Working from home isn’t about motivation anymore. I have plenty of that. Working from home with a baby requires way more than motivation alone, it requires discipline and the art of handling your time. It’s all about time management. I wake at 6am, about 30 mins later than about 2 weeks ago, as the teething has stopped now that two little teeth have started popping through. Whilst a Emily is entertained with her dolls, ducky, and dummy, I’ll do 30 minutes of my exercise DVD, shower, feed Emily, eat my breakfast, get CBeebies on, possibly a nap for Emily is thrown in, do some admin work, read over a post or two on here before I publish it and set up my laptop before 9am. This is, if everything runs smoothly. If, for whatever reason Emily won’t play ball, it can be 10am before I’ve even managed to turn my laptop on. From this time till the end of my work day (about 5pm), there will be 2 bowls of baby food eaten, 3-4 bottles of formula drunk, 5 nappy changes, 3-4 naps, 1-2 cries, 7 cuddles, a whole load of babbling, a fair amount of screaming and a lot of Mr Tumble, Bing and Hey Duggee. On top of that, I have to make myself 2 meals with this diet (no snacking, remember?), do the endless amounts of washing piling up in the basket, make the bed, put clothes away, sort through paperwork, do the shopping (weekly, mostly online), make dinner and make sure time is constantly in my favour. Around that I try and fit in seeing my friends which I’d love to see more, but sometimes is nigh on impossible. All of that will be juggled around content calendars, analytic reports, stats and figures, numerous emails, lots of phone calls and voicemails, Skype meetings and scheduling, before getting the dinner ready by a certain time. But whilst I seem to do a lot in the day, I genuinely do more when Emily has gone down for a nap. If Emily refuses to go into the jumperoo, she’s sat on the couch with me, sat in her bumbo, standing on my legs as she tries to jump, or rolling over and getting stressed out that she can’t crawl on her playmat.
Keeping an eye on a mobile baby is difficult. Whilst she starts moving around, I have to keep my mind in work mode and manage my time for all the daily tasks I do. Whilst my laptop is on from 9-10am until 5pm, I don’t actually work the full 7-8 hours. It’s just not possible. Thankfully, everything I do fits around my schedule and my calendar. Having a schedule is crucial but we all know with young children, things don’t always go as planned. Emily has gone from a quiet baby to a rather inquisitive one. She demands attention at any given moment. If I’m on the phone, she’ll make a point that she’s there, if I’m on the laptop, she’ll want to try and use it herself, there’s plenty of obstacles that can be flung my way to stop me doing what I need to do daily.
But what are the best ways to manage your time as a work-from-home parent?
Schedule, schedule, schedule!
Establishing a schedule is super important and the backbone to your working day. If you can fill in when naps are needed, feeds are wanted and whatever else inbeteeen, you can manage your day better to suit your working day.
Find your happy hour
Ok, so you’re not going to be sitting down with a cool martini, but if you have an hour where you feel most motivated, try and do most of your work in this time, if you can. For me, I find that I sometimes do my best work between 7am and 9am in the morning. This is when a Emily has a huge burst of energy, wants a bottle, a cuddle, some CBeebies time and then a 30 min jumping marathon in her jumperoo before another cuddle and passes out for an hours nap. In the time that she naps throughout the day, I find myself most productive.
Use apps that will help manage and organise your life
I use DropBox and Google Drive to organise most of the workload that I deal with. Thankfully everything that I do doesn’t require writing things down, I can, but, why create more mess that’s not needed? I deal with everything online. Alongside my calendar I can see what needs doing and find everything in one place.
Make time for Emily
My day may be jam packed, but I always make time for Emily. I chose to work from home for Emily. We have our time to play, cuddle, single, dance, talk, eat, drink and walk throughout the day. We have this time together and I, really am grateful. She loves being next to me as I type on whichever technological device I have in my hand, she likes to help by sucking on my iPhone case, slamming her hand on the side of my laptop or touching my face as I make her giggle continuously.
Make time for my friends
In the past few weeks, I’ve not seen my best mate, but work or other things have dropped up which means finding that time really difficult. Which really sucks. I’m lucky that my work can be taken anywhere with me (not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!), but I should make time more to see friends. But, timelines rarely collides together so it normally requires a bit of planning. I’ll get better, I promise!
Make time for myself
Maybe that’s selfish, but when Emily has a nap, I do try and give myself a 15 minute break, that doesn’t involve work, switched off from my iPad, iPhone or laptop, just so that I can sit back with a cup of tea and catch up on one of my programmes. It’s needed, vital. Same as that 5 minute break you might catch in the shower whilst your other half looks after the little one.