This is the final blog in a 3-part series discussing working at home when the baby, or babies, arrives. Part 1, Tips for Talking to your Boss, looked at the choices involved and provided suggestions on how to talk to your employers to try to get the opportunity. Part 2, Tips for Making a Schedule, discussed the importance of managing your time during this chaotic period.
In this final instalment I will look at our experience and what I feel are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home with newborns.
- Spending time with the kids: I tried to get most of my work done when the kids were sleeping which meant that I could spend a lot of time with them. While my family time involved a lot of changing diapers and doing other chores, it also meant doing fun stuff. Working away from the house usually means that you miss 60-70% of your child’s awake hours during the week. Being able to arrange your schedule to fit best into my family life meant that I only missed 20-30% of those hours which equates to a lot more fun and some very meaningful experiences.
- Sharing the responsibilities: It would have been far too difficult, and unfair to the kids, if Lisa did not get the help she needed after the twins were born. Raising twins when there is a 3-year old in the house will exhaust any mother regardless of how much help she is getting. Just feeding the twins (so proud of Lisa for breastfeeding our kids) can be a full time job. She was spending at least 45 minutes 8 times a day, over 6 hours in total, feeding the twins for the first 6 months. By assisting with other aspects around the house meant I was more involved in the family and Lisa had less to worry about and had at least a few moments of not feeling overwhelmed.
- Ability to do errands mid-week: In a city it can take a long time to do your grocery shopping and other errands. I did most of these tasks in the morning mid-week as I found the roads and the stores less busy at that time. Shopping after work and weekends usually meant a lot of wasted time.
- Mid-week activities: One of my main responsibilities was to spend quality time with Annika, three years old at the time. Lisa had to spend most of her time with the twins and Annika could easily feel like she was being neglected. There are some good deals, and less crowds, mid-week and we had some great outings including visiting different playgrounds, swimming, sledding, and mornings at the zoo.
- Arrange schedule around your peak times: I am at my best, most mentally awake, from around 6am to noon and then I start to wear down slowly. Many people do not do very well in the morning and are at their peak during other times. I arranged my schedule to get my work done during my most alert hours to increase efficiency and quality of my work. You may find that if you work from home and schedule appropriately you can reduce the time needed to get your work done.
- Lower transportation costs: This can be like a raise in pay. It took us 5 weeks to use 1 tank of gas when I was working from home compared to using a tank of gas every 2 weeks when I worked in the office. Assuming that the tank of gas cost $75, we saved $1170 in fuel alone for the first year. You can also save on the wear and tear on your car, reduce your insurance costs and if you have one, sell your second car and eliminate all the cost associated with it.
- Not wasting time in traffic: Let’s say you have a 20 minute one-way commute and your new schedule means 4 fewer return trips to the office a week. In this scenario you would save 138 hours or almost 6 days a year. For a young family that time is nice to spend elsewhere.
- Being pulled in all directions: When you are at the office you can work, and then when you are at home you are with the family. When they are both under the same roof it can feel like both worlds are competing for your time. If you favour one more than the other then you can feel like you are letting your family down or letting your work responsibilities slip. Neither employers nor babies have a lot of patience.
- Hard to concentrate at work: It is hard to turn the music up loud enough, even in the basement, to drown out crying. Even if you cannot hear it you seem to sense that you could be needed. You must create an environment so you can get some quality work done without interruptions or distractions, if only for a few hours a day.
- Lose out in the social aspect of work: While part of this may be a positive as you do not spend as much time chatting and you can spend that time getting your work done or with the family, you do feel isolated from the goings on at work and removed from the team.
- Hounded at office appearances: My job involved dealing with dozens of different people within our office and when I did make an appearance I was literally swarmed by people. Some wanted to say hello and ask about the kids and some were saving up work questions until they saw me as they preferred to talk face to face. I was in the office two afternoons a week and needed that time for meetings and to organize paperwork and it was really hard to get anything done during that time.
- Never leave work: My schedule had me up at 5am and I was working periodically throughout the day, often into the evenings, and working weekends. While I worked around the same number of hours as I had before, it felt like I never stopped working.
This was the busiest, toughest, most exhausting year in my life, and it was great. I realize there could have been an easier solution, taking leave or acquiring more outside help, but I wanted to keep working during this time (easier on the finances) and I wanted to experience this period of family life as much as possible. When your work life and family life are both very demanding and are under the same roof it can be hard to fit everything in a day but we made it work. If you are considering a similar move for your family I would recommend that you analyze this option thoroughly before deciding to pursue it, and if it is the best option you have go for it and make it work.
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to know more about working from home with newborns please leave a note below or contact me directly.