6 Career-Saving Tools for the Breastfeeding Work-at-home Mom
Let me preface this article by stating that many of these handy helpers are probably just as useful for the bottle-feeding mom as they are for the nursing one. I mean no disrespect for my formula using friends; I am only speaking from my frame of reference (which is currently trying to sustain a career while providing 24/7 milk to my son.)
Any mom knows that it can be frustrating trying to get the house cleaned, supper made, and the yard picked up – all while frequently unbuttoning your blouse and taking the “time-out” needed to fuel up your infant son or daughter with the nectar of life. Throw in a couple of conference calls, many articles, and the occasional art project, and you’ve got a recipe for either failed deadlines, a neglected baby – or both! These are my must-have tools for getting the work-at-home mom thing down…. While keeping baby close to the breast.
You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed “attachment parent” to love these (although all those I know who practice this lifestyle are wonderfully amazing!) A sturdy sling used properly can get you many hours of productivity -- all while baby grazes and sleeps next to you. This is especially useful for moms who like to walk and talk while on business calls or prefer to work at a standing desk. As baby gets older, you may find that a carrier that is positioned on your back may be necessary to keep them from kicking the keyboard or swiping the cell phone. (I'm a huge fan of the Scootababy carrier.)
This lovable pillow is one of those “can’t live without” gifts that I got at every baby shower. For the tiny newborn, the Boppy pillow helps to keep him or her safely and comfortably on your lap while you read, type, and nurse. It can save your back, helping to keep your posture in check while you work!
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Expect to pay over $50 for the most recent version of this speech-to-text application, and then sit back and reap the rewards. I recently installed it on my work PC, and I found that it works amazingly well to type out my words spoken into the microphone while I have baby on my lap, or can’t get my hands free to type. It takes some training to get the software to be completely “hands-free”, but it’s wonderful to not have to worry about your kid punching the delete button after you’ve finished that masterpiece. (Just place the keyboard out of reach, throw on the headset, and begin speaking your new blog post into being!)
A Phone with a “mute” button (and speaker)
Bless my fellow work-at-home mom. You can often hear her on a conference call with a mutual client, kids screaming in the background or wind whistling away her words. Too bad all moms don’t have a cordless handset or cell phone with a mute button (for when the client or a colleague is taking and you don’t want everyone hearing little Jonnie talking about his “pee pee.”) Also handy is the speaker function, which lets you hear everything going on without having to strain your neck during a breastfeeding session.
Or... a Smart Phone
Another hefty expense that has paid for itself time and again is my iPhone. I check emails while my arm is trapped under a sleeping baby. I schedule appointments when I’m stuck in the bathroom monitoring yet another bathtub marathon. I keep my long waits outside the pediatrician’s office profitable with some updated Google Docs and Twitter updates. With this thing, I generally rock.
A Good Pump
Yes, there are those moms who never need to pump. I actually almost never used bottles with my kids, but there were times when it was impractical to be around every time my son needed to eat. Even with my office in the home, I would occasionally need to hold that one important conference call where it needed 100% of my focus (or that radio interview where the smacking and slurping of a fussy feeding session just wouldn't do.) I would be nervous, or it would involve intense negotiations. These times, in my opinion were not the times I wanted my son around. I didn't feel that the benefits of the breast would outweigh the stress I could cause him by having him on my lap while I was freaking out. I would have some ounces of milk in storage for these times... even if he just took the milk from the cup or had it mixed into some cereal. It was there, however, and the pump made it possible to keep myself comfy and the baby well fed. (I have used the ISIS IQ successfully for a few years for occasional and light pumping.)
If you’re a mom with no time, too much business (yeah, you!), and a baby with a voracious appetite, you can get some sanity into your life again with just one or two of the tools above. Before you think that getting more done is the key to success, however, stop and take a breath. Sometimes, the work-at-home, breastfeeding mom AND her business can benefit most from a nap, a long glance at your precious bundle, and time away from the office.
Because your baby is only your baby once… and that email inbox will never stay empty for long.