When I had Oscar I knew that I didn’t want to stop working but instead I wanted to integrate my life with him into my career and balance spending time with him with continuing to work. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll that I work full-time on my blog and Instagram, a job that means that I can work for myself and I work from home which allows me plenty of flexibility. Despite this flexibility I’ve had to find ways to reshuffle my life in order to give Oscar my maximum attention, continue to work on my blog and get a little down time too. Here’s how I’ve been doing it.
1. Have a Routine
Routine is very important for an infant, they actually like to know when things are happening in their day and thrive on predictability. In the early weeks it’s very difficult to establish a routine as things are still very chaotic but with Oscar about to reach the three-month mark, our routine has naturally started to develop. While feeding is still quite erratic and on demand, I’ve begun to establish a sleep schedule for Oscar meaning both he and I know when the next nap is coming. While he still takes the odd catnap, I make sure he had good quality sleep in his cot too and it’s during these longer naps when I can take time to do some work, clear up my flat or have the luxury (!) of a longer shower.
2. Establishing a Bedtime for Oscar
Daily routine will develop once night-time routine and sleep is fully established. When we first had Oscar we didn’t give him a proper bed time, we’d spend the evening cuddling him and he’d fall asleep in our arms and we’d take him into bed. As the weeks have gone on he’s given us signals of being ready for bed earlier and we’ve starting doing an evening routine (bath / massage, night-clothes, feed, cuddles) before putting him down at 7 / 8pm in his cot.
We then keep the monitor with us meaning we pretty much have the evening to ourselves until we go to bed in the same room as him. It’s at this time when I really get a good amount of work done because it’s less likely Oscar will need me for the next few hours plus Mr S is back from work to help to look after him. Of course, sometimes I’m so tired and I just want to relax when Oscar is in bed, I think part of creating the work / life balance is not beating myself up if I want to use this time to chill out rather than work.
3. The Importance of Sleep
Prioritising my own sleep has been instrumental in achieving a good work / life balance as a good night’s sleep will leave me feeling like I can take on the world and tackle the biggest tasks. When I sleep poorly I feel mentally and physically drained making it hard to achieve the balance that I’m looking for. With Oscar still being so small, my sleep is interrupted with night feeds and resettling him so it’s important to make my sleep environment conducive to getting the best quality sleep.
I make sure I have my own relaxing night-time routine of going to bed early, cleansing and reading a book rather than looking at a screen. I also think it’s important to have a really good mattress and pillow so that I can make the most of my sleep cycles and be as comfortable as possible. A good pillow is also very useful for night-time feeds and propping myself up in bed so I don’t end up with back pain too. Another way that I maximise sleep is trying to sleep in after Oscar has had his first morning feed and if he’s still awake then Mr S will spend some time with him while I sleep. I also try to make any meetings and appointments later in the morning or in the afternoon so that I don’t lose these extra hours.
4. Leave the House Once at Least Once a Day
Before having Oscar I was always out and about going to meetings and events or getting photos for my blog. Because I’m so used to doing that I find that if I don’t leave the flat at least once I can go a little stir crazy so I make sure to fill my diary with short but sweet meet ups with my friends in order to keep both Oscar and I stimulated. If I don’t have set plans, I’ll make sure to go for a walk to break up my day, give Oscar some fresh air and a change of scene… though I can’t really get work done during this time (apart from the occasional Instagram scroll while I’m having a coffee) I really find it necessary for my wellbeing. Oscar will usually fall asleep in the pram too so it also gives him a little down time too.
I’ve always been a good multi-tasker and this is a skill that really comes into its own when you have a baby… nursing a baby, especially at the beginning can mean hours of sitting where you feel like you can’t achieve much else but I use the time to edit photos on my phone, arrange my Instagram grid or make phone calls.
6. I set myself Daily Goals…
But I keep them realistic… I set myself a daily to do list but sometimes it might be just to do one really important thing and if I accomplish that, I’ve achieved something.
7. Coordinating with Mr S
Realistically my best time for working and writing blog posts is at the weekend when I have Mr S to share the childcare. I don’t want to give my entire weekend up to work so I make the most of the morning to get blog stuff done and then I can spend the rest of the day with my family. Mr S gets his quality bonding time with his son, while I can tick plenty off my to do list! We make sure our calendars are in sync so he can be home early if I have an event and I make sure that I don’t plan anything when he has the gym booked or the football on.
8. Accept that Things won’t Always be Perfect
I’ve always set my standards high but having a baby has led me to have the attitude that something may not be perfect but it can be good enough. For example, I used to post on Instagram every day but I find that’s just not possible at the moment so posting four or five times a week is good enough and it means I can have higher standards for the content itself. I think achieving the work / life balance with a newborn is also about self acceptance and knowing that your standards won’t necessarily be the same. This self acceptance has also meant letting go of perfection and embracing reality.
9. Eat Well
I discovered very quickly that it would be impossible to diet soon after having a baby. The interrupted sleep, constant attention required by your little one and total change of lifestyle mean good nourishment is important to keep your energy levels up to focus on work, life and baby. So I stopped counting the calories and focussed more on family time and myself … losing the baby weight can come later and lots of walking helps anyway.
As Oscar is still quite unpredictable I have to accept that some days I may not get anything done, especially if he hasn’t had a good night sleep and requires lots of attention. Achieving the work / life balance is all about prioritising and being able to move my tasks and work around Oscar who will always be the priority.
This post is in conjunction with TEMPUR® but all thoughts are my own.