Before your baby enters the world, your plan might look a little like this: you are going to have a baby, but you are also going to have your job, and you are going to work from home, and everything is going to be amazing.
Then said baby bursts onto the scene and your plan might resemble this: totally non-existent. You look up and the day is almost over and you realize you haven't gotten a thing done — except you did somehow manage to pour yourself an extra large glass of wine, so pat yourself on the back for that.
That’s because having a child, while being incredible and fulfilling, can also completely turn your world on its head. Being a parent is already tough enough, but adding a full time job to the mix takes the struggle to a whole new level.
In fact, The Atlantic recently released a new study from Pew Research Center that showcases the constant struggle of working moms. The results showed that one in five moms says it’s very difficult to balance work and a family, that working moms are twice as likely as dads to say parenthood has hurt their careers, and that 40 percent of moms say they always feel rushed and stressed.
When you have a newborn who spends the majority of her day sleeping, things seem doable. She can rock in the swing next to you while you return work calls or sleep in her rock-n-play in your office while you catch up on emails. But once your sweet little infant turns into a feisty, very mobile toddler, it’s a total game changer. Luckily, there are a few ways you can make life as a work-from-home mama a little more productive and a little less stressful — the last might just be our favorite.
Create a schedule (and stick to it!)
There is something to be said for knowing exactly when (or even just roughly when) your child is going to eat, sleep and play so it’s truly imperative to being able to plan your day while preserving your sanity. If you know your baby takes a bottle 8 a.m. or takes a long mid-morning nap at 10 a.m. every day, then you’ll know never to schedule important conference calls during that time.
Enforce habits and rituals
You need something to signal the beginning of your work day, even when you might not even leave your house all day. A ritual marking the transition from being a mom to being at work will alert your brain to get down to business. Squeezing in a shower, changing out of your yoga pants and into real clothes, putting on a little makeup, brewing up a frothy almond milk latte, turning on music that gets you motivated — they are all tactics successful work-from-home moms swear by to shift their minds into gear.
Get acquainted with your alarm clock
If your baby doesn’t wake up until 7:30 a.m., try setting your alarm for 6 a.m. to knock out a good chunk of work before he even begins his day. If an early wakeup call sounds daunting, start in little increments, like setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and work your way up. You’d be surprised what a working mom can accomplish in just 15 minutes when she knows a tiny human will soon be stirring.
Any mom knows that afternoon nap time is parental GOLD. Those glorious few hours of peace and silence every afternoon are imperative for our sanity and to brace us for the impending tornado that is the dinner-bath-bed routine. So don’t waste it by getting sucked into an Instagram feed or spending too much time on just one task. Instead, set timers to keep you on track and help you make the most of nap time: 10 minutes for social media maintenance, 30 minutes for email responses, 15 minutes to organize files, 20 minutes for new business ideas, and such.
Learn the true meaning of this word: prioritize
As women in general we are apt to overcommitting and not saying no — and on the off chance that we do say no, we in turn feel guilt or anxiety. This definitely applies to our career and professional life, but those feelings double when you consider how we feel those emotions as moms too. Therefore, we must learn to prioritize: don’t take on that extra project, don’t bring on a new client this month, don’t commit to three play dates a week and only respond to the emails that truly need a response.
Ask for help. We repeat: Ask. For. Help.
You are not failing as a working mom if you hire a nanny, pay a part-time babysitter or enroll your child in full-time daycare. Just because you can stay at home to work doesn’t always mean it’s conducive to having your children at home with you all day. Consider a Mother’s Day Out program to give you a few days a week of solitude, or maybe even find a high school neighbor looking to make some extra money who can hang with your kiddos for a few hours every afternoon.