Motherly's co-founders answer the newborn care question on nearly every new working mama's mind.
Editor's note: Sometimes you just need input from an experienced mama who *gets* it. Ask Motherly is a new advice column by Motherly's co-founders, Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol. Have a question for Liz and Jill? Email it to us at [email protected].
I'll be working from home post-maternity leave with my first baby. Have other moms worked from home with a newborn or did they need childcare?
First, be gentle with yourself as you ease back into work, especially after having your first baby. Many women feel like a totally different person after giving birth, and if your schedule, your energy or your groove just isn't right at first, hang on. It often takes a few months for new parents to find their footing back at work after baby.
In our experience, working from home without childcare is possible in the short term, but not necessarily ideal for you, baby or your job in the long term.
The good news: Of all the total possible working hours between, let's say, 5 am and 11 pm, you have 18 total hours when you could get work done. Assuming your new baby is only awake for six to eight of those hours, you're still left with more than a full 8-hour work day during which you could get stuff done. Of course, if your job requires you to spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings during the day or taking phone calls, things can get a lot trickier. But if you're willing to put in early and late hours, often work can be done during baby's nap times. I (that is, Liz) managed to work full-time without childcare until my baby was 9 months old, and while it was demanding, it was possible.
The not-so-great news? Working while watching a baby means you're on baby's time. This schedule is, by its nature, quite unpredictable, and it can be enormously stressful if something urgent comes up at work, or your boss calls during your baby's meltdown, or you find it too distracting to constantly switch between work mode and mom mode.
The other thing about being on baby's time is that babies change. Quickly. While right now you've nailed working during nap time, your baby will soon drop a nap. And that baby who is now content to chomp on his toes on a play mat beside you while you pound away on the laptop will soon be crawling all over your office. And it's stressful to feel like you're distracted at work and also not giving your child the attention they deserve. (And we would know, because we've both been there, done that.)
To make the most of your time working and mom-ing, we suggest a few products that can make managing a baby-friendly office easier.
Essential gear for working from home with a newborn
A lifesaver. I once took a phone call from a White House aide on a breaking news story while rocking my baby in this seat with my foot. Deadline: Met. Baby: Content. (Read my full review on The BabyBjorn bouncer; it rules).
Keeping baby close. Moms are obsessed with the The BabyTula Explore Carrier for good reason. It's an all-in-one carrier (no infant insert required!) that you can use with your little one for up to three years. Just strap baby in, prop your laptop on your kitchen counter, and catch up on emails while your baby snoozes close to mama. This was my secret weapon when I was working full-time without childcare.
We also suggest working with your partner, if you have one, to make the most of both of your time. Try blocking out a few mornings or evenings to go heads-down, while your partner watches the baby all morning or puts the baby down at night. You'll find yourself with extended focus time for work—which can feel amazing. And nobody is more efficient at work than a mom with a kid they're desperate to go snuggle. (Seriously: It's been proven that working moms are the most effective employees of all.)
Good luck mama. We're cheering you on.
Liz + Jill
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