Once upon a time, when I was a single woman, waking up and going to the office every day, I had this daydream. In my daydream, I was sitting at a desk in front of a large picture window, with a bouquet of flowers adding beauty to the scene.
I saw myself with a cup of specialty coffee in hand, a state-of-the-art laptop in front of me, and Andrea Bocelli serenading me from my stereo as I typed.
The picture was complete with a plate of healthy, tasty fruit wedges within reach and my children playing around my feet in utter quiet and contentment as we all occasionally looked at each other and smiled periodically, the love shining from our eyes.
Guess what I’m doing right now?
I’m sitting in a miniature rocking chair in my kitchen. My kitchen, that has one teensy window looking into a carport. I’m sitting in this particular location because our furnace is broken and the rest of my house is currently closed off in order to conserve heat.
My laptop is old and it’s sitting on my lap (the battery is keeping me warm). I have a can of mixed nuts to my left, there is no specialty coffee to be found anywhere in my house, and it’s 30 minutes past lunch time already. A killer headache has wrapped itself around my skull and is now creeping down my shoulders as I type.
Due to the severity of the headache, music of any kind is out of the question. My daughter is finally taking a nap after spending the morning crying and clinging to me, and we have an unplanned doctor’s appointment interrupting our day at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, due to her being sick.
I will try to get all my writing done in between her cries, the appointment, and freezing my you-know-what-off. Welcome to the world of that work-at-home-mom! To be sure, there are a lot of positives about this work-at-home role I have.
I try to remind myself of them on days like today. I’m not trapped into a schedule. I don’t have a time that I have to be at work and I don’t have a time that I have to work until. Instead, I am able to write in my free snatches of spare time, whether it is first thing in the morning or late at night. I’m not tied to a clock.
I can be with my daughter at all times, while still helping our family financially. This is invaluable to me. I had purposed in my heart years ago that if children ever came into my life, I would shelve my career for a time and stay at home with them and be their primary caregiver. Working at home helps me live that life purpose out. Some pros are as simple as being able to work while I cook supper.
How many working women at the office can say they were able to do that? There is a large degree of satisfaction in smelling my supper cooking while I make money at the same time. I get to wear flannels pants and t-shirts to work. I rarely do, but still, I get to if I want to. Nothing like earning a paycheck while in some of the world’s comfiest clothes ever! I’m my own boss. I create my own assignments (for the most part) and don’t take on anything that I can’t do without taking away from my family.
I can say no to something and don’t have to fear losing my company position or my status with my boss. I am able to take on projects that I like and that I am good at, and I don’t have to deal with things I hate doing. There is no set break time for me to follow. If I look out the window and see that the rain has ended and the sun has come out, I can stop what I’m doing and go outside to enjoy the sun in that very moment.
And if I go beyond 15 minutes, it’s ok. I’m working from home. I’ll get back to my job when I get back to it. Meanwhile, there are butterflies for my daughter and I to watch and giggle at and leaves to put in each other’s hair.
I already touched on this, but it bears repeating — I work at home in a job I’m gifted at and that I love. For the most part, most stay-at-home jobs fall into this category. Work-at-home jobs are hard to come by a lot of times, but if you have a passion for something, then you usually have the needed drive and energy to make it work for you from home. I know countless women who have turned their love of giving opinions into part-time jobs by doing surveys and getting paid.
Others turn their love of crafts into work-at-home opportunities. And some of us live to write, and have discovered how to use that for income. There are many people out there who have jobs that they go to because they have no choice.
I am one of the lucky few that gets to do a job that pays the bills and lets me live out my life passion, all at the same time. All that being said, there are some definite drawbacks to working at home. As a task-oriented woman who tends to be more list-focused than emotions focused, I struggle daily to balance my child’s needs with my work responsibilities.
I am sad to say that many days it’s more tempting for me to just write “one more paragraph,” which then turns into two, then ten paragraphs more, than it is to get on the floor and tickle my daughter or snuggle her. I want to be a great employee that is faithful to do her work. I want to be an even better mom who gives her daughter precious memories.
It’s very hard for me to find this balance. Every morning I face the same dilemma. Do I tackle the housework and meal prep first or should I try to get my writing out of the way first? The rest of my day continues in this vein.
Do I use nap time to get a work-out in or to get an article done? Should I go outside first with my girl or finish up a project and then go outside with her? It’s hard to know what task to dive into at what point. Working from home involves early mornings (like, 4:30 to 5:00 mornings) to late nights (10:00 sometimes even 11:00 at night) to get everything done.
If I was doing a job at the office and not trying to balance working and motherhood all in the same hours of my day, I could probably have more sleeping time. But as I try to get in enough time for my job and my daughter and husband, I find I have little time to actually sleep in order to get everything in. I have the hardest time quitting work every day. I have yet to cut myself off at a certain time each night and say, “I’m done with writing for today.
I have to be. I need to stop for a break.” Instead, I find myself attached to my laptop, carrying it with me from room to room and checking emails, notes from my editor, or researching article ideas in between the pasta cooking. This drains me mentally and I really need to reach a point where I firmly tell myself, “Your work day is over. Pick up tomorrow.”
The above statement makes me feel like I’m trapped in a blurry, endless cycle most of my days. Take care of baby — try to write. Do dishes — try to write. Cook supper — try to write. Do laundry — try to write. I feel like my mind is always on overload and I lose touch with myself as an individual trying to get it all done each day. People have no clue how hard it is for you to work at home.
They think you have the easiest job in the world, “making money from home.” As a result of this mentality they seem genuinely puzzled that you can’t spontaneously do something with them instead of adhering to some sort of a schedule.
I have found that people will call and drop in, expecting me to be able to indulge in a phone conversation or long visit with them, because I “work at home, so I can just do whatever I need to, whenever.” What these people don’t realize is that by doing this, they set my day back an hour, or two, and then I have to play catch-up the rest of the day. This never ceases to frustrate me.
If I had an office job they would not be able to call me or just stop in and visit with me and I wish they’d look at my at-home work the same way. The guilt some days is horrible. Some days I feel as if I gave my job too much time and my daughter not enough. And then I beat myself up for being a negligent mom.
They say motherhood is a non-stop guilt trip anyways. Add working at home to that and it’s out of control sometimes. Some days I wish I could get dressed in business clothes, go to an office, work in peace, and interact with other adults.
There is a sense of isolation and loneliness when your day-in and day-out routine consists of working in total solitude. It’s very easy to feel cut-off from the rest of the world when you are in the full time role of a work-at-home mom.
My daydream of working at home didn’t turn out exactly how I pictured it, but in the end, I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for anything. It’s hard and it’s exhausting, but I can honestly say, at the end of every day, I have not one regret that I chose this path to take. The benefits outweigh the sacrifices by far.
Pic of the Day: My Administrative Assistant