Now, more than ever before, parents are working from home while their little ones are in the house with them. Sure—it’s an arrangement that allows you to spend more time together—but the reality is that some days it feels downright impossible to be a productive employee AND a good parent.
Whether you’re going it alone, or you have some help from time to time—the first thing to know is that YOU. ARE. A. ROCKSTAR, and you are doing great things for your family. The double-duty of parenting and working is no joke! Here are some of our best tips to help take the pressure off, and help you navigate your current work from home situation.
For Any Parent Working from Home
- Make a schedule: But be flexible all at the same time. It’s Murphy’s Law that things simply won’t go to plan at times, and the working hours of a traditional 9am-5pm job just might not be the reality right now. Setting an alarm to catch up on some emails before your little one is awake, or tackling a task after bedtime might need to happen from time to time to help you focus your attention.
- Nap time = work time: There are always going to be some items on your to-do list that need your complete focus and attention, without the interruptions that your (really cute!) baby is bound to provide (even if you have help from time to time). Try your best to save these tasks to complete during baby’s nap time, and be laser-focused on accomplishing them. If baby isn’t cooperating with their nap when you have an important task to accomplish, put them in their crib or pack and play with some books and toys for a bit of quiet time.
- A little fussing is okay: If your baby wakes up from their nap during a call or important task—it’s OK if they fuss for a bit! Finish what you’re doing, then go and greet your little one with a cheery voice. And if your little one is really upset, be up front with your coworkers if you feel you need to leave a meeting urgently—you can always request a regroup if you weren’t able to finish.
- Set up your own space: Now’s the time to make your own space—with a door to close if possible! A place where you can put the duties of parenting and your house aside and concentrate on your work tasks is a surefire way to boost your focus and productivity. After all, if you can’t see the bottles piling up near your sink, you probably won’t be distracted by them.
- Take care of your mental health: Pulling double duty as a parent and an employee can be overwhelming in and of itself—let alone when you’re tasked with doing both all at once. Be sure to take time for yourself outside of parenting and work to help yourself decompress. And don’t hesitate to reach out to someone (whether it’s a fellow friend who understands what you’re going through, or a professional) if you need help or support.
For Parents Going it Alone
- Create a baby-safe space with toys and books (such as a play yard, etc.) where they are safe and nearby, yet not necessarily in your arms the whole time you’re trying to work. Swings or bouncers can also be lifesavers.
- Younger babies can be easily distracted with activity gyms, mirrors, music, or even a pile of teething toys while you get a few things done.
- Wear your little one! If your baby is feeling particularly fussy, try to put them in a soft wearable carrier while you work. They might be the most content snuggled up against you—bonus points if you’re able to breastfeed while wearing them and answering emails!
- If you have a partner also working from home, make a plan to trade responsibilities throughout the day. Depending on your daily schedule, it may make sense for one person to be the ‘lead parent’, at certain times, while the other takes meetings, etc.
For Parents Who Have a Helper or Sitter
- Ensure you set up your work space away from where the main action is in the household…then do your best to ‘switch off’ your parenting instinct. Put on headphones if it helps! There’s no need to listen in and respond to every cry—after all, you’re likely paying your sitter for their time and help with your little one. If you’re truly needed, they’ll come and get you!
- If you find it hard to turn off your mom brain (we totally understand how hard it can be), or you need to focus on a task or important call, ask your helper to take baby outside for a long walk, or a trip to the park.
- Write a list of the work goals that you need to accomplish while you have help available. If you’re able to knock out your to-do list, you’ll feel better able to focus on family time later in the day.
No matter your work-from-home situation, always remember: You’re doing a lot and you deserve to give yourself compassion and grace. Remember, this phase won’t last forever, so just do your best and find ways to take care of your needs too. Some days are just about survival!