As I'm writing this, I can hear them. My two boys have been playing nicely, but they're starting to bicker. I know what's coming, but I just want to get a few more sentences down before they fly out of my brain. They're yelling now. Something just hit the ground, and I'm hoping it's not one of them. Be right back...
So. This is the life of a work-from-home mom. It's easier now that my boys are nine and four, but back when they were babies and I worked in between feeding sessions, diaper changes, and tummy time, I was thankful that my co-workers and clients couldn't see what was going on in my house.
In a perfect world, work-from-home moms could schedule their day in such a way that every deadline is met, every call takes place during naptime, and there's never a tug-of-war between baby's cries and finishing that one last email. But any mom who works and parents simultaneously knows that sometimes no amount of planning is enough.
While my former office mates were at work looking polished and ready to face the day after a full night sleep, I was a hot mess with spit-up on my shoulder, a baby on my lap, and a phone on my ear. Throw in a virus, colic, or the inevitable day when your baby decides he doesn't need to nap at all, and the challenges become even greater.
I had a few go-to moves that got me through those first couple of years as a work-from-home mom.
Pantry closet and bathroom phone calls.
Wherever I could find a few minutes of quiet in my home, I took the opportunity, provided baby was safely playing within earshot. Luckily, most people in my industry – writers and editors – have worked from home at one time or another, so if I had to end up cutting things short, they understood.
I became pretty good at using one hand while the other one held my baby or fed him. It's good training for trips outside in which you have to carry all that baby gear, groceries, and more.
When baby falls asleep in the car, mommy does some overtime.
Yep, I've sat in a parked car with my laptop or taken calls over the bluetooth. Even now, as they're older and I take them to various activities, I manage to sneak in some work as another trusted adult properly supervises them.
Sunscreen? Check. Soccer ball? Check. Tablet? Check.
Yes, when my kids run around the playground sprinkler and I hang out on a park bench to watch them, I use that time to brainstorm some new ideas for clients. Having someplace to capture my thoughts is a must – because I will forget by the time I get home. I learned this lesson during middle-of-the-night feedings when great ideas came to me, and I started keeping a notebook nearby to jot them down.
Being a work-from-home parent really is the best of both worlds, as long as those worlds aren't colliding, of course. When they do, we improvise. It's worked for me so far.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women's lifestyle, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, and more. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband, two fast-growing boys, and a living room full of toys.