I've always been someone who doesn't have a hard time being motivated. Some people don't like to work at home or on their own because they don't like working independently. I'm the opposite - I find it much more enjoyable, get more done and am much happier when I'm left to my own devices and can make my own schedule. I make lists and I love checking things off. I actually find that I am most productive when I have more to do. If there are only 3-5 items on my list I'm much more likely to procrastinate. Adding Zoe into the mix of my list making has definitely been an adventure and there were two very important things to learn when it came to getting used to working at home while also now caring for a baby.
The first: learning what Zoe likes and doesn't like doing
That one took a little bit for me to figure out, but now I think I've got it down.
While Zoe's asleep I work on things that need my undivided attention. She's settled into a pretty regular sleeping schedule lately, which is awesome. She typically wakes up around 8am and hangs out and plays for 1-2 hours, and then she gets tired and wants to take a nap. That morning nap is usually the biggest one. Typically it's 90 minutes, but every once in a while she'll sleep for 2 1/2 hours. Then she's usually awake till about 4. She might take a small cat nap somewhere between then (usually if her morning nap is short or she's been around a lot of people or a lot of stimulus), but not normally. At 4 she usually takes a 1-2 hour nap and then hangs out till 8. We've begun to set a more concrete "bedtime" of 8 o'clock and it's really worked well the last 10 days or so. She's a lot less cranky and she doesn't have much trouble sleeping without us there with her those first 2 1/2 -3 hours before we go to bed as well.
Generally I don't like to do any computer work while Zoe is awake. I feel bad staring at a screen when she's staring at me. Sometimes I have to if I've got a ton on my plate at the moment, but I only do it in little bits. Zoe doesn't really mind entertaining herself for small chunks at a time (which is great), so I'll sit at my computer and type away for 5-10 minutes at a time while she's laying on her mat swatting at the hanging squirrel right next to me. Then I'll get down and play with her for 5-10 minutes and then go back to the computer. I only do that about once every 1-2 weeks though. And I feel very guilty whenever I do it.
95% of the time I save that work for when she's asleep. I write posts, do billable work for various clients/jobs, work on house projects (like staining the face frames) or any other thing that I can't really do conveniently with Zoe awake and wanting attention (those babies... :). I used to think that I was really efficient, but man, that has changed. Now I wonder how I spent my time before Zoe while working from home. I used to think I got a lot done, but it's amazing how much you can run around and accomplish when you know you only have 60 minutes before your baby wakes up
Something I've started learning is what Zoe doesn't mind or even likes participating in while she's awake that still allows me to be productive, or at least lets me check off certain tasks from my to do list so that when she's asleep I can get other things done.
For instance, I used to workout when Zoe was asleep, then I learned she found watching me workout hilarious. As in: she actually laughs when I do crunches. Now that's a morning activity of ours together. She sits in her rocker while I'm on the recumbent bike, then she has tummy time while I do free weights. I even got a mommy and baby workout DVD that we've done together. It is an awesome workout and Zoe giggled her way through it before she got too tired and I had to put her down for a nap. (If you're interested, this is it, and seriously, it's awesome.) My mom and step dad got me a jogging stroller for my birthday and we do that too
After working out I'm all stinky and I used to shower while she was asleep, but I've learned she doesn't mind it so I stick her in her rocker and chit chat with her while I get clean. The enclosure is glass, so she can see me and she usually coos and gabs back and forth with me.
Cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner is also a team activity and she really enjoys being set up on the counter in her chair and watching what's going on. I talk to her about all the ingredients and let her smell and touch them. Lately she's really enjoys playing with cups
I usually eat breakfast and lunch with her while she's playing on her mat
Then there are all sorts of errands and Zoe LOVES to go out and about. This is great for me because at least once a week I spend a couple hours out and about doing things like going grocery shopping, to the nursery to replace plants that die, picking up things at HD, going to the bank, running errands for my brother's company, etc. Zoe enjoys being in the car and she loves going to stores and staring at all the things on the shelves.
And lately 1-3 times a week I've been going into the law firm I used to work at and am now doing contractual work for as they gear up for a trial and I bring Zoe in with me. We don't stay long, usually 1-4 hours and I make sure it coincides with her morning nap. I set her up with toys in her rocker or on a blanket and she rolls around and charms the lawyers in the office who come by to visit and gab with her :)
Of course when not doing various kinds of work when she's awake we do the standard baby fun: tummy time, attempting to get her to "play" with toys, hanging out outside in the shade of course (the girl loves trees), going for walks, etc. And soon she'll start swim lessons and a baby music/play class.
The other thing I've learned: I will never get as much done as I want. That's a learning process every single day. It's a lot easier said than done. I don't know why I have such a hard time coming to terms with it because life is already busy and we've added a cute little baby into the mix
I've got work for my brother, for my mom, for the law firm, for the Raiders (now that baseball season is over), for our handyman company and then there's work on the house and attempting to keep the house in order. Other job opportunities pop up from time to time that I take as well. As a self employed person I never want to turn anything down because I never really know how much I'll make each month so I might as well try and take every opportunity I can.
I'm definitely not billing as much as I used to, but it's still pretty comparable, so I should be pretty satisfied with myself. The house projects are still chugging along and we've actually accomplished a lot of our 2013 goals so far, so that's great as well. Zoe is a happy and healthy baby and that is something that I'm super proud of. If only half of my list gets checked off, I've got to learn that it's okay. My #1 priority is Zoe
But there is still guilt about being a working stay at home mom: am I playing with her enough, is she learning enough, is she stimulated enough? All these questions. I can't devote 100% of my time to her because I'm my own living, breathing and walking person as well. And when you hear what your friend's babies are doing or get those stupid Babycenter updates that tell you your baby should be walking by 7 months (not really, but sometimes it seems like they say crazy things like that), it's impossible to not feel a little competitive, or a twinge of guilt that your child isn't quite there yet and that maybe if you didn't work so much, she would be.
But I also have to be realistic. The truth of the matter is that I need to work for 2 reasons: Zoe needs diapers and I enjoy it. I know it will be a constant balance of working and being a mom, but both are things I really enjoy and are things that are really important to me. I gotta teach Zoe to work hard after all, right?