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Working from Home: Sound Cushy? It’s Not As Easy As You May Think October 25, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, WAHM/WAHD Stuff.
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When people ask me what I do, or say “so when are you going back to work?” and I respond with “well, I’m a writer and editor. I work from home,” I often get “that must be nice.” Sometimes it’s a genuine remark, sometimes it’s infused with a bit of sarcasm, and a hint of snarkiness. The inference is that I get to just roll out of bed and stay in my pajamas all day and do nothing but write. Okay, to a certain extent I do, but not in the way that many with traditional jobs think.

First, rolling out of bed is not an option. As a WAHM, on the days that my darling boy doesn’t go to my mother-in-law’s house, the morning is filled with physically, emotionally and educationally nourishing my 20-month-old sprinkled with cups of coffee, checking e-mail and writing the daily to-do list for me. Second, once nap time hits, it’s all eyes on the laptop or my nose in several books doing research with one ear listening to the baby monitor. The afternoon is much like the morning until my husband gets home from work. Then, it’s some form of dinner, time for my menfolk to spend time together while I do some more work until our son’s bedtime. Then mommy-and-daddy time (um, I mean husband-and-wife time) is spent catching up on our days while I’m working intermittently. After my husband goes to bed, I’m up doing more work until…well, until. Yeah, we watch some t.v. too.

When people with traditional jobs are at work, they get to compartmentalize. They’re at work and only at work. They have eight (or whatever) hours of face-time at the office. Now, I know from having had traditional jobs that some of that day is spent socializing and doing other things that are not work-related. But when you work from home, and maximizing your efficiency and work-time is at a premium, when you’re working, you are working–even if you are still in your pajamas. I think most WAHMs and WAHDs will tell you that they probably spend more time actually working when they work from home than they did or do when in a traditional job setting. There’s no water cooler, no staff lounge, no lunchroom, and there’s no after-work happy hour. I’m not complaining though–it’s a personal and professional choice to be a WAHM and get to balance my time differently than I would if I worked in a traditional job rather than as a writer, editor and magazine publisher from home.

My husband happens to telecommute once a week, so as a part-time WAHD, he gets it (except for when he thinks that it’s time for a coffee klatch when he comes downstairs from the office for a cup of coffee :p ) when it’s pretty clear from my facial expression that I’m elbow-deep in it. But that’s another story for another posting.

So, maybe on one hand it is kind of cushy to get to budget my time the way I want to, not have to conform to corporate dress codes and have a fair amount of control over my day and work existence. But it’s also a very delicate balancing act.




1. Vivian - January 1, 2008

Hi Erika!
I have been working from home pretty much since my son was born, just over 2 years now, and it’s encouraging to see you doing it with success. I often confess that it is IMPOSSIBLE (catch my melodrama?!) to give 100% to my work and 100% to my toddler simultaneously. For many of the same reasons, we were bent on being the caregivers of our child, at least until he were to be out of diapers and ready for preschool. I also do not have friends or family in the area to “watch” him, so I’m literally on my laptop 8 + hours a day while “raising” my son.
To get to my point: When searching the web for tips on telecommuting with toddler in tow, I only came across a plethora of information stating matter-of-factly that employers should not allow their employee’s to telecommute if they have young children or parents in their care. While I can certainly see the idea behind this, I was offended that I have been working my butt off for 2 years to be a successful WAHM without childcare, only to have it declared such an intensely bad idea! For many educated and experienced mother’s, there simply isn’t a whole lot of options, and I want to encourage them that telecommuting with children IS do-able.
That said- do you have any methods, tricks, disciplines that you’ve found to provide relief when you have hours to “get in” but must simultaneously babysit?
Sorry this turned out to be a comment of e-mail length proportions!

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