A new addition to your family can mean big changes to your life, especially if you work from home. I write this as I watch over my 2 month old daughter asleep in her swing. We have just finished the 4 am feeding and I am debating if my day should start. Because I work from home I have the freedom to choose when my day should officially begin, however I face other challenges that you can probably relate to.
My career is important to me but my job as Mom has always come first. Having a newborn, and in my case, 5 other children can leave me dreaming about a clone to come in and pick up the slack. Because life can quickly become overwhelming I have developed some quick guidelines that I use to get through my day.
Be Organized While Working From Home
I can't stress enough the importance of organization. I don't mean that you should put everything in your home in alphabetical order, only that there should be some sense of order. A place for things and everything in its place is the axiom. If you have an area where you change diapers, everything that could possible be involved in the process should be there. The last thing you want to do in a case of severe messiness is run around the house looking for wipes, or a change of clothes. The same concept applies to your work space. Make sure everything you need to get your job done is there, along with a second of any item your newborn needs. Pacifiers, burp rags, extra clothes, wipes, a general care kit right beside your desk can certainly come in handy. I use a tote bag with different compartments so that if I am pleasantly interrupted during my day by the princess herself, I can continue working knowing I am prepared for what could happen.
Working From Home Gives Others Responsibility
Let your older children become responsible for something. Consider letting older children do the small tasks. Loading the dishwasher, gathering the ingredients for dinner, feeding animals, and removing clothes from the dryer are all things younger children can do. Not only do the children feel great because you trusted them with such an important task, but you gained some extra time to finish those last minute assignments. I have started to buy food items that my older children can make themselves when I am really pressed for time. Just because it is easy and quick doesn't mean it has to be junk food. I have a daughter who is six and she can easily make a variety of things herself, even if it is only a snack until I can get away from whatever has me tied up at the moment.
Create a Work at Home Schedule
A schedule with a newborn is important however I am not referring to that part of your daily agenda. Schedule time for yourself! You don't have to set aside hours for yourself, but every few hours you do need a break. Remember that people in the working world get a break and you should be no different. Take 15 minutes to grab a cup of coffee, or say Hi to a friend over the phone. Maybe its just been a horrible day and you need a shower. Mom's often feel guilty for saying we need a break, believe me I know the feeling all to well. If you don't take the time when the opportunity arises you may not get it later. When you have the baby down, and the kids have eaten lunch, take some time for yourself. This doesn't mean go switch out the laundry or clean the bathroom, I am referring to real time where you aren't doing any duties; mom or professional.
Stock Up to Relieve Stress While Working From Home
It can take a considerable amount of time to get yourself and a newborn ready to leave the house, this situation is compounded when you have additional children. Someone is always looking for a lost shoe, jacket, or maybe even the infamous lost car keys and wallet. I completely eliminated the need for those "quick trips" to the store that turn into hours of aimless wandering down aisles. I stock up on things I know we frequently run out of. Toilet paper, wipes, bread, eggs, milk, whatever the item was that kept us running to the store for "just one thing" I buy in triplicate. I never go to the store for one item anymore, in truth I don't go more than twice a month. I stock what we use and I use what we stock. Bread freezes exceptionally well, extra toilet paper can be stored almost anywhere, koolaid can work in a pinch if you just "need" something to drink. All this preparation can save you multiple hours every month, and we all know how important every minute can seem.
Accountability of Working At Home
Hold yourself accountable, and others too! Determine the professional tasks that need to be completed each week and hold yourself accountable for their completion. When you work at home it is easy to let "life" get in the way. When you have a new baby there are tasks that can constantly keep you away from getting your job done. It is easy when you work from home to comply with the demands of your Mom job; all the while setting aside the professional burden. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and on the same token don't bite off more than you can chew. You must find a balance, and everyone in your house must be held accountable for maintaining that balance.
Rewards of Working From Home
While most mothers will agree that the job is its own reward, a work at home mom deserves a separate prize. It isn't enough to slave day in and day out toward a goal, there must be a bonus. Everyone in the house needs a pat on the back and something more, something special. Consider a day a month, or bi-weekly that is the "family day." This is your because day. Because everyone did what they needed to we are doing insert fun thing here. This day serves many purposes, the kids get a special treat because they were a huge help, your spouse gets to do something fun for a change, and you get a break from the norm. These trips out can seem like a lifesaver in a sea of excessive demands. Under no circumstances are you to cancel these expeditions. The free time you schedule on these days is what you have been working so hard for. If there is no reward, you will begin to wonder why you are working so hard. Treat yourself, even if it is only a small thing, you'll remember it in the stressful times.