I started freelancing as a writer when I was six months pregnant with my first child. While pregnant, I loved the flexibility of freelancing. It allowed me to earn more money while accommodating pregnancy symptoms. I thought its flexibility would extend into the postpartum period, but freelancing while caring for a newborn turned out to be more demanding than I had estimated.
With my second child, I prepared a lot more in order to maintain a balance between my freelance business and my newborn during the first months postpartum. The transition was much smoother, and I would like to share some of the methods that worked for me.
If Breastfeeding, Use Feeding or Pumping Time to Brainstorm Ideas
Newborns are fed 8–12 times a day, with feedings lasting 15–60 minutes. Once you get comfortable feeding, you can use this time to brainstorm ideas. I keep a pad of paper next to my bed so I can outline articles and jot down ideas while I feed my baby. Breastfeeding can also be an ideal time for researching ideas. I research on my smartphone, saving links to look at on my computer when I am not feeding my baby.
To be able to multitask while breastfeeding, you should thoroughly establish breastfeeding first. Take at least a few days off to find the most comfortable feeding positions and make sure your baby has a secure latch and does not require stimulation or encouragement to continue eating before working while feeding. If you are pumping, you can purchase a hands-free pumping bra to make multitasking easier. These range from $15–$60 for standard, no-frills models and are well worth the investment because they increase your available work time.
Consider Cross-Focusing Article Topics With Newborn Issues to Save Research Time
When I have a newborn in the house, I spend a lot of time looking up common parenting questions. How much Tylenol do I give my baby? Can I dye my hair with my newborn down the hall? Writing articles on these topics allows me to cut down on my research time since I am already looking up these questions. Freelancing while caring for a newborn could help you enter a new niche even!
Of course, you should check in with your clients before you start submitting several articles with a newborn spin. While some clients welcome articles that will attract new parents, others prefer to keep ‘mommy-blog’ topics off their sites.
Co-Sleep for Longer, More Restful Sleep
Getting adequate sleep will allow you to be more productive when you find time to work. Since work time is limited when you have a newborn in the house, having enough sleep to concentrate and produce content when you can is vital.
Co-sleeping involves sharing your room with your newborn. There are many benefits to co-sleeping, including more sleep for parents. I not only co-sleep, but also bed-share with my newborn. While bed-sharing, I wake up once or twice at night to change a diaper or help my baby latch, and then I immediately fall back asleep. Unlike parents who have to get up and go to another room to feed and soothe their baby, I average 8–9 hours of sleep each night, even in the first weeks after birth. In the morning, I feel well-rested and ready for the day’s challenges. This extra sleep also makes my baby well-rested and more content throughout the day, so I am able to work for longer periods of time.
Understand a Newborn’s Sleeping Patterns to Maximize Productivity
Newborns sleep a lot, but they sleep for short periods of time and wake easily. Understanding how your baby sleeps will help you organize your day to increase your productivity. You should be prepared to work in short bursts instead of dedicating a full chunk of time to writing. Getting interrupted while writing can hurt your flow, so it is important to work from clear outlines that allow you to jump in and out of your work.
Another thing to keep in mind is that freelancing while caring for a newborn doesn’t mean dedicating all your free time to writing. For me, it is helpful to create a rotation of activities to do while my newborn is sleeping. For example, during her first nap, I shower, the next time she is asleep, I write, and the next time, I sleep with her. Creating a schedule like this allows you to concentrate on writing when you are doing it and forget about it when you aren’t in order to take care of yourself throughout the day.
Use Baby-Wearing to Hit Deadlines
Sometimes you have a fussy newborn and a nearing deadline. I find the best way to deal with this is to practice baby-wearing. Since newborns are quite light, if they are wrapped snugly to your body using a stretchy wrap, you will barely notice them there. When pressed to a warm body where they can feel a heartbeat, most newborns will fall asleep and stay that way for an extended period of time. This will give you some extra time to hit your deadlines.
If you have a particularly fussy baby, consider replacing your office chair with an exercise ball. Bouncing lightly or rolling from side to side will give your baby just enough motion to keep them calm without distracting you.
Above all, the most important piece of advice I have for you is to meet your infant’s needs first. A satisfied baby will give you much more time to dedicate to work than a baby whose needs are not being met quickly and thoroughly.
Being a freelance writer offers you many advantages as a parent, and you can keep working hard even with a newborn in the home.