation: Learn to work standing up and take your laptop around the house with you. I'm currently typing at the kitchen table while standing up and bouncing side to side with Julia asleep in the Moby Wrap. Earlier I was sitting on the couch with Julia on my chest and my laptop balanced precariously on my knees with a lap desk.
5. Observe the Sleep Schedule
I know, I know, I just said there's no scheduling a newborn...BUT...
There might be some regularity to your baby's sleeping habits after about a month. It's not precise, but there should be periods when you're more likely to get an extended period of time to work. For me, it's right around 8:30 am.
My Recommendation: Write down when your baby is sleeping for a few days and see if there's a pattern. If so, protect that time for work. You might need to enlist your significant other to help. In my case, my husband has been able to take Karen to preschool most mornings, which lets me put Julia in the baby carrier for a long morning nap.
6. Wear Your Baby
Have I mentioned how important this one is? I would never get anything done at all if I didn't wear Julia around the house in a baby carrier. She'll sit in the swing for a little while, but she won't sleep for long unless I'm carrying her.
7. Set Small Goals
I try for 500 words each work day and one review request. That's basically two pages, which takes about an hour of solid writing time, plus some research and email time. Some of that can be done in chunks of ten to fifteen minutes, and not all of it requires the use of a laptop.
My Recommendation: Do as much as possible in small increments on mobile devices. You'd be surprised how much research and marketing you can accomplish on an iPad while nursing.
8. Forget about the Housework
Okay, you still have to get some housework done. Especially laundry, the bane of my existence. But try to let some things go sometimes. If you can, hire a housecleaner or get your mom to help out. Otherwise, do it when the kids are awake when you won't be able to concentrate, anyway.
My Recommendation: Save the vacuuming, mopping, and dishes for when the baby is awake in the baby carrier or baby swing. That way, the noise won't bother her and you can save the precious sleep time for your work.
9. Don't forget to get outside once in awhile
Take a walk, join a fitness group like Stroller Strides, or go to the mall. I don't care how introverted you are, you have to get out of the house at least occasionally. It will clear your head, and you can do a lot of brainstorming while moving your feet. Sometimes that's all you need to do to increase productivity.
10. Did I mention Baby Carriers?
Seriously, they're essential.
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