Early in 2020 I wrote my own maternity leave plan, and while I had to make a lot of adjustments after the pandemic shifted my workload, I mostly stuck to this plan thanks to my incredible and supportive family, some really helpful products, and a few tricks that bought me both time and sanity.
First things first. I had some pretty unrealistic expectations on how much time a newborn requires. They just eat, sleep and poop, right? I set up this Gracco Pack and Play in my home office thinking “well, I can change his diaper in the office and he can nap while I work, and I’ll just take a break to feed him when he’s hungry.” Of course, I was blessed with a child who slept at night….and only at night. No complaints here, honesty, but my child had zero intentions of sleeping during the day and giving me an hour or two to work on a client’s proforma or shoot off a couple of follow up emails.
I went back to work on a limited time basis at 6 weeks postpartum. Even then, Clark would maybe nap 3-4 hours per day after 3-4 middle of the night wake ups. I was exhausted, but also had just closed on a new investment property and had several projects in the middle of their due diligence periods. So I HAD to find a way to get some work done in the middle of the day. Luckily in September restaurants and coffee shops were open for in-person service because of stable Covid numbers, and I discovered the MyPanera+Coffee subscription. Under normal circumstances you would find me at my local coffee shop, like Lost Coffee or Dazbog in Castle Rock or The Wild Goose and The Exchange in Colorado Springs, but desperate times call for desperate measures. (By the way, if any of you guys add a coffee membership, I’m all in!)
My son would hang out quietly for up to 2 hours chilling or playing in his carrier while I got work done at Panera. It was a miracle. On top of having support from my Mom, Sister and Mother in Law, I was able to buy myself enough hours to get a little bit of work done, while managing client expectations around deliverable timelines and how quickly I could respond to requests.
Speaking of coffee, this mug that keeps your morning joe warm from 4 am until mid-afternoon while never getting spilled by an over zealous infant was worth every penny.
Another lifesaver: airpods. I can’t tell you how many phone call’s I’ve taken while carrying or nursing a newborn (if you’re a client, now you know that my kid has heard my end of every one of our conversations. Hopefully this doesn’t violate the NDA!) The key is to jot down notes as soon as you can put the baby down, and keep a folder in your google drive to type up one handed notes from your phone. It’s not perfect, but nothing about keeping up your business while raising a baby in a global pandemic is, right? I had a few backfires while taking calls and keeping an eye on my baby, like the time the baby pooped himself awake from a nap while I was on the phone with a prospective new client. I definitely lost that opportunity. But for the most part, having a set of airpods and simple one handed note taking system kept me going.
Last but certainly not least – if you are planning to breastfeed and work from more than 1 location (i.e. home and office, or your father-in-law’s office one day a week like I do!) I highly recommend getting a wireless breast pump like the Spectra S1. Insurance will often cover the basic plug in pump, like the S2, but it is absolutely worth the extra $40 or so to be able to pump from anywhere and not be hooked to a plug. Car pumping is any mobile working mama’s best friend.
These are the things that got me through 5 months of taking care of a new baby while continuing to meet my clients needs. I’d love to hear other parent’s stories about how they’ve managed work and you kiddos during these trying times!