Credit: photo by Cecilia Cordero (model: Nicole Gabrielle Raymundo)Being a work-at-home mom can be really challenging. This is especially true at the start – you need to do lots of trial and error. However, as you get used to this arrangement, you will realize that working at home while taking care of your children and is definitely worth all the time and effort.
It's important to keep your priorities straight. Your baby should always be on top of your priorities, but that doesn't mean you can use her as an excuse to be sloppy at work. Remember, work allows you to provide for your baby's needs. Working from home will give you the opportunity to care for your baby while still doing your work. But if you do decide to work from home, keep in mind that it won’t be a walk in the park – it won’t be like your old life wherein you can set your own routine and follow it exclusively. A baby's needs will not always follow a regular schedule and can't be made to conform to yours. However, through hard work, you will be able to create a regular schedule for the long term. The key to being a successful work-at-home mom is to be flexible as much as possible and to be prepared whenever your schedule needs to change.
At the start, work-at-home moms imagine themselves taking care of their kids and the household by day and working at night. While this schedule is very ideal, working all night may not be feasible because you need to wake up early in the morning to take care of the kids and deal with the household all day. If you have to earn a living while taking care of your kids, you must figure out how to keep your kids busy and entertained while working at home.
Have a play area that is interesting and safe
Having a safe space for your baby to play around can help him become more independent. In addition, if his play area is safe, you don’t have to stay close to watch his every move. However, this does not mean that you’ll just put your child down and leave him there. Make sure that you are working nearby where you can monitor your child’s activity. If your work requires you to stay inside your home office, it is recommended to childproof your work area and let your child have fun with his toys. Additionally, make sure that you have your child’s needs at hand such as extra clothes and snacks.
Establish your work hours
One of the great things about working at home is that it allows you to make your own schedule. Make sure to let your co-workers/boss/clients know when they will be able to reach you. However, if your job requires you to work regular job, be ready to be available whenever necessary.
Take advantage of your baby's sleeping schedule
Work after you get your baby to sleep. In addition, it is recommended to let him sleep near you so that you would be able to attend to his needs immediately. It is important that your baby knows that you are always there and that he doesn’t have to worry and cry. Soon, you’ll be able to adjust and you can finish your job while your baby is sleeping. However, expect that everyday is different and that there will be days when your baby needs you most of time during the day or when there is more work to be done. If this is the case, it is important to stay focused – concentrate on your job. Make sure that nothing distracts you (checking e-mail, answering phone calls, surfing the internet). Also, it would help a lot if you wake up earlier than the usual (before your baby wakes up) so that you’ll have more time for work. Now that you’ve got a baby, sleep deprivation is expected.
Follow your child’s schedule
As a work-at-home mom, it is ideal to work around your child’s schedule. You can finish some of your work in the morning, then continue after giving him lunch and putting him to sleep. Let him play around while you work or you can both go out and walk around the neighborhood – both of you need to breathe some fresh air anyway. Go back to work while he takes the late-afternoon catnap and take another break to make the family dinner. You cannot expect to work continuously if you have a baby so be prepared that you have to take a break more often than necessary.
Stop working and just spend quality time with your baby
If your child keeps on disturbing you while you are getting your work done, probably it’s about time that you pay attention and give him your time. Play with him or talk to him – ask him whatever he wants to do. Eventually, you’ll soon realize that spending quality time with your baby will make him feel happy and pleased, which in turn will help you go back to work.
Asking for help is not a crime
If you really cannot manage your time well with your heavy workload and a demanding baby, hire somebody to help you – but if you cannot afford it, ask help from your family (sister, mom, dad, in-laws, your significant other). Do not feel guilty in asking for help from other people, especially from your husband. Being a work at home mom will never be easy and you need any kind of help that you can. You can ask your husband to play with your child while you are preparing dinner or help you with house chores. Open communication is also important between parents – tell your husband about your job and let him understand your schedule. If you are having a hard time about being a work-at-home mom, tell him. He’ll probably offer help or suggestions and give comfort.
Organization, time management and flexibility
The key to working at home while taking care of your baby is organization and flexibility. You have to be organized not only with your job but also with the household. It is important to have a routine especially when dealing with activities that will keep your baby stimulated, entertained and busy.
Everyday will be different and there will be some ‘happy’ days and there will be those ‘frustrating’ days. When things get tough, a walk in the park is probably what you and your baby needs. If you think that you cannot work efficiently anymore with your baby tugging your shirt, go out and let him play with other kids – and have some time to relax and have fun as well.
Working at home is definitely not for everybody, especially for those who have kids. Not everybody may understand how hard it is to manage the household and work at the same time. You’ve got to face the facts – that working is difficult; and working from home (with the baby, the household chores, jobs to be done) is tougher. It’s just normal to be cranky and frustrated at times but don’t take life too seriously (or else you’ll go crazy). While ‘taking it easy’ is probably out of the question, having quiet time alone every once in a while can work wonders. Don’t let all the stresses from work and demands from home run your life as a mother. With good time management and a little help from your friends and family, working at home with a baby shouldn’t be a nightmare.