Working From Home With a [5 Month Old] Baby
Two and a half weeks ago, I made a big decision.
I took a new job despite being on maternity leave for the next seven months.
At the time, my baby boy was 4 and a half months old. To my surprise, every family member and friend was really supportive of my decision. I was expecting far more of “you’re sacrificing the precious time with your baby!” and “money can’t make up for all the lost moments!” comments, but I got none.
And sure, a far bigger salary was a huge reason I dived right in. But it was also the fact that I haven’t been without a job for five months since I was 18 years old. I was beginning to fall into a never-ending routine of wake up-change-feed-play-sleep-Netflix-feed-change-play-Netflix…
Meanwhile, my husband would get home, full of (often frustrating) stories about his work, and I found myself feeling jealous. I was beginning to suffocate – not because I don’t love my baby more than anything, but because I wanted to do some actual work, to feel accomplished, and not be just a mom.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home-mom if that’s something that fulfils you. But I was beginning to work a job I love, and to build a name for myself, and boy did I miss that.
Two and a half weeks later, I am so happy I embarked on this journey. My entire day is planned and scheduled, and yet I feel fulfilled, and not tired. But it did take some trial and error, and it still takes a lot of creativity and flexibility.
But I really am managing being a work from home mom with a small baby quite well.
How to Be a Work From Home Mom [And Not Feel the Mom Guilt]
I was so frightened the guilt would eat me alive as soon as I started working. I would knock on my mother-in-law’s door (which is literally right next to my own), give her my baby, wave bye, knowing I’ll see him in two hours – and I’d feel so bad.
But then I’d start working, and the time would just fly by. So my first piece of advice?
Make a Damn Good Schedule.
Sure, easier said than done! And if I were working a 9-5 without seeing my boy once I’d be feeling so guilty, too. Luckily, my work schedule is super flexible, so I make sure to spend as much time as I can with him.
Here’s an example of my schedule:
06:00 – Wake up, change, feed
Up until my husband leaves for work, I also do some house chores, light exercise, and take a shower.
07:30 – Sleep, breakfast, morning coffee
08:30 – Wake up, stroll around the backyard, play
09:30 – Feed
10:00 – Grandma time + start my work
12:15 – Feed, play, sleep
While he’s asleep, I go back to work. Once he’s awake, we play, I feed him, and then the most brilliant thing I purchased comes into play:
A baby sling.
This thing works wonders and has so many benefits for both of us:
- It keeps him close to me
- It’s ergonomic and healthy for his development
- He sleeps so peacefully when he’s in it
- I have to work standing up, which keeps me from sitting too much
- I get so much work done with 0 mom guilt, because I’m right there with him.
Get Creative – to An Extent
On the days my mother-in-law can’t babysit, he’s in the sling as much as I can physically take it. But when it becomes too much, I put him in a swing, give him his favorite toys, and play baby songs on Youtube Kids.
I know, this part is where you say “what a lousy, lazy mom!” But not only is he thrilled to listen to some music, I’m still right there when he turns around looking for my smile. As soon as I see him getting drowsy, I take him in my arms and I lull him to sleep.
The bottom line is: I’m there for him and with him. I’m not putting him in front of a TV for three hours so I can work – I do it only while I can see he’s enjoying it.
An important note!
Try not to go with cartoons – stick to music. Cartoons are full of flashy, fast movement that is likely to affect his focus as he’s growing up. If you opt for flashy images, nothing slow will keep his attention anymore. But baby songs full of slow, repetitive, colorful motions aren’t about to ruin him forever!
Another lovely thing I like doing is to spread his blanket on the couch next to me, surround him with toys, and have him play around, roll onto his belly, and coo while I work next to him. When I see his attention is on me, I make sure to smile and talk to him. As soon as he sees I’m there, he quickly turns his attention back to his precious crinkly toys.
Once again, he’s happy, developing, and I can do some work.
Then, at around 4:30pm, my husband is home and he takes care of him for the next 3-4 hours, depending on how much work I have left. And then I’m right there for some more strolling, walking, bathing, feeding him, and putting him in his crib.
Non-negotiables are a great way to make sure you find time for important things even when time is scarce. These are the things you vow to do every day, no matter what; there’s simply no compromising.
These non-negotiables are for your baby and yourself alike. My non-negotiables when it comes to my baby are:
- At least one strolling session through the backyard a day
- I always bathe him, feed him, and kiss him goodnight in the evening
No matter how busy my day, these are the two things I always do. It helps me avoid mom guilt, and when I see the smile on his face as I put him down for the night, I know it’s all worth it.
This isn’t to say that’s all I do in a day to be with my baby. We play every day, I feed him several times a day… But these are the things I simply do not want to miss.
Beside the non-negotiables for your baby, you’ll also need some non-negotiables for yourself. Mine are:
- Always find 15 or 20 minutes for at least four healthy meals.
- Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings are for 15-minute exercise.
- Find some quiet time, usually in the morning when my husband goes to work, the baby’s asleep, and I’m not working yet. Scroll Pinterest, read a chapter in a book, or just sit outside for a bit. Unwind.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep. I never let myself convince myself that my work can’t wait until morning.
Without the things you’re not willing to compromise on, it’s easy to find yourself tired and unhappy. You’ve missed an important moment with your baby, you just realized you haven’t had a second for yourself and your needs in days…
So jot down just a few non-negotiables and trust me, working from home and being a good mom will no longer seem unattainable.
Get as Many Chores Done as You Can the Night Before
The most satisfying feeling in the world for me is washing the little one’s bottles and getting dirty dishes in the dishwasher at 9pm, knowing full well my morning will be free of all the boring chores. I don’t always do it; sometimes I just don’t have the strength. Sometimes my husband does it, and other times I do leave it for the morning.
But whenever you can, I advise you to do the chores in the evening. Future you will thank you for it!
How to Successfully Work From Home With a Baby
Is working from home with a small baby easy? Hell no. Even with a flexible, non 40h/week schedule, it requires some sacrifices and a lot of hard work. But is it possible? Can you do it while enjoying your motherhood, your job, and not going crazy? Absolutely.
Here are the dos and dont’s for the all busy hustling moms who don’t have the time to read all of this!
Dos of Working From Home With a Baby
- Get as much help as you can
- Create a foolproof schedule
- Decide your non-negotiables
- Find time to sleep, rest, and unwind
- Work on your mom guilt if you’re feeling it
Dont’s of Working From Home With a Baby
- Don’t make unattainable plans
- Don’t think you can do it all 100%. Compromise.
- Never put your work above your baby. No matter how important or fulfilling.
- Don’t skip healthy meals, exercise, or sleep (even if exercise is just 10 minutes of walking a day).