If you’re a work-from-home mom, this little scenario might sound familiar.
It’s 5 a.m. Time to tiptoe downstairs to work in the dark — one of the many hazards of being a work-from-home mom. Be careful not to wake the youngest, crankiest boss.
Settle in to crank through emails and prioritize where to dive in for the day.
It’s 5:20 a.m. Type one line of productivity before being interrupted by child one who saw a sliver of sunlight out her window indicating it’s time for breakfast.
Make her toast with Nutella, cut into four squares (not triangles, you madman); pair with apple slices. Sit back down and reread the one line of productivity to get back in the zone. Reach for the keyboard. Stop before typing so much as one consonant because child one has no drink…or vitamins.
Sit back down.
It’s 5:55 a.m. Child two wakes up. Repeat (yes, even forgetting the drink and vitamins).
Decide to put a pin in work until the kids go to school. Pack lunches. Break the bad news to child one that her favorite dress is still in the hamper where she left it three days ago. Iron her second-favorite dress (OK, fine, rerun it through the dryer for 15 minutes and hope for the best). Brush a head of insanely tangled hair — seriously, did she do this intentionally? Tell child two that he can absolutely not walk out of the house in that “cool” outfit he put together because (and you withhold this part) there is a 100 percent chance he will get made fun of. Inspect teeth that were allegedly brushed. Brush the teeth that were obviously not brushed. Frantically tear the house apart in search of child one’s left shoe and decide to ignore the fact that she’s wearing two different kinds of socks.
It’s now 7:55 a.m. Both kids have been delivered to their respective schools, and it’s finally time to give your undivided attention to work…right after you put the kids’ toys away, start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, and take out some chicken breast to thaw for dinner.
It’s 8:30 a.m. Settle in for a full day typing away at your desk with your second cup of coffee. You sit crisscross applesauce because you work from home and you can do stuff like that. But, your running shoes dig into the sides of your thighs, and you give yourself some silent props for dressing in your workout clothes (again), so you wouldn’t talk yourself out of a workout (again) today.
Close the laptop. Work out. Return to your desk after a shower for a working lunch and a wildly productive afternoon.
What Being a Work-From-Home Mom Is Not
Those events could be any day of the week for a work-from-home mom. It’s hectic and frustrating, but we wouldn’t trade it, right? Working from home is sort of that “with great power comes great responsibility” scenario — not unlike Spiderman. But, many people only see the great power side of working from home. Think about the reactions you get when you explain your job:
- Oh, wow! I didn’t know you worked!
- You’re so lucky! I wish I could be a work-from-home mom.
- That’s so great that you can do both — be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and a career mom.
- That is so convenient.
What It Is
Being a work-from-home mom is more than just secretly wearing sweatpants and fuzzy slippers during conference calls. It’s a juggling act that looks a little more like this:
- Home equals office. Office equals home. The line between work and home is blurred for work-from-home moms because they’re the same place. It’s tough to compartmentalize responsibilities and keep home from spilling over into work and vice versa.
- Working from home is still work. Work-from-home moms are not SAHMs in any sense other than geography. We aren’t free for playdates, we aren’t regular field trip chaperones, and we can’t always be free for lunch or coffee. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to accept all of those invitations, we just have to work while the kids are at school to avoid that work-spilling-into-home scenario in the first bullet.
- Office supplies double as art supplies for our creative kids. The stapler is usually jammed (if we can find it at all), and the printer is always out of paper. Taking notes in pink crayon is acceptable and probable.
- Kids interrupt phone calls and trains of thought. They will make cameos in video conference calls and call the boss from the iPad when they are supposed to be playing something educational.
- People express genuine intrigue when we dress up. Dressing up usually just entails wearing pants with zippers and wearing makeup, but anything more than yoga pants gets a work-from-home mom some attention — Whoa, why are you all dressed up today?
Sure, the office atmosphere has plenty of cons (ahem, rush-hour traffic and pants with zippers) and distractions of its own — chatty officemates and birthday cake in the breakroom. But, work-from-home moms deserve some props for overcoming (or at least currently battling) the distractions of the home office because it’s not all rainbows and unicorns (except when your daughter plays unicorns and rainbows at your feet while you answer emails).
What working mom doesn’t want to get ahead of the growing laundry pile? What working mom wouldn’t appreciate going to the grocery store without kids bounding in different directions, throwing junk into the cart, and whining about checkout candy? It’s tempting to squeeze in mom jobs while on the clock (for the paying job), but overcoming that temptation and truly keeping work and home separate is the secret to success for work-from-home moms. We can do it all — we really can — but not all at the same time. Learning to throw 100 percent at work when it’s time, and knowing how to step away and be 100 percent mom when it’s time is the toughest part of the job. When it’s mastered, though, look out, world. Here comes a mom who can handle anything.
Photo Credits: Corry Frazier Photography