How do you work productively with a baby or toddler at home? These tips from experts and productivity experts will certainly help you
12 May 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | people are reading
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When I went on maternity leave at the end of November, I couldn't have imagined how absurd my first working week would look.
Together with my friend I sit at the dining table working on my laptop, while we alternately give the baby attention and food. Our meetings and telephone calls are regularly disrupted by a crying baby. Fortunately, colleagues and other contacts do not mind. In fact, they often also have children in the background.
Yet so far little of productive work has ended up. I have just concentrated, let the baby hear again because it is time for a bottle, diaper or just some entertainment. I write this article with one hand, while I rock the baby with the other. So if you see a typo; you know why.
Although it is nice to be around the baby all day long and not to miss the small steps in her development, it is also difficult to do this way. both work and my boyfriend and I are exhausted at night.
So how do we do this better? How do you manage to work productively at home when you have a baby or a toddler in your area who is not yet able to entertain himself and certainly cannot take care of himself?
I asked two experts. Rick Pastoor wrote a book last year about productivity, Grip, and is the father of a 2-year-old daughter. The second is on the way. Journalist Mensje Melchior has three children aged 4, 3 and 4.5 months and has also been doing her work from home in recent weeks.
8 hours of working from home is unrealistic
First: not the illusion that one day you can actually work eight hours, Melchior says. When she started working from home, she did this from her apartment in Utrecht. But because her husband had to call a lot for work and she had to keep the children calm without being able to go outside, she quickly decided to move to her mother's house with a garden on Texel.
"My mom takes care of the kids all morning so I can work quietly," she says. And she has made clear agreements with her children: when she is at work, they are not allowed to enter the study. "In principle, they can only come in if they are in pain."
Those agreements work less well with a baby, but Melchior also has enough solutions for that. When she feeds the baby, for example, she does that with a sturdy feeding pillow, so that she has one hand to do some work. And when the baby is upset she takes the baby carrier out of the closet, so she can do some work while rocking. "Once the baby is sleeping, it is sometimes possible to sit down."
But how do you ensure that in the short time that the toddler or baby is sleeping or being entertained by your partner, as much as possible get it done? Pastor, who wrote his book on productivity while his daughter was sleeping on the changing mat as a baby, knows like no other how to do it and has four important tips.
Set your priorities< p> The first: determine your priorities. "If you have a quiet moment to work, it is a waste of that time to first determine what you are going to do. It therefore works very well for me to determine what I find important and what at the beginning of the working week I want to get it done so that I can get started right away in such a quiet moment, so decide for yourself what the three important things you really want to do in a week. "
Put everything in your agenda
Pastor also puts everything in his agenda. Not only agreements with others, but also with themselves. He records the time he takes care of his daughter, his lunch is on his agenda and the time when he cleans the house. "This way I can see in advance what I find important and how much time I have."
Make sure that your agenda matches reality. If you have reserved half an hour to get rid of your mail but you find that it is too little, adjust it so that you have a realistic idea of ??what you can do in a day.
Seek help to concentrate
And if Pastor really wants to concentrate well for an hour, he uses the help of others for that. He then tells the other person in advance what he wants to have done in an hour and after that hour he tells whether that actually worked.
"You can do that with a group of friends or with your partner, But there are also digital alternatives. Focusmate is an example of that. You link that tool to any person on the internet and you will then make video calls for an hour to work. "
"At the beginning of the hour you tell each other who you are and what you want to do, then you get started and at the end of the hour you say goodbye to each other. It sounds very strange, but it makes you less distracted by little things If someone can see me while I work, I find that in that hour I choose to get rid of my mail faster than to make coffee or go to the toilet "
Invest in your home workplace.
Pastor has one more important tip: invest in your home workplace. "Our house is not that big, so I used to have an agreement with my wife that home was really for our private life. That is why I often worked outside the door. Now that is different and that is no longer possible, so we have bedroom a workplace furnished with a desk, monitor, keyboard and mouse. "
" When I sit down there, I immediately enter a working mode, "he says. He would certainly recommend others to make such a workplace as well, because we don't know how long this situation will last. "Consider investing a little bit because it makes a huge difference."
Get the best out of the situation
And finally try to get the best out of the situation, Melchior says. Because she no longer has to bring her children to the shelter in the morning, she no longer has to rush. And that is why she suddenly found out that her 4-year-old son, who always dresses quickly, can dress herself well.
"When we get back to work normally, it is great that he has been able to practice that now. This situation gives us more time to learn good habits, and I try to do that take advantage of it. "
It's been a week since I sought help from Melchior and Pastor and things are going a lot better at our home. My friend and I discuss in advance when we want to be able to work undisturbed and so the other must take care of the baby. That provides a few hours of concentration every day.
Only work eight hours a day? That's still pretty much impossible.Read more on productivity: 'Grip' is a bestseller on how to get more out of your workday - I tried it out and now I know what I was doing wrong Keep your colleague from a burnout On? This is how you recognize it and what you can do to help. Are you busy at work? These are 8 scientifically proven tricks that will help you get rid of your stress right away