By Megan Leary
For 16 months I worked full time in my home office for two different employers. The position would have normally been an in-office job but because of my inability to pump milk for the babe I was able to negotiate my situation. Working at home had its challenges. I have several musings on that topic that are working their way to my fingertips to type out but for now here are some tips I would impart on other mamas considering a working from home set up.
- Get up and get dressed.
Set your alarm, take a shower, and get ready for the day. I was forced into this since my employers did require that I pop in the office at least once a day but I found it to be a good habit. Getting your face on wakes you up and prepares you for the hours ahead.
- Close the door. Listen to music.
As tempting as it was to hear the background noise of a giggling baby, the times when she did cry would make me tense and unable to focus. Fighting mama instinct to run and save your child, even when you know she is fine, can be a huge distraction.
- Allow yourself to break.
Super hard to do because you want to work your tail off to show that your situation is not impeding your productivity. People in the office are able to swivel in their chairs and have a quick convo about last night’s Grey’s Anatomy. They get up and walk a longer ways than just down the hall to the bathroom. They wait in line for the coffee and get to intermingle. You no longer get these small breaks which are good for your body. It wakes you up and gives your eyes a rest from the computer screen. My breaks usually came in the form of nursing my baby, but I would also switch laundry over or make the bed just to give my legs a stretch ever couple of hours.
- Get scheduled, reliable help.
There was a period when I had no idea who was going to be watching the baby the following week. I had to wait for my husband’s work schedule to be released and then fill in the gaps for when he wouldn’t be home. So every weekend was anxiety-ridden trying to figure out when I needed a sitter and who could I get. When our situation made it so we needed a full time nanny an immediate stress was alleviated.
- Set an end time.
Since my duckling was so young I was forced to stop working when the nanny left. On the days that my husband would come home early or the baby would be napping when the nanny left it was very easy to just keep on working. The work environment you create at home makes you feel like you never truly leave work. And to be honest, you never really do. So closing your laptop and walking away at a designated time is crucial for sanity.
- Don’t apologize.
If you’re employer agreed to let you work from home I guarantee you will work just as hard if not harder than you would in the office. The misconception that there is a temptation to slack off is just that. It only made me want to prove myself that much more. When co-workers start making comments (and they will) or when your employer starts having doubts (and they will), do not apologize for needing to be physically available for your children. I decided that nothing, and I mean nothing, was more important than nursing my daughter. So when the topic came up (and it will) I would never waver in my need to be at home.
About Megan Leary
I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and a baby boy who is still on the way! I am an advocate of natural and home birthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and most things natural in a mama's life. Most of all I believe in supporting women in their informed decisions, whatever they may be.