I recently texted one of my friends who lives across the country to see how she was doing. (PSA: continue to check in on your Mom friends, especially those with newborns.) She had just transitioned back to working from home full time after maternity leave and has in-home childcare for her three month old. Her response? “Work’s okay, I feel totally overwhelmed and it’s been hard to focus with the baby home. At least it can only get better! I’m hoping I’ll get in a better rhythm, but working from home with a baby is hard! I need your tips.”
I offered a few tips and promised to research and do a blog to share more. And here we are.
But instead of searching other websites and social media channels for tips, I decided to crowd source this one.
A year ago, one of the moms in my mastermind entrepreneur group recommended the Facebook group, Boss-Moms. I joined the group of over 64K mompreneurs but hadn’t been too active as of yet. This was my chance!
Some of the tips were redundant which I intentionally included to show the popularity. A couple of members said if a SAHM (stay at home Mom) has help, they don’t need tips. I respectfully disagree; all Moms need support, regardless of circumstances. So here are the Boss-Moms tips, the first three are mine!
Tell caretaker your schedule/meeting times at beginning of day.
Close door (office/bedroom) wherever you’re working and put on headphones if you need to really focus and get in the zone.
Take baby breaks (as baby’s separation anxiety allows!)
Be flexible because nothing goes as planned.
If the caretaker is the partner, have open communication because it gets stressful when you aren’t on the same page.
Make sure whoever is taking care of your child respects and supports your business.
Time blocking doesn’t always work. Being flexible is key.
Give yourself grace and don’t compare yourself with other moms.
Go at your own pace.
Implement breaks for you. I have a 20 month old and almost 3 year old and it was hard. But I was able to find my groove.
Plan your weeks on Fridays - these are my CEO days where I work on my business vs. in it. I plan tasks, go over goals, finances, etc. - Rhonesha
Break the mindset that all work must be done between 9-5. Not that you should be working every hour of everyday, but if you’re your own boss then work when it fits into your life and your schedule. - Pesha
Figure out when you are most productive/creative and prioritize that time for work.
Take advantage of nap times.
Be realistic about how much work you can handle.
Don’t give up, it gets easier once you and your baby get into a set routine -Yakol Whitney, Remote Work Coach, WFA with Yakol Whitney
Suzanne said “Love this topic for this audience! I've written a lot about productivity and time management tips (I'm a work-life balance speaker, consultant + 2X author with books that focus on working moms).” And offered the below 5 tips:
Instead of time blocking, considering using the Pomodoro technique to get work done. 25-minute work blocks + 5-minute breaks. You can see your child during the 5-minute windows of time.
Plan your time -- both work and personal. Plan your week on Sunday and your day the night before. This way you know your priorities, goals, and overall workflow.
Ask for what you need. Whether you're talking to your significant other, the caretaker of your child, or anyone else who is helping you, be specific with asking what you need. Mind reading is not going to happen. And saying he/she should know won't help.
You won't be equally productive every day. You might have been up with your child in the middle of the night a lot more times or your child might have gotten up early. Whatever the reason, give yourself grace. You can adjust the week plan and get back to making things happen tomorrow.
Find time for small moments of self-care. You might feel pressure to keep working and get things done. Make sure you still have time for self-care, so you are filling your cup regularly. Suzanne is happy to answer questions; you can see more on her blog: www.mompowerment.com/blog
As a SAHM without help I get up when hubby goes to work at 5:30, this gives me 2-3 hours of uninterrupted work time. That is FOCUSED time and I only allow myself to WORK during that time. Same with nap time (this is usually when I schedule calls, live video, etc) ...”mom/wife” duties are reserved during the times in between. I also “schedule” play time with her after breakfast and make it a priority just like my working hours. When her cup is full, I’m able to accomplish more. Getting the important things done early takes a lot of the “I can’t baby, I have to work” out of my day. I’ve always been an early riser so it just made sense. - Kristen
Definitely time blocking (the effective way), schedule power hour then make appointment with yourself and set alarms for priorities (including self care!) . Plan the week on Sundays. Start everyday with one strategic task in mind they want to achieve, set alarm for 25 hours then put the phone and distractions away. Here is a free time-blocking resource for you. - Janice Wong
(In my thank you reply to Janice I said I loved the point about scheduling self-care, saying,”it seems obvious but we need a reminder or even permission sometimes!” She replied “Yes, indeed, it took me three hospitalizations to realize that.” Case in point.)
Communicate with the caretaker about which circumstances they should/shouldn't bother you. - Rhonda
I’m a SAHM with no childcare and have worked for the past 9 months that way! I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 4 month old. A few tips I have are to give yourself grace, set up systems to streamline work time, and be realistic on how much you can handle. - Bekah
Have a routine or schedule with baby so that you can predict nap times and get your important work done while baby naps. Be sure to have a plan ahead of time on what you’ll work on, so you don’t waste time in email, social media, etc. during that limited time of focus. - Gina, www.buildyourwritingbiz.com
Have a bag of plastic balls at hand, especially if you have stairs in your house. It gives you 30 minutes of quiet and 2 hours of cleaning afterwards :) You have to pick one: getting your job done or having a clean house. You can't have both, you have to pick one. Source: 4 years of WFH with twins and no child care. - Gabriela
Thanks to all of the Boss-Mom’s who jumped in to share their tips. If nothing else, having nearly 30 ideas underscores the “it takes a village” saying and feeling of not being the only one navigating daily challenges. Check out my other blogs for additional insights like how to let go of Mom guilt and 5 quick parenting tips.