You probably have some friends who do it already. Maybe you’ve done this before Baby arrived and you’re considering to keep on doing this after she is born. Working from home is not that difficult, in the end, and the answer to the questions: “Can you work from home with a baby?” seems easy to answer. But can you REALLY work from home after the baby is born?
I will tell you, as a first hand experience, that things will be extremely difficult. I am self employed and I was extremely happy to know that I will be able to spend so much time with my son. Do some work at the same time and earn money? Sounds like a match made in heaven!
But the truth, the real, day by day, frustrating and tiring truth is completely different! It might be all pink popsicles and unicorns for the first few weeks – maybe a couple of months – but afterwards, when the little fellow starts to get moody and cranky and have needs and learn how to crawl and learn how to come to your office and want this and want that and want a hug, a kiss, a pen or just to smash your keyboard while screaming… then things become really difficult and you’ll understand that unless you are the master of procrastination and getting things done in very short bursts with lots of breaks and distractions in between, working from home with a baby is far from the idyllic “sip my cocktail while working” lifestyle you were hoping for (or having before the baby’s arrival).
Are you also acting as a stay at home dad (or mother, depending who’s reading this article)? Then I think that doing any work becomes almost impossible. I am fortunate enough to have my wife on a long maternity leave and she takes care of the baby while I do the work. But I still get interrupted a million times during the day, distracted and there are still things that need my presence. If I were to be the only person taking care of the baby, I would simply find it impossible to write a full article in 8 hours. A 500-word one, not a book!
Imagine that things similar to what I’m detailing below would happen, more or less, on a daily basis:
1. Baby wakes up whenever he wants to. In our case, anywhere between 5:30 AM to 7 AM. Wakes up fully rested and in a MAJOR need of some play time.
2. At 8, you’ve got to feed the angel. Depending on their mood, it can last anything between 10 and 60 minutes. Screaming, throwing food, laughing and munching on toes, fingers, the chair and the wrong end of the spoon are usually included.
3. A bit of extra time before the baby’s morning nap. 20 minutes when you think you can write something because you let him roam freely in the room. You don’t get much done with one eye on the laptop’s screen and the other making sure that Baby doesn’t eat that book or smash the toy car with his head.
4. It’s about 9:30 when you put the baby to sleep. If you’re lucky, you’ll have 60 to 90 minutes to do some work (but you actually realize that you have to wash the dishes, prepare some food for his lunch and clean up the room a little bit).
5. You’re unlucky. The Baby wakes up 20 minutes after going to bed, screaming. You try to put him back to sleep for 20 minutes before giving up. During the time, you get you earns and hair pulled even though you keep saying “NO”.
6. You take the baby for a short stroll. Depending on the mood, it can be a short one or a longer, more relaxed one.
7. You have to feed the baby at 1 PM. The food’s not ready and he starts to scream and get really irritated. Nobody loves to be chained to a chair waiting for food! The feeding process is similar to the breakfast and you can never predict how long it will take.
8. It’s play time again, after trying to wash the baby’s hands and face and getting soaked in the bathroom. All the things that you’ve cleaned earlier today turn into an even bigger mess. Maybe you get a total of 20 minutes of work, 10 seconds at a time.
9. You are already exhausted, but fortunately so is the baby. It’s 3PM and it’s time for the afternoon nap. For the baby, not you, because you have dishes to clean, carpet to clean, take your first shower and stretch your legs for 20 minutes, if you are lucky.
10. You’re unlucky (again). Baby wakes up earlier than usual and you know it’s going to be a long(er) day. He’ll want a short snack or maybe a bottle, then you lose 15 minutes trying to dress him up before taking the little fellow to the park. You can’t wait for him to learn to walk alone so you won’t have to carry him everywhere. Every other kid looks like an angel. They probably are not.
11. When you get home, you have to prepare dinner for the baby. If you’re lucky, your spouse is back home and they can help a bit, even though they did work the entire day too and they too need a break. But who can take breaks when parenting is involved? Instead, you both get stressed and even more tired.
12. After dinner, while the mom/dad catches up with the baby, you can finally get some work done. 60 minutes tops, because the baby needs you again!
So, pretty much, difficult! Of course, I have exaggerated a bit here, but a very bad day could look exactly like the one I have described above. The truth is that even during the best days you won’t be able to do much work done. But this is the challenge and charm of working from home and I still believe that it beats a regular 9 to 5 job.