Whenever I tell people that I work from home, the usual response is, “you are so lucky!” or “I wish my job allowed me to do that!” or “Can I do that?” And my typical reply is, “Yes, I am so lucky” and “I wish more jobs allowed for this opportunity” and “I don’t know.”
The truth is, being a work at home mom (sometimes abbreviated WAHM) is the best and worst of both worlds.
I began my journey down this path when my first son was born a little more than six years ago. With my current job, some workers are offered the opportunity to work from home part of the week and in the office the rest of the week. It seemed like the perfect marriage of getting time with my baby and getting time away from my baby. And all these years, it still is. But there are definitely some things I’ve learned along the way that may surprise you.
You will still need child care
I know most people picture a mom working at home with kids as this chaotic scenario with children climbing all over you as you try desperately to think in coherent, adult sentences, and hope to God that they will nap so you can make business phone calls, all while throwing random food bits at them in an attempt to dislodge them from your lap . . . and yes, if I tried to work at home while my kids were there, life would be exactly like this. I’d feel like a crappy mom, and I’d feel like a failure at my job. So, childcare it is. I still probably spend more time with my kids than if I worked strictly in the office.
You might get lonely at home
With no kids at home, no co-workers to chat with, and just . . . silence . . . that blissful sound (or lack of sound) that every mom thinks she craves might not be exactly what you want after all. You might get lonely. You will talk to yourself. A lot. And this habit will be very hard to quell when you are in the office around other adults. Who are listening. And maybe, just maybe, because you are used to talking only to yourself, your language might become a little more . . . shall we say, colorful? Just try remember to silence the colorful words around those who shouldn’t hear them so much, mmmkay?
Your “breaks” are only a break from work
What I mean is, you spend all day in this quiet house with just piles of laundry and dishes and clutter staring at you. Judging you for your neglect. So on your lunch break, you will be doing dishes. Your bathroom breaks will be spent putting a load of laundry in the washer or moving it to the dryer. You probably will end up eating a hasty lunch at your desk while you work. But this is one part I’m really okay with. Because if I was in the office for a 40 hour week, I’m not sure when all this miscellaneous stuff would get done. Or if it would get done.
You don’t really work in your pajamas
I mean, I still have to get dressed to take the kids to childcare. I could change back into pajamas when I got home, but that sounds like too much trouble. But I do at least get to dress in comfortable, casual clothes.
It can be really, really, hard to leave work
When you work at home, your work is always there. Even on your days off, you might be tempted to log on just for a minute to check your e-mails. Don’t do this. It may feel counterproductive to the whole flexible, work at home vibe, but in order to maintain your sanity, set solid, structured work hours. Stick to them as much as possible. This will help you focus and be both a better worker and a better mother, because you will be able to focus on your kids when work is done.
It’s really is an amazing opportunity
I know that this might sound like a list of negative things about working from home – but it’s really not meant to be. It’s more of a reality check – working from home is a great opportunity that more and more employers are realizing is a real benefit to both the company and their employees. Before you travel down that path, it’s always a good idea to get a feel for working at home is really like. It’s demanding in ways that working strictly in an office setting can never be, and rewarding in ways that are hard to quantify. I didn’t miss many of my kids’ firsts. My breastfeeding goals were easier to meet because I was at home part of the time. My hours are flexible enough that I can fit visiting my son’s school for lunch, or volunteer at his school, into my daily schedule.
I love my job, and the truth is, my work has made me a better mom. It’s taught me dedication and focus are important in all aspects of my life, and that’s a lesson hard-learned for this multitasking mom.