Working from home with a baby is a challenge. There’s no getting around that you’ll need to find some way to balance your work responsibilities and your new role as a parent in a way that works for both of you—and it won’t always be easy.
1. Your baby will not be as quiet and docile as they used to be.
When working outside the home, your baby is more likely to sleep and be less active. Now that you are working from home, it is likely that your baby will not be as predictable in their sleeping habits. Your baby may want to stay up a little longer than usual so that they can spend more time with you. They may also wake up more often during the day because they want to play with you instead of napping as they did at daycare or with a nanny.
Some babies enjoy being worn in carriers or strollers while they nap, so they will continue to take naps even though they are now awake most of the time rather than sleeping all day long like when they were younger. Other babies don’t like sleeping in carriers or strollers while their parent works because it reminds them too much of being away from mommy when she was working outside the home full-time.
2. It’s hard to take care of a baby and accomplish anything of substance.
The second challenge of working from home is that it’s really hard to get anything done. You may find yourself getting more distracted than ever before. Some basic things that most people take for granted—like being able to go somewhere and shut your door or walk away from your desk for a minute to stretch—become more difficult when you have a baby at home.
You won’t be able to leave your desk for hours at a time with a nursing baby in tow, nor will you want her near the office refrigerator (as tempting as it may be). And if she’s not napping, she’ll need constant supervision as she explores her environment and makes her way around the house.
Suppose you’re working from home with an older child who can entertain himself while Mommy gets stuff done; congratulations. You’ve got one less thing on the list of challenges here.
3. You’ll learn to work around your child’s nap schedule.
If you have a baby or toddler at home, you know they won’t always sleep when you need them to. When they wake up, it can throw off your plans for the day and make it harder to get things done efficiently. But if you’re working from home, then this is something you’ll have to deal with regularly.
You’ll have to learn to work around your child’s nap schedule and still get things done. You may have to take naps at odd times, or you may need to stay up later than usual to finish your work before bed. It will certainly be a learning curve, but it will all work out if you’re determined enough, it will all work out.
4. You’ll sometimes want to talk to someone other than your baby.
When your baby is crying, you’re likely to be the only one who can soothe them. But what if your baby is asleep, and you want someone to talk to? It’s a lot easier when they’re awake, but suddenly, they’re sound asleep in their bed, and you have no idea how long it will be until they wake up again.
The good news is that you don’t have to start an entire conversation with yourself (although if you want to go for it, we won’t stop you). Instead, call one of your friends or family members who live nearby and ask them over for coffee or lunch while your kid naps. This can be especially helpful if there’s something specific on your mind. For example, maybe one of your friends has been wondering how she should handle her son’s potty training issues; this would be the perfect time to chat about those particular challenges.
5. You’ll learn how to do just about anything while holding a baby.
When you’re working from home, you’ll find that your child often needs attention. But it’s not just little ones who need looking after. If a client calls while you’re making lunch or doing laundry, you’ll have to figure out how to continue the conversation while juggling a baby on one hip or trying not to drop them on their head. You’ll learn how to multi-task like crazy.
Work-life balance is hard, but at least you can be present for your child.
You may think working from home with a baby is like having the best of both worlds, but it’s not. You can’t be all things to all people. Being a good employee and parent is impossible; being a good employee, spouse and parent is even more so. You must choose one or the other—at least for now—because trying to do them all simultaneously will drive you crazy.
If you want this arrangement to work well for everyone involved, you must make peace with this fact.
Working from home with a baby can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have as a parent. You’ll learn how to do just about anything while holding your child, and you’ll have more flexibility. Remember that you can’t always get everything done when working from home with a little one around.