The idea of working from home when you’re a parent can seem like the perfect solution. You're available to spend a little more time with your kids, there’s no commute, you can work in your pajamas if you really want, you’re making money, and you're getting a vital brain break from the demands of being a parent. However, people say some pretty strange things about work-from-home moms that feel judgmental.
From the moment I had my son, I've worked from home; first as a daycare provider and then as a freelance writer. I have to admit, when the idea was first discussed with my husband, I was intrigued. Working from home seemed like a wonderful balance for a mother. I could get dinner started, throw a load of laundry on during the day, and I didn’t have to budget for the cost of childcare. Over the last three years I have learned that I love working from home, and I don't think I would ever wish to return to a more traditional working environment. Still, that doesn't mean it's all good.
Like anything else related to motherhood (or life in general) working-from-home has its downside. Especially when people say the following things to me which, although often unintentional, can actually feel really judgmental:
"That’s So Nice! You Can Sleep When The Baby Sleeps."
Um, no. Actually, I cannot. When the baby sleeps I have to finish an article, send a pitch, work on some copy writing, send e-mails, make phone calls, and, you know, do all the things that are impossible to do when you are nursing on demand or jostling a fussy baby from hip to hip.
"You’re Free Anytime, Right?"
Wrong. Just because I'm working from home, doesn't mean I don’t have a schedule or a timetable to adhere to. Plus, I like to keep a regular routine for my son, so I can’t just meet you "anytime." Instead, I have to schedule it in, just like I would have to schedule a meeting.
"How Can Your House Be Messy?"
Some people seem to think that because I am home all day my home should look like a Martha Stewart daydream. However, precisely because I am here (and so is my son) I am constantly making a mess by using the house, rather than simply closing the door, going to work, and returning to a home the same way I left it.
"I Bet You Make Dinner Every Night, Right?"
To be honest, that's my goal. However, sometimes I have bad days and I am crazy busy. On those days I’ll ask my husband to grab some dinner for us on the way home and I don’t feel guilty about it at all.
I don’t get paid to make supper, so if I am up against a deadline I will hunker down and hustle and worry about what’s for dinner later.
"Why Would You Need A Babysitter?"
Because I am not superwoman, maybe? Being at home with my little one for the majority of the week can be challenging, especially when I am also trying to get work completed. So two mornings a week I send him to preschool and enjoy those uninterrupted hours to really get stuff done.
You haven’t seen "productive" until you witness a mom with two hours of expensive childcare on the clock.
"How Do You Work and Look After Your Kid At The Same Time?"
Well, sometimes I can't and I feel pretty bad about it. So, honestly, putting up with a comment on how "unbelievable" it is, only makes me feel worse. #momguilt.
Still, I do try my best. I set up activities for my child to do alone, I give him my undivided quality attention for a set amount of time, and then work while he plays quietly. I ask my partner and family to help out, I pay for care and, sometimes and to the shock horror of sanctimommies the world over, I let him watch a little TV.
"Wow, I Wish I Could Work From Home!"
During the day I try to combine the tasks of a stay at home mom and a working mom. Then, once my son is asleep, I run around like a madwoman trying to keep up with the household chores and fixing dinner, before getting my laptop back out and working away until my own bedtime. So, while working-from-home may "sound easy," I can assure you: it's anything but.
Still, I love it. I love my little office. I love that I can stop work and play with my son sometimes and when I need to. I love that my work fulfills me and makes me happy. Yes, sometimes I do work in my pajamas, but you know what? I love that, too.