Hi, I'm Beth. I'm a full-time freelancer writer who works from home and simultaneously parents my 9-month-old son, and I'm here to tell you that being a work-at-home mom is no picnic.
"But Beth! You don't have to report to a manager, and you get to hang out with your son all day! What could be so bad about that?" I'm sorry, could you repeat that? I was too busy caring for another human life while also financially supporting my family to pay you any attention.
As a work-at-home parent, there have been times when I've realized halfway through a video conference call that I have spit up on my shirt, and transcribing entire interviews one-handed on my phone as my son snoozes on me all afternoon is a new skill that I'm debating adding to my resume.
In all seriousness, I'll admit that there are pros to my home also being my office. I have a flexible schedule, the dress code couldn’t be better, and while getting to hang out with my kid all day can be frustrating at times, it's also fulfilling. However, none of these things make being a work-at-home parent easier than being a parent who works out of an office. Having these two demanding worlds consistently overlap is stressful, and I'm always in "do what it takes to get the job done" mode.
In case you’ve ever thought being a work-at-home parent was easy, I took the liberty of writing out a detailed day in my life. You'll notice there's a lot less eating bonbons on the couch and shopping for yoga pants while sipping a kale smoothie (That’s not what I do all day, Grandma!), and a lot more hustle than you probably imagined.
7:16 a.m.: My son allows me to wake up after the sun rises. Bless that boy! I quickly prepare his first bottle of the day before he realizes he hasn’t eaten since last night and begins to wail.
8:07 a.m.: He’s out of his pajamas and into a fresh diaper and outfit. I pop him in his high chair, toss two slices of sourdough toast in the toaster (my standard breakfast fare), pour a generous glass of iced coffee, and scroll through emails on my phone to see if anything urgent needs my attention.
9:15 a.m.: Nothing earth-shattering to tend to, and I'm already in need of a second coffee. I strap my son into his stroller, put my dog on her leash, throw on some yoga pants (yes, I’m that mom), and stroll to my local coffee shop for an iced Americano. I get a call from my sister on her way to drop her kids off at school. Despite the fact that I’m technically free at the moment, I feel a twinge of irritation that my “work time” is being interrupted.
10:03 a.m.: My planned 45-minute onboarding call with a new client gets cut short as I hear a crescendo of wails rising from the nursery. I hurriedly assure my client that I’ll follow up via email, then I fix the second bottle of the day.
10:45 a.m.: Time for nap number one! I type one-handed for an hour before I can’t wait anymore; I have to pee. Of course, this wakes up my son and he is not pleased with the disturbance. At least now I can use two hands to type.
12:01 p.m.: I remember to break for lunch about half of the time. Today is one of those lucky days. Since my son is just getting introduced to solids, I set aside extra time for cleanup. I realize that half of my house is in shambles, so I start a load of laundry and feel guilty about the stack of dishes in the sink.
1:32 p.m.: The mailman is here — know how I can tell? My 85-pound dog goes bananas when she hears the front gate open. Her territorial barks interrupt my writing groove and I have to sign for a package. I can’t complain — I mostly write about beer and occasionally receive a fun package of something new to try, which is the case today. I excitedly unwrap the bottles and debate popping one open immediately.
2:15 p.m.: My son is deep into his second nap of the day. I use it as an excuse to take a break and watch an episode (OK, two episodes) of The Office.
3:02 p.m.: My husband works early hours and gets home around 3 p.m. each day. I struggle to not immediately throw the baby at him and dive into work without distractions. Wait… did I put the laundry in the dryer?
3:56 p.m.: Husband is showered and, being the saint that he is, takes the dog and baby for a walk around the neighborhood so I can sequester myself in my office just in time for my wireless keyboard battery to die. Where on earth do we keep batteries?! I get approximately 18 minutes of work done before they return. Go me!
4:45 p.m.: I remember it’s almost time for my once-a-week yoga class! I knew those yoga pants would come in handy today. I snag my mat and jaunt to my local studio for some hip openers and savasana.
6:18 p.m.: Flush with zen, I put together some dinner for the family and start to wind down the night with a bath for my baby, and a shower for me.
7:22 p.m.: My husband is in charge of our baby's bedtime, so I move my laptop out of my office (aka the nursery) to the couch. I crush 1,000 words and reach out to two sources for deadlines next week. I am nailing this work-from-home thing!
9:40 p.m.: I’m on a roll now; I’ve sent four pitches to new publications. I know it’s not the most ideal time to send emails, but hey, they’ll be there in the morning, right?
10:31 p.m.: After balancing my accounts and checking my overdue invoices, I close my laptop for the night. I can’t relax without reading a few chapters of something, and right now it’s Just Kids by Patti Smith. I turn off the light just in time for my kid to wake up and realize (with a bit too much alarm, if you ask me) that his binkie is gone. Mom to the rescue.