“I need a job where I can work from home.”
“We need a second income to make ends work.”
“How can I stay home with my baby and make more money?”
I see these comments all the time on Facebook mommy groups and my heart goes out to these mothers. As a work-at-home mom, I completely understand the desire to be home with your baby and needing a supplemental income. It’s why I do what I do.
But unsurprisingly, there were things no one told me before I took the plunge and started working from home.
Flexible Hours Can Be Dangerous
When I talk to people about my work, they often respond, “Wow. It must be nice to have such a flexible schedule!”
Yes, it is. As long as my work is done, and done well, my clients don’t care if I work seven hours one day because the baby is in a great mood and took all her naps, and only work one hour the next day because she’s teething and screamed from morning till night.
However, unless you are really great with boundaries, flexible hours can mean working when you should be off-duty, and convincing yourself to never really take time off because you can always “make it up” later by working more another time. It also means that clients get used to receiving your emails at all hours of the night, and may think you’re always available (when you’re really just responding at 3 a.m. because the baby is awake).
Forget The To Do List
I’m a type-A, check-off-the-list kind of girl. I worked from home for a year before having my daughter, and the experience is like night and day.
Pre-baby, the only interruptions to my work day were those I allowed in: Facebook, afternoon coffee time and binge-watching Gilmore Girls. Now? I might have a nicely structured list of five projects to complete, but by the end of the day I might have only completed half of a single task.
Some days, just keeping the baby alive is an accomplishment. I’ve learned to ask for reasonable deadlines that leave me lots of wiggle room, and to never say, “Oh, I’ll get it done tomorrow” if I have time today. Tomorrow could be a disaster, so I can’t procrastinate.
The Loneliness Is Real
Right now, I work between 15 and 20 hours per week. In many ways, working part-time from home gives me the best of both worlds. I get to stay at home with my daughter and don’t have to pay for childcare, but I still get to enjoy the extra income (and mental stimulation!) that having a job brings.
However, it certainly brings its own challenges. Moms who work outside the home typically have co-workers to talk to throughout the work week. They enjoy adult conversations and corporate friendships. Stay-at-home moms who aren’t working part-time are able to make friends through playdates and mommy-and-me-classes.
If I didn’t work, I’d have 15-20 hours per week to dedicate to making friends and planning activities with my daughter. Instead, when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend quality time with the baby and tend to chores. This makes it hard to carve out time during my week to strengthen friendships even though I know I ought to.
It’s Completely Worth It (And Totally Possible)
Flexible hours are a minefield, it’s almost impossible to plan accurately and yes, it does get lonely. Despite these downsides, working from my big comfy chair instead of an office is perfect for me right now.
I’m right here for all my daughter’s “firsts.” I’m not worrying about whether daycare is giving her enough tummy time and I don’t have to pump during my breaks.
Although I sometimes find myself sifting through emails long after 5 P.M., I love being able to take time off when I need to (or want to). Like after a night of really bad sleep or during a beautiful day when I’d like to go for a walk.
And even though I don’t have enough unscheduled time to do lots of out-of-the-home activities, the financial security that comes with my paycheck helps calm my anxieties. You know the ones – paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a home and – yikes – helping my daughter go to college.
Some people will react negatively when you decide to work from home, but don’t let that discourage you. I heard a lot of negative comments when I started, but I’m here to say that despite the challenges, there are great rewards. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family.
Are you are work-at-home mom? What are some things no one ever told you?