You thought you could work at home on your personal projects, when all of a sudden your newborn baby starts to cry. You and your child’s mother rush to nurture the baby and finally she settles down. Even though things cool down for now, you are still very tired because of the many wake-ups you had last night – all caused by your hungry baby.
All of this makes you worried. Even though you love your new family member a lot, these constant interruptions of your work, sleep and productivity is stressing you out. You have a ton to do in the coming months, but you start to wonder if you will even be able to get anything done.
To make things even more challenging, you don’t have the luxury of working on your projects full-time because you have a day job and you also want to spend time with your family.
It’s no wonder that you are frustrated, tired and stressed in this situation.
New and wonderful life
Let’s face it: The lack of productivity and tiredness caused in this scenario is from your newborn baby.
She doesn’t live by the same schedules as parents – your baby lives in the moment and lets parents know if something is not right: Maybe it’s too hot, maybe it’s too cold, maybe she likes to be nurtured, maybe they are hungry …
There is so much going on in your baby’s life and the only way to communicate her feelings is to cry (at least in the very beginning).
One part of your frustration is just that – the communication and the lack of words. Sometimes when your baby is crying, you have to guess what is going on: Could it be hunger? Do the baby need to be nurtured?
To make things even more confusing, a baby’s irregular sleeping habits can drive parents crazy in the beginning. Constant wake-ups are a reality in most cases and you wake up tired when the alarm clock rings. Yet, you must go to work so that you can earn living for your family.
It’s no wonder that at times things look pretty chaotic – take it from me…I have been there! Living with a new dynamic new family member causes you to rethink your own priorities and re-evaluate your plans.
Bite your lip and deal with it!
Tiredness, frustration and lack of productivity are the symptoms in this situation, but the real reason behind all the symptoms are the false expectations towards parenthood and living with a new family member.
Especially if this baby was your first one, there were so many things that changed in your life at once. And even with some mental preparation in advance, this change may seem too big to handle at times.
False expectations can even emphasize the effects of the symptoms. In fact, your attitude will play a big role on how you handle everyday stress when you have a baby in your home.
It’s also your attitude that defines whether you decide to find ways to deal with the situation or whether you keep on complaining and become more frustrated.
From chaos to control, from frustration to appreciation
No matter if you are tired, no matter if you frustrated, no matter if you are confused, there is one thing that can change all of this: understanding – getting the big picture.
I can hear you saying, “Okay, so I can make myself productive, erase my sleep debt and feel happy just by understanding the situation? No, I don’t think so!”
Here is the thing: when you go through these mixed feelings, do you really understand the whole picture of parenthood?
Sure, it’s not nice when you aren’t getting stuff done and things aren’t going as planned, but hey – that’s what being a parent (and especially with a newborn baby) is all about!
No one said that it’s going to be dancing on roses. Instead, it’s a lot of work required from both of the parents!
And what about the big picture then? Well, it’s interruptions, it’s distractions, it’s supporting your spouse, it’s changing diapers, and it’s doing a lot of extra work. That’s the reality and that’s the name of the game.
Once you understand that this is part of parenthood, you start to change your attitude and that makes handling the everyday frustrations easier.
Besides, do you think that you are alone in this situation? Nope, there are millions of confused and stressed parents around the globe – not just you and your spouse!
When you change your attitudes a bit, you also start to realize that even if you have less time at your disposal, you are finding more creative ways of getting things done. In fact, you start to appreciate even the smallest moments that you have for your work.
Finally, when you know that your daily routine may change all of a sudden because of your baby, learn to plan your days the night before. When you know your tasks in advance, this helps you to take action as soon as you have even a tiny time pocket available.
While having a baby will decrease the amount of your overall free time, you’ll start to focus on things that really matter and get rid of secondary stuff. In fact, you come to the realization that having a baby is the best thing that ever happened to your productivity!
How I do it
To describe how I – a part-time work-at-home dad – get stuff done with a baby in our home, here are the steps I have taken and practice on a daily basis:
- Attitude and appreciation. I’m listing this first, since this is the foundation for your productivity. Once you understand what parenthood is (especially with a newborn baby), you start to tolerate those interruptions and unfinished task lists better. Also remember, if you are in a regular routine right now, it will most likely change at some point. For example, in the beginning me and my wife were tired because of constant wake-ups during the night. Things are now much better and we can pretty much sleep our nights without interruptions.
- Working times. Notice the daily rhythm of your child. For instance, I know approximately at what time my son goes to sleep in the evening, when he takes a nap and when he wakes up. Based on this knowledge, I try to get my work done during those times. Also, be aware that the rhythm will change – at least in the beginning – and adjust your working time according to them.
- Focus on things that matter. The biggest productivity benefit I’ve experienced from having a baby is that I’m no longer doing secondary stuff that doesn’t take me closer to my goals. In fact, I’m super-focused and doing only the important work that matters.
- Plan your day. Plan your day the night before. Write down the most important tasks that you want to get done and keep that list of things in your head all the times. Put emphasis on those tasks which take closer to your goals. Being a parent requires flexibility, so don’t always expect to get everything done every day. If a hectic day like that occurs, then continue working on the task the next day.
- Hire some help. When it comes to online business related matters, one of the best decisions I have made was to hire a coach. This helped me to reduce the non-important work and put the focus on things that helped me to reach my ultimate goal. Another thing that helped was to outsource small tasks as much as possible. This was yet another way to lighten the workload. Remember, not only is the outsourcing limited to just your business tasks – it can be done on a household level too: cleaning, cooking, babysitting, taking care of the lawn …
- Spot the time pockets. Finally, to get work done, recognize those small time pockets that exist every day. Remember when I told you to keep your task list in your head during step #4? Well, this is the reason why. When you spot a time pocket (for e.g your kid is a sleeping), you can work on your own stuff during that time. When you know what your next action will be, you don’t have to figure out what to do next. Instead, you can start working on it without any additional pondering, thus not losing valuable time.
Don’t let the frustration and confusion get to you – especially if you are having your first baby. In most cases, your attitude and mindset have to change as well. Also, to get work done – even with a limited amount of available time – doing some planning as well as hiring some external help will do wonders for your productivity.
Remember, it’s your baby that helps you stay focused on the right things.
(Photo credit: Cute Baby Reading via Shutterstock)