Work from home: another way to balance work and life

If you're able to work from home, you can combine work with caring for the baby without having to reduce your earnings

It's hard for parents to leave a four-month-old baby in the take care of another person, whether in daycare, with a babysitter or grandparents. The problem is that the main work-life balance measures provided for by law (leave of absence and fewer work hours) entail less income, which not everyone can afford. One solution to balance work and family life is to work from home.

With the boom in liberal professions and modern communication technologies, many parents are now self-employed and combine parenthood with working from home.

In contrast, some companies allow their employees to work from home. According to a study published in February 2017 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Eurofound, 13% of companies in Spain offer this option.

It might be time to find out if your company offers that possibility and if not, to propose it. It's a question of trying.

One hour of nursing leave

The father or mother can take one hour of nursing leave during the working day, two half-hours throughout the day, or a half-hour reduction in start or finishing time until the child is 9 months old.

The majority of parents tend to choose a half-hour reduction in start or finishing time. The hour of leave (or two half-hours) is interesting, above all, if the baby is nearby the workplace and the mother has time to feed them, or if the father or someone else can bring the baby to work so the mother can breastfeed during her break.

The leave is enjoyed whether the baby is breast or formula fed, because its purpose is to care for the child.

How to go about working from home

Working from home has many advantages, but it can also have some drawbacks if you don't do things right or set limits.

It's not enough to be home and work there; rather, you have to set rules so that everyone - coworkers, partners, children, family members and even friends - respects your working hours and the situation is beneficial to all those involved (company, worker and family).

1. Set a schedule and try to stick to it

  • You should try to schedule each day in the most predictable way possible. Set timetables for each task (feeding and dressing the baby, making food, working, etc.), taking into account that a baby is unpredictable and needs constant attention.
  • Ideally, you should do the household chores before or after your work hours, but not during. It's not very appropriate to reply to an e-mail while cooking or emptying the washing machine. If you do two things at once, it's likely that one won't get done right.
  • You should take advantage of the baby's naps to do tasks that require more concentration. You always perform better if you spend some time working on the same task.

2. Ask those around you to respect your working hours

It's important for everyone (family, friends) to know and respect your work schedule.

  • The fact that you're home doesn't mean that you're available to receive guests mid-morning or run errands. Explain to them that you wouldn't be able to do it if you worked outside and that working at home is the same.
  • If you have older children who understand things, it's important to explain to them that the fact that you work from home now doesn't mean you're available 100% of the time. Tell them that you've decided to work from home so you can take better care of the family, but that you have to do the same work as before and you need to concentrate.

3. Work the right hours

The ILO study also notes that people who work from home tend to extend their working hours. You have to try to adjust to a set number of hours as much as possible, and most of all, take breaks as needed, for example, to go out for a walk with your baby.

4. Have an exclusive space to work

Even if the house is small, you should set aside a space that's comfortable and has good lighting in which to work and where you can leave your work material and documents. You can concentrate better in your own space. 

You can have your baby lying with you in a rocker and later, when she's able to sit up, in a playpen with toys to keep her entertained.

5. Wear work clothes

When working at home, you run the risk of ending up working in pajamas and eating anything just to get through. You don't need to wear a suit, but it's good for your self-esteem to dress in street clothes. It also helps others to take your work seriously.

6. Be careful not to isolate yourself

Spending so much time at home with a baby can jeopardize the "relationship with the adults". You should take turns with your partner to do activities outside the home and set aside time during the day for yourself.

Meeting all these objectives isn't easy. The baby will have calm days and restless days in which he or she will demand your attention, and their care is paramount. You may have to work odd hours some days, even at night, so you can concentrate properly. But, in return, realize that you get to see your baby grow. Having your child close by is the best incentive to work.