As a work-from-home boss, I can tell you that more often than not people assume I do all of the housework. Umm, no. I work from home, which means I have actual work to do while I happen to be home, and that does not include the laundry or the plumbing. Do I try to plan that type of thing into my schedule? Yes. Is it a priority during work hours? NOPE. Since having a baby and earning my boss mama badge, the assumptions and opinions have only gotten worse. Working from home with a baby is hella hard, and cuts into my work time like you wouldn’t believe!
I used to have a 12 hour day that I could choose to divide up however I wanted, because I am the boss. I could choose how long I did actual work for, how long I devoted to household chores, and when I ate or spent time with my partner. Now that I also have a tiny human to care for, even though my day is apparently 6 hours longer, and yet I actually have way LESS time to devote to actual work, let alone chores. Motherhood really shows you what your true priorities are, in work and in everyday life.
Nap Time = Work Time
Caring for a tiny human is hard work. Yes, I chose this life. Yes, I love my child. But damn, I also get to complain about it! It’s hard work where you have to be ON all of the time—there is no half-assing it on this one. So, this means that your time without the baby is your working time, which leaves you with nap time and after they go to bed (if you don’t choose to use it to catch up on well-needed sleep, of course). With a child under the age of one, you pretty much get 2-3 hours a day of naps, MAX. You quickly learn to readjust priorities and expectations, and save the absolutely-cannot-do-with-baby-around tasks for when baby is sleeping on in the care of someone else. For example, I always start with calling back inquiries (I run a full-service portrait studio) when it is quiet to make sure that a waking baby doesn’t interrupt the consultation call, but often wait until later to send the resulting proposals/contracts. You also learn to do most of your other tasks while being attached to a baby, including the basics like eating and pooping, or to tune out the crying if you set them down to do it.
Some days I have good intentions of doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen …right after I pump, of course, because that absolutely cannot be put off or baby will starve at daycare (just-enough-er here!) so unless I ended up with two LONG naps on a day that I felt well-rested and baby was happy with independent play and no business work to be done, that’s all they ever are: intentions. Thankfully my husband picks up the slack on most of the household duties when he is home so that I don’t have to feel any added mom-guilt.
Partner Support Is Everything
While I knew I would not be doing the day-job thing forever, it wasn’t my intention to be a stay-at-home mom. But working from home tends to do that to you—everyone assumes that because you are home that you are not working, and therefore expects the house to be clean and meals to be made whenever they should decide to visit. Especially when you add a child to the mix, they somehow still expect it all to be done, plus somehow bring in income with the little work you can actually get done with a tiny human running the show. Thankfully my husband understands that this is NOT the case, and HE is actually the one who does most of the cooking and laundry around here. This has been the case for years, long before we had a baby, because he knows that my work time means paying the bills. So now when I pass of the baby to him on his day off from work so I that can have an actual work day, he gets it. He steps up as a father and as a partner, and I super appreciate it. And if he is home in the morning, once I’ve nursed her, he lets me sleep in an extra hour or two while he watches the baby and feeds her breakfast, so I can recover from a late night of working (I try to avoid those). However, don’t let our super successful partnership fool you into thinking that our marriage is just as perfect; a baby can test any couple’s patience and ours certainly has! But we work at it.
Daycare Is Your Friend
As with everything, I cannot rely on only two days a week to run my business, especially if I want to actually spend one of those days as a family. So, the notion of sending little miss to daycare became an idea I was actually entertaining. Not full-time, but just enough for me to have an actual work schedule in place to have clients at the studio, go out on photoshoots, and get all of my cannot-do-while-baby-is-around (like client calls and live video streams). Most of all, sending little miss to daycare a couple times a week meant that my husband and I could actually spend one of his days off together as a family and rekindle our love. No, not thaaat kind—literally just spending time together where the only expectations are to keep the tiny human alive and enjoy ourselves. Every once in a while we plan it so that he has the morning off when she is at daycare, I also take the morning off and we go out on an actual date. They don’t need to all be night-time things, sometimes the day activities are better! Since putting her in daycare a few months ago, we’ve had the opportunity hunker down and bring our marriage back to a direction where we actually want to spend time together instead of living like roommates. We have fewer conflicts because his boss refuses most of his day-off requests, we have established better work/home boundaries, and we certainly enjoy each other’s company a lot more. Most of the time…marriage is work and we are putting in the effort.
It Does Get Better
The ease of working from home with a tiny human has its ups and downs. As a newborn I could do everything with her in my arms and she would sleep through it all. A few months later she would just lay there and make noise so calls were limited to naps but she left my arms free in-between. Once she learned to sit and would play for almost an hour at a time between feeds and naps, it was the most glorious for getting work done. Then she learned to crawl and work time plummeted to basically never (aka only during nap time). Now that she is starting to stand and explore more, I get a little more hands-free time to get things done here and there, but most of my work gets done during nap time and after bedtime. Thank the universe she is a GREAT sleeper!! If you don’t have a unicorn baby like mine, investing in a sleep educator to show you how to establish good sleep habits and routines early on will be your best bet. I am dreading the day she cuts out her nap altogether, but I’ve got a couple of years left, so until then, boss mama is getting back to work.