The challenges of being a new mom range from leaky boobs (we feel ya, Jennifer Love Hewitt) to figuring out the best swaddles to soothe your fussy baby so they can nap and you can get a *tiny* break. And with women making up almost half of the workforce, working moms are busting their butts to bring home the dough and take care of their little ones. As a new mom who works from home as a freelance writer and editor, whenever I tell anyone I work from home, they gleefully respond, “Oh, that’s so great. It must be so nice.” Yes and no. It’s wonderful that I can schedule my day around my twin daughters’ schedules, but also annoying that people think I sit around all day doing nothing. Sure, I don’t endure a long commute home (woo hoo!), but I still have a packed work day. Here are my tips for making it work as a WFH mama.
1. Set a schedule. Every morning before I start the work day, I write out an hour by hour schedule of what needs to get done and when. As a breastfeeding mama, I work my phone meetings around the times that my girls need to eat. It helps me to hit my deadlines and feel like I’m able to accomplish as much as possible during my work hours.
2. Use reminders. Make friends with the Reminders app on your iPhone. It’s your best friend as a working mom. You’ll find that pregnancy brain (that fog of forgetfulness) carries over into new mom life. I have a bunch of different lists on my phone, and I write everything down so I don’t forget to do something important.
3. Be prepared for the unexpected. Every day as a new mom is a lesson in being flexible. Some mornings you arrive at your desk at 10am, rather than 9am, like you planned. Pre-baby, that might not have been a big deal, but post-baby, you know that every working hour counts. Prioritize the most important deadline to hit that very day, and shift your other work responsibilities to another day. You can’t get everything done at once, so strategically choose what’s a top priority and what’s not.
4. Buy some dry-erase boards. I can’t stress enough how forgetful you can be when you’re a new mom. Sleep deprivation is a doozy, my friends. I use dry-erase boards to plan out my day (see tip #1) and for long-term work goals. I love this gold Cynthia Rowley Magnetic Dry-Erase Board ($10) for my daily schedule and this Quartet Painted Steel Arc Combination Dry-Erase Cork Board ($58) for long-term planning.
5. Get childcare help. Whether you drop your babe off at daycare, have a part-time nanny or borrow grandma as your babysitter, you’ll need help. Crying babies in the background of your conference call are not going to work. Find a reliable, trustworthy childcare provider who can come during set hours so you can get your work done.
6. Take yourself out for coffee. You need to get out of the house to see the sun, know that other adults exist and have some time when you’re not on mom duty. Your local coffee shop is the perfect place to grab your laptop and get some work done. If you work from home and are responsible for a tiny human, sometimes you just need to get out of the house for a break from the same four walls.
7. Use timers. For long-term projects that used to take me several hours during my work day, I break it up into short, daily timed activities. For example, for revising a manuscript, I set aside 15 minutes every work day to devote to it. I set a timer on my phone, and as soon as the buzzer goes off, I stop. Over time, you’ll be able to accomplish your goals (yesss!).
If you need some great productivity tips while working from home, check out these five expert suggestions from Tricia Sciortino, who also happens to be a mom.
Are you a mom who works from home? Tweet us your parenting and work tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)