If you follow my blog you’ll know that I have taken my daughter (now almost 8 months) to work with me since she was a few weeks old. Many people have asked me how I make this work, so here are my top five tips for taking your baby to work.
1. Have realistic expectations
Some (ok, most) things will take longer to do than they did pre-baby. Make a list of your goals for each week and then allocate a few to each day. Don’t overdo it – unexpected tasks turn up (both work and baby related) and will take your precious time. Having a to-do list, or better, a bullet journal, will help you to stay focused.
Not only do you need to manage your expectations of yourself, you need to manage others expectations too. I always tell my clients when I expect to have their work completed, but I always allow longer than I need. Having a deadline not only keeps me accountable, but it also prevents clients from calling for updates and encourages them to work within my timeline, not the other way around.
2. Flexibility is key. Have a backup plan.
It’s not always easy to go from changing a nappy or singing nursery rhymes to being a professional, but you have to be able to switch between work and caring for your baby at a moments notice.
It’s also important to have a backup plan. All my appointments are also in the calendar of another team member who is ready to take charge of the meeting if I am unable to. Yes, this is asking for a lot from my colleagues, so I repay the favour in other ways. I may not be able to see clients all the time, but I can answer phones and take care of some of the more time-consuming tasks that I can do from home.
3. Plan your work around your baby’s schedule
Save the heavy thinking for your baby’s nap time and focus on the easier, routine tasks while they are awake.
I shut my office door and focus on complex work while my daughter is sleeping. When she is awake I often sit on her play mat and organise paper work, proof read documents, write my to-do lists or have meetings with colleagues.
4. Make time for one-on-one time
I do believe in the old saying “quality is more important than quantity.” I make a conscious effort to carve out one-on-one time with my daughter a couple of times a day. The train journey to and from work is ideal for us, as is lunch time, but I also make sure I stop working and read to or play with her several times a day. That’s not to say I ignore her for the rest of the day, but I am often multi-tasking so she doesn’t get my full attention.
I enjoy bed time as it gives us time to reconnect after a busy day. I also make sure to focus on my daughter on my days off. We do activities together (rhyme time, swimming, etc.) and I spend a lot of time playing with her with no distractions.
5. Don’t give up because of one bad day!
I once spent an entire day at my office not working, but playing with daughter instead. I couldn’t go home as I needed to be in the office to supervise a 4PM meeting; but my daughter needed to be entertained, so that’s exactly what we did.
There have also been days where I have left work because my daughter has been unhappy. As it turns out, both times she has been completely happy as soon as we left work. Maybe she just didn’t feel like working on those days. We all have days like that, after all!
On the other hand, there are days when she sleeps for hours or is content playing by herself. On those days I am able to get ahead with my work.
I like to remind myself that those good and bad days existed before my she was coming to work with me!