I’m not the first person to admit this and I certainly won’t be the last, but here goes: working from home while caring for a baby is tough.
It’s not so much that caring for a baby is hard, per se. I mean, if you break down all the components that going into parenting an infant, they’re pretty simple, albeit tedious. Trying to do long division in my head is hard. Trying to push a baby out of my body is hard. Trying to get from one side of Los Angeles to the other during rush hour is, well, that’s just impossible. What’s been the most challenging part of working at home with an infant is that I just can’t seem to see a single task all they way to completion. My life has become one long string of half-finished (sometimes three quarter-finished, if I’m lucky!) tasks. And it drives me b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Whether you work at home or away from home, you just can’t win. I freelance from home which is an amazing gift in so many ways, but I also feel like I’m never “done.” I’m forever battling with a nagging feeling that there’s always more that I could be doing, more opportunities that I could be pursuing, more money that I could be making, etc. It’s a guilt-inducing feeling that I just can’t seem to shake. On the other hand, I can’t even wrap my brain around how difficult it would be to have to go to an office everyday and leave Briar with someone else. My heart shatters into a million tiny pieces just thinking about it. (Hats off to all you mamas who do this! You’re stronger than I’ll ever be!).
So needless to say, it’s a daily struggle. In the (almost) three months that I’ve been a parent, I’ve learned a TON. Every single day I learn something new about my roles as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, freelancer, blogger, housekeeper, social media user, bill payer, etc, and I’m positive that I still have so much more to learn.
Here are a few things that have helped me balance work + baby:
“Out of Office” response. Right after I had Briar, I put the “out of office” (or in my case, maternity leave) auto reply setting on my Gmail account and it helped to ease my guilt over not responding to e-mails in a timely manner. I contemplated leaving it up until Briar went to kindergarten (or maybe college?), but I caved and turned it off the other day. I’m nowhere near caught up on e-mails yet, but maybe one day…
Make lists. Before Briar was born, I could easily keep dates, appointments, and assignments neatly filed in my memory. These days, I can barely remember if I washed my hair or not while I’m still in the shower. Yeesh. I’ve realized that writing down what needs to get done is the only way anything will actually get done.
Ask for help. We spend most of our weekends back home with our parents these days and I can’t even tell you how wonderful that has been. There’s no shortage of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and friends who generously give their time + energy to our sweet girl, which frees me up to get a few things done, catch up on sleep, or better yet, do nothing at all! I’m not usually one that feels comfortable asking for help, but in this case, I will take alllllll the assistance I can get.
Forgive + forget. There are many days as of late that I feel less than stellar about myself. Between the unfinished tasks, the number of e-mails that begin with “my apologies for the late response!,” the fact that I still can’t wear half of my closet, the fear that I’m not paying enough attention to Briar (thereby ruining her life), and the unconventional hours I keep…gah. I just want to wake up and be GOOD at life. I mean, is that even possible? Until that day comes, I’m trying to focus on what I AM doing right and let the guilt fall by the wayside. #easiersaidthandone
Keep your eyes on the prize. Being a mom is the best thing ever. Despite all the stressing and worrying, I derive so much joy from my wild-haired little one that I can’t help but want to work hard so I can give her the best life possible. When she goes to college one day, I won’t remember all the e-mails that went unanswered. I won’t remember the dishes that were left in the sink overnight. I won’t remember all the minutia that momentarily consumed me. So keep your eyes on the prize, Ann-Marie. Eyes on the prize.
Moms, how do balance working with parenting?