How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

work home IT is Saturday night. The baby is in bed before 9pm. This is good.

I am still awake. This is also good.

I have a BIG decision to make.

Do I have a glass of wine in my pyjamas or do some work? Wine could result in me falling asleep on the settee and writing could keep me up all night.

But then work could result in me falling asleep on the settee and wine could keep me up all night.

So, I opt to multi-task, pour myself some Sauvignon Blanc and flip open my laptop.

Before I actually had children I had the whole work/kids/home thing all figured out. As a freelance journalist writer type I could easily work from home during the evenings and afternoons while the babies were asleep. Maybe get a bit done while they played with their toys… Probably even write a couple of novels and a play. Sorted right?

But as I discovered shortly after the arrival of my firstborn, juggling parenthood with anything at all is pretty difficult, especially when your babies do not like to sleep in the evenings, afternoons or any other time for that matter. It soon became very clear that it was not going to be quite as straight forward as I had envisaged…

That said, I have some precious spare time now so here goes.

As is often the case, my first draft of this piece was written in my head. Last night. While under a baby. And next to a baby and then unable to sleep after being up with a baby.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

Baby is awake.

Baby is asleep.

Baby is awake.

Baby is asleep.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

Sod it. I am tired. I am going to bed. I will get up really early and write this.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

Good morning. Well, it is early. Three A-Bloody-M early! The baby has been awake for TWO hours. She is now with her dad listening to some irritating white noise/rain/ocean sleep-inducing (apparently) shit. And I am wide-awake so I may as well try to write something.

It was on a night like this that I first started writing about motherhood. I had been up most of the night with the baby (again) and I felt as if I had hit the wall. I wanted to run away. Out of the house and away from the crying child who had relentlessly kept me awake since she was born. Away from the toddler who practically refused sleep until she was two years old. Flee from my bed that was no longer a place of rest and comfort, but a battleground of stress and tears. I didn’t of course. I would have missed my exhausting angels too much. Instead I turned on the laptop. Began my story. I didn’t care if anyone read it or not, I just needed a way to get things off my chest.

I also hoped that somewhere, someone else might be going through the same thing so I wouldn’t feel so alone. Misery loves company and all that…  And once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. The funny thing is, despite the tiredness and lack of time, I now feel more inspired than ever to fulfil my ambitions.  Having children has motivated me to do everything I can to achieve my dreams. I don’t just want to tell my daughters that anything is possible – I want to show them.

I should really go to sleep now. Or tomorrow I will not Get Anything Done. Again.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

It is now 9.30am. I am really tired but determined to crack on.

The baby is in her cot with a biscuit and the toddler is watching Thomas, so I have a small window of opportunity.

But first… Need. More. Coffee.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

“MUMMY, CAN YOU READ ME A STORY?” Shouts the toddler.

“OUUUT!” Yells the baby from her cot.

Damn it. I grab a book and the baby and we all snuggle up to read in our dressing gowns.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

Three hours later.

The children are quietly playing with their toys (for once) so I am going to get on with this.

They are really quiet.

Too quiet.

I better go and check on them.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

The girls are removing all the underwear from my drawer. Annoying but not dangerous. This may buy me some time.

Oh they are heading my way. Wearing all my knickers.

I throw them a couple more biscuits to intercept them as they toddle towards my desk.

Still they come.

I chuck them a notepad. They stop, inspect it and rip it up.

Still they come.

I throw a toilet roll, a box of envelopes, Sellotape….

Still they come.

They continue to approach me. There will be no peace until they get exactly what they want. Biscuits cannot save me now.

The smallest one is at my feet. Grabbing at my ankles. Tugging at my jeans, determined to get her way. “Duddle, duddle mummy, “she says, holding up her arms. Great. Cuteness. Her deadliest weapon. I pull her up on to my knee for a cuddle. She clocks the Holy Grail Of Stuff She Is Not Allowed To Touch – my laptop.

Now the toddler is at my back. Pulling at my hair. She gives me that look. She knows and I know that it is over. I have put her sister on my knee and not her. There is no way she is going to let that go. Her face reddens as she starts to unleash a scream.

I prepare for the attack the only way I know how.

cmd + s

kjfearjfljerlkjgfladjf   kherkghtwrekf baiejplpppppppppooooooo

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

It is now THREE days later.

In three days of trying to Get Stuff Done and entertain a one and a three year old, I have barely had any time to work.

The house is a mess but it can wait. The children are playing ‘Take Every Single Book Off The Shelf’; so I have sneaked onto my computer.

But…I should really put some washing on while I have a minute. I have worn the same pair of socks for three days running. I am pretty sure I haven’t washed my jeans this year.

No. It can wait.

Is that dried snot on my knee? I am going to have to go and put a wash on. I should probably load the dishwasher too. And possibly put the books back in the shelf.

How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Will Not Leave You The Hell Alone

It is now a week since I ‘started’ this article*. The baby is due to wake up for her early evening Get Me The F**k Out Of This Cot rage, so I am going to have to just get to the point.

1. Have a brilliant idea in the middle of the night.

  1. Try to write down the brilliant idea.

  2. Realise it is not a brilliant idea.

  3. Have a better idea.

  4. Try to write down the better idea.

  5. Give the children to my mum for the afternoon.

  6. Finally end up with something that may or may not resemble a piece of writing (depending how much sleep I have had).

And THAT is how you work from home with babies – at least until September when the toddler starts pre-school – I’ll get LOADS done then right!?

It may be a bit of a battle right now, but I know that one day, when the girls are at school and I am sat at my desk in a quiet baby-free house; I will miss seeing their faces smiling up at me over the laptop…

If you have any ingenious ways of distracting small children so you can work, write – or do anything at all ever, feel free to comment here or join us for a chat on Facebook or Twitter. 

MORE (PROBABLY NOT ) USEFUL STUFF:  Find out whether you baby is in fact normal or check out my Survival Guide For the Sleep Deprived!

41 thoughts on “How To Work From Home When You Have Babies Who Won’t Leave You The Hell Alone

  1. Didn’t you realise before you threw yourself into having babies that it was like this?? I mean, babies = no sleep! Part of the reason I’ve not had them. Why do it and then spend all your time moaning about it, and creating dumb articles online? You don’t come across like a martyr, you come across like an idiot!!!

    • I am indeed an idiot. To think, if I hadn’t had babies I would have all the time in the world to read dumb articles and make stupid comments on them. Damn it.

      • See, now I feel an idiot for ever having children. Had I remained childless, I too could have taken up ‘leaving graceless, tetchy and oddly personal comments on blogs’ as a hobby.

        I wonder, Nics, when you’re in restaurants enjoying your dazzlingly fun childless life do you randomly interject into the conversations of others to advise them that they are imbeciles? Do you write angry letters to Tesco for routinely stocking some items in which you have no interest?
        I wonder if you’ve considered offering your immense skill in randomly attacking strangers online to Katie Hopkins? I’m certain she could use a deputy – after all, there are so many people in the world to pour scorn upon for no discernible reason, and she’s only got one pair of hands.

        You should drop her a line. And go away whilst you’re doing it.

      • LOL Lucy, loving the stereotype of the childfree; yes we all sit in restaurants every night. That is when we’re not jet-setting around the world! It would probably shock you to find out a lot of us have pretty normal lives, just quiet, sane ones! Not sure what the Tesco reference is about, so we’ll just leave that hanging there…

        Would be cool to work for Katie Hopkins, I might tweet her and see if she’s hiring!

        Jason, this comment portrays me as a wind-up merchant. And apparently a GOOD one!!

  2. So that has put a damper on my plans to work from home when I eventually return to work after my mat leave. When I planned it, I had visions of a baby sleeping peacefully while I plugged away on my laptop. But seeing how my little one is during the day, I think I may have to rethink this!

  3. My favorite line in this whole thing: “The girls are removing all the underwear from my drawer. Annoying but not dangerous. This may buy me some time.” ! I can totally relate. I also have a one year old and a three-year-old. Lately I’ve been trying to log the demands- like jot them down in my notebook– because somehow after it’s all over (meaning they are in bed or something) it’s still hard to reconcile how those hours were whittled away by tiny demands– that usually come at a 15 second to 3 minute interval. Looking forward to checking out some of the successful bloggers you’ve mentioned! Thank you. Oh… and your title… PERFECT!!

    • Ha I know what you mean. With just the one child it was bad enough but with two? An entire day can be taken up answering their demands. A log book is an excellent idea. I think I might start one as proof to myself why I never get stuff done! Thanks

  4. First off, thank you so much for the mention! I did not expect to see my name at the end of that incredible post!

    Second, you could have been writing about me. It is ridiculous trying to get anything done with the kids around, which, they always are. My son started kindergarten today and guess what. I got nothing done. Well no writing anyway. I did laundry and cooked twice, and took a shower, but did no writing outside of my head. Like you, I thought I’d had it all figured out before I had kids. “Of course I can keep my fabulous career and have kids and be an incredible mom! I can even work from home if I wanted to! I can do anything!” It got tricky when the kids arrived. I also promised myself I’d never let my kids watch that Teletubbies garbage. It is now my absolute favorite show.

    I am still holding on to the hope that it will get easier, that there will be a day when I can sit at my computer for 3, 4, and even 5 hours at a time and clear my head of the things I really want to say. Maybe not during the daycare and kindergarten years, but eventually. And I also fear the days when I miss their little faces and all the trouble they come with.

    • Oh no worries. I love your writing. It reminds me I am not alone in my struggles!

      Yep, my eldest starts nursery/pre-school in September and I have a feeling my dream of getting loads done, may not come true!!

  5. Hahaha – I thought I had it bad with my newly-crawling 10-month-old (who seems to have a magnetic attraction to my laptop) 😛

  6. Perhaps another blog post is required on how to make professional phone calls when bribing small children?! Why do all these bloody parenting magazines wax lyrical about the delights of parenting and yet fail to provide adequate solutions (like an off button). Or even vouchers for ad hoc childcare. I have yet to repair the damage to one working relationship after I failed to hit the mute button correctly balancing the phone on my shoulder when getting the oldest to poop on the toilet.

    I mean this parenting lark never quite manages to convey just what years of shite sleep can do to all relationships – not least the ones with my husband, my children, wider family and of course my PhD team who are superb and understanding.

    But then once again my 14mo crawls over with her deadliest weapon – those squishy arms and slobbery kisses, and lets face it – the PhD might give me a career but it doesn’t wrap its arms round me in quite the same way even if it does keep me awake at night.

    • I think so – if you come up with any ingenious ideas do let me know.

      No there is certainly no parenting guide to help us get through these little day to day trials and tribulations that when attempted on very little sleep almost drive you insane.

      But it is very true…work comes second to slobbery toddler kiss every time!

    • I quit phone calls 4 years ago. They’re just way too embarrassing. When my first was born, a child that woke up if we breathed too loud, it was impossible to talk on the phone of even receive guests! People didn’t want to come anymore anyway when we forced them to whisper.

      Then one day last year, I decided I could do the phone call thing. A headhunter decided to call me up and ask if I was interested in an incredible job opportunity. My kids were both screaming hysterically. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. He couldn’t hear a word I was saying. I must’ve apologized 25 times. He later emailed me and told me not to worry about it and that he’s had worse phone conversations (like when he called a man and his wife was yelling at him while he was on the phone… that story did not make me feel better).

      • Ha I have stopped having guests for the same reason. Well, that and the urine scented sofa we have learnt to live with… The worst is call centres…just as I finally get through to the person I needed to speak to after a good hour if frustration…a small child hurtles toward me and cuts them off.. Back. To. Square. One.

  7. I am a (now fourth year) PhD research student. I have a 3yo and a 14mo. One child was born during my research project, a few days after a particularly troublesome chapter was submitted.

    I am not getting the PhD done.

    Its like some sort of elephant in the room at the end of a long drawn out day full of nappies and vague threats of biscuits, where we have make 3 trips to the park and back again for the toilet, when I have been tag teamed so much I’ve forgotten which team I’m on. Your notes about throwing biscuits resonate – particularly during the phone calls when ANYTHING GOES just as long as they are quiet while I pretend to be professional and in a studious voice desperately write notes in a crayon on the back of a Cbeebies magazine.

    The days when I have summoned my husband home from his work for him to stride in looking refreshed while I grab 45 minutes of frantic emailing to put in a grant bid to secure funds. When I settle down to work on laptop and my husband gently whispers that I haven’t typed anything in half an hour and would I feel more comfortable sleeping on our bed than on the keyboard – no dammit – I am at my keyboard – I am therefore working and making progress. Even if I do have the Ctrl + Alt keys indented onto my forehead.

    • Ha oh you sure have your work cut out. And oh god the phone calls!? They are the trickiest of all! I locked my children in the car earlier so I could ring a potential client from my mobile- notepad on the bonnet!

  8. Thank you so much for including me, I’m glad you enjoy my blog! Hopefully you’ll manage to get some work done eventually! I’ve decided to wait until the kids have left home… x

  9. I am a freelance musician with a 4 year old and a 4 month old. You’re writing my current life story.

  10. I love this. I’ve just entered the world of freelancing thinking mat leave would be the best time to do it. How I could not have been more wrong! And my little one hasn’t even started crawling yet… wow, what a reality check.

    • Yes it is extreme juggling.Nothing like i expected. But it is the price we pay for wanting to be at home with our little ones and make a bit of money to pay the bills!

  11. Thank you for the kind mention Emily-Jane 🙂 I love your biscuit and Sellotape throwing work methods, these sprogs sure do teach us a thing or two about multi-tasking hey?!

    Like you, I have the least time I have ever had, but the most motivation to write, happily tapping away during a snatched ten minutes here and there, like at 630 in the morning when I should really be in bed seen as (for once) my son is…

    Now, stock up on those biscuits and wine and get writing that novel (or two!)

    • It is funny how is works – when i had bags of time (pre-babies) i was under the impression i was too busy to write my own stuff! Ah thanks Yvette. I will indeed! X

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