That remote, laptop lifestyle is something many millennial moms are after, but let me tell you — it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, I can literally roll out of bed and start working in my PJs, but the interim of 9 to 5 is filled with many bumps and surprises along the way. After my lay-off off from my full-time job in July, I found myself thrust into this gig economy. I’m making do with lower pay and fewer benefits.
The bright side is that I’m no longer required to take 45 busses and 85 delayed trains to get to work. The downer is that every second of my day is now a juggling act. I’m typing up reports and simultaneously trying to keep my kid from sticking his head in the toilet bowl.
It is absolutely essential to have a flexible system that allows me to give my son attention and give my best work performance. It’s tough, but with proper planning, it’s totally possible. I’m a workaholic and I love being a mom, so prioritizing the two came easy.
While I don’t have the luxury of spending all of Saturday at brunch with friends, I feel like I’m building a legacy and will have a story to tell my son about the value of hard work when he gets older. That’s what is important. But you didn’t come here to read my rambling, you want some tips to figure out how to finagle this work-from-home-life-with-an-unruly-toddler-who-might-accidentally-break-a-bone-from-trying-to-climb-on-every-object-with-two-feet-of-height.
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep
Seriously, get sleep — you and the baby. Those Friday nights of knocking back glasses of prosecco and sweet red with the girls are O.V.E.R. I’m usually in bed by 9 p.m. — that’s right, three hours before midnight — because that’s usually when my son’s whining gets unbearable. I used to be able to stick him in the bed with a bottle in a dark room and he’d fall asleep, but now he’ll get up and walk out of the room to find me. Lol. So, now we’re both in the bed by 9 and “SleepSLEEP” by 9:15.
I’m an early riser at heart, so going to bed early isn’t a problem for me at all. Take note: Trying to keep your kid up all night to make them sleepy the next day, will only backfire. You’re going to end up with a cranky kid who will only make your day miserable. Get lots of sleep.
Get up early
I try to give myself 90 minutes before clock-in time to have a cup of coffee and survey the tasks I need to complete before the day begins. That also includes seeing what I need to have posted for 32 Letter. Starting work right after waking up is asking for trouble as you are bound to make mistakes or just be too slow with your processes because you’re still in sleep mode. I usually start work at 8 a.m. on Saturday, so I’m out of the bed by at least 6:30.
Food prep as best you can
Mom guilt is at its peak when you feel like your child has to wait longer than 10 minutes to eat when they’re hungry. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan for what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. My son loves milk, so I make sure I have clean bottles/sippy cups at the ready and enough milk to keep him satisfied.
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If you still breastfeed, whew chile — what can I say, hopefully, you have enough pumped milk on hand. For breakfast, I’ll usually give my son a banana or slices of an apple and I’ll put him in his high-chair with a bowl of oatmeal. For a snack, it’s usually the opposite fruit he didn’t have the first time around and crackers. Lunch is tater tots and pizza rolls with apple juice and yogurt or pudding. Dinner is usually whatever is Crock-pot-able (last weekend I made Turkey chili) or I’ll cook a 30-minute veggie/starch/meat meal if I’m not too exhausted from work.
Have a rotation of TV programming
Screen-time might be bad according to some statistics, but not in this house. We can’t get enough of it. Lol. On a serious note, if I had the ability to keep my son engaged for 8 hours straight without turning on the TV, I would. With that said, I keep his favorite channels on a loop. We usually start with BabyFirst TV for a few hours, then I’ll flip over to Disney Junior or Nick Jr. YouTube and Netflix are my secret weapons if he starts getting out of hand. He loves those crazy videos of kids playing with their toys and he’ll watch Mother Goose Club on Netflix, or really anything that has any kind of singing. Again, if I feel like he’s getting too much TV, I’ll turn it off.
Take kissy breaks
I don’t care how demanding your job is, make time to show your child affection. I usually try to watch the clock and schedule a break to give my son some hugs and kisses. Make your kids feel like they are always wanted and loved.
Don’t beat yourself up
Accidents, mistakes, boo-boos, whatever you want to call them, will happen. I took on this responsibility because mothers have it so hard in the workforce. I’m so grateful to be working with a company who did not see me being a parent as a hindrance. The workforce must accommodate us as mothers because we’ve given so much of ourselves to it. There will be times when you want to give up. Don’t. Reach out to family members and friends and ask for help — in advance. Try your best to grit through fatigue, hunger, depression, and other curveballs that may come your way. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but we’re rockstars. We’re built for this.