Kids can be tiny balls of honesty – rolling downhill sometimes at breakneck speeds and crashing through everything in their path. So when I hear my kids talk about me to others – I listen – because it is probably going to be an honest assessment of who I am as a mom. I recently heard a discussion some of my kids were having with some adult friends about me as a work-at-home mom and I got the honest truth – I’m crazy – and apparently there are plenty of glaring signs to this looming insanity.
- She is never really done working. Their conversation started this way when someone asked them if I had finished work early as we were taking a day vacation. It is true. There is no time clock and no office that locks at 5:00 on Friday. If you’re thinking about working from home, beware – you will never really be done working because you will always be right next to your work and no janitor will tell you “Sorry but the building is locked; come back for your briefcase on Monday.” However, I don’t look at it as a bad thing because if I am never really done working that means I always have work to do and having work is good for my sanity and my bank account.
- She talks to herself – a lot. Working from home means you won’t be surrounded by intuitive coworkers you can bounce ideas off of after board meetings. You will be surrounded by yourself and your kids, maybe the drooling dog or the cat that perches herself on your desk. Being a work-at-home mom means you have to be an amazing communicator with yourself and you need to be confident in bouncing your ideas off of your alter ego. If you need consistent reinforcement from coworkers, working at home probably isn’t your idea of a good time.
- She talks about work with us – a lot. I might not have witty coworkers but I do have engaging kids who ask about some of my projects, and sometimes are my projects. As a mommy blogger I do ask my kids for their permission before I write anything about their lives. But I also do believe that if you work from home you need to be able to share that work somehow with your family.
- She wears weird things to work. I have been known to Skype with clients while wearing pajama bottoms and a lace and satin blouse. And if (perish the thought) you could see me working at my computer you would see my bright yellow ankle weights that keep moving back and forth as I try to maintain some level of flexibility in my legs while sitting at the desk for hours. You will save money on your wardrobe when you work from home, but your pride might suffer if you have to answer the door in your PJs at noon.
- She expects us to help more around the house when she has big projects. My kids know that my workload ebbs and flows and understand that their contributions to the household chores are valuable contributions to the family. If you work from home, don’t be afraid to let your family know which things need more attention – dishes, dusting, yard work – your kids will learn valuable skills and you can create some balance in your life.
- She has weird ways to relax from work. One particularly busy week for me I made a deal with myself – for every 1500 words I wrote I got to take a break. On those breaks I would hang laundry on the line, start dinner, or dust and vacuum. Those might not sound like relaxing ways to reward yourself, but try changing your perspective. I knew that at the end of those very long days of working if I turned around and felt like I had accomplished nothing in my house I would be even more stressed. Find things you can do for a change of pace that are different from your work-at-home job responsibilities but that still make you feel like you are getting things done.
- She works really weird hours. Again, this one is true. Working from home rarely means 9-5. Instead it means working weekends, early in the morning before the chaos begins, or late at night after the house quiets. It also means you can tailor your schedule to meet your family’s and your clients’ needs. I might work on Saturday morning, but that means that week I can go to the zoo with the kids on Monday. Technology also means that you can work with clients all over the world and you have to be able to adjust to their time zones (which is why I’ve been on Skype wearing PJ pants).
- She loves her crazy job. This is the best truth of all. Not only am I crazy enough to work from home while homeschooling my 4 kids and holding the title of Domestic Engineer, but my kids get to grow up watching their mom work and love it. They get to see firsthand the challenges and the rewards of finding a way to combine what you love to do with your career.
Being a work-at-home mom is not the perfect job for all moms. But if you think your life would be better, your kids’ lives would be better, and your home might just not fall apart, working from home can be a wonderful way to be a working mom (that brings in a paycheck). Just ask yourself – Am I crazy enough?
[originally posted at BetterParenting.com :)]