How To Work From Home With A Baby Or Toddler (And Make It Work!)
In many ways, working from home with a baby or toddler is easier than heading out to an office. But make no mistake, it’s still work and it takes know-how and discipline to pull it off.
Before you start working from home
- Set up a home office. Even if your work space is a small desk in the bedroom, settling into a home office signals to everyone in the house that you’re off mom duty. Plus, when all your work things are in one place, you won’t have to wander from room to room looking for this file or that memo while you should be crossing items off your to-do list.
- Determine your office hours. If you’re working as a consultant, let your clients know when they’ll have access to you, even if it’s just for an hour or two every weekday morning. If you’re doing a regular, salaried job from home, be prepared to be available (and to give your job your full attention) for the same hours as your in-office counterparts.
- Consider childcare. Being able to be near your child is a major perk to having a home office, but most moms find that they need an extra set of capable hands to get work done. You can’t meet every deadline during naptime, and there’ll be days when your critter is bouncing off the walls as a client is calling. So don’t skimp on childcare. In fact, have a backup caregiver at the ready (Grandma or a drop-in daycare center) in case your sitter calls in sick.
When you’re on the job
- Dress to impress. Or at least get out of your pajamas. It will be easier to take your job (and yourself) seriously if you’re not picking at spit-up on your sweatpants while you chat with your boss. Get dressed as though you’ll leave the house — a clean shirt and jeans, at the bare minimum — even if you really don’t plan on heading out.
- “Leave” for work. Establish a bye-bye routine, just like you would if you were commuting beyond the second floor. Relay any last-minute information to your sitter and give your child a hug and a kiss. Tell your tot, “Mommy is going to work now, but I can’t wait to spend time with you later tonight.” If your home office has a door, close it.
- Get your little one out of the house. Your child will inevitably be noisiest — or neediest — when you’re on an important phone call. So give your sitter lots of opportunities to spend the day elsewhere: She can take a baby for a stroll around the block and a toddler to library storytime or music classes. Keep a map of a nearby park handy and introduce your sitter to your friends’ children’s sitters so they can hang out together.
- Be prepared to pack your bags. Whether your child has a fever or it’s been raining for a week straight, eventually you’ll need to be the one to clear out of the house. Before that day comes, scope out library nooks, coffee shops, and bookstores to determine which has the best Wi-Fi connection or which coffeehouse or bookshop has a quiet corner where you can field a phone call.