I loved this article so much I thought I would share… written by Charlene Smith (Higher Education Specialist)
Once upon a time… you’re at the peak of your career; at least in your current position… and you decide to have a baby or more likely: Surprise! We’re having a baby! Like many successful women in the workforce I found myself torn between the decision to stay or leave my position to be a mother being fortunate enough to have the option to choose. When the agreement was made allowing me to work from home I felt relief, job security, and gratitude.
When it came time to actually work from home, I felt overwhelmed, distracted, disengaged and like a new mom trying to make it all work. It all seemed great in theory, I would stay home four days a week and work then we would only have to pay for daycare one day a week. It seemed cost effective and convenient, but it wasn’t. My profession requires heavy phone work and when you have a crying newborn in the background in an influential recruitment position; it’s not really going to result in meaningful conversations. I tried to make that work, I used a swing, put the baby gym in the crib, but I found out rather quickly that babies want one thing more than anything else, attention. So, all you professional moms out there who are fortunate enough to have a telecommuting position on the horizon or are moving into one. I have some words of advice that will hopefully make the transition a little easier for you.
- Hire or obtain full time help. I’ll stress again that the one thing babies want is attention. I started with daycare on just Fridays, then added a nanny two days a week, then three days a week and by the time my second recruitment goal tanked, I gave in and hired someone full time. When the President of the Company is asking you where your killer instinct went… it’s time to make a move in the right direction or the door direction. You might be able to make it work without a nanny depending on what kind of work you do but if you’re on any type of goal structure you’ll want and need an extra set of hands around.
- Get up every day and get ready for work as if you were going to it. If this seems obvious to you, then you don’t have a baby. Sure there are going to be some days when you jump online in your pajamas because the little one only slept every 45 minutes and you’re hair looks like some exotic peacock bird who’s been run over, but once you have a break go take a shower and get it together. You’ll be more focused, engaged and awake.
- Decide beforehand how important social interaction is to you. You’re going to be alone most of the day and in the beginning you’re going to think: “Who liked sitting next to Suzy anyways! All the complaining about her flame of the week in an obnoxious tone, overanalyzing every text message to you out loud. Won’t miss her!” But when you’re home, alone, with only a nanny and a baby to speak to, you might find yourself missing Suzy and your tiny cubicle.
- Learn to turn it off. The days of working hard past quitting time need to be over. It’s a well-known fact that people who work from home often put in more time than those who don’t. Cut it out, stop that and enough. You’re being paid for 40 hours a week and you have a family, go do that job after it’s time to punch out. I say this for two reasons, you’re going to be really resentful that you’re working from home, your baby is downstairs, but you have to keep working. You’re also not in the office and unfortunately when it comes time for recognition and promotions it’s often out of sigh out of mind. So unless your company has a proven structure of promotion and recognition for telecommuting employees punch out on time.
- Have a designated office space. If you have a spare bedroom or a finished basement, use it for your office. Get a desk and a large monitor because after a month of reading on your laptop screen you’ll not only be scrolling through Amazon to get a monitor, but you’ll also be making an appointment to update or obtain a prescription for glasses. But what’s more than that, you need a space to focus, get the work done, and then walk away from when it’s time to turn it off.
It took me six months to iron out all these details and these 5 things make a world of difference. I really value and appreciate every day that I get to work from home. Everything to a baby is new and exciting and we usually take it for granted. Watching your child see a flock of birds for the first time and be mesmerized is amazing. Knowing that I was there, I didn’t miss it, and I’ll never forget the look on his face is the best feeling for any parent. I’m also still making my career work for me, and feel like a professional accomplished woman between the hours of 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM and not a minute after.