I can recall that in the earliest days of the pandemic, there was debate over the impact on couples having babies. Would there be a baby boom? A pregnancy drought? As it turns out, we didn’t really see either; The Conversation examined the subject and found both declines (from November 2020 through February 2021) and accelerations (with births in 2021’s final quarter exceeding those from past years). Amidst all the talk of birth rates though, there was little talk of managing a newborn baby during a pandemic. And if you’re like me –– working at home with a baby (and a toddler!) through much of the pandemic and its aftermath –– you’re well aware that this has been a significant challenge. I certainly can’t pretend that keeping up with remote work with a baby and a toddler in the house has been easy –– or necessarily even manageable. But in this piece I do want to convey some of what I’ve learned about how you can return to some semblance of a normal routine with a newborn in the picture. Establish a Schedule Easier said than done? Absolutely! Yes, the old adage that “kids respond to structure” is true. But babies are at least somewhat unpredictable, and toddlers don’t always believe in schedules. Even so, if you don’t establish a base schedule to try to adhere to, you’ll end up exhausted and scattered. This is where the Onoco app came in handy for me. Beyond its other fun and useful features, the scheduling tools are invaluable. By outlining childcare routines (feeding, nap time, and so on) on a clear timeline to which I can add any specific events or activities, I’ve found myself better able to hold myself accountable. Interruptions to routine definitely still happen but a solid outline makes it easier to get back on track. Make To-Do Lists I’m not a to-do list person. In fact, to-do lists drive me crazy. But under my current circumstances, I’ve made an exception, and I admit (begrudgingly) it’s helped. In addition to scheduling routines and activities for the little ones, I highly recommend laying out some of the things you absolutely need to accomplish each day –– in the simplest and most concise way possible. Don’t bother with the obvious –– things like “do x hours of work,” or “feed baby.” Focus on the things that can fall by the wayside: “answer email from so-and-so,” or “call sister about babysitting about next Friday.” Fit in Exercise Exercise is a one-two punch: It will make you feel better (promise!) and it can help to tire your toddler out (if you’re dealing with infant care and another little one at the same time). And for me, it came down to a new pushchair and a commitment to walk regularly in the nearby park. I was directed fairly early in the pandemic toward the pushchairs at iCandy, because a friend (like me) was relying on a rickety hand-me-down stroller, and we wanted to try some “pandemic walks” together. These pushchairs double as carrycots (excellent for toting the baby about) and offer sturdier construction for walks at a reasonable pace. And with something like this on hand, I’ve been able to coax my toddler to go for a few laps around the park while I push the baby. Frankly, we’re all better for the hobby, and when we get home my oldest will be tuckered out for a little bit. Adjust Expectations This one hurts a little bit, but I’m borrowing it from an article on work-from-home parenting at The Washington Post. In that article it’s noted that parents are often used to having 15, 30, or even 60 uninterrupted work minutes at a time –– but that with young kids at home, this just isn’t always possible. For me, accepting that fact made a significant difference. Of course I’d still like those uninterrupted stretches. But once you accept that work simply isn’t going to be that way for a while, you get better at juggling interruptions and working as you’re able. It’s not a solution, but it might just help you stress a bit less. Let Others Help Last but not least, as a prior blog post about ‘The Number One Piece of Advice We Could Give to Any New Parent’ recommended: Let people help. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at managing a challenging parenting situation, but I also know I’d be lost without the occasional help from family and friends. People close to you will want to help with the kids (and to get you some rest), and you have to embrace that idea and allow them to. I’ve even had a lovely neighbour over to watch the kids while I took a bath and read a book –– and let me tell you, I needed the break! There’s no perfect science or formula to all of this. But these steps have helped me immensely, and I hope they’ll help you as well! If you would like to read more parenting articles from me, please stay tuned for my new blog launching soon!
Article written by Cassey Kent for Onoco.