Yes, it is possible! You can earn an income and keep your baby with you at home as well. The money saved on childcare and the pure joy of being an active part of your baby’s important developmental stages makes it all so worth it. But, let me tell you, it’s not easy! Cue: this survival guide for work from home moms.
When my husband and I decided to try for our first baby, it became apparent that I needed a more flexible job. As a classroom teacher, at the time, I had limited options. I ended up finding a role at an online university that fit my resume perfectly. The job allowed me to basically create my own schedule and work entirely from home. Sounds amazing, right?
As great as that all sounds, there are only so many hours in the day. Mathematically speaking I cannot rely on naps alone to work a full time job. Babies just do not sleep THAT much. So, much trial and error, tears and the desire to throw in the towel, I’ve found a few coping strategies to make the task of earning income and momming, possible, and in some cases much more graceful.
Here’s what I’ve learned about working from home with an infant
1) Work from home mom’s need support daily
When I first considered continuing my full time job after maternity leave, a flexible work from home schedule seemed possible with an infant. If I was able to build my own schedule, it would work right? What I failed to anticipate was that babies don’t necessarily abide by schedules. Especially my schedule. And, even if they did, they don’t sleep THAT much. Then, I thought, well, I could work while my baby plays quietly on the floor or entertains herself in some way. And, I can almost hear the laughter of any mom who knows how that really turns out. Plus, once baby learns to roll over, crawl, or walk… game over!
Luckily, my mom willingly offered to support with childcare while I work. It usually turns out that my mom watches my daughter for about four of the eight workday hours. My husband takes the last hour and, at 12 months, she tends to nap for a total of three hours. If my mom wasn’t readily available or if I didn’t have a moderate amount of flexibility with setting my work schedule, paying for an in house nanny or sitter would be essential!
Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com
2) Figure out Sleep as Soon as Possible
I wished I would have focused on this sooner! Some babies are naturals and eventually figure it out on their own, other babies need some coaching. My daughter needed coaching. When we she turned about about six months and we were still waking up every two hours or as often as every 45 minutes to feed, I knew I HAD to intervene!
I chose to use the Taking Cara Babies sleep training course as a recommendation from a friend, which is really more for the parent than for the kid. And, wow – I would say it changed our lives! Maybe we were just too gentle and too worried about our first born. But, this course helped ease my mind as we let our daughter cry it out in intentional increments. This was a game changer. Once she figured it out and was sleeping for about 10-12 hours straight through the night, work became so much more manageable. My sleep deprivation decreased and I had the capacity to focus. My daughter and I’s relationship also improved because I had the energy to be the mom I needed to be! A happy one!
If you’re a working mom either at home or out and about, figuring out sleep is an absolute must to survive.
3) Be Ready to Wake up Early or go to Bed Late
Speaking of sleep… remember what I said about babies only sleeping so much? The reality behind naps is that even in an ideal world, they should sleep about 15 hours of nap time during the entire work week. Since focused and truly productive work time really only occurs during naps, and I work 40-45 hours a week this presents a problem. Even with the support of childcare, there are still days I have to wake up early to answer emails or take care of admin work after bedtime. Finding a job that can allow that kind of flexibility is crucial. Flexibility is key in keeping an infant at home during your work day!
Especially once my daughter learned how to roll and move around, proper engagement became a must! When my daughter was young, she spent most of her time on her back in her activity gym or in her jumper. At one year, she is most intrigued in playing by herself when she has toys that promote creativity and exploration. My personal favorites are her Fisher Price Little People School House and Bus, her Little Tikes Activity Garden, and Fisher Price music kit. Her hand me down play food, stuffed animals, and containers also keep her incredibly entertained.
If you’re on a budget, don’t feel like you need to spend all the money investing in these high engagement toys. Consignment sales, garage sales, or online platforms like Offer Up all offer many gently loved toys. Also, don’t forget the magical intrigue of regular (safe) household items that your child wants to touch so badly! This might be a little questionable, but my daughter loves to sit on our laps and “work” with us. I’ll sometimes turn off my wireless mouse, unplug my keyboard, or give her a couple sticky notes to play with. She loves it and it keeps her engaged long enough to be able to get through a good amount of emails.
5) Lower Expectations and give yourself grace
I’m so glad that pre-children, I was on my boss’ good list. Because when I returned to work, my productivity certainly went down. I’m able to do my job, but gone are the days that I can stay in the office a little longer to wrap things up or flex my schedule a bit to accommodate for my students. Also, I don’t feel that it is reasonable to actively pursue a promotion at this point because of how much I struggle at times to simply do my job with baby home. This goes against my natural personality, but giving myself grace in this area helps remove mom and employee guilt that would be so easy to fixate on.
6) Meal Plan to survive
Between the demands of a full time job and mothering an energetic infant, cleaning and meal prepping goes out the window during the week. At first, I combatted that with quick and easy meals that were unhealthy, frozen and usually full of sodium. After the gazillionth night with heartburn and no energy, the realization hit that I would need to meal prep if I wanted my family to be eating healthy every night after work. I started with my baby by pureeing homemade baby food on Sundays and eventually pre-cooking her more solid foods. I started looking into crockpot freezer bag meals, Once I had my baby’s food down, and other foods that could be prepped in advance and guarantee a 30 minutes or less cook time.
Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com
7) Force Personal Time to recharge
One of the most overlooked priorities for any mom, personal time is even more important for the work-from-home momma. I frantically use nap times to power through emails or catch up on my team’s chat. Weekend naps are just as frantically used to put the house back together after a busy week. My mornings are packed with baby stuff because I am unwilling to wake up earlier than 6am. In the evenings, I prep dinner and get caught up on household responsibilities. I take rushed showers. I almost never use the bathroom alone.
There’s not a whole lot of opportunities for “me” time. All of a sudden, I had more energy and motivation, when my husband suggested that I take a long shower, go shopping without the baby and catch up with some girlfriends. That’s when I learned, it’s so incredibly important to schedule in time for mom!
Not everyone can make it work, and to be honest, as soon as we’ve met our financial goals, I will probably hang up the work cape and become a full time stay-at-home mom. But, until then, I will continue through this season with my head up and eye out for any other way to make this crazy juggle just a little bit easier.
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The Mama behind Momma Life 2 the Fullest
Hi Mama! I’m so glad that you are here! My name is Ashlyn and I am a wife, full-time mom and full-time university faculty among other less important titles, such as coffee junkie, outdoor lover, craft and Pinterest enthusiast, energetic traveler, activities planner, and to-do list master. I find that my day sometimes feels like a swirl of diapers, meals, meetings, chores, etc. And, I created this blog as a landing spot to share my experiences and purpose to live this crazy mom life to the absolute fullest.
I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, which offered me some unique traveling and cultural opportunities. I earned my degree in English and my Masters degree Instructional Design. Before landing my current, work-from-home job, I also taught in the classroom as a 9th grade English-Language Arts teacher.
When we had our daughter, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to be as present as possible for my little one, so that’s when I found my current flexible-schedule, work-from-home job at an online university.
Mom life is a true gift from God. We were selected to be our little humans mommies, and that is a tremendous blessing and a huge responsibility. This life isn’t meant to just get by. This life is meant to live to the fullest, and our children deserve the most present, life-breathing versions of us.
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