Sleeping babies are a beautiful thing. The perfect picture of contentment. And it's only because little TomTom is sleeping right now that I actually have a chance to write up this post for my new blog! The reason it didn’t get written yesterday is because he was refusing to sleep except in my arms. So we come to the 2nd part of bringing your baby to work - how to actually do it and still get your job done.
Brace yourself. It's going to be a bit crazy at times and a bit stressful.
Having kids at home gets crazy and stressful and working can be crazy and stressful so when you meld the two worlds, you’re headed down a path that’s going to take a lot of patience and for which you’re going to need to be ready to forgive yourself a bit more than maybe you’re used to.
I’ve found, over the years of caring what people think of me, that generally other people tend to give us more slack than we give ourselves.
And usually I like that balance, but when you’re bringing a baby to work with you there are going to be times when you are not in control of the chaos and you need to be ready to set aside the mom- guilt (or co-worker guilt) and cut yourself a little slack.
Case in point? Yesterday TomTom refused to sleep anywhere but my arms and wanted to nurse every 6 minutes. How are you supposed to get anything done??!! And I apologized to my boss for the chaos. I also realized though, that I was getting very flustered because I felt like my taking care of Tom-o was getting in the way of my To Do list. My priorities were flipped. Cue the mom-guilt which doesn’t help with feeling stressed and flustered.
Eventually I was able to talk myself into a place where I could refocus on a few things, setting myself up for a better afternoon. It looked like this: 1. My priority is my child. 2. If he wants to be held while he sleeps, so be it!! (Nagging voice in head saying, “But then he won't get used to sleeping unswaddled in a pack and play!” Sane voice in head: “Who cares if he can sleep unswaddled!!!”) This is what we have babywearing for! Children need to be held and snuggled and it's a marvelous thing that their instincts tell them that. We should honor it and soak in those snuggles when we can. 3. I don’t need to do my To Do list all at once. I can start at the top and do the first thing. I can also figure out which things I can do while holding TomTom, or feeding him, and which things need to be done while he’s sleeping in a wrap or in his pack and play. 4. Remembering that no one expects a baby to never cry. No matter how good a parent you are, there will be times when you can’t get your baby to stop crying (or stop crying fast enough). It's not the end of the world and when mom is flustered, Baby gets flustered, so talking yourself into a calm amidst the chaos is helpful.
While this isn’t always the case, I was happy to report that I got everything on my To Do list done! And a crazy day under my belt gives me more confidence and composure for the next one.
Set it up - both with your boss and with your coworkers.
While it would be hilarious to waltz into work with your baby unannounced, I would advise setting up the “Baby at Work” program with your boss well in advance. And not just with them, but with your coworkers as well. There’s a great article about this in the Muse. If your employer doesn’t have a Baby-At-Work policy set up, there are amazing resources at the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.
It doesn't take much. I have a pack and play, a little swing, a white noise machine. Then instead of a changing table I have a little mat that I can lay on the floor or on a table. Diapers, wipes, changes of clothes etc. And of course, my trusty ring sling which will change to a woven wrap as he gets bigger.
I lived by a saying when I was bringing RuRu with me to work: If I’m not a half hour early, I’ll be late.
Going back to my last post where I talked about it possibly being unprofessional to bring a baby to work with you, this one is a pitfall. If you’re late, you’re late and even if your baby is cute, it's still going to register in people’s minds that you were late. Or worse, create resentment over you bringing your baby places. Leaving extra time before and after meetings for nursing and diaper changes before the next thing in your schedule is easy and helps maintain the sanity when Baby blows out his diaper.
Eventually you’ll figure out a pattern with your baby and be able to predict when you can set meetings or work on certain projects, but be wary of taking it too much for granted. As soon as you do, Baby will change things up on you!
Keep your sanity by setting priorities.
This point is worth some time. I have found, over my few years of mothering, that generally when I’m getting frustrated with my children, there are 3 possible triggers. Pain, like being scratched by those tiny razors we call baby fingernails. Exhaustion, this will put anyone on a short fuse. And having my priorities out of order.
Like all Moms, there are things I’m hoping to get done during the day. Everything from showering to laundry to weeding the garden (or in the case of this year, planting it at all!). When taking care of my children slips below any of those things, I end up snapping at my children. Yesterday evening, it was cooking dinner. I said, “TomTom, hush up!” to my fussing 2 month old and immediately got hit with the mom-guilt.
A moment later I realized I had put dinner plans before my baby. It's always a recipe for disaster.
The same principle applies at work. If you’re bringing your baby to work, your priority is your baby. It’d be nice to think it could be work and Baby equally but we can’t serve two masters and babies cry, so they win out. If taking care of your baby can’t be your ultimate priority, then finding someone else to care for Baby-babes while you work is likely your best route.
Most of the time the way this plays out is pretty simple, get Baby settled first, then do work. Sometimes it does take ending a phone call early with a promise to call back or stepping out of a meeting. But I find if I’m as considerate and courteous of the other people as I can be, it's generally not a problem. The world revolves around babies, and to a certain extent, people recognize that.