The Race Against Naptime: Working from Home with a Baby

Staying at home with a child is a challenge all by itself. Add in an attempt to accomplish assignments and meet deadlines while doing so, and you’ve got quite a feat to face.

With a baby who requires near-constant attention (he’s a “supported sitter,” meaning he really wants to sit up to play with his toys, but could potentially topple over and hurt himself at any given moment unless you keep a hand on him), the only feasible time to fully focus in order to get work done is during naptime. Added to this time constraint is the fact that instead of being at a relatively distraction-free office, you are at home with all the necessary (and not-so-necessary) tasks around the house vying for your attention. Between the baby’s three naps, ideally, you’ve got around five hours of potential working hours each day. What you end up with is a series of spurts of productivity looking something like this.

Okay, you’ve got maybe two hours. Starting the clock . . . NOW!

0:00 After laying him in his crib, you grab the full laundry basket and head downstairs. Intentionally averting your eyes from the dishes in the sink, you toss the clothes in the washer, actually remember to add detergent and shut the lid, and walk straight over to your computer.

0:05 Open your e-mail to see if your boss has responded to your last query. Nope. But your mother is demanding answers about an upcoming visit. She needs to nail down dates and flights RIGHT NOW before the ticket prices become EXORBITANT! Ugh, fine. After a series of frenzied text messages and by some stroke of Google Calendar–black magic, you find the exact date you and your husband are both free and are able to answer your mom.

0:19 Off to the races, you finally open the file you’re working on and buckle down.

0:31 Suddenly realize that it’s freezing and you need your sweater. Trudge upstairs trying to remember where you shed it last, since you are constantly moving up- and downstairs, and there is an inexplicable 15-degree difference between the two.

0:32 Back to the grind.

0:44 Hmmm, a coffee would really be nice right about now. While it’s heating up, you give in to the dishes in the sink.

0:46 Work, work, work.

1:03 Move the laundry to the drier.

1:05 Busy little bee.

1:20 Look something up online and end up reading the entire Wikipedia page about Brigham Young. Somehow end up scrolling through your Facebook feed in what must be a blackout before realizing that you’ve gotten off track. Gah! Must focus!

1:30 Get shit done.

1:40 Realize you’ve just read the same sentence three times but comprehended nothing because you’ve drifted into a sleepy fog. Shake yourself awake and keep going.

1:45 Whimpering noises over the monitor. NO! It’s not time yet! Go back to sleep! Why do you not appreciate the opportunity to nap? For the few minutes while he babbles and groans to himself, before he really starts getting upset, you work harder than you have the entire naptime.

1:50 Accept defeat. Save and close the file. Go pretend to eat the baby’s feet to make him giggle.

All in all, your productivity for the course of any one nap looks a little like this.

Productivity chart

So it’s hard to get into the groove and get a lot of work done. But there’s a lot to be thankful for, too. For instance, the good napper you’ve got. And the opportunity to feel like you’re accomplishing meaningful work that you love while you get to hang out with a baby. This is a pretty good time in your life, even if it feels difficult every once in a while.

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