Tips for working at home with a baby
Whether working from home is the norm for you, or if you’re having to adapt to it due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s important to remember that there’s no rule book for how best to manage a work life balance with new babies and young children. Especially whilst we’re all adapting, it helps to remember that everyone is simply doing the best they can at the moment – and that includes you!
But you don’t have to do it alone. Experienced work-from-home Mums and Dads have been sharing their top tips; here are our top 13:
- Keep your children near you while you work – this may seem counter-productive, but babies and toddlers crave proximity, so they’re more likely to be calm and non-disruptive if you’re nearby.
- Work while they sleep – this is the time when you can maximise productivity, so try to avoid having your own ‘time-out’ when they do.
- Share the load – where possible, split childcare responsibilities with those who live in your household.
- Have a schedule – creating a plan which helps to establish routine will help both you and your children, but be relaxed about it not always working out.
- Keep lists – we’ve all experienced the adverse effects of baby-brain and sleep deprivation! Try not to rely on memory when it comes to jobs you need to get done; lists can be your best friend… plus it’s motivational and satisfying ticking things off.
- Have a bunch of sensory activities at the ready – these are great distractions for children, and can often be pre-prepared, ready to grab at a moment’s notice.
- Vary activities – by mixing things up regularly, infants are less likely to lose interest quickly. Limit time with different activities / toys so that they continue to be engaged and excited by them when they appear.
- Utilise swings and bouncers – these can be a useful tool for entertaining babies and toddlers while ensuring they stay in one place! Make sure you can see your child in the swing / glider / bouncer while you work, and only use it for short periods of time, referring to the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions.
- Take breaks together – whether it’s snack time, a proper meal, or just 5 minutes out, this can be quality time with your child.
- Be prepared – have meals and bottles organised in advance. You can also pre-pack activity boxes, and prerecord story-time or download audio books for daytime entertainment.
- The Five-Minute Focus – it’s tempting to write-off a 5-10 minute ‘gap’ as dead time, but you’ll be surprised at how much more you can achieve in a day if you use this time productively. When making your job list, pop a symbol next to tasks which could be achieved in these moments.
- Be gentle with yourself – this is so important, and yet far too often forgotten. You can’t be there fully for your child if you aren’t also taking care of yourself. Schedule me-time as part of your routine, don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve more than is practical, and try to accept that sometimes things just won’t go to plan.
- Enjoy it! – Being able to spend this time at home with your little one can be a gift. Consciously clock the positive experiences.