Hands-on mom some tricks of the trade for work-at-home moms and dads children sentinelsource.com home remedies for cold sores inside mouth

Not to mention, other people don’t always understand what it is you’re doing. Some people won’t understand that you can’t make a play date because you have a deadline. Others won’t understand why you can’t take another assignment because your baby is going through a peeing-in-the-corner phase.

Staying at home to do both, yeah, it’s hard. So I want to be crystal clear here: I judge no one for the choices they make in the name of doing what is right for themselves and their families. We parents are all doing the best we can. And we should all cut each other some slack.

With all that said, the purpose of this column, my friends, is to help those who’ve made the choice to work from home — or who may be thinking about it — learn from my mistakes and make it less likely you and your babies go bonkers on the regular.


Keep only what you need on that work surface and put the rest in a bag that can be easily snatched from prying little hands. This bag can also hold special toys and snacks that can be offered as a sacrifice or thrown as a distraction should you be at a critical point in your work and need a little space. If you don’t have a table to work at, I highly recommend a lap desk. That way, you can perch yourself on a couch or chair in the middle of all the baby and toddler action.

Also, whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding a little one, get a breastfeeding pillow. This will allow you to feed a baby or let a sleeping baby lie in your lap while giving you just enough clearance for your arms to reach your laptop.

For toddlers and older kids, make sure the room you’re in has lots of space for them to roam. It’s also a good idea to sort of set up stations you can move them through like a circuit at Curves. For example, start them out in a Pack ‘n Play. When that gets tiresome, let them out to roll around and stretch their legs. After a while, move them to a bouncy chair. When that’s no longer amusing, give them another stretch of walking, crawling and rolling. Then move them to a jumpy swing.

Start by writing down a plan for your day. Then take that plan, crumple it into a tight ball and throw it away. Your day will never go the way you think it will. There will be days both you and your baby will be crying at the same time. Just go with it.

Get used to the idea that you have embraced a work/life balance that is not 9 to 5. Your kid doesn’t know from 9 to 5. They only know that you’re there and that they want you to recognize they just mastered walking backwards and that Legos taste good and they cannot fathom why you have not dropped everything to appreciate these accomplishments with the full suite of hugs, kisses and undivided attention.

What you can do is plan for what you know. You generally know when your child wakes up, takes naps and wants to eat. Start there. Plan your work around that time. Schedule anything that needs full concentration or quiet during naps or, like I do, before the kids wake up and after they go to bed. You’d be amazed how much you can get done at 5 a.m.

Don’t plan anything around feeding times or that burst of nastiness just before naps. Think of these times as your breaks and your kid is the water cooler. This is the time, whether they are cranky or not, to just sit and parent. You don’t have to do anything else right then, just give them what they need with no regrets for whatever else you’re not doing. You will get to it, I promise.

For those more unpredictable times, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. The first came to me from a very wise friend very early on in my stay-at-home career. She told me to always keep a reserve bag of toys stowed away that the kids never play with except in “emergencies.” So for example, when my Julia Rose gets a little feisty while I’m doing an interview, I bring out the bag and offer her some of the treasures. Since she never gets to play with them it’s like a new toy treat and it usually keeps her occupied for at least the duration of the call.

The other trick is, well, okay, I’ll just say it: I use the TV. I can hear the TV shamers from here, but let’s face it, we’ve all done it, so let’s loosen the clutch on the pearls, shall we. All of my kids had a special show or movie that they loved so much that when I put it on they were mesmerized. Whatever you think of screen time for kids, do use this sparingly. If only because the spell does eventually break and the special show won’t work anymore.

If you have to talk to people on the phone, do what I do: Be honest ahead of time. You can even borrow my spiel: “I will apologize in advance if you hear any noise in the background, but I work from home with my kids so you might hear them. If we need to cut this short, we can set up another time to talk or I’ll follow up in an email.”

I used to be so afraid to tell people I worked from home or even mention I had kids. Somehow I thought it made me come off as less professional or serious. But in reality, it makes me come off as human. And in many cases, it actually helps break the ice with the person I’m talking to. Believe it or not, most people get it and respond kindly.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am incredibly lucky that after a few years of working at home by myself my husband was also able to do so. We share the load. We’ve also been lucky to have my dad around, who’s indispensable, as well as neighbors and friends willing to help out in a pinch. You likely have these people in your life, too, it’s okay to ask them for help occasionally. If you don’t, not to worry, you got this. You will adapt. It’s what we parents do.