I stay at home, as a mom. And I work from home, in an administration role for a financial services company. I sometimes eat lunch in my pajamas. I sometimes make calls to clients in the backyard while gardening. It is a rare opportunity to be able to provide for your family while spending all day with them. My husband is a full-time student who works in the evenings part-time and so we knew I’d have to chip in during this season. I resigned myself to putting my babies in daycare for two days a week to work but this job fell like a star from heaven and every time I sign on remotely, I say a prayer of thanks. But it ain’t all paychecks and tea parties.
What I learned as a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom.
(1) Without a schedule, my world would cave in.
I’m a big fan of routine and scheduling our day (see Routine + Scheduling). That doesn’t mean I’m unbending or run my life by the clock, but I go by a pretty consistent routine each day. Working from home means I have to. I work in the mornings briefly during their Independent Play times and again, if necessary, during their afternoon naps. I know when they’ll be asleep and roughly how long they will sleep for each day.
This is when I work and depend on that time to get things done. If I flew by the seat of my pants I’d never be able to work from home without working into the wee hours of the night. I never work in the evenings unless absolutely necessary and that is because we have a good routine going.
Read: The Nap Trap- How to Deal with It and Not Resist It
(2) Priorities and boundaries are key.
It is a priority that I work and that it is done well and without distraction. It is a priority that I spend the day taking care of my children and looking after their needs, emotionally and physically. Luckily, my boss is pretty much the best boss in the world and if there is sickness or emergency here I’m able to be fairly flexible. However, it means that I have to be very self-disciplined with my time. It’s tough.
Sometimes when they go to sleep for 3 hours in the afternoon, I just want to lay in bed and nap, or read a book, or do some sewing. It means I have to say no to fun stuff and yes to work stuff often. It is a privilege for me to work from home (that I do not take for granted) but it comes with a price. That price is sacrificing personal and leisure time. After the kids are in bed at 7:30 in the evenings I use that time for me. Unfortunately, I like to go to bed by 9:30pm so 2 hours isn’t very much but right now, it’ll have to do.
(3) You must learn how to mentally shift.
And quickly. I put my youngest for a nap and my oldest in her room for play time and – bham – I get work done. I sit down, knock out some reports, quotes or emails and work hard and concentrated and fast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then – bham – I go stack blocks or do paper art dolls. After my morning work we do our S-E-A-M-S activity for the day so I have to be able to do the mind shift quickly.
Shutting off used to be difficult. I’d be trying to stack blocks and worried about an email I needed to send. Recently, I think I’ve got the knack of just ignoring work until it’s time to work. It is a weight off my shoulders and allows me to enjoy my time with the kids instead of wishing I had another hour to finish my tasks.
(4) It pays to have qualifications that can be utilized remotely or on a part-time basis.
Now, if I was advising a younger woman newly married who was thinking about having children and was in a life-planning phase, I’d tell her to get an education or qualifications in something that she can do either remotely or part-time while she has young children. Particularly if she intended to have a lot of kids and was going to be at home for a while, this comes in very handy.
Living off of one income is not always easy, and sometimes being at home but feeling the crushing pressure of financial troubles really makes life harder. A friend here is a pharmacist and, while her children were young, she worked one day a week. Her mother kept her children and this allowed her to bring in some income, have a day out and a “break” of sorts, and it kept her qualifications current.
A nurse can do similar by working an evening shift or two a week. If there is not the pressure of “you have to bread-win, woman” then the mother might find it is actually a refreshing time to be around other people, maintain friendships, and have some adult interactions when the day otherwise consists of “don’t climb on that” and “stop kicking your sister.”
Read: resume for a stay at home mom
(5) It may be the best of both worlds, but it’s also the worst of both worlds.
At times, that is. I am so grateful for this job and say a prayer of thanks every time I work. You can take that to the bank because it’s a fact. But it is hard. Having more money, that is great. Having more responsibility, that is a weight on my shoulders. Stay-at-home moms often wish they could contribute financially. Working mothers often wish they could stay home and live off one income.
Work from home mothers often feel as though they get the best – and the worst – of both. When kids are sick, when I am sick, or worse even still – when my husband is sick – the last thing I want to do is work. When there are things happening and I don’t work for a day, it backs up. It’s life. It’s work. It’s responsibility. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because, quite frankly, we need my income to pay the bills. However, I often wonder what life would be like if I didn’t have to.
Are you a stay-at-home-mom? Do you wish you could work a little? Are you a working mom? Do you wish you could stay at home some? Are there part-time work opportunities in your field? I’d love to hear what you have to say about it!
Read related articles What I Learned as a stay-at-home-mom in an identity crisis, Routine + Scheduling
S-E-A-M-S: Mon-Fri easy activity plan, and Independent Play
- What I learned when my stroller had a flat in D.C.
- What I learned when I switched to the skirt swimsuit
- What I learned on a 36 hour journey wit lots of kids and even more bags
- What I learned during transition in childbirth (the near death experience)
- What I learned in my third 3rd trimester
- What I learned when I lost my daughter under the bed
- What I learned in my second 3rd trimester
- What I learned as a work from home (and stay at home) mom
- What I learned in my third 1st trimester
- What I learned when my 1 year old let herself out of the house
- What I learned when hosting a progressive dinner with 20 kids
- What I learned when my daughter woke up the entire 2nd floor of our hotel
- What I learned getting a urine sample from an 18 month old
- What I learned when my baby ruined my bedding
- What I learned at the public pool
- What I learned at a birthday party
I work from home, part-time, too. I love it! I’m a freelance writer/marketing consultant, so in a way, my schedule is my own, but also, I have to give my clients whatever they want. My kids are older (8 and 5), so I can allow them to play freely without the house falling apart. But to complicate matters, we’re homeschooling now. I’m one busy mama, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!
A Mother Far from Home says
Yes, Maureen! My schedule is my own too which is amazing. it just means finding that time and sticking to it and I wouldn’t have it any other way either. It is a huge blessing for us for me to be able to do this and I’m sure it’s the same for your family :)
I work at home as a medical transcriptionist. I work 4-6 hours a day, and I have a 19-month-old. Fortunately my work doesn’t involve phone calls and I can stop and start as needed, so I can work when my daughter is awake and playing. I’m not limited only to naptime. I just have to complete a certain amount of work each day. It’s a real challenge but I’m really happy for the income and it does give a lot more meaning to my life when I am contributing to the family finances and doing something unrelated to parenting and housekeeping with my time. A lot of housekeeping ends up going undone–I need to figure out how to manage that better. It also forces me to to have child-centered parenting, as I cannot cater to DD’s wishes all day long.
Rachel Norman says
That sounds like an amazing way to bring in some money for the family but get to be at home at the same time! Oh and yes, the housekeeping does end up going undone here too. At the end of the day something has to be sacrificed sometimes and it’s the cleaning here often. I think having the extra income makes staying at home more pleasurable because staying at home with nary a penny to even go out is so mentally tough!