Many people have asked me about the practicalities of taking my baby to work with me. How does it work? Do I actually get work done? What does my baby do all day?
When Lilly was a newborn my days looked much like they did pre-baby, except that I’d breastfeed and change a nappy now and then. My happy newborn would wake to feed and then go back to sleep for a few hours. I continued to have meetings with clients, sit in the open-plan office, make phone calls, prepare documents, supervise staff, etc. with Lilly sleeping in her pram or in the baby carrier.
Lilly is now 7 months old and, as you can well imagine, my days look quite different. Taking a 7 month old baby to work is very different to taking a newborn baby to work! These days, each day is different. I don’t know if there is such thing as a ‘typical’ day for anyone with a baby, working or otherwise. Every day has its challenges and successes. Some days I give up and come home by lunch time, but on the whole, it’s a good thing we’ve got going on.
This ‘day in the life’ is an average, good day. What you’ll see when you read this is that it is quite mundane and ordinary. I read back through this and felt like it needed jazzing up a bit. But this is it. It’s just not that jazzy.
Our as-typical-as-can-be-with-a-7-month-old-baby working day
6-7am – I don’t bother setting an alarm anymore. I wake up when Lilly wakes up. There’s always plenty of time to get ready. For a while I managed to get up before her and go for a run, but then our sleeping patterns synced and she will wake up without fail if I get out of bed. So I gave up on the run! We get ready, have breakfast, play … the usual.
8:30am – Travel to work. We get the train to work. I did drive for a while, but Lilly
is not a fan of the car cries uncontrollably if she is in the car for longer than about 15 minutes. So train it is. Lilly loves the train ride. Well, more accurately, she loves the attention she receives on the train ride. The train journey is one of my favourite times of the day. I always get Lilly out of her pram and we play. I talk to her, sing to her, throw her up and down. I’ll be as silly as necessary to inspire giggles. I don’t care who is watching or how ridiculous I look. This is our precious one-on-one time and I treasure it.
9:30am – Arrive at work (having picked up my coffee on the way, of course). I usually spend the first hour in the open-plan office organising any work I finished the night before, preparing for any meetings that day and making phone calls. Lilly will usually sit happily in her pram with some toys for a few minutes. I also try to put her on her mat for a kick-about as she probably hasn’t done much of that for the day. I make all my phone calls in the open-plan office so that a colleague can pick Lilly up if she gets loud or unhappy while I am on the phone.
10:30am(ish) – Nap time. Lilly doesn’t have a schedule, but when she is starting to get tired I put her in the baby carrier (my current favourite is the Ergobaby 360) and we go for a walk around the block. It usually only takes a few minutes for her to fall asleep. We head back to the office and I go to my office and shut the door. When Lilly was a newborn she’d happily sleep in the open-plan office, but now the noise wakes her so we have a quiet space where I can continue to work.
While Lilly is sleeping I focus on work that requires a lot of concentration or heavy thinking – drafting advice, research, reading etc.
Lilly will usually sleep for about an hour or an hour and a half and will probably breastfeed for 20 minutes or so when she wakes up. This gives me a good chunk of uninterrupted work time.
12noon(ish) – When Lilly finishes feeding I put her on her mat and give her some toys to play with. I’ll carry on working and she’ll kick around for a bit (usually without a nappy, cos who wants to wear a nappy 24/7). When she gets fed up I will sit on the floor with her and play with her (read a book, sing, play with her toys, etc).
When I need to continue working Lilly will probably sit on my lap and play with anything that is not a toy. Why is it that babies love non-toys more than they love toys?! Give Lilly a highlighter, calculator or pair of glasses and she’ll happily play for, well, minutes. Not quite hours, but I’ll take what I can get!
1pm – Lunch. Lilly has recently started solids so I have taken a high chair to the office for lunch time. We are doing baby-led weaning, so lunch is always
2pm (ish) – Lilly will have an afternoon nap at some point. Again, I put her in the Ergobaby and go for a walk outside. The rest of the afternoon is a mix of Lilly playing on her mat, us playing together, me working with Lilly on my lap or meetings. A lot of my time is spent training and supervising, so most of my meetings are informal meetings with colleagues. Lilly joins in, just as she would if you were having a chat with a friend at a coffee shop! She’ll sit/stand on my knee, play on her mat, or we’ll walk/jump/run/dance around the office (Mums: Queens of multi-tasking).
I do still meet with clients, but my colleagues usually take care of any meetings that are likely to go for longer than about half an hour. Lilly is generally happy, but she’ll want attention after a while and it isn’t fair to her or my clients to half-heartedly do both.
I talk to Lilly almost constantly while she is awake. I tell her what I am doing – “I’m just going to make a quick phone call”, “This is a tricky question. Do you know the answer. Maybe you can help me”, or “Let’s go to the printer and get our printing!” as if collecting the printing is The Most Exciting Thing Ever. You can usually hear me singing to Lilly as I walk through the corridors – everyone knows when we are coming!
3:30-5pm – I don’t have a set finish time. Instead, I see how the day is going. If Lilly is happy and I’m getting work done I’ll stay until 5. If she’s not happy I leave earlier. Either way, we play together on the train journey home. The train journey always seems to cheer Lilly up if she’s a bit cranky.
6pm – Home for dinner, bath and bed. My husband usually has dinner ready by time we get home from work. He then gives Lilly a bath while I have a shower and then I put Lilly to bed. She still breastfeeds to sleep, which will usually take about an hour. But it’s a nice way for us to unwind and reconnect at the end of the day.
7-9pm – More work! I usually spend a couple of hours working in the evenings. This doesn’t bother me, in fact, it’s great. It’s amazing how much work I can get done without any interruptions from Lilly, colleagues, phone calls or emails. Flexibility is the key to making this work. I’d much rather spend a few hours during the working day playing with Lilly and catch up on work during the evenings while she is asleep.
At the moment I only go into work three days a week, so the day after a working day is always a ‘mummy and Lilly day’ as I call them. I focus on spending quality time with Lilly on these days (quality, not quantity, as they say) and then repeat the work day the following day!