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Developmental Guide for Work-at-Home Moms: Newborn to K

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Ladies, I'm a stay-at-home mom. I say that proudly. I'm also a work-from-home mom. I have been since the second my son was born.

Back when I was a production manager at a book publisher, I would work from home three days a week and go into the office two days a week. I only had a nanny those two days I was in the office. Was this insane? Yes. But daycare is expensive, not to mention competitive to get into the good ones. Nannies aren't any cheaper. I was lucky to score a nanny share with a friend. It was her sister-in-law. She cut us a deal. My life was not easy trying to work at home with an infant, but I had no idea how good it was back then.

As my son transitioned from a tiny infant into full-blown baby and then little boy running around, my career also shifted. I left the corporate world to work freelance as a writer. There is even less money in freelance writing than there is in book publishing, in case you were wondering. A nanny was out of the question.

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The high school junior who lived behind my house became my constant source of babysitting during the summer and at night when I had to get something out to an editor. Yet my son, who now had a baby brother, just kept growing and needing me more — not less. It was overwhelming, and very few people actually knew what was going on behind the scenes. They thought my life was so glamorous and awesome. I got to travel a bunch and be with my boys all the time. Oh, how little they knew of the reality I faced every day and with every deadline that approached. Here's a small peek.

Infants

Sleep. That's what infants do. They sleep, they eat, they poop and they go back to sleep. They may look up at you adoringly for a few minutes, but mostly they just sort of hang out like a little blob in a swing, on the floor for tummy time or on you. Although you don't realize it yet, this is the sweet spot for a work-from-home mom. This is when you don't have to chase anyone, no one is whining for a snack or crying that their big brother just whacked them with a fire truck. You may get work done in short spurts, but you can still answer those emails when a client is screaming that the whole project just melted down. After all, the baby is taking a catnap again. It's exhausting being a baby.

Enjoy the time you have with your baby while he or she is awake. Once they go down, you will be hyper-productive and get more done in 45 minutes than anyone has ever accomplished in an 8-hour day in an office.

Babies

That precious bundle of joy is now on the move. Your baby is rolling, crawling, scooting or walking. Those bouncy swings that you attach to a doorframe are your new babysitter. It can keep your little one happy for the 4.25 minutes you need to answer an email from your boss. Nap times will become very important to you. Embrace them. Don't even bother trying to get any work that requires thought done while your baby is awake. You will find yourself ccing your boss on that email to your friend complaining about said boss. Enjoy the time you have with your baby while he or she is awake. Once they go down, you will be hyper-productive and get more done in 45 minutes than anyone has ever accomplished in an 8-hour day in an office.

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Toddlers

Naptime is officially your best friend. And bed time. And weekends when your spouse, friends or family can come over to watch the kids. You will get nothing done in the morning, save answering a few urgent emails that can't wait. You will use "Sesame Street" as a distraction when you have to make a phone call to the office or your client. You will have video chats with people while your child sits on your lap. You will answer emails at traffic lights as you run back and forth to preschool (no texting and driving though, ladies!). This is life. You will figure it out and live through it.

You will be able to kick the kids out the door to be taught by someone that isn't you.

Preschool and Pre-K

Your life will get a little easier once your child can play on his own a bit more, especially if there is a sibling. LEGOs and dolls have replaced nap times as your best friend. Just set your child up for some "quiet time" so you can get in an hour of dedicated work during the day. Your nights will still be when you get most of your work done, but that is OK. If there are no younger siblings, you can also work in the morning while your child is at school. This is the golden time. Just be prepared for your child to walk up to you during a video conference call and announce, "I gotta poop, Mom." There are no filters in your kids. They don't care that you are working. From what I hear, this doesn't change the older your kids get either.

Kindergarten and Beyond

As each of your kids enters school, you will be able to shift more and more away from late nights in your home office and back to a daytime schedule. You will be able to kick the kids out the door to be taught by someone that isn't you. You can sit with your cup of coffee and go through all of your emails, get back to clients at a normal hour and even have lunch meetings before school pick up. It will be a magical time.

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I'm not there yet. I will be though. One day very soon. Hopefully next year when my youngest starts preschool. I'm holding my breath in anticipation.

Are you a work-from-home mom? How do you manage?

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