The stresses of working at home while taking care of children were highlighted during the recent pandemic. Many families suddenly found themselves in a position where they were juggling work and childcare. Yet working remotely with your new baby presents a unique set of problems. They cannot be distracted by cartoons or video games, they cannot tell you what they want, and you have no control over their schedule. Oh, and they are completely dependent on you for everything.
Yes, working remotely with your new baby is a real challenge. However, there are many reasons that a new mother or father may find themselves working from home. If you find yourself in this tricky situation, below are 10 tips for working at home with a newborn.
1. Tag Team
Families with multiple caregivers can work in shifts. Try to carve out a schedule where you can trade off baby care with your partner and get in some uninterrupted work time. Even just a two-hour shift is a big help to your productivity. Now that you can look outside our home for help, check with family and friends that live close by to see if they can take one or two shifts a week. Every little bit helps and will serve to bring everyone in your tribe a little closer together.
Actionable Tip: Use your two hours wisely by implementing the Pomodoro Technique, a time management system that helps you maximize the time you have. Simply set your time for 25 minutes and use that time for uninterrupted work focused on one task. Then take a five-minute break. Repeat three more times and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
2. Consider Childcare
Just because you are home doesn’t mean you can’t hire a babysitter or nanny for a few hours a day. If possible, arrange for the sitter to come to your home. This way, you are close at hand if you are needed. You can also get to know and feel comfortable with the individual. Trust in your sitter provides invaluable peace of mind when you and your partner decide it’s time to go out for an evening alone or if you have to actually head into the office every so often.
Actionable Tip: If you’re having a difficult time finding qualified childcare, there are a variety of new smartphone applications that provide access to a database of providers. The benefits of these applications include reviews of care providers from previous customers and the ability to get background checks. There are even sites that require CPR and first aid training. Some companies provide their services for free, while some charge fees or require subscriptions.
3. Experiment with Child Carriers
Baby carriers are perfect for freeing up your hands to get work done while keeping your infant close. In recent years, manufacturers have put together a number of new designs, giving you a wide variety to choose from. You can use a traditional wrap or try one that provides more structure and support for both you and the baby. Some options even relieve shoulder and back pain. Whichever product you choose, using a child carrier can add hours of productivity to your day.
Actionable Tip: Do your research! Make sure to pick a carrier or sling that is appropriate for the height and weight of your baby and follow any safety instructions provided. Ill-fitting or improperly worn carriers can cause hip dysplasia and pose a suffocation risk for babies.
4. Adjust Your Schedule
You are at the complete mercy of your newborn. They are going to tell you when they want to wake up, when they want to eat, when they need sleep, and when they need to be changed. Just lean into it and let your little one lead the way. Get used to their schedule and adapt yours. Repeat as necessary.
Actionable Tip: Remember that your baby’s needs come first. Start by logging their activities and looking for patterns in their behavior to promote well-being. Experts say that you can start encouraging a more regular schedule between two and four months old.
5. Take Naps
As any new parent knows, taking care of a newborn is exhausting. Working remotely with your new baby is doubly exhausting. Sleep deprivation becomes a way of life when the newest member of your family insists loudly on being fed every few hours. As part of getting in tune with their schedule, take advantage of your infant’s frequent naps to catch a few z’s yourself. Research has shown there are many benefits to napping including improved memory, cognition, and immune systems. A 20-minute power nap can make all the difference and you are free to get productive with any time remaining before the baby wakes.
Actionable Tip: Establish a napping routine. However, there are a few rules to apply to your day-napping routine that will optimize the benefits. These include limiting your nap time to 20 to 30 minutes and not napping too late in the day.
6. Take Breaks
Similar to taking naps, research has also found numerous benefits to taking breaks during the day. Just getting up from your desk and moving around improves your mental and physical well-being. Other benefits include increased productivity, creativity, and motivation. Take breaks when the little one is napping or with another caregiver. The key to an effective break is to change what your brain is focused on. So, taking a short walk, eating a healthy snack, or just changing your view will leave you feeling refreshed.
Actionable Tip: When you take breaks, monitor how you and your baby feel. What break activities leave you feeling more productive? Which activities help to calm down your newborn? What kinds of breaks lead to disruption? Keep track of what works and what doesn’t for your situation and use that knowledge to make the day better for both you and your infant.
7. Try Dictation
Keeping your hands free can be a real challenge when working remotely with your new baby. Whether it’s because they want to be cradled or bounced up and down, babies need touch and attention. If this is the case, you may want to explore dictation software. This solution allows you to create everything from correspondence to project plans just by talking into a microphone. You will still have to go back to make corrections and add formatting, but dictation can be a huge timesaver when you aren’t able to focus on your keyboard.
Actionable Tip: Dictation software has come a long way in recent years and is now more accurate and easier to use than ever before. However, programs can differ widely in price and functionality depending on your platform and what you want to use it for. Therefore, it’s important to do your research in order to get the most value out of your purchase.
8. Work Across Multiple Devices
Another way to make technology work for you is to set up your work processes and software applications so they can be accessed across multiple devices. This way, if you are working at your desk in a word processing program and the baby wants you to pace, you can switch to dictating the same document into your phone. Or if you need to sit in your rocking chair, you can grab your tablet and continue working seamlessly.
Actionable Tip: Setting up a solution where you can work seamlessly across multiple devices is more difficult than it appears. If you have an IT department, this is a good time to get them involved. If you need to establish cross-functionality yourself, it’s best to look for a cloud platform with a suite of programs that work across multiple devices such as Google Suite or Microsoft 365.
9. Seek Outside Support
Don’t be shy! Caring for a newborn can be both isolating and overwhelming. That’s before you add working remotely to your to-do list. If you need help, reach out. Let people know. You won’t know how much support you can access if you don’t ask. Your requests can be as simple as letting people on your Zoom call know that you might need to sign off early if your baby wakes up. They can be as complex as seeing a therapist or attending group support meetings. Pay attention to the needs of both yourself and your child. If you aren’t in a good place, you can’t help anyone else.
Actionable Tip: As with everything nowadays, you can find online groups to help new parents. A lot of them are focused on new moms. This is because of the unique risks that new mothers face both physically and mentally as they adjust to postpartum life. However, fathers need help too and there are many options that welcome both parents.
10. Keep Calm and Carry On
Stress management is probably the most important skill you will need to cultivate when you’re working remotely with your new baby. Finding positive outlets for the additional pressures and frustrations is important for maintaining good mental health as well as a happy baby. Make sure to incorporate your favorite stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, whether it’s walking in nature, meditating, or taking a long bath.
Actionable Tip: You may need to change up the strategies you used prior to baby. For example, your usual solitary jog before work may be on hold. And, for the time being, the same goes for trivia night at the local pub. However, there are many other effective stress reduction techniques you can try. Experiment with different options until you find what works for you and your new family.
Stop and Smell the Baby
Finally, working remotely with your new baby can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Especially for first-time parents who also struggle with additional questions and doubts. Make sure to allow time to give your baby your undivided attention. Blow a few raspberries on their belly, count their perfect little fingers and toes, kiss their cute little nose. These are the moments you don’t want to miss, and now you don’t have to because you’re working from home.
Do you have any tips for working remotely with your new baby? How did you juggle career and parenthood? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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