5 tips for working from home with a baby

April 5, 2011

Working from home with a young baby is one of the hardest things us mothers do. I had a bit of a baptism by fire in that I set up my business a month before my daughter was born; in hindsight very bad timing, but at the time I naively thought that running an online shop would be a tiny commitment, of not more than an hour or so a day. Oh how wrong I was!

Here are 5 tips on how to work from home with a baby:

1. Focus, focus, focus

I can’t overstress the importance of really focusing on your key business idea or area (see my previous article on Finding your Niche). To start with, my brain was running at 90 miles an hour and I had lots of different ideas for how I wanted to develop and grow my business. I began going in lots of different directions at the same time, which became very overwhelming and made working from home with a baby very difficult. It also meant I wasn’t able to devote enough energy to my core business area, as I was spreading myself too thinly. When I put some of my expansion plans on hold and focused on my core product offering, my business became much more successful.

When you don’t have a lot of time, you have to put some of your ideas to the side for now and focus on your core product, service or idea. Keep asking yourself is this central to my business? And keep a notebook of all of your other ideas handy, so that you have a list for the future. Focus, focus, focus!

2. Let go of perfectionism

This is another very difficult one but if you can’t let go of your perfectionism, working from home with a baby will be impossible. You simply don’t have the time to be perfect. But that’s fine! It doesn’t matter! Let go of the need to obtain perfection and you will be releasing yourself from shackles that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Are you waiting for the right moment to do a task, so you can get it done properly? Don’t worry – let go of your perfectionism and do it NOW! Try it in conjunction with my next tip (Work in 15 minute bursts). You’ll be amazed how liberating it feels.

3. Work in 15 minute bursts

One of the hardest things about working from home with a baby is finding the time to sit down for any extended period of time to get work done. You can’t. So adapt! Try to schedule work in 15 minute bursts. I was really sceptical when I tried this, but it made a huge, and instant difference, and gave me such a sense of achievement. It’s so much easier to find spare 15 minute blocks throughout the day rather than spare hours, especially with babies being so unpredictable. It also helps you really focus and be much more efficient than if you had more time available.

4. Get your sleep

I was my own worst enemy for the first 6 months of my daughter’s life as I refused to sleep in the daytime. I just had too many things to do. I’ve only realised recently how much easier things are, and how much kinder it is to your baby, when you are well rested. If you don’t take the time to get your sleep you will feel run down, overwhelmed, and have much less patience with your baby. I started taking naps in the daytime around Christmas, and felt better IMMEDIATELY. I know it’s difficult to justify in your head that you should go take a nap when there are a million other things that need doing, and you can only do them when baby is sleeping; but when you feel more refreshed you will feel more energised, more positive, you’ll be more productive, and your baby will probably also be happier. This ties in with number 2, letting go of your perfectionism, as you’ll simply have to accept that in order to find the time to nap, you’ll have to put some less important tasks aside for now. You’ll soon find working from home with a baby will be easier if you set aside time to sleep.

5. Invest in a Sling

I don’t know where I would have been without my Ergo Baby Sling. Babies absolutely love being carried, and it frees up both hands to get things done. I didn’t really work while wearing the sling, as I think it’s boring for the baby to be on my back while using a computer: but, it means I can spend some of her awake time getting housework done. She loves watching me as I clean, and I can talk and sing to her. And, it makes housework much more fun for me too: we both enjoy it.

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If you’re struggling with the concepts of letting go of your perfectionism, and working in 15 minute bursts, I highly recommend reading a book called Sink Reflections, which changed my whole outlook on life. The book’s primary focus is on how to be a successful housewife, but I have used many of the concepts just as successfully in discovering how best to work from home with a baby, and it might just help you too!

Do you have any of your own tips on working from home with a baby? Please do post a comment and share them.

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