How can I work from home with a baby?
Whilst many parents now have to work from home whilst simultaneously taking care of their children, due to school and workplace closures amidst the global pandemic, this becomes a little more complicated if your children aren’t of school age, maybe even being babies or toddlers. You might be wondering how you’re going to be able to get absolutely anything done whilst taking care of an infant, how can i work from home with a baby?
But luckily, there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself working as well as possible, while still looking after your baby.
Tip #1: Work out a routine.
If you live with your partner, then it may be slightly easier to work your job from home, whilst also taking care of your baby.
In many cases, the mother of the child could still be on maternity leave. In this case, if you are the father/partner of the mother, then it may be best to try to explain that, whilst you will of course be able to be around more for the baby, you still have to do your job, and may have to be in a quieter area of the home to carry on with your work as normal, with as few distractions as possible.
However, if you are the mother of the baby and you and your partner both have to work, then it may make more sense to work out a routine in which you both share the responsibility of taking care of your baby.
For instance, think about the routine you keep usually, or the routine kept up by whoever takes care of your baby whilst you usually work. Is there any part of this routine that you can still maintain? What times/schedules can you keep the same, and what has to change?
Here is a great example of a changed routine of a mother that is working from home with 2 month old baby:
It may be that one of you takes responsibility for the baby from 8am-11am, whilst the other takes over 11am-1pm, and so on. Work out what length of ‘shift’ is the best for you and your partner, and allows you to work to the best of your ability in between the time periods where you are taking care of your baby.
Tip #2: Speak to your boss
If you’re not self-employed and are instead hired by a particular company, then have a word with your boss and find out exactly what they expect of you whilst working from home.
Explain to them that you do need to look after your baby, and that this might leave you unable to work quite as constantly, or with as much focus, as you may be able to normally, but simultaneously explain that you’ll try to get as much done as possible.
Depending on your boss, they may be able to reach a compromise with you, either allowing you to work reduced or flexible hours, or adapting your role so that it is easier to do whilst taking care of a baby – for instance, if you usually need to make phone calls as a part of your job, they may change your role so that this isn’t necessary.
Either way, it will cover you slightly to ensure that your boss or manager clearly understands the ramifications and pitfalls of working a full-time office job whilst having to take care of a very young child.
Tip #3: Be prepared.
If there is anything that you could benefit from keeping on hand whilst taking care of your baby, without having to prepare it first (which of course takes time and could interrupt your working), then get those ready when you have a little free time.
For instance, perhaps you are a mother and are still breast-feeding. It may be an idea to express and store some milk so that you are well-prepared for feeding times, or have your baby’s cot/moses basket next to you whilst you attempt to work (if you are parenting alone).
Tip #4: Know that it’s not going to be easy.
Of course, this goes without saying, but looking after your baby whilst attempting to work is going to be extremely tough, and will not be without it’s problems and roadblocks.
It’s difficult not to, but try not to feel guilty about the fact you aren’t getting as much work done as you’d like to, and that you’re not able to give all of your attention to your baby, which you’d probably much prefer.
You have to try to remind yourself that, whilst you are at home, you are still supposed to be working, just as you most likely were before – you can’t feel guilty for having to take care of your child, or for having to work to earn a living. All you can do is attempt to juggle the two responsibilities as well as you can possibly can.
Tip #5: Think of different ways you can work.
If you can alter your work schedule to fit it around your baby a little more, then certainly try this.
For instance, perhaps your baby sleeps between certain hours in the day – these hours are possibly when you’d be best getting some work done. If you attempt to get too much done at a time while your baby is very much awake and needs attention, then you aren’t going to get very far, and may feel a little guilt because of it.
This is, again, much easier if you have a partner living with you, with whom you can share the responsibility of looking after your baby, as you can each set hours that are your hours to work and be able to focus, without worrying about having to get up to tend to baby if they are hungry or need changing.
How to take care of pre-school age children whilst working from home.
It may be ever so slightly easier to take care of children who are of pre-school age than it is to take care of a baby, but of course, you still have a challenge ahead of you.
Again, if you have a partner living with you, it’s much easier to schedule your working hours around taking care of your children, as you are able to share responsibility. Set hours when it is each of your responsibility to be the main caretaker of your children, whilst the other is able to put all their focus onto work.
If you are a single parents, then consider whether or not your job is one which allows you to work with your children in the room with you. Do you make phone calls as a part of your job? Is your job one which doesn’t necessarily require you to work in extremely quiet conditions? Do you work on a laptop, which you can, of course, place anywhere in your home?
If there’s a way that you can work and supervise your young children at the same time, then this is, of course, most likely your best option. If there’s a reason why you can’t do this, but could if there was a small change to your job, then again, it may be a good idea to speak to your boss and explain what you are up against. More information you can read also in the article: HOW CAN I WORK FROM HOME WITHOUT CHILDCARE?
These are difficult times for all of us, and we all have to adapt to a new way of living – if your manager or employer is reasonable, then they should be prepared to make allowances like this for certain employees. Perhaps your manager will allow you to work slightly different hours, to fit around taking care of your children, or work without making phone calls. If your manager or employer cannot or will not make allowances for your childcare, then you do have some rights.
Legally, you can take time off work to take care of dependants, such as young children, though this is generally unpaid. However, it’s unclear as of yet, if there will be legal allowances made for people who were unable to work from home due to taking care of children.
Don’t feel guilty over increased screen time.
First of all, don’t beat yourself up if your children seem to be enjoying more screen-time than usual. As much as we may not like to admit it, children’s attention is held far more by YouTube videos, television and video games, than it is by analogue games, reading and, sometimes, outdoor play, so they are bound to be spending more time on their tablets, phones or computers than usual, especially when you need to be able to focus completely on your work.
Many people decry the use of electronics in trying to hold the attention of young children, but these are very different times for everybody, and allowances must be made.
There is a lot of content and games available for very small children, including some which is quite educational. So, how should you go about allowing your children to begin using tablets, phones and computers, especially if you haven’t set these things up for them before?
First of all, set limits on the devices. If the device they are using is one which belongs to you, then be sure to lock access to any apps that you don’t want them using, which you do with a password, for extra security.
Research into any of the apps that you download for them, and use them yourself first to check them out fully. I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories of parents getting their devices back from their small children, only to find that they have run up a $500 bill on in-game content!
On that note, be sure to set it so that purchases on your device must require for your password or payment details to be inputted into the device before they are authorised.
Be aware that less favourable content could slip through the cracks, especially via apps such as YouTube, in which the content that your children are viewing could have been created by anybody.
For entertainment programmes, you may be better looking into apps such as Disney+, Netflix (with their dedicated ‘for kids’ option), or Nickolodeon Play, as this content is official and regulated, and you will have more control over what content is age-appropriate for your children and what they can and cannot have access to.
Finally, set screen time limits for individual apps. If you only want them using or viewing certain apps or content for so long each day, then set individual time limits for each of these. This is easy to do in the settings section of your device, and will allow you to ensure that your children aren’t spending more time on these devices or particular apps than you want them to.
Remember – whilst young children spending so much time taking in digital content may not be ideal, we have to forgive ourselves for making allowances at a time like this.
As long as we take the steps to be sure that our children are taking in appropriate content, safely and within reason, then we are still doing our bit to ensure that we aren’t allowing them to come across anything damaging online.
There will be roadblocks.
Don’t expect working from home with babies or toddlers to be anything short of massively frustrating – it most certainly will be. However, remember that this arrangement is just temporary, so that you will eventually have plenty of time to fix the effects of sacrifices or changes that you may have had to mke to your daily life.
If you are living with a partner, remember to support and appreciate each other whilst you juggle taking care of a baby or toddler, with all the responsibilities of working from home. The stress will surely take a toll on your relationship at times, but don’t allow this to take over.
If you are a single parent at this time, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty, or underestimate the difficulty of what you are trying to do at this time. Nobody has the level-headedness to raise small children and work a full time job alone simultaneously without feeling stress because of it. All you can do is your best.
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