5 Things I Wish People Knew About Being a Work at Home Mom
I’ve been a freelancer for years now, so I’ve had the freedom to make my own schedule which—in theory—is living the dream. In some ways it’s been amazing, but it wasn’t until I started working full time from home that I truly understood how incredibly unbalanced my life was. You may think that it totally rocks to do your job without having to worry about things like personal hygiene and alarm clocks, but there’s much, much more to it than not putting on pants.
1. There’s no such thing as a sick day
I think this is something all moms can relate to. I have some control over when I need to be “off” for any number of reasons. However, I don’t really get sick days. Sure, I could just not work if I’m not feeling well, but just like all other non-salaried employees out there, that means no money. Plus, I still have kids in diapers, so if I have the day off and I can’t pay for childcare, that just means they’re crawling up my legs and screaming for another bowl of Goldfish. It’s not the zen healing experience you’d imagine.
2. I have to work
While working from home offers me lots of freedoms that I wouldn’t otherwise get at a 9 to 5, it’s still a job, not a hobby. My boss expects me to be around for meetings, for clients, and to accomplish certain tasks on a day-to-day basis just like she would if I were headed into an office. It’s not like I can say, “That sounds like so much more fun than creating a digital strategy today! The owner won’t mind at all.” Nope, not happening.
Freelancing is fun, but it doesn’t always pay the bills—and I’ve got a shit ton of bills to pay.
3. Point #2 is not negotiable
My household needs two incomes to survive, so I have to work. I may do work from home, but I’m not a stay at home mom.
I know of very few positions that allow you to skip out for a few hours for things like attending playdates. I wish I could, but I can’t because this is a real job. (I swear!) So please don’t ask me to babysit your kids Monday through Friday. I know it seems like I’m around all the time, but just because I’m at my house, doesn’t mean I’m not doing work like all the 9-to-5-ers.
4. I still feel guilty
I read articles all the time about how stay-at-home-moms have it harder or how working moms have it harder. It kills me because I see both sides of the coin quite clearly.
My kids are here with a mother’s helper during the day, and I feel like an ass because I’m physically here but I’m not spending any time with them. Even though I’m practically a hermit and never leave my house, it’s still constantly a wreck because even when I’m home, I’m working. It’s not atypical for me to order pizza instead of preparing dinner once—nay, twice—a week.
I also lack the ability to compartmentalize, which means that crazy cleaning lady and hard working SEO lady aren’t bound to certain parts of my day. This means that it’s not unusual to find me doing dinner prep and hopping in the shower around 11am between client calls, but running reports and working on optimization once the kids are in bed for the night. I’m not great with boundaries.
What it boils down to
I love both of my jobs: the one that feeds my mind and my bank account, and also the one that feeds my soul. I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything, but it’s not a walk in the park. (I can’t even remember the last time I did go for a walk in the park.) It’s pretty tough, but I’m working at it, and just like stay at home moms and moms who go out of the home to work, I hope my family is better off for my efforts.