How to work from home with a baby

There are ways to make working from home with a baby a little less chaotic.
There are ways to make working from home with a baby a little less chaotic. Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to working from home with a baby, life can certainly be both challenging and different.  

Scheduling phone calls when the baby won't cry feels nearly impossible, typing one handed becomes a newly acquired skill, and lunch breaks are often a thing of the past.  

But with a bit of prior planning and an open mind to change, it is possible to work from home successfully and here we explore exactly how. 

Be flexible 

The only thing that's predictable about babies is their unpredictability - and this is particularly the case in those first few months. Just when you think you have a routine down, a tooth, an illness or a simple bout of cheekiness can throw a spanner in the works.

Therefore, rather than trying to work a set number of hours or at a set time of day, be flexible. Be prepared to work at 10pm rather than 10am if needs be – if that means taking a nap with your baby in the day to get your much-needed rest, then embrace it.

Learn to accept that, in those early days, every day will be different and things may never go according to plan. 

Be open with clients

Ensure that you make clients are aware of your situation. 

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People tend to be more understanding than you think, and by giving yourself breathing space and some leniency, you can work around your baby and still produce quality work.

Set up a baby-friendly office

Setting up your office so everything you need for your baby is within easy reach can mean both a saving on time and your legs.

Having a breastfeeding pillow or bottles ready to go means you can feed as and when you need – and it really is amazing how quickly your one handed typing speed will progress.

As your baby grows and becomes more mobile, set up a 'play' area where they can be safely put down with a few toys to keep them entertained.  

Before they are mobile, a swing or rocker is a worthwhile addition to your office furniture too.

Prioritise certain tasks for when your baby sleeps

Juggling a baby and working means you very quickly become good at doing many tasks one handedly, particularly the essentials such as eating cake and making a cup of tea. 

However, there are other tasks that just don't mix well with babies, so saving these jobs for when your baby is napping is the best way to ensure that they'll actually get done.

Prioritise things like phone calls, taking notes or having an office tidy during this time.

Invest in a good sling and work tools to help you

If your baby's particularly keen on being held all the time, it can feel like you'll never get anything done. But investing in a good quality sling can certainly help. Most babies remain content and settled when close to mum and are happy enough to watch the office world go by while you get in some work.

Investing in more personal work tools can also be helpful – hands-free devices for phones, tape recorders and setting up Skype are all useful.

Be kind to yourself

Remember that it's important not to put yourself under unnecessary pressure, work to unrealistic deadlines or try to sustain the workflow or pace that you did pre-baby.  

Having and caring for a baby is a full time job in itself, so cutting yourself some slack, as well as allowing time to enjoy your little one, is important from day one.

Remember that work will always be there, but that little baby face won't.

Jo Hartley is a freelance writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia's leading online education providers. She is currently residing in Newcastle, Australia, with her husband, two sons, dog and cat. When Jo is not writing she can be found eating ice-cream straight from the tub and pondering her next weight loss journey.