Now more than ever, dads are working from home. At the time of this writing, the world has been on lock down for the last sixth months to attempt to slow the spread of the Corona virus pandemic. However, even before the pandemic set in, technology was making it easier and easier for new fathers to work from home. However, working from home with a baby is no simple task. This article will go over some of the tips and tricks that I’ve developed while working from home with a 1 year old, along with some tips from when I took a month work-from-home assignment when our son was a newborn.
Benefits of Working From Home
Before we get to the tips and tricks, I want to go over some of the benefits of working from home with a baby. This is for the fathers who are considering making this switch. For those of you who are already working from home and struggling, skip ahead.
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is reclaiming time. For example, the commute and lunch time can now be spent with family. This gives dads the chance to spend time bonding with their little ones that they may not have had before. I know this was a huge opportunity for me when I started working from home. I have had the opportunity to spend much more time bonding with my son since I start working remote and it has made our relationship much stronger.
A huge advantage of this bonding time is not missing moments. I can’t tell you how many dads have told me that they missed their little one’s first steps or first words because they were at work. I got to see both with my son because they happened while I was home. Believe me, I count myself incredibly lucky that I had that opportunity. It’s my hope that more fathers get the chance to work from home for this reason alone.
Lending a Helping Hand
Another big benefit when it comes to working from home with a baby is the ability to lend your spouse/partner a hand. This ties hand in hand with our article on creating a more equitable parenting partnership. When you are home you can change a diaper. When you are home you can watch the baby while your spouse/partner takes a 5 minute break. Being a stay at home parent is not easy, and I know that it was huge relief to my wife that I’d be able to help out a little more with our son.
Tips and Tricks
I’m going to break these tips and tricks in to two categories that I think separates them well. They are focusing and scheduling. These two aspects of working from home become particularly important when you have a baby. They were the two areas that I needed to alter the most when I started working from home full time. We’ll start with focusing.
Focusing when you have a baby in the house and you’re trying to get work done is not a simple task. You’ll feel inclined to spend time with your little one because they’re so close. If you’re little one is not so little, they’ll attempt to take up your time by seeking attention. As much as you’d like to give them that attention, you still have to get work done. Here are some tips that will help you stay focused when your little one comes knocking:
- Set up a dedicated space: This is a really important tip for working from home in general. However, it becomes even more important when you have a little one in your workspace. The advantage of going in to a company office is that there are fewer distractions in that office. If you can set up a low distraction place in your own home, you’ll achieve the same effect. This space should be separated in some way, so try and find a space with a door. Even if you put together a “cloffice” (closet office), it’s better than sitting at the kitchen table where your little one has easy access to you. Thankfully we had a spare bedroom in our house for me to set up a workspace, but I may go the cloffice route one day when we need the space back.
- Reward Yourself: If you’re like me, all you want to do is go spend time with your family. However, we need to stay in our dedicated space so we can knock out some work. This is where small rewards come in to play. Take a break every hour and a half and visit with your little one and your spouse/partner. This will make it easier to spend chunks of time away from your family so that you can get work done. It also gives you something to work towards if you’re having trouble feeling motivated at work.
These two tips really help when it comes to focusing on the work you need to get done. Working from home has a lot of benefits, but the distractions of family so close can overwhelm you. The easiest way to avoid this is to apply these tips to help you focus and to stick to your schedule. Speaking of scheduling…
Scheduling is a huge area of improvement for employees who are new to the work from home life. Conveniently, scheduling is also imperative during your baby’s early years. We’ve already talking about the importance of baby scheduling, but what about your schedule? Well, it happens to be one of the most powerful tools in your repertoire for managing working from home too. Setting a schedule that works with your baby’s schedule is a game changer. Let me give you an example:
Right now my son wakes up at 8am every day. He naps from noon to 3pm every day. Finally, he goes to bed at 7:30pm every day. Now let’s assume I stick to a regular 9 to 5 schedule. I will see my son for 1 hour before work and 2 hours after work. I see my son for a grand total of 3 hours a day. However, if I work from 6am to 3pm, then I get to see my son for 4.5 hours a day. This becomes even easier if I can do some work in the evening after he goes to bed. If I can get some work done in the evening, I can spend more time with the little man and my spouse/partner before he goes down for his nap.
Now I know I have a unique work situation where I can shift my schedule around. Not everyone has that capability. Even I have to switch back to the 9-5 to meet a client’s needs or attend meetings sometimes. However, I encourage you to speak with your employer about ways to can make your schedule match up with your baby’s. The extra time will grant you that benefit I wrote about in the beginning of this article of more bonding time.
As I’ve already said, working from home is not the easy-breasy life that a lot of people wish it was. You still have to put in the hours at work and avoid regular distractions. When you’re working from home with a baby, it can become even more complicated. The number one tip I can give you is to be flexible and find what works best for you.
It may take a few weeks to really find a workflow that matches your needs, and your family’s needs, perfectly. You can do it. Now, more than ever, there are great online resources with tips for working from home. PC Mag has this awesome article which lists more general tips that are not focused on having a baby. I’ve implemented some of these myself and they have really helped. Mix and match tips and tricks, and you’ll be knocking out work at home in no time.
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