The Reality Of Being A Work From Home Mom

WFHM-cleverbirdbanter

Disclaimer before I begin – this post serves to point out the facts and fictions involved in being a Work From Home Mom from my own point of view. I’m not here to say that being a WFHM is harder/better/worse/more ‘anything’ than being any other type of Working or Non-Working Mom (each scenario has it’s own challenges and rewards) but I’d like to share with people the realities of juggling kids, and work, AT HOME on a day to day basis…

As most of you know, I’m a mom to two littlies, and I’m also a graphic designer (amongst other things!). With a (welcomed) increasing workload, I’ve really been struggling to juggle these two aspects of my life lately and have been ‘writing’ this post in my head for weeks now…

I need to work, for two reasons: a) I need to contribute financially to the payment of bills and expenses (which have sky rocketed since we moved into this big old house with lots of maintenance and things breaking etc, on top of higher general expenses), and b) I need to be creative.

Being just a Mom isn’t enough for me.

For all of you who just gasped and spluttered at those words, what I mean is that I (me, personally) need to have a creative outlet and to be independent IN ORDER TO BE A BETTER MOM.

Non-working, non-juggling, non-busy Andrea is a crappy mother. She is grumpy, resentful and depressive. I know this because I experienced it just after my return to SA from London and I look back now and see just how unhappy I was when I had nothing to do.

It may sound crazy to some, but it works for me and my family – and that’s another thing I’m big on, different strokes for different folks – us moms need to stop judging the choices of fellow moms, not cool peeps…

The thing is, people often think that being and mom and working from home is like ‘Living The Dream’, and while it certainly does have it’s perks, it also has negatives that you probably don’t really think about until you actually experience it for yourself. Here’s the low down on some of my realities:

Being at home with the kids – a negative you say? In a way, yes. Sure, it’s great to be able to spend a bit more time during the day with them, to pick them up from school, catch those passing milestones in action, kiss a sore finger better and monitor feeding, pooping, tv-time etc. This is a major draw card for us moms who want to be ever present in our little peoples lives and don’t want to miss a thing! As darling as they may be though, they are also huge distractions. It’s very hard (unless they are asleep) to get a large chunk of work done in one go, and even though they love the nanny, they KNOW you are there and they will persist in trying to be in your space and in vying your attention… That cool toy ‘puter that mom’s always playing on? They want to play on it too!

Flexibility vs structure – I love being able to pop to the shops, go into town to do admin, and plan my work/meetings around my own commitments / my children’s schedules – no clearing it with HR or worrying about what other co-workers think etc, it’s awesome to be so independent… But it can also be soooooo frustrating when you have a lot to do and your kid is being a pain, won’t get dressed, you’re running late for school, you have to run an errand for your hubby etc – and all you want to do is work, and everything is conspiring against you actually being at your desk and in front of your computer… If only you had some peace and quiet in an office environment with set working hours, then you’d be able to get everything done, right? I have this thought often and it really is a challenge to strike a balance.

Working at night – this seems to be a given for WFHM’s. As much as I try to maintain reasonable hours, I’m often up til 1am trying to get stuff done. I have surrendered to the fact that I never seem to get on top of my to do list. Fortunately I am most productive in the mornings and later at night, but it still doesn’t make staying up late easy when you are mom-tired on top of work-tired and you have deadlines to reach.

Lack of respect from others – this is probably my biggest gripe – I don’t even think my own family realises how much work I do and how difficult it can sometimes be to try and build on your career while being a mom to two little ones. People often think that I don’t really work at all, or that what I do is maybe for fun ‘because she doesn’t really need to work’. Um, reality check, as explained above, I actually DO need to work and my time and skills are valuable – like Aretha, all I’m askin’ is for a little respect!

Lack of respect for my time – another big issue I have, probably more of a personal one as opposed to a general issue for WFHM’s but I’m rolling with it anyway – people don’t get that MY TIME IS PRECIOUS. When I am not working, I am focusing on my loved ones, or doing something else around the house that needs to be done. When I’m not doing that, I am working. Please don’t drop by unannounced – mostly because I will probably still be in my pajamas, but also because I might be will be busy with something/someone… Please don’t assume that I will be happy to drop everything and meet up with you at the drop of a hat because you think I am ‘just at home all day’… Please don’t get cross with me if I don’t answer your texts/emails/phone calls immediately – I’m either beavering away furiously at the computer, or knee-deep in a shit nappy. Please don’t assume that I am chillaxing because I’ve just published a blog post – chances are I wrote it at 1am last night and it was merely scheduled to publish when it did. And lastly, please don’t expect ‘freebies’ from me unless I offer them myself: my time = money too, just like yours. If you respect me and what I do, you wont expect me to work for free (again, unless I want to or offer.)

Lonely, a la Akon – yup, one of the harder parts of being a WFHM is not being surrounded by like-minded colleagues all striving towards the same goal, helping to motivate you etc. Depending on what you do, social interaction can be limited when working from home, that’s why its so important to find others who inspire, support and motivate you in a different way (I would be lost with my gurrrrls Keri and Nicola) Kids are cool but you can’t really hash out your work frustrations, or bounce your quoting woes off of them.

And last of all, theres the guilt – on top of general Mom Guilt (we all know it’s a thing), WFHM Guilt is thick because you are always around, but not quite present. You are constantly telling your little one that you are busy, or that you just need to do this one thing. You wish you could leave work at work, but when you work from home, you can never really escape it. Again, the elusive balance is hard to strike but I really try to give my kids the time they deserve. I dont always manage it, but I try to fit it all in as best I can. All we can really do is give it our best shot, and to not beat ourselves up too much (this goes for ALL moms, not just WFHM’s!)

My aim with this post, I guess, is to rally some more support and respect for WFHM’s especially, because I think we are sometimes in the grey area of some of them Stay At Home Mom vs Working Mom debates. I may have painted a darker picture of how it all is but honestly, I DO love it and feel privileged to have chosen a profession that allows me to run my business from home.

For me, right now, I’m okay with how things are working out. I wont lie, I do often wish I could escape it all and just work in an office, but in reality I would probably be more unhappy in that situation if it were the case. I definitely don’t dig those late nights and would love it if people actually appreciated my time/work more, but like I said in the beginning of this post – the version of me with lots of projects on the go is generally a happier Andrea, and I’m happy to sacrifice some sleep, and push through the next few years before the kids are at school full time, to achieve my dream.

Like many things in life, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

That’s all I have to say for now, would love to hear thoughts from other WFHM’s out there?

 { picture by Volkan Olmez }

 

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36 thoughts on “The Reality Of Being A Work From Home Mom

  1. indieBerries says:

    Love this post Andrea! And I think a lot of it is true for freelancers in general. My absolute worst, “Why don’t you apply for a real job? Because with you not working and all…” UM. WHAT? hahaha

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks friend – a lot is definitely true for freelancing in general (I have a blog post about that somewhere in my head too!) Those Real Job comments are my best, grrrrr….

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks Kath! Getting such lovely feedback on this post and it’s definitely good to remember that we are not alone! Just having a look at your blog, so lovely x

  2. Angela says:

    Totally understand … been there done that and still doing that :) … only someone in the same position understands.

  3. Ashley Knight says:

    “knee deep in shit nappy”….freakin hilarious, and you know what? I am also privileged to own a freedom-based business and OFTEN say to my husband, “how do people with kids even cope?!” Kudos girl! x

  4. Mandy-Lee Miller says:

    I have been trying to find the time to post on the same topic! Being on the wrath of the SAHM and the working moms; I really feel like although we have the best of both worlds, we definitely have the worst of both worlds too. Even before having Charly, when I was preggers and trying to wrap up 6 months of client writing in 1 month before maternity leave, my MIL passed a comment on how I should make my hubby healthy lunches since I am “sitting at home all day”. The complete lack of respect that so many people have for WAHM and freelancers in general can get beyond frustrating. Great post; you get the point across really well. Thanks from all of us ☺️

    • Andrea says:

      It has honestly taken me weeks/bordering months to be able to actually type this out and I am so glad I did, feel like I am connecting with so many others who feel the same and great to know we arent alone! Thanks for the comment Mandy-Lee, so appreciate it :)

  5. Carmia Cronjé says:

    I can hardly cope with my work and things I have to do, so if I had a kid too I would probably turn into a CRAZY PERSON. I honestly don’t know how you and other WFHMs do it!

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks C! Totally doable with some planning ahead but definitely not without frustrations as you can tell from my post ;) x

  6. Amy Brown says:

    So flipping true! I don’t have kids yet, but as a freelance copywriter get told I have a “lekker lewe” so bloody often. And yeah, maybe I do have more free time and flexibility than most, but I do have a real job and I do work bloody hard. Brilliant blog post! :)

  7. Lauren Hewitt says:

    I quit my day job in February to start my own little creative business, I’m not a mom yet but in 28 weeks I will be.
    I totally get what you meant, my family really don’t understand that this is my job now, working 12 + hours a day while trying to be a house I work harder now ( and will work even harder when the baby arrives. ) My friends think I’m a lady of leisure and that I’m lucky to “not work”. I have no regrets resigning from my job, for the first time ever I feel like the me I’m meant to be.

    • Andrea says:

      Congrats Lauren, on so many levels – baby, business, feeling like the true you! As hard as it is to juggle both, it is also rewarding, hang in there, I think some people will just never get it!

  8. Lauren says:

    Truth! My hubby works for himself (sometimes from home and sometimes from an office) and many of your frustrations are so familiar to me! Keep it up, your amazing at your job and a brilliant mom to your precious pies:)

    • Andrea says:

      Ah thanks friend, from one mom to another brilliant new mama – you are doing such a great job from what I can tell x

  9. Gaelyn Cokayne says:

    Amen amen, 100 times amen! I have one child, part time. But my job is full time, and as you know it definitely doesn’t stick to office hours. I have often been told that if I went out and got proper job, Chris could move home, how selfish of me! I know how I battle with a ten year old who is pretty self sufficient, and who is at school until two or three, so I can only imagine the extra (huge) challenges you face on top of what I have experienced. Much respect, and here’s hoping people reading this will finally get a better idea of what it is really like to work from home!

  10. Claire says:

    Thanks for a great post Andrea. So many things worth saying. Your words and the comments beneath made me realise how big this boat is that we all (freelancers and WFHMs) are in!

  11. Caley says:

    What an awesome post my friend – all the points so clearly put and all so valid. I am currently in the SAHM category, only because I’m torn between making kid sacrifices vs work sacrifices – not easy trying to find something flexible enough to do but also driving myself kid crazy with doing nothing! You are blessed but work so so hard as a mom and business owner – well done!!

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks friend, I totally get how you feel – pros and cons to everything though – Im trying to adopt the attitude of just making the best of the here and now, and I reckon thats all we can really do in life :) All of us mamas just deserve a pat on the back (and a glass of wine!) anyway x

  12. Ash says:

    Loved this article – so much of it resonated with me – especially being there but not fully present & the wfhm ‘s challenges not recognized nearly as much as as the working vs full time moms. Xxx

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks Ash, so glad you enjoyed it – so many of us in the same boat! Hope you are well xx

  13. sonja says:

    I so hear and get you! Yes, it is exactly that! I think SAHM and Working mom has their own challenges, but even so, I’m glad I’m privellaged enough to be a WFHM! Bless you. Love this post!

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