As of the time of this writing I have a brand spakin’ new seven week old baby boy. It’s thanks to him that the previous sentence took me four minutes to write. You’d be surprised how hard it is to feed a baby and try to type a blog post. Or maybe you wouldn’t, but as a new work at home dad I wasn’t anticipating just how much my work schedule would change from having a mini me around.
Vetren work at home dads, don’t get me wrong, I’m not so dense as to expect that thing would have remained exactly as they were before the baby was born. However, I did expect there to be a bit more balance. Lucky for me, our son is super chill and not one of those babies who seems to cry more than they breath. This has made things a lot easier for me working from home, but their have been some major hurdles I have had to learn to deal with in the past few weeks.
Be sure to check out these other great articles by experienced work at home dads:
Below are some of the things I have found that helped me keep business as usual, as well as just some random tidbits of truths for new work at home dads about what its really like working from home with a newborn.
5 Tips for Freelancing with a Newborn
Tip #1 – Get Up Early
I don’t know how most of you work, but I tend to be most productive early in the morning. Maybe its the eight hours of sleep or maybe its the caffeine, either way, I got a lot done in the first hour or two after waking. If this sounds like you, beware, as the morning time is one of the busier parts of the day for a newborn household. Between you trying to work, the baby waking up, and your wife going through her morning routine; your power hour of productivity can vanish before you get your first yawn out.
The only solution I have found for this is to get up earlier than I used to. Not every dad with a newborn will be able to do this. I just lucked out with a kid who likes to sleep! But, if you can make it up a hour earlier than your wife and kid, you’ll be able to get some of that extra productive time back. In fact, you might become more productive knowing there is a ticking time bomb of poop and screams looming just down the hall.
Tip #2 – Work Away from Home
Try telling your wife you want to do this and she might just laugh in your face. In the event that she gives you the OK, take full advantage of it. Schedule one day a week to work a full eight hours out of the house. While many people choose to work at coffee shops and book stores, I prefer the atmosphere of co-working spaces.
Co-working spaces give you the ability to work uninterrupted for as long as you like, but also offer up the opportunity to engage in conversation with someone who has actual control over their vocal muscles.
You’ll surprise yourself at how much you get done on these days away from home. The first time I worked for a full day away from home I got more done in three hours than I had in the previous three weeks.
Tip #3 – Schedule a Half Day
First let me say that this is a lot easier said than done. You would think it would be easy to say you were going shorten your work week by a day. But actually committing yourself to not work one day a week can be super hard.
I got this idea from Ryan Carson who only works four days a week and the nGen Works guys who just goof off on Fridays. I decided that every Friday I would do my daily business tasks for about an hour and then spend the rest day doing whatever I wanted. This “me time” is great in that it allows me to work on my own personal project that I otherwise would never find time for, quality time with my son, or to plan a long weekend away with the family.
As I said before, this is a hard routine to get into, but well worth it if you force yourself to do it.
Tip #4 – Start Thinking About Outsourcing
If you have ever thought about bring on a partner, outsourcing some work, or hiring an employee; now might be the perfect time to do it. Finding a away to share your workload while remaining profitable is a great way for you to grow your business, while at the same time reducing the amount of work you do. Be careful though. this isn’t the magic pill that’s going to make your life easier.
Finding quality contractors or hiring employees can be a daunting task. More often than not, it can almost be more trouble than its worth. I would almost suggest avoiding this route if you already have a newborn. If something goes wrong with your new contractor, you’ll end up working double time. Which is exactly what we want to avoid!
Another interesting form of outsourcing would be to use some website builder as a backend for your work. It’s a common issue when the client contacts you everytime he needs to switch a logo or add some extra pictures or texts to his website. Those minor changes can cost you lots of time and effort, while you can spend them on a new project. There a lots of website building and CMS platforms that allow building custom themes, which then can be edited via backend admin panel. This way you can save your own time and have your client handle all the further website maintenance on his own.
Tip #5 – Sync Your Home and Work Calendars
This is a two part tip. The first part of this tip is to tell your wife you are doing this so that you can be more involved and know whats going on in the family and with her. The truth is, I’m suggesting this so that you know when her and the baby will be out of the house.
The times that they are both out of the house are going to be power hours like you have never had before. You will end up getting so much done in the time they are gone that you will start to wonder why you ever worked eight hour days.
Tip #6 – Make the Most of Feeding Time
While I love feeding my son, I used to hate having to do it during work hours. Now, I actually look forward to it. Seeing as how its hard to do anything work related while feeding a baby, I started using this time to catch up on reading, podcasts, and videos. I used to never have the time for these, or would always add them to my iPod but never get around to them.
Now any time I have to feed my son during the day, I just pop on a video from FOWA, check out a nice long blog post, or spin up the latest episode of the Boag World podcast. Need some recommendations of good feeding time materials? Check out the following links:
- Boag World
- Think Vitamin Videos (Premium)
- Think Vitamin Radio Podcast
- Signal Noise Broadcast
- Freelance Switch Podcast
Must Haves for Freelancing Dads
Noise Canceling Headphones
As sated before, this can be a real lifesaver if you get easily distracted at home or want to work elsewhere with less distractions. Besure to check out this post I did a while back on noise canceling headphones.
From this point forward you need to be able to work on the fly. You never know where you might have to get some work done and the iPad makes it a lot easier to do than a laptop or netbook. If you don’t mind giving ATT more money, go for the WiFi version.
Bumbo Baby Seat
I would hope that if you aren’t already a dad, you don’t know what this is. What it is, is a awesome chair that even super young ones can sit in. This is great because it’s hard to work at the computer while you are hold the baby in one hand. This chair will usually pacify them long enough for you to get chunks of work done at a time.