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Leaving the hospital with a newborn is always a nerve-wracking experience, no matter if it is your first child or fifth. There are so many things to think about: diapers, feeding times, baths … and for moms who choose to work at home with their kids, they have to think about how they will juggle their career and a newborn. The constant demands of caring for a tiny human can make it difficult to find time for work, let alone stay focused on the tasks at hand.
After working with my own kids at home and helping countless other moms do the same, I’ve come up with a few tips to help.
1. Work around your baby
It is important to establish a routine with your baby. Always keep nap times, feeding times, etc. on a schedule. This will keep your child on track, and it will also allow you to create a work schedule for yourself. When you put your newborn down to nap, plan on squeezing in some work. To stay productive, plan on working in short bursts.
2. Communicate with your team
If you were up all night and do not feel as though you will be able to work the next day, let your team know! Working remotely often allows for flexible scheduling, so you may just need to let your team know you will be working later in the day after your own nap.
3. Use the tools available to you
There are quite a few great products on the market that can keep your baby secure and entertained while you are able to work; many products come equipped with enrichment toys and sounds that are sure to keep your baby occupied while you send off a few work emails.
4. Ask for help
Never be afraid to ask for help. Running on very little sleep with a newborn can easily lead to increased stress and meltdowns. Ask friends and family to step in. Look for support groups in your area where you can vent some frustrations. Search online for resources that can help. You are not alone on this journey of motherhood, and so many others have experienced the exact same things you are currently experiencing. I cannot emphasize this point enough! You are not alone.
5. Be flexible
Nothing will ever go as planned, especially with a newborn. Be prepared to be flexible in both your job and your care of your child. Some days, bath time might have to be later or earlier than planned. On other days, your meetings might need to be moved around because your child needs a little extra playtime. Just be sure to be clear and communicate with your coworkers and/or clients.
6. Prioritize yourself, too
Most importantly, do not forget to take care of yourself. Parenthood is a demanding role, and it’s important to prioritize self-care while juggling work and caring for a newborn. The first rule of self-care is to make sure to prioritize sleep. Lack of sleep can greatly impact your productivity and overall well-being, so try to establish a bedtime routine and create a sleep-friendly environment. Easier said than done with a newborn, but with the right support system behind you, it can be accomplished; ask friends or family to watch your baby while you squeeze in a nap or arrange your schedule so that you also nap when your baby naps.
Additionally, take breaks throughout the day to recharge and relax. Whether it’s a quick walk outside or a few minutes of deep breathing, these breaks can help reduce stress and improve focus. This can even include just spending a few extra minutes playing with your child.
Don’t forget to nourish your body with healthy meals and stay hydrated. Fueling yourself properly will give you the energy you need to tackle your responsibilities. Keep healthy snacks around or foods that are easy to grab and go as you will often be on the move with a baby — something first-time parents often overlook is that you will have your baby in one hand while trying to feed yourself with the other. Find foods that are nutritious but easy to handle while you care for your little one.
Finally, don’t neglect your mental health. Find time for activities you enjoy and make time for self-reflection and self-care practices such as journaling or meditation. This is another area where support groups can help as well. Sometimes all you need are some fellow parents that you can vent to who understand exactly what you are going through! While doing this in person can provide a great bonding experience, it can be difficult to get out of the house when you have a baby. In the age of the internet, you can also find these groups online where you can visit virtually on your schedule. No matter what your preference is, it cannot be stated enough that reaching out to others at this time will be of great help to you.
In the end, raising a newborn will look different for everyone. Find what works for you and your child, and never be afraid to ask for help.