working from home with a baby- insanity~ - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 08-13-2014, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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working from home with a baby- insanity~

Has anyone been successful with this!? I'm a writer and I work from home...Today I had conference call that I planned my schedule around and asked my mother in law to watch my 3 month old during that time. Then, all the sudden, the call got pushed an hour earlier and I am scrambling trying to get her to come over while the baby SCREAMS her head off because shes tired and grouchy and likely senses my growing panic...I ended up calling in late, losing the call, calling in again...all while dealing with a screaming baby and trying to keep the phone on mute and nurse at the same time while taking notes. & my mother in the law in the background looking at me like i was crazy & trying to take her away from me, when i knew nothing would soothe her but being nursed and i couldnt hear over the screaming anyway! argh. of course she nursed happily and fell asleep RIGHT as the call ended. sigh.

do you any of you moms work from home? how do you manage? im considering a nanny but its such an expense and frankly if shes crying in the house, im not just gonna sit in my office and let the nanny deal...ill go grab her and not be working anyways so its a waste of a lot of money? i have to work so quitting isnt an option at all.
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#2 of 19 Old 08-13-2014, 03:17 PM
 
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I don't honestly think one can realistically work from home and also care for an infant or toddler. It only gets harder as they get older. At the very least you might consider some nanny time for a set period a week and schedule your calls then. Over time, your childcare provider will be better able to soothe your infant.
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#3 of 19 Old 08-14-2014, 07:16 PM
 
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Well, I can be *somewhat* reassuring. It's incredibly hard and I don't recommend it if you can find a way around it, but it has been possible for me. I'm on maternity leave at the moment (for another couple weeks), but I work from home about 8 hours a week normally. I try to get my work done during the day, but there are, of course, times when I need to finish things after the kids go to sleep or on weekends when my husband can watch them. I'm really not able to do anything that involves actual real brain power and focused attention though when it's just the kids and me, so I'm not sure if it would be possible for you as a writer. However, I have several times had teleconferences with 2 kids (now it will be 3). I remember nursing my baby during calls plenty of times while the toddler played in the background. The mute button was like the greatest invention of all time in my opinion. Thankfully I only usually need to talk for about 10 minutes of 60-90 minute calls, plus an additional few seconds here and there. I've even helped my toddler go potty during phone calls with no one knowing. I always make sure the people I'm talking to know that I may need to end the call all of a sudden if one of my kids loses it, but I'm in a male dominated field and they've been very understanding. Remarkably, I've never had to hang up that I can remember.


I will say that for me at least, it's gotten easier as my kids get older. My 2 and 4 year old now play together pretty well most of the time, so they don't need my immediate attention as much and if I explain to them that I need to be on the phone for awhile, but we'll play a lot when I'm done, they're USUALLY pretty good. I have them decide on a movie beforehand that we'll turn on if they get really bored during the call, but even that rarely gets used.


Also, I know this is a terrible parenting practice, and your baby is too young at this point, but for those emergencies when I NEED the toddler and preschooler to be calm for like 5 more minutes, I always have a bag of dum dum lollipops ready.

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#4 of 19 Old 08-15-2014, 02:48 AM
 
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I've worked from home since my oldest was 2 and my youngest's whole life, minus a month of maternity leave No childcare minus very sporadic help from their dad when we were together (when I worked 25ish hours a week), now I work about 32-35 hours a week with no childcare at all (mostly because I can't afford it!)

I try to do most of my work while the kids are sleeping. Mine were never good nappers or sleepers, so this proved stressful when they were very little. It has gotten much, much easier as they have gotten older (7 and 4 now).

I've definitely had those screaming in the other room issues-once I had my sister come over to watch my oldest, who couldn't have been more than a month or two old, while I had a phone call, and it was a disaster. Dd screamed in the other room, my sister was so flustered because she couldn't calm her, and I practically hung up on the person I was talking to because I wanted so badly to go get the baby. I've also had times when I"ve worked with a baby on a boppy in my lap or nursing in a sling.

What is your schedule like? I would not attempt this if I had a strict 9-5 schedule, or even strict scheduled hours without childcare, especially with an infant. But, if you can work mostly around the baby's schedule with only a few scheduled things like the occasional conference call, then I think it is definitely doable, though perhaps a bit complicated and stressful at times. Mostly I felt like I was *always* working, or thinking about working, or trying to work, or feeling behind on work, etc., because I didn't get everything done in one set block of time like I would prefer. But it was totally worth it-I'm so glad I got/get to be home with my kids while stilling making enough money to eat and stuff
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#5 of 19 Old 08-17-2014, 07:59 PM
 
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At these ages (3.5 and 2), I keep my days (and my kids' waking hours) focused on them and do my work at night and during naptime. I also do a fair amount of weekend hours when DH is on "primary parent" duty. Before age 1.5 (but increasingly difficult after crawling began), babywearing was hugely helpful, as was nursing whenever I needed baby to settle, as was a safe self-play area around my desk. That said, we did utilize family help (and later paid babysitters) to allow me to participate in meetings where baby wasn't appropriate. For a long time I could I concentrate my meetings just on Tuesdays. Before age 1, I would be on-site with the caregiver (them at my home, me at their home, or them at my work--all baby-friendly places), so I could nurse on-cue (typically every 2 hours) and attend to baby if nothing but mama would do. Every developmental stage required tweaking the approach, but it has been possible for me to minimize paid childcare. Though this arrangement is nowhere near easy, it is the best of both worlds to have loads of time with my kids and a career that I love.
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#6 of 19 Old 08-18-2014, 09:20 PM
 
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I took a semester of online classes with a newborn at home and used a 10/hr a week baby sitter to manage. She would come and do housework while I nursed or put the baby to bed, then care for the baby when she was awake and happy. Eventually I began to trust her with soothing my baby and putting her to bed. I reminded myself that if I was working outside the home (like I am now!) I DEFINITELY wouldn't be around to soothe her. That space to say "IT's OK to turn up the fan and ignore the crying because she is being held and cared for and will settle down soon enough" is what I needed. I finished the semester with straight As and my baby-mama bond intact . <3

I will say it was hard, and yes, it felt unnatural, and I think it was OK to feel a little guilty. But ultimately, if you want something for yourself as a woman and individual, something has got to give. And yes, working moms choose their needs over their kids' needs sometimes. but not every time! As long as you remain a sensitive parent and hire only sensitive caregivers, you are still doing your job as a parent.

How foiled would feminism be if we all thought no one else was adequate enough to help with childcare!
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#7 of 19 Old 09-02-2014, 05:00 PM
 
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I feel your pain! I haved worked at home for the last year, and am continuing to do so with my now two month old. The challenge I face is a set schedule to be avalible to take calls. However I would say that I am semi successful and learning as I go. My son sleeps very well from morning to afternoon, waking only to nurse and be changed. During this period I do the majority of my tasks and wear him in a wrap if he needs extra comfort. Some mornings I'll get up early if I can to get more tasks done before the bulk of my calls come in. He nurses every two hours so many days it's worked to wake him up about 10 mins before I anticipate his waking. This works better than waiting until he cries, less fussy. In the afternoon the mute button is a life saver as others have mentioned. At that time he wants to be held and does a lot of cooing and sometimes crying. So I hold him. I'm not as productive in the afternoon, but overall it balances out in what I'm able to do in the morning, or an extra hour before or after my scheduled work hours when I don't have to be plugged in to phones. Of course things happen. Despite perfect planning he also cried during a conference call last week. I used the mute button and sent f/up details by email. I try to be gentle with myself and be less controlled about what I accomplish on the home front. I have only this income to support my family and am grateful that working at home is an option. Stating one method of child care over another as ideal is a judgement, which is really unhelpful when faced with your own unique circumstances. Keep at it and share if you something I didn't mention helps you. I'm open to suggestions. Wishing you much success! We're moms, we always find a way to make it work.
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#8 of 19 Old 09-04-2014, 11:12 AM
 
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I'm in a low-stress, but almost-no-pay spot in my career as an artist, but still feel I can relate to many of the stories here. While I could choose not to do any work in my field while my children are very young, I can't seem to shut off the part of my brain that wants to create art the way I used to. And it feels good to still participate in the local arts community. I'm a member of a local gallery, which means I need to devote a certain amount of time to membership duties, including meetings, sitting, volunteering, and of course providing some art for display. Luckily, all the members have been very accommodating and have tried to find work for me that fits into my life right now. Even the small amount of work I've taken on has been a challenge to work into my daily schedule of baby, preschooler and house care.

I've just started to read up (in whatever spare moments I can find throughout the day) on time management, and while mothers have very specific challenges that aren't addressed in the material I'm reading, there are some techniques that I'm finding helpful, like keeping track of my activities for a few days to see where and how I'm are using my time, and making lists of goals, then prioritizing them and breaking them down into manageable steps. This is all in the effort to help me carve out a bit of time for creating art in my days, for at least a few days a week.

So far, I've only managed to find time after the kids have gone to bed for the night. It's not by any means the ideal time for me, but I'm willing to work with what I have. I found I still have something left in me for an hour or so, once I get down to work and have no (or fewer) interruptions. Hopefully, as DD gets a little older (she's only 10 months right now), she will need less physical attention from me, and will also take longer naps, allowing me to have a bit of productive time during daylight hours. DS, is 4 now, but when he was around 1.5 to 3 yrs, he would take a 90 min to 2 hr nap every day, and on some of those days I managed to be quite productive.

I found it's easier for me to give my undivided attention to my children during the day if I can get a little time in for my own pursuits every now and then. I can do a little mental planning and even take a few notes during the day while I'm playing with them, but avoid taking out any art materials that aren't child friendly. They are both in the habit of taking whatever tool I'm using out of my hands and experimenting with it. When they are older, I look forward to sharing creative time with them and teaching them what I know, but for now I have to be patient.

Phone calls for me are luckily few and far between, and I've somehow managed to get through them without any problems (nursing the baby helps!) For meetings and gallery sitting days, I'm so grateful to have my parents close by, who are able to babysit while I'm away. I can't afford any kind of paid help, so without them, none of this would be possible. DH would like to be more available, but he's just too busy with projects right now.

These are such special days/years right now with the l.o.'s, but I'm also looking forward to the time when we can integrate our working lives a little more smoothly into our family lives!
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#9 of 19 Old 09-05-2014, 07:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by christianyvonne View Post
I feel your pain! I haved worked at home for the last year, and am continuing to do so with my now two month old. The challenge I face is a set schedule to be avalible to take calls. However I would say that I am semi successful and learning as I go. My son sleeps very well from morning to afternoon, waking only to nurse and be changed. During this period I do the majority of my tasks and wear him in a wrap if he needs extra comfort. Some mornings I'll get up early if I can to get more tasks done before the bulk of my calls come in. He nurses every two hours so many days it's worked to wake him up about 10 mins before I anticipate his waking. This works better than waiting until he cries, less fussy. In the afternoon the mute button is a life saver as others have mentioned. At that time he wants to be held and does a lot of cooing and sometimes crying. So I hold him. I'm not as productive in the afternoon, but overall it balances out in what I'm able to do in the morning, or an extra hour before or after my scheduled work hours when I don't have to be plugged in to phones. Of course things happen. Despite perfect planning he also cried during a conference call last week. I used the mute button and sent f/up details by email. I try to be gentle with myself and be less controlled about what I accomplish on the home front. I have only this income to support my family and am grateful that working at home is an option. Stating one method of child care over another as ideal is a judgement, which is really unhelpful when faced with your own unique circumstances. Keep at it and share if you something I didn't mention helps you. I'm open to suggestions. Wishing you much success! We're moms, we always find a way to make it work.
Just a logistics question here, as I'd love to make this work for us someday. Are you very upfront with colleagues or clients about stepping away for kid care things? Like, are they understanding of that or judge and make you feel awkward when you have to go on mute and stuff? I really want to make working at work work for us, but I am so scared of everything you hear about how clients may be upset to be told about family things and see it as a big bother, and so you may lose them. I am thinking of this from a freelancer perspective though, which means dealing less with people who know you well and more with cold-calling and networking meetings. What do WAHM moms do when you need to see people in person?
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#10 of 19 Old 09-06-2014, 11:33 PM
 
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I work from home and have to have sessions with clients over the phone, usually not more than 5 a week, but when I do I always schedule them during my daughter's longest nap time- between 12-2pm, or after my husband gets home from work. Sometimes if it's not looking like she's going down for a nap easy and I have a call coming up I'll take her out in the car, get her to fall asleep while driving, and park somewhere pretty (i live 15 minutes to the ocean) to do my calls. Computer work is pretty do-able when she's mellow in the morning playing happily and all her needs are met, but it's really frustrating some days when i have a list of things i need to get done for my business, my husband is working late, and my baby is teething (like the last few weeks!). I just remind myself being a mom is more important.. because it is.
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#11 of 19 Old 09-09-2014, 09:34 AM
 
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I worked at home when the kids were little - and still do now that they are preteen/teen-aged. My job requires my full brain power, so I found it very difficult to work with the kids around when they were small, although I did quite a bit of working at the keyboard + BF at times. Fortunately, my DH was a stay-at-home dad, so except for BF , he did everything during that period. When he started school for his master's, we used a combination of his care, part-day preschool, and my care in the afternoons and evenings when he had classes. Then he got a teaching job when DD2 started kindy, so I took over the kid care - at that point, of course, the kids could handle being alone in the other room if I needed to take a (rare) call, answer an e-mail, or finish something on deadline. Another lifesaver both in the preschool and school years has been babysitting trades (you take my kids one afternoon, I take your kids another afternoon). That avoids the cost of a babysitter/nanny and later after-school care. I have also had friends who shared babysitters/nannies and others who used mother's helpers - generally younger girls (middle school/high school) who would play with the kids while the mom was in the house getting something done. Just some suggestions! It depends a lot on your kid's habits and personality and how much quiet/concentration you need to do your job satisfactorily. Good luck! To me, it's all worth it to have the flexibility to work at home.

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#12 of 19 Old 09-09-2014, 01:26 PM
 
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Ragana, I like your suggestion for mother's helpers, as an option for parents who are at home but need some extra care for the children while they take care of their own work or other household tasks. It sounds like something I should explore when I (and the kids) are at that stage.
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#13 of 19 Old 09-10-2014, 10:32 AM
 
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Right there with you! I am a property manager/assistant and I have almost 9mo old daughter and I work from home as well, full time 40hrs a week. It is super hard with her crying and having to stop every five min, while on the phone constantly.. I am contemplating a nanny too but for sure can not afford that. I know it will only get harder when she get older... Sigh
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#14 of 19 Old 09-10-2014, 03:34 PM
 
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I have worked from home over the years and managed to home school and care for babies with older children in the home all the while. I think it can definitely be done but you do need a good plan. It's a bit trickier when they are babies though especially if you hear them crying and want to go to them. Luckily, when married, my ex-husband worked from home too and he would take the baby so I could talk on the phone. These days my youngest is 4 (almost 5) so she will be quiet when I'm on the phone but she does good and always has for the most part. So I do think working from home with babies/children can be done.

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#15 of 19 Old 09-10-2014, 03:36 PM
 
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Right there with you! I am a property manager/assistant and I have almost 9mo old daughter and I work from home as well, full time 40hrs a week. It is super hard with her crying and having to stop every five min, while on the phone constantly.. I am contemplating a nanny too but for sure can not afford that. I know it will only get harder when she get older... Sigh
It depends on the child and their personality but it can get easier as they get older actually because they can be distracted with toys, DVDs and art/activities. Plus, it's easier to get a part-time nanny or mommy's helper to help with them once they are older. I think it got easier and I had 3 kids with different types of personalities.

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#16 of 19 Old 09-18-2014, 08:22 PM
 
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I'm self employed too and the few times i've tried to work from home it just hasn't worked. I recently went back to work after my 2nd and we hired a nanny this time and she is so fabulous and helpful that i definitely don't regret the decision. If you find a good nanny it'll likely be an expense you won't regret. Care from MIL's, especially in your own home, can be super stressful. Everything has a cost, everything!
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#17 of 19 Old 09-19-2014, 09:12 PM
 
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I don't work from home, but I own a business and my baby has gone to work with me since she was 6 weeks old. It was HARD until she got to the point where she could entertain herself and play with toys on her own. It's still hard, but not nearly impossible like it was.

Do you babywear? I couldn't have done it without carriers.

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#18 of 19 Old 09-20-2014, 12:23 AM
 
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You should take a leave from your workplace for 2-3 months. Or you should be strong enough to leave your baby with a nanny. The children very soon adapt the things as she will not take much time to be comfortable with a nanny. Just instruct the nanny about her needs and don't worry about the expense as its just a matter of 3-4 months. So just chill and every mother is now working so this is not an issue.
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#19 of 19 Old 09-22-2014, 08:42 AM
 
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I'm sorry to say I could never manage it. I tried between DS 1 & 2. It was technically possible but I found myself resenting my baby and this was absolutely horrible. I'd tell myself it was just today, I'll do better tomorrow, etc, but I couldn't deny that my son could feel that my attention was always divided. I think it deeply affected (negatively) our bond at the time and took away any job satisfaction I'd once had, making the extra $ not worth it at all. Though I felt like I was giving up on my vision for this ideal work/mother balance I'd imagined, I found care for him and went back to working from my office. It was definitely better for both of us. When I was pregnant with DS2, I made plans to take an extended time off work.

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