As a mom who works at home with my 9-month-old son by my side all day, I can personally attest that the report of work-at-home moms actually working two full-time jobs is totally true. Between caring for your child (or children) and running your business like a boss, the hours can be brutally long. But that’s not stopping women from pursuing motherhood as well as career goals. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent of all U.S. households with kids under the age of 18 years old have moms who are either the primary or sole source of their family's income. Even women who don’t jump back into careers after becoming mothers seriously consider going back to work one day.
With studies full of hard facts as proof that prove how hard moms are working, plus with the personal pride I feel as a writer and a mom, it can feel frustrating when friends and family don’t take working from home seriously.
Even if they mean well, it's disheartening to hear the same quips over and over again. As a freelance writer for nearly two years, there still are a few things that I hear on a regular basis that make me sigh and shake my head, and I'm ready to set the record straight for all of the other hard-working, self-employed moms out there. Unless you want to face the wrath of an overworked mom, here are 10 things you should never assume about them (and what retorts to expect):
Call Their Job “A Hobby”
I didn’t quit my office job and launch my own business as a “hobby.” I have clients, deadlines, and responsibilities — same as any other job. I also happen to enjoy doing working for myself, but that’s just a bonus. Bottom line? Moms work because they have to, because they want to, or both. End of story.
Assume It’s Always Wine O’Clock
I suppose yes, it's technically always 5:00 somewhere, but I could do without the stigma that for work-at-home moms, it’s always time to crack open a bottle of wine, because it's just not true. Also, do people who say this even stop to think that I'm pulling double-duty, working full time with my kid around? It's work-at-home parenting, not work-at-home Mad Men.
Ask “What Is It That You DO All Day?”
Oh man, where to start? My day starts early and it goes late. I don’t need to justify my workload by describing my to-do list Monday through Friday. Take me at my word when I tell you that my work never stops.
Call During Business Hours Just To Chat
Buddy, you know I love you and we don’t talk as much as we used to. But if you knew I was at an offsite office instead of my home office, would you still be calling me right now? I didn’t think so. For both of our sakes, treat my schedule as if I'm sitting at a desk surrounded by coworkers instead of just my kid.
Describe How Wonderful Their Life Must Be
It can be nice to be a work-at-home mom, but some days it’s not so easy. And some days it’s not so nice. Unless you’ve given it a shot, you really don’t know how difficult juggling both parenthood and a job can be. Don’t assume it’s a cakewalk. (It’s not.)
Speculate That They Put Their Career On Hold For Kids
Some women adjust their careers to work remotely after having children, some leave the workforce, and some shift to new industries entirely. Just because you don’t know what their current employment status is doesn’t mean they’re doing nothing all day.
Guilt Trip Them If They Use Daycare
Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I always get to work. (Welcome to having a kid!) Personally, I have a babysitter come once a week so I can really buckle down and get as much work done as possible without interruption. Not everyone can afford childcare, but those who do and take advantage of it shouldn’t be shamed.
Sign Them Up For Favors
If you need a ride to the airport at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, but you didn’t ask me until noon that same day, you’re out of luck. Don’t assume that your work-at-home friend is always going to be available (and don’t be a baby if they aren’t).
Say “You Must Not Be A Feminist”
Ugh, just no. A feminist is a woman CEO. A feminist is a stay-at-home mom. Feminism is women choosing what’s right for them and their family. Whether a woman works in an office, works at home, or works exclusively as a parent doesn’t determine her feminist value, so don't even try to convince her otherwise. Not gonna happen.
Tell Them How Lucky They Are
I love working from home, and I’ll be the first to say I’m lucky to be able to do so. However, not everyone makes the same choices I do, and that's OK. Some moms stay in their jobs out of financial necessity. For others, balancing motherhood and a career isn’t physically possible. Telling someone they’re lucky without fully knowing their circumstances can cause serious heartache.
At the end of the day, making any assumptions about work-at-home moms isn’t a great habit to get into. Instead of questioning their roles, work toward encouraging them! With two pretty darn important roles to fill, they’ll probably appreciate the support.