One of the most vital things I learned while working from home, was finding a balance between juggling a newborn, getting my work finished, all while managing my home life. The best way I found to accomplish this was by setting up a schedule. What worked for me was not adjusting to baby’s schedule, but finding a schedule that best fit our family and our needs.
One of my struggles was breast feeding but that’s another article ( Not So Easy Liquid Gold). I maintained a strict schedule around the clock on exclusively pumping. My main goal before my maternity leave was over, was to set up the baby’s sleep schedule, my pumping times, and meal prepping for our family. This set me up for a good work ethic and successful days ahead. Working from home gave me a lot of flexibility, however, in order to get things done and maintain a good balance, I needed to have a solid schedule.
My day usually consisted of an early rising, normally around 6 AM. I am not a morning person but the overflow of my milk woke me up bright and early. So first things first, I pumped. Then while my husband and baby slept, I would pull out some breakfast (already meal prepped by my husband and I on Sunday’s), make a cup of joe and open up my laptop to see what the work day looked like. The rest of the day consisted of work, baby play, nap times (which changed depending on babies age), pumping, cleaning, and eating for both of us.
I usually worked my life on time slots because this allowed me to focus on the babies needs as well as finish my workload for the day . I always left open free times for something spontaneous because that is me by nature. I was very efficient by sticking to my schedule, I maintained working from home for 2.5 years. Even though it may seem like a strict schedule there was actually a lot of flexibility for my family time or to do other things that we wanted. I wasn’t a slave to it, it just helped me utilize my time and maintain my sanity.
- Know what is healthy and regular for your babies age From length of naps, to amount the of feeding the baby needs. Not every baby is the same and this may constantly changes as your baby grows but for the most part the (general) guidelines worked for me. When I returned to work, my son was about 4 months old, so an example; 4 month old babies eat 5 to 6 times a day and nap for about 1-3 hours 3 times a day. Stay consistent with your babies schedule. From when they take a nap to when they eat. It also keeps baby on your schedule because you will focus your schedule around these times.
- Prioritize your tasks that you need to get done. Make a list for what you want to accomplish for the day or week and get them done . Either while baby sleeps or is strapped to you, do as best as you can with what you have. I found the wrap to be one of my best friends while multitasking.
- Make time to be outside in the middle of the day. Not only does getting outdoors lift your spirits but it also gives you a boost of energy. I would usually plan this after the babies first nap. No one wants to wake a sleeping baby from a car and try to get things done. So take a timeout from being inside and run your errands (for home or work), or just go for a walk around the block.
- Get more work done during the next nap. After you take your outdoor break, you will have more energy and you baby will most likely be pooped out. This is a good time to catch up on work or house duties while your baby takes thier next nap. I know most people say to nap when the babies does but in reality, you would not get anything done that way. If you are a stay at home this would be a great time for any hobbies you may have or want to pick up. But in my case it was my best time to catch up on work.
- Sleep while the baby sleeps at night no matter the urge to stay up late. I would be guilty of taking an hour or so to do something for myself but sometimes that is much needed. So, I would suggest to take some time but not too much. You need to be well rested for the next early morning. I usually got that hour while my husband came home and started the bed time routine. On Other days, where I didn’t get my to finish my workload, I would take that extra little time to tie up loose ends and get myself ready for the next day, so it was mainly used for work. My kid slept about 10 hours at night, but this all dependeds on how he napped that day. A normal sleep schedule would include about 12-15 hours a day for a 4 to 6 month old.
My son’s sleep time never really fluctuated at night (not much at all). Only during holidays and that is because the schedule would be thrown off. I would say naps could change a little here and there but not more then about 30 mins unless he had a growth spurt (mine would sleep longer) or because of a cold discomfort (makings naps shorter).
Example of my work schedule.
|6am||Wake up & pump|
|8||Play time/ tummy|
|8:30||Work / pump|
|9 t||diapet/ feed/ read|
|11-11:30||Diaper/ pump/ feed|
|11:30- 12:30||Outside/ run errand|
|12:30- 1||Emails/ diaper/ feed|
|1-3||Nap / work/ pump|
|4||Play time/ emails|
|6:30 – 7||Dinner/ Diaper/ feed/|
|7 to 8||Family time|
|8:30 pm||Babies bedtime|
|8:30-9:30||Mommy’s free hour|
|10:00||Bedtime for mom|
Bedtime routine: feed, bathe, book, song, and whatever method you chose for putting him down. My son was pretty pooped after the whole routine and there wasn’t much fight back, he would slowly drift to sleep in his crib. He knew it was bedtime.
For more help and information on how you to work at home life, please check out The Balancing Act: Tips & Tricks for the Work at Home Mom by Jacqueline Chinappu Ph.D.