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As write this sentence the baby is in the exersaucer and I’m getting ready to chop the vegetables I’ll roast later for tonight’s soup. I also need to stuff our newly laundered cloth diapers diapers, and there are two loads of dirty clothes that have to be taken down to the basement. Oh, and I should mention that before I can roast the veggies I need to wash the pan that’s all the way at the bottom of the sink because my husband and I were both too tired to hit the dishes yesterday.
Now I’m writing this sentence in a ridiculously narrow window while my eldest, who is four, has a cold, and is just as cheerful as you might imagine under the circumstances – watches cartoons on half of my laptop’s screen. I suddenly desperately wish Santa had brought us a tablet.
Now a whole day has gone by since I wrote that first paragraph, and in that day I’ve managed two organization’s social media campaigns and public relations, written website copy for a local company, started mapping out the structure of a book I’m editing for a client, and had a couple of calls with potential leads. That’s in addition to doing sinkloads of dishes, washing and stuffing even more cloth diapers, nursing the baby, and playing pretend and Candyland and dollies.
I call that a typical Monday as a freelancing work at home mom.
You’ve probably seen all kinds of ads for ‘work at home opportunities’ geared toward moms – some more legit than others, but most not worth the trouble of applying. Just so you know, I don’t make $5k a month working an hour a day (and I don’t know any game changing teeth whitening secrets, either). Sometimes working from home just means putting in a pretty mundane full day’s work that you can do from the laptop in your living room.
Since a lot of people seem to be confused by what being a work at home mom is really like, here are some things I’d like people to know:
Having a flexible schedule doesn’t necessarily mean having more time. Technically I work part time, but if you actually added up my hours you’d see I work closer to full time – and at all hours, too. I can’t just play hookie, so please don’t be offended if I have to decline your invitation to go for lunch. I really do wish I could meet up with local mom friends on a weekday! I just can’t.
It’s not unusual for a work at home mom to have to work in the evening or on weekends. Because I have the baby home with me all day and everyone else home for at least half of it, I have to get my work in when I can. Sometimes people are surprised when I talk about working during most people’s off hours, but that’s the life of a freelancing mom, with or without kids.
Working from home doesn’t mean working less. My job is a real job – I just happen to do it at my house with a baby on my hip. It’s not a hobby or a way to pick up some extra pocket money. My income is a necessary part of our household budget, so I don’t have the option of ditching clients whenever I feel like it.
Being a work at home mom is a sacrifice some people make to spend more time with their kids. Life would be easier in a lot of ways if I found a stable office job with predictable hours and a regular paycheck, but around here jobs like that are 9-5…or 8-6 plus a commute into the city. I give up some weekends and evenings so I can spend more time with my kids during daylight hours.
Working from home is anything but glamorous. I have spit up on me a lot. I don’t get a lot of breaks, since there are always chores and almost always work. I feel pulled in two directions just about constantly.
The point is that even though I’m at home almost all day every day, I’m still a working mom. I work really hard at being a good mom and at meeting my professional goals, but sometimes I feel left out of the working moms club – and I don’t have much in common with the stay at home mom crowd, either.
My hope is that as telecommuting and flextime become more common – no thanks to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her old fashioned outlook – there will be a lot more working moms doing things my way. Until then, if you want to get together, I only ask that you give me a three week lead time.