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Are you struggling to balance freelancing with parenting?
I hear you! With eight kids ranging from almost 1 to almost 16, a farm to care for, and a growing freelance business, my days are full.
Because I know how challenging it can be, I want to help.
Introducing a new 7-part series here at Lisa Tanner Writing:
Freelancing with Kids
I’m going to present you with several strategies for balancing kids and freelance work, for each childhood stage.
My posts will examine tips for freelancing with:
Babies (this post!)
Are you ready? Great!
Let’s dive in.
Balancing Deadlines and Diapers: Freelancing with Babies
Babies are so cute and cuddly! They also are very needy, meaning freelancing with them is a challenge.
Never fear! Many parents have freelanced with a baby (or two or eight) so it’s not impossible!
Here are 14 tips for freelancing with babies.
(Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I know are great!)
1. Start Playpen Time
You don’t actually need a playpen to begin playpen time. You can also use a blanket on the floor. I just have a lot of littles around, so I use a playpen to offer extra protection for baby!
Your goal is to teach your baby to spend an age appropriate amount of time playing by himself in the playpen. If your baby is used to being held all the time, she isn’t going to like being put in a playpen, but your goal is to make it enjoyable.
To set you up for success:
- Place 2-3 engaging toys (rattles, board books, etc.)
- Let baby have tummy time in the playpen to get used to it throughout the day
- Set a timer and stick to it–this helps baby get used to you coming back
- Try to pick baby up before the screaming starts–start with 1 minute if necessary!
- Slowly increase the time, until your baby can play for 15-30 minutes in the playpen
2. Use a Sling
- You want your baby to be held securely, so you can use both hands to type.
- Experiment with the positioning when sitting down so it’s comfortable.
- Ensure baby’s head stays uncovered and supported.
3. Use a Baby Swing
Does your little one like to move? Keep her happy while you work by positioning a baby swing within your line of site.
You can get a lot of work done, and keep an eye on baby at the same time.
4. Hold Baby, Type One-Handed
When your baby is teething or otherwise extremely fussy, you can get a fair amount of work done typing with one hand while holding him.
My favorite positions are over the shoulder or cradling newborn style.
I used to do this a lot while teaching in the local parent partnership program. I had three babies over my four years there, and got pretty fast at the one handed hunt and peck.
5. Use the Car Seat
Baby car seats can be nice for more places than just the car. They offer a fair amount of support, and many babies find them comfortable.
You can put baby in the car seat at your feet, and rock her slowly with a foot.
I don’t recommend singing while doing this though, because you may find yourself typing what you sing!
6. Read Your Work Aloud
When it’s time to edit your piece, soothe your baby by reading your work aloud. Not only will you catch more mistakes as you listen, but your baby will be hearing his favorite voice–yours!
7. Do Less Focused Work When Baby Needs More Attention
Sometimes your baby needs more attention than you can provide while writing. If you can’t concentrate on writing, put it on hold for a bit and cross some of these less focus intense freelancing tasks off your to-do list:
- Photo Sourcing
- Photo Editing (light weight stuff, no details without attention!)
- Market research
- Reading business books
- Brainstorming session
8. Take Notes!
Seriously. You never know when your advice will come in handy for someone else. Babies are blog posts in the making!
Keep your smartphone or a pen and paper nearby to jot down any post ideas that come to mind. If you aren’t a lifestyle blogger, see if you can find a unique angle to incorporate your life at home with baby into your field.
Babies are sort of a universal story!
9. Put Baby in a Laundry Basket
There’s something about being in a laundry basket that my kids have all loved. Once your baby can sit unsupported, place him in one with a couple of toys or a book.
You can let baby sit at your feet, and play while you work. Use your feet to help balance the basket as your baby gets older and starts rocking it!
10. Let Siblings Help
If you have any other children, you can teach them how to interact safely with their baby sibling. If they are too small to hold the baby, you can use a baby seat.
Set the baby in the seat on the floor, and have your other child read a book, tell a story, or hand baby toys to play with.
Start off with a five minute chunk of time, and slowly work up based on the attention span of your older child.
If you have older children, they can hold a sleeping baby, read to baby, or play for longer periods of time.
11. Accept Help From Others
Sometimes we just need help! If your spouse is able to keep baby for a little while in the evenings, take the help and get your most focus intensive work completed.
If you have a grandparent who could hold baby for a while, see if they’d be willing to come over for an hour or so while you work.
12. Use a Mirror
Most of my babies have loved mirrors! Once they can sit upright, I’ve had success sitting them in front of a floor length mirror. That kept them busy for quite a while!
You can also use baby toys with mirrors–several rattles or larger baby toys incorporate them.
13. Put a Piece of Scotch Tape on Your Baby’s Toe
Once your baby is a little bigger, put a piece of tape on his toes. Just a small one–a couple of inches long.
Your baby will likely be intrigued by this phenomenon, and you’ll get some time to work. My babies have pulled the tape off their toes, and then realized it stuck to them.
I keep this trick up my sleeve to pull out when I need to make a phone call or something that will last up to 10 minutes. If you use it too often, baby will get used to it.
14. Work on Putting Things In
Putting objects inside a container is a great fine motor skill for your little one to tackle. Get a large plastic container, and several objects that fit inside, ensuring that nothing is small enough to be a choking hazard.
My favorite container for this is a large gallon plastic jar. It’s just the perfect shape and size for an older baby.
You can use car keys, baby toys, plastic cookie cutters, toy blocks, and any number of other objects.
Sit your baby by the container, and let her watch you put everything in. Baby will work hard at trying to get the objects out and will eventually be able to put them back in as well.
Freelancing with Babies: Final Thoughts
Remember that babies are only young once. Take breaks to just enjoy your little one. Don’t focus so much on freelancing that you forget to enjoy life!
What are your special tricks for freelancing with babies?