Are you wondering how to be productive when you have a baby? I think every parent is, at least once in a while. Being productive as a new mom is hard!
This is actually my second time writing this post. The first time I wrote it on my phone while breastfeeding my newborn, thinking that I had it all figured out. With my newborn taking 4 naps a day and being awake for about 1 hour at a time, I had so much free time. Even when he was awake, I was mostly breastfeeding and could do stuff on my phone!
Little did I know, this wouldn’t last. And so, I deleted my first post and am writing this new, more realistic one. I am a work from home mom with one baby, no babysitter, no family around. And yes, I get work done.
So, what’s the secret to being productive as a (new) mom?
Wake up before the baby – or don’t
If you’re like me and try to work only during nap time, you’ll likely run into a problem. Nap time is limited, and you always have to choose between working, showering, eating, and chores. And I’m not one to skip everything just to finish my projects!
So, I like getting up a couple of minutes before my baby does. Even if he’s already awake, but still content in his bed! I brush my teeth and get dressed. If he’s still sleeping, I also try to exercise and pick up the house a little.
This way, I can actually get work done while the baby’s napping later on!
And yet, I don’t do this all the time. Sometimes, we have really rough nights and I’m too tired to get up even a second before I have to. Sometimes, I don’t even wake up before my son is loudly requesting to be fed. Sleep is productive, too, and you should never feel guilty for taking all the rest you can get.
Do chores at night
This leads me into my next point. If getting up before your baby doesn’t work for you, try getting things done at night. And I don’t mean work.
For example, I like showering at night so that I don’t have to in the morning. Same with laundry, taking out the trash, and cleaning. When my partner is home, these things are much easier to accomplish. And I save precious nap time for my actual work.
A playmat is your best friend
Once your baby is big enough to entertain himself on a playmat, you suddenly gain so much more free time! Well, maybe that’s just me. My son hated being put down when he was a newborn, so I had to hold him most of the time, or use a baby wrap (more on that later).
But now, he loves playing on his mat. Or rolling across the room and exploring. And while he does that, I get to do dishes, pick up the house, and so on. I also love exercising a bit while he plays. Most of the time, I’ll do that right next to him so we’re still spending time together.
Offer easy activities to squeeze in a bit of work
Here are a couple of suggestions that work super well for us:
- letting my son play in his high chair
- giving him (safe) household objects to explore, and switching them up every couple of minutes
- putting him in different rooms or different parts of the same room (I follow along with my laptop to supervise)
- putting on some music
- if all else fails, turning on the TV in the background.
All of these are great ways to get a couple of minutes to “free time”! Use them to reply to an urgent email or anything else that can’t wait until nap time.
Use a baby carrier or wrap
Sometimes, a baby will have a rough day and not let you get anything done. In this case, I always take out my trusty baby wrap which puts him to sleep in no time.
I personally don’t like babywearing that much (for some reason it really hurts my back and stomach – maybe I’m doing it wrong). But it’s always a sure way to be able to complete chores and even computer work, if really necessary.
Organise your work in advance
I’ve talked all about getting chores and other things out of the way. Now, you have nap time to work on your projects!
My biggest tip for maximising productivity during nap time is to plan your to-do list meticulously. Create a to-do list that fits your lifestyle (I currently use a weekly one, just because each day is kind of unpredictable). Prioritise your tasks so you’re more efficient.
If you know exactly what needs to be done and how you want to proceed, you can actually get so much done! Even with limited time.
Choose your projects wisely
If you’re a freelancer like me, choosing your projects wisely is now more important than ever.
I used to work with a variety of clients. Some gave me fairly easy projects and paid well, others required more time for ultimately less money. Well, I had to ditch the latter before my maternity leave. I just can’t allow myself to spend a lot of time on work that doesn’t pay well!
Of course, I still work on some passion projects like this blog. But when it comes to actual work, it has to be profitable.
As for now, I only kept clients who
- I enjoy working with
- pay well
- are within my area of expertise (I’m a much quicker translator when it comes to furniture rather than boats!)
- don’t require constant calls, back-and-forth discussions, and other unpaid things that take up time. For real though, how do you even attend a meeting when you have a baby?
Never accept short deadlines
I used to thrive on short deadlines. Not that I liked them. But I’m good at them. I’m able to complete work fast if I have to, and clients seem to like that. However, these short deadlines had to end.
After my maternity leave, I contacted my former clients and discussed how we could work together in the future. And I told them right away that I would be working during nap time only.
They all know that I’m home with my baby. That some days, I won’t get much done, while others are more productive. Now, all my deadlines are about a week, not a day long. And it works so well!
I still do my very best to complete urgent projects quickly, even if it means asking my partner to babysit while I work. But I don’t have to stress about it, which is so crucial. Mom-life is stressful enough as it is!
Remember that productivity is relative
I’ve now told you my best tips for being productive when you have a baby. And I use them every single day! That being said, it’s also important to remember that work is not everything.
Playing with your baby is productive, too. So is spending time with your partner, calling your family, and taking care of yourself. Working and earning money is great, but not at the expense of everything else. If you need a reminder about that, check out my post about focusing on the truly important things in life!
I’d love to know how YOU get things done while taking care of a baby! Please share tips and comments below. And don’t forget to share this post on social media if you liked it! 🙂