Courtesy of Mary Sauer

I Thought Working From Home Was Best For My Family, But Now I'm Not So Sure

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Ever since I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I wanted nothing more than to be home full-time. I wanted to be there when my daughter woke up from her naps. I wanted to see her hit every new milestone and experience every day of her little life. Being a stay-at-home mom was all I wanted, but it wasn’t in the cards for my family, because we needed my income.

I spent many mornings crying on the way to work, and countless evenings trying to brainstorm a plan that would let me work from home. So when an opportunity arose for me to start freelance writing, I jumped at it. I hadn’t studied journalism in college or thought about writing as a career option, but I was willing to try whatever would give me the opportunity to be home with my kids full-time. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was just enough to cover what I was making at my previous job.

Two years ago, I gleefully turned in my notice at my part-time job. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. When I clocked out for the very last time, I felt like I was living my dream and giving my family the mom I thought they needed and deserved. I was certain that being a work-from-home mom was best for my family. But now, I’m honestly not so sure.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

Don’t get me wrong — I love what I do. Over the past few years, writing has evolved from a creative way to pay the bills, into a skill I want to work hard to improve, into something I want to do for the rest of my life. But the truth is, working from home is so much harder than I expected.

I have been burning the midnight oil for months now, rarely taking a day off from work, and I am constantly juggling a million things at once. I never feel fully there for my kids, and I am always thinking about some task I need to do, or wondering if I should check my email one last time.

If I worked in an office, would I constantly feel like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids? Probably. If I was your typical stay-at-home mom, would I find myself feeling unfulfilled because I miss my work? Most likely.

Every day, I worry that my kids are suffering because of my choice to work from home. What good is it if I am at home each day if I am distracted, impatient and stressed out? Some mornings I feel so caught up in my to-do list that I find myself snapping at my kids, even if they haven't really done anything wrong.

For so long, being a work-at-home mom felt like the very best thing for my family, but now it feels like being a work-at-home mom isn’t the best thing for anyone. I’m constantly grouchy and exhausted, and my husband is constantly picking up the slack where I have failed.

Courtesy of Mary Sauer

When I imagined myself at home with my kids, I imagined giving my kids a magical childhood full of outside play and plenty of one-on-one time with their mom. Right now, our lives feel so far from what I had imagined. I am worried I made a mistake.

At some point, every week, I think about throwing in the towel. I think about finding full-time childcare and going back to work outside of the home or I think about quitting my writing jobs and just learning to make do without my income. But neither option is what I want. I still want to be home with my kids, but I still want to work, so I keep plugging away.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that being a mom is hard, no matter what type of mom you are.

For so long, I'd thought that working from home was the best option for my family. But now, I can’t help but wonder if there is no one “best option” for my family. I'm starting to think this is truly a "grass is greener" situation: If I worked in an office, would I constantly feel like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids? Probably. If I was your typical stay-at-home mom, would I find myself feeling unfulfilled because I miss my work? Most likely.

I might not have figured out a solution yet, but I’m not ready to quit trying to make this work. I’m bringing in a mother’s helper, a teenager who helps me out in my home an extra day a week, and I’m trying to find a way to get my baby sleeping through the night, so I can start squeezing a few hours of work into the morning before my kids get up for the day.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that being a mom is hard, no matter what type of mom you are. I’ve learned to stop expecting perfection from myself. And perhaps most importantly, I am trying to graciously accept the support my family and clients have extended my way. I keep reminding myself that this is only temporary. One day, my kids will all sleep and become more independent, and I won’t be stretched so thin between caring for their basic needs and keeping up with everything else that comes with being a work-from-home mom. Until then, I’m going to keep doing my best to make this work.