Before I had my first little one, I was a self-employed web designer, I worked from a co-working space, regularly had client meetings, enjoyed attending networking events and loved the freedom my job gave me to create my own schedule and flexibility.
Somewhere between becoming pregnant and my maternity leave, I realized I wouldn’t be able to continue with the same lifestyle. Being a mum requires a schedule, daily routines and life is a lot less flexible when you have a little person around to look after.
Switching my freelance life to a remote job at Automattic as a Happiness Engineer, gave me the chance to schedule my own working hours and have the flexibility to work remotely from home. It was a big change for me, but probably one of the best professional decisions I have made.
How to juggle work and a new baby?
How each working mum juggles their job, a new baby and home life is a challenge and each stage can be stressful, but it can also bring unique events to treasure and milestones to remember which you can look back on and learn from.
I started working full-time when my little one was 6 months old, I was no longer breastfeeding which was a game changer, and it allowed me to get some normality back.
As I was working remotely from home, in a separate office, I was and still am able to step in and out of the mum role easily, being able to see what he was up to during the day, keeping a watchful eye over him and his daily activities with his nanny while I worked.
Routines and Planning
I have found that routines are the key to success and to not burn out with all the tasks and chores to do throughout the day and week when you have a baby or toddler.
I’m was fortunate to have a baby who loved to sleep, he quickly got into the habit of sleeping throughout the night.
I would recommend any mum to take advantage of this time, if you can, and wake up before your little one, and spend sometime on you, self-care time. This doesn’t mean the chores and laundry, I mean reading a good book, having a quiet cup of tea, taking time to plan your day, listen to a podcast or just have an extra long shower. I find that taking time out to look after yourself sets you up for the day, even though you are a mum, you can’t let life take over, you still need to look after yourself and find time for your hobbies and happiness.
Keeping to a routine can help you and your little one, this involves all the events and activities you do throughout the day.
- Getting up and getting dressed
- Meal times and meal planning
- Going out for walks or running errands
- Screen time
- Baby nap times
- Bath time
Review your routine
As your little one grows up, you’ll need to regularly check and review your routine. You’ll find the biggest routine changes come when you start to introduce your baby to solid foods, when they start to walk or can do new activities with you.
I have found that reviewing my routine every 3 months works well, this keeps my little one on track with his development and allows me to add more things for me as my little one becomes more independent.
Keeping other family members up to date with appointments and your schedule is really important. We have a family calendar, so my husband and myself can check in, and everything goes on that. For us, a digital calendar works best, so we can check it on the go. This allows us to ensure we are available when necessary, or see when we have time for days out or seeing family.
Stick to it and stay focused
To be honest, having your whole day scheduled is a bit boring, but you’ll get a lot of satisfactions out of getting things done and seeing the results overtime. And if you want a day off, schedule it in, so things don’t fall behind, like meal preparation. I try to avoid certain chores over the weekend and plan more downtime for Netflix and reading when the little one is resting.
Support and help
I don’t have any family living close to me, but I do have a local nanny who comes to look after the little one while I work. I’ve found it important to set clear expectations and let her know of any changes as soon as possible. Even so, keeping an eye on her routine and the activities she does with the little one is really important, after all, I’m mum and I want my little one to grow up how I feel is best, not with the ideas and influence of others.
Before Covid-19, I also had a cleaner, as I’d prefer to spend my weekends with my family, rather than cleaning the house and ironing. I never felt guilty about this, as I think it is great to ask for help when you need it. But since Covid-19, with travel restrictions and the fact that we don’t fancy going out as much, one weekend morning is put aside for cleaning. As the world goes back to normal, this will change again overtime, ensuring I can continue to spend more time with my family.
My job, without Covid-19 restrictions, requires me to travel 2 or 3 times a year, this is awesome, but when you have a little one, it’s comes with its challenges and guilt.
A month after my little one turned one I went on a work trip to Gdansk for a week, this was the first time I had been way from him for so long, even though I knew he was in the perfectly capable hands of my husband (and mother-in-law), I still worried and missed him.
My second work trip that year was to Orlando, Florida, this was a long 8 days, and I felt too far away. It’s a tricky balance between feeling like you’re not a good mum, because you are so far away, and knowing you have a job that helps to provide for your family. My little one took his first steps during this time, my husband send me a video and I felt like I was missing a big milestone. The guilt is real, but it’s something not to dwelled on, there are so many achievements I have shared with my little one, I am fortunate to be around for most of them.
After both trips away, I found it was hard to get back on track with a good routine again, the same can be said for Christmas holidays, or any other long weeks off work. A change is good, but then it’s good to take the time and a step back to see if your routine is working the best way for you, if changes need to be made or how you can modify your day to fit in more things you want to do.
Apps and planners
I rely a lot on Google Calendar, this is for work and personal routines, this includes time-blocking for different task. Just adding items to a to-do list doesn’t mean they get done, but blocking off time in your calendar to do tasks allows you to ensure you make the time to get things done.
In the past I have used Asana, but I currently use Todoist, which has a nicer, simple, mobile app. Everything goes on to the app, this allows me to then forget about the task until I actually need to do it, just getting tasks off my mind and written down helps me get on with my day. I will then review my task list and plan when tasks need to be done and fit them within my routine.
Other app for routines I have enjoyed using are TimeTune, this allows you to set up different daily routines with an alarm, great for time-blocking and seeing what you should be focusing on and when.
It’s good to not overestimate what you can do in a day, and not to have a jam packed routine, trying to get anything done with a baby around is hard enough. I like to plan three things to do throughout the day and then recognize the day has been successful when the tasks are completed.
- Get up before your little one, if possible, and take some time for yourself.
- List everything that needs to be done, just to get them out of your head.
- Choose three things that need to be done each day.
- Set up a routine to include the 3 tasks each day.
- Block time off for each item on your routine, and be realistic with how long it will take.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Review your routine every so often, around every three months.
- Stick to the routine and stay focused.