By Holly Reisem Hanna
I remember when my daughter first came home from the hospital, it was the hardest three months of my life. I remember one night in particular, where I was trying to eat some frozen pizza and breastfeed my daughter at the same time, and it just wasn't working. I was so sleep deprived and hormonal, that I just burst into tears during dinner, “I can't do this – it's so hard”!
As my daughter hit the three-month mark, it became a little bit easier. By the six month mark we were getting into a groove, and by the eight-month mark, I began to feel like a normal human being again. It was at this point in time, that I started to think about working from home.
While many individuals decide to work-at-home to achieve better work-life balance, working at home with a newborn, presents many new challenges for both moms and dads. Looking back, I'm not sure how I would have handled a newborn and working at the same time.
So I decided to ask some moms, who have been there and done that, “What's your number one tip for successfully working at home with a newborn?” and here's what they had to say …
1. Boobie Time = Work Time
I breastfed all my kids, and during those marathon nursing sessions, I'd set up on the sofa with my laptop, my phone, and a big glass of water. Latch the baby on and get to work! She was content, I had a dedicated period of time when I HAD to be sitting, not cleaning or chasing bigger kids. I got so much done! – Evin Cooper of Food Good, Laundry Bad
2. Master Your Mindset
Amidst the craziness of excess hormones, nerves, and lack of confidence (and sleep for that matter) you need to figure out how to stay positive, see the bigger picture and take things as they come. Mastering your mindset is crucial in keeping your cool so that you can work at home, take care of a newborn and bypass the epic meltdown that is sure to come if you don't. Watch The Secret, download some free podcasts, or do whatever it takes to live in the moment during this special time. – Jennifer Donogh
3. Mute Button
I've worked at home with two newborns. My advice: Be sure to have an iPhone or device you can do most of your work from when you can't be at your computer, be sure your phone has an easy access MUTE button and use it often, learn to type while breastfeeding, and set up your laptop in your lap in a recliner and prop baby next to you or on your chest. When he's not sitting with you, get a great baby swing! Also, BE FLEXIBLE and don't expect things to go perfectly – in 4-5 years it will get easier. – Melissa Kaupke
4. Keep Baby Close, As In Use A Carrier Or Wrap!
My daughter is five weeks old (I also have a 7-year-old and a 13-month-old, crazy I know!), so when I needed to get back into the swing of working, I needed a way to keep her from being poked and smacked by my 13-month-old. I instantly turned to our Moby wrap. She is against my chest, hearing my heartbeat, while I click away on the keyboard. My 7-year-old and 13-month-old? They can't disturb her! I have two hands and the sweet snoring of my newborn while I work! – Mandi Welbaum of mandimindingmoney.com
5. BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR HOURS!
Working from home can definitely give you a better peace of mind as a new mom. But, be prepared to work STRANGE hours! Sometimes you may need to sleep at 10am with your baby and work at 2am when you are awake with a feeding. And remember, it is just a SEASON of your life. Try and enjoy it! – Cindy Hamilton of Hamilton Marketing Group
6. Don't Nap When They Nap
I don't nap when my daughter naps. I try to take advantage of those times and do as much work as possible. That is my time to read or do some work that requires my undivided attention. As my daughter takes a few 2-hour naps it allows to me to accomplish quite a bit. – Aja Stallworth of Globetripping Travel
7. Get Baby On A Nap Schedule
Writing for several blogs and working on product development presented a huge challenge for me while my daughter was a newborn. It seemed to me that I could never really catch up on my work. It started to get better when I realized that if I could schedule her naps and schedule my work within her naps. My efficiency improved greatly! – Naomi Tapia of Pink Flamingo Cosmetics
8. Be Willing To Be Flexible
Did you leave your 9-5 to work 9-5? Work around the schedule you have set for your newborn (or the one they have set for you). If you have the benefit of making your own work schedule, realize that you do have the power to adjust it as needed. That's a perk of working from home. Why fluster yourself by trying to force a proverbial ‘9-5' when you don't have to? You really can make the best gains during your newborn's downtime when you just roll with it and stay flexible. – LP Share of PendCo
When working from home with a newborn recognize that your workday will need to be flexible because a newborn's schedule is unpredictable until you can develop a regular routine. It's also very easy to overlap home life with work life, try to keep them separate otherwise you will feel burn out because you will feel like you don't get a break. So, be sure to give yourself some quiet time every day, even if it is just five minutes. – Michelle Morton
10. Take Advantage Of Naps!
You won't get the long stretches of uninterrupted time you used to get before your little one entered the picture, but you will get some solid chunks of time while he or she naps. Use this time to do the things you can't do holding your baby, such as interviewing, preparing mailers, or taking notes. Other things, such as keyboarding, can be accomplished with your baby in a sling, so you can save those for when your baby is awake. – Jennifer Roland of Freelance Writer
11. Hire A Sitter
I am a work at home mom of five children, including 1-year-old twins. My best advice to work from home successfully with a newborn is to hire a sitter. Though a newborn will sleep throughout most of the day, by six weeks they will start to be awake more and more. Having a sitter allows you to focus on work during working hours so you can accomplish your working goals, giving you more time to focus on your newborn later. – Chelsea Gladden of FlexJobs
12. Learn To Work In 5 Minute Increments
Gone are the days of plunking down at the computer for hours of concentration. With a newborn, you must learn to work in pockets of time, being able to stop quickly and re-engage even faster. The solution may be as simple as jotting a reminder to yourself before getting up from the computer or as detailed as rearranging your work schedule to align with baby's rhythm–catching up on emails while baby plays, conference calls during naps, intense work later at night when baby is down for the night. – Shelley Hunter of Gift Card Girlfriend
13. Two Words: Baby Carriers
I discovered baby wearing, which has proven very successful. Early on my daughter loved her Moby, and now is quite fond of her Ergo harness. The harnesses allow me to be hands-free, and still keep the baby ‘in my arms', which she likes. My little one is content to snuggle, watch the world go by, and nap against daddy's chest for a couple hours at a time. This freed me up IMMENSELY to do other things, like type and work with papers. – Ryan Anderson of Club Z! In Home Tutoring of Greensboro
14. Hands-Free Baby
My absolute top tip, both for you and for your baby, is to invest in a good sling or carrier. I have a soft cloth wrap that my 8-week old loves. He sleeps on me in the afternoons when I get a few hours' work done. I get to keep my business going, and he gets to have a nice warm sleep cuddled up on my chest. – Jennifer Stakes Roberts of Enhanced Freelance
15. Hire A Babysitter
Just because you're working at home doesn't mean you should expect to write, make calls, file, and email, all while nursing, burping, or rocking a newborn to sleep. My best advice is: hire a babysitter. Schedule a few hours a day for a sitter to literally take the baby off your hands. Even in a small house or apartment, try to work in a different room, or send the baby out for long walks with the sitter. Then put your nose to the grindstone. It will make a world of difference. – Stephanie Thompson of STPR
16. Work Is Something You Do, Not Somewhere You Go
Forget one of the perks of working in your pajamas-with a home office and a newborn, you have to prepare everything. My priorities change completely, but I knew I couldn’t ignore one for other. I had to modify business hours to focus on family between 7– 9 AM and 5-7 PM, which means that sometimes I work odd hours (late evenings, weekends) to accommodate when my kids are awake. It also means that I am more available my West Coast clients since I have later hours. That’s a surprise benefit! – Dana Marlowe of Accessibility Partners
17. Tips For Work-At-Home Moms With Newborns
1. Get a hands free device for your phone. It is easiest to make/take calls when walking around the house and bouncing baby to sleep.
2. Be open and honest about the fact that you just had a baby (to clients, vendors, etc). People tend to be very understanding and supportive.
3. Don't count on your memory! Keep a to-do or follow-up list for every task that comes up. You will often be interrupted during tasks and may not remember what you were doing when you are free again. – Ashley Torresala of Propel Communications
18. Tricky Business
It's hard to predict the level of success you can have working at home with a newborn because every newborn has a different personality and set of needs. Some newborns are independent from the start and thrive simply sitting and playing in your presence. Others need constant stimulation or may have health issues that demand your attention. Depending on the needs of your child, you may only be able to get work done during their naps. Therefore, you need to go into the situation with an open mind! – Casey Slide of Money Crashers Personal Finance
19. Dad's Backup Role?
A couple should discuss what Mom can count on as far as back-up support from Dad; a plan that is consistent and doable. Maybe Dad can always get home early on Wednesdays so that he can take care of the baby starting at 6 pm, for example, so Mom knows that she will always have an evening to catch up. Being home with a baby never quite goes as one expects. – Sharon O'Neill of Private Practice, Marriage Therapist/Consultant/Author
20. Learn To Separate
Trying to be an active parent and focused businessperson all in the same minute can make you crazy. Learn to concentrate on one, and then the other. Learn to switch gears quickly, and intentionally. Sometimes your baby will interrupt your focused work. Just step away and return to it when you have taken care of the baby. Trying to do two things at once well can lead you to do them both poorly. Enjoy your baby, look at them, love them. Put them down to play or sleep and then work hard, and focus. – Shay Prosser of Get It Together
21. Let Newborn Dictate Your Work Schedule
My #1 tip for working at home with a newborn is to work when they are sleeping. Newborns need your full attention when they are awake and they sleep plenty of hours in the day for you to wait until they sleep. I learned this real quick when continuing to work from home when my now-6-month-old was born. She is only a newborn once, and missing ANYTHING with her wasn't worth trying to work while she was awake. She needed me when awake, and I wanted to cherish that time with her. – Audra Rundle of Little One Books
22. Define Your Focus
When working from home with a newborn, be sure to set aside specific times when you can dedicate 100% of your focus to your work. That could be while the baby sleeps or while someone else if caring for the baby. If you try to work while taking care of your baby at the same time, both will suffer from your incomplete attention! – Annabelle Petriella of Stylish Design Services
23. Though Patience Be A Tired Mare, Yet She Will Plod (Shakespeare's Henry V)
Have patience with circumstances, with your newborn, with your spouse, and especially with yourself. Patience gives you the time and space to allow yourself to forgive yourself if mistakes are made, and will likewise allow you time for reflection so that the next time will be better — that is, to help you regroup and assess [re-frame] things not as setbacks but as exciting learning experiences. Moreover, patience allows for better time management and for improved personal esteem. – Marie Ruediger of www.Ruediger.ws
24. Time Blocking
My #1 rule for working at home is time blocking, allowing you to schedule your day as you would in the office. Tim Ferris from the 4 Hour Work Week recommends adding times to your email signature of when people can expect to hear from you. Using time blocks, your family and work community will know what to expect, and you will have a clearer mind. When we just let the day flow, we often get less accomplished and work longer hours. I find my efficiency to be higher when I schedule work intervals. – Ann Lawlor of ByuTi Salon
25. To Do List Vs. Baby Easton
I do work on my computer while he is up and playing and then when it's nap time I make my phone calls! I get my list of contacts and numbers ready before he lays down so I have as much time as possible to make calls for follow up, or recruiting. It's worked out really well so far!! Love my baby boy and my “job” I'm so happy to find a balance that meets everyone's needs! – Tiffany Lynch of 3000BC
26. You, Too, Can Nurse Openly And Hands-Free While Working!
Set up your work environment to be conducive to your job and your newborn:
I'm Chief Medical Officer for a mobile health monitoring company, requiring that I review documents, write research proposals, correspond with the team, etc. On my chair arms and lap, just in front of my keyboard, sits a Boppy Pillow on which I nurse the baby while using the computer and doing teleconferences (speaker phone and mute options help!). Also within reach are: tissues, trash can, blanket, pack-n-play, swing! – Christine Tsien Silvers, M.D., Ph.D. of A Frame Digital, Inc.
27. Learn How To Type With One Hand!
Having your own business and a newborn takes the work/family balance to a whole new level. If you can afford help or can take a leave from your business. DO IT! If not, learn how to run your business with one hand. Do remember that your baby will need a lot of time from you, so inform vendors and clients that your response time might take longer than normal. Also, throw your old schedule out the window and do what I did and work when the baby is sleeping (and of course after you take a nap)! – Abbey Fatica
28. Outsource What You Can!
I had a baby last July and my saving grace was the independent contractors that I had lined up to help me. Newborns don't stay newborn for very long. My advice is always to enjoy that time as much as you can. And, after childbirth your body needs rest. Even if you can only manage it for a short time, help will make you more focused and more productive. Newborns sleep a lot. Use half of that time to work and the other half to rest yourself! – Dawn Berryman of Market Mommy
29. Work When They Sleep
Take advantage of bonding with your newborn while she/he is awake and ONLY work while they take their naps. It's a win-win for you both. – Nellie Akalp of CorpNet.com
30. Enjoy Your Baby & Work When You Can
After my first son was born, I quit my full-time job. A couple of years later, SeedMommy was born. I have since had two babies while WAH. My advice: Planning ahead is key. Get as much work done before the baby is born and plan sometime after the baby is born to get back in the swing of things. Whether it's your first or sixth child, the love a Mom has for her newborn is overwhelming and can push everything on the backburner. Planning ahead will give you time with baby while keeping your biz on track. – Toni Bloomfield
31. Take One Small Step
When my baby was born, I had no clue how unpredictable newborns could be. As moms, we have to stay flexible, and having a perfectly consistent schedule isn't realistic in the beginning. This means working when you can, even if it's just five minutes and you accomplish one small task. If you're waiting for a long chunk of uninterrupted time, things won't get done. Keep your work area organized and checklists in place and do what you can, when you can. – Stephanie Hodges
32. Superwoman Routine!
Working from home can be challenging in itself but when you add newborns and toddlers to the mix it becomes even more complicated! My mantra is, do what works best for your family and with four children what worked when I brought baby #4 home was a good routine! Need tips and ideas? Contact me! – Amber J Davis of Independent Director Thirty One Gifts
33. Make Time To Really Focus
You may be blessed with a newborn that sleeps a lot, but I wouldn't create a work plan around the ‘best case scenario' – I'd create it around the ‘worst case scenario'! When I had a newborn I found it essential to carve out a set number of hours for quiet, uninterrupted time to focus on my business. This meant sharing a nanny with another mompreneur. However, if a nanny isn't in your budget, I suggest organizing a ‘mom-swap' or another creative arrangement to give you time to really focus! – Noelle Abarelli of The Smart Mompreneur
What tips do you have for working from home with a newborn?
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